Reconstructing shredded secrets

State Security Service known as StasiCold War files on East Germany spying on West Germany ended up in the United States after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany has made strides in having them returned – some 16,250 sacks containing the shredded pieces of 45 million documents that were found and confiscated after the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989.

Communist East Germany’s international espionage network, the State Security Service known as Stasi, tendered spies that penetrated important positions around the world. Many believe that “The Stasi issue cannot simply be brushed aside as an East German problem, as people in the West tend to do.”

Attempting to blow the cover of former agents, informers and victims, work began on the paper fragments 12 years ago. In that time 24 people have only been able to reassemble the contents of 323 sacks. A narrative time frame can be found here.

After laborious reconstruction of the sacks of shreds using fingers and tape, it was discovered that Stasi agents were sitting “right up front” at the Olympics massacre in Munich in 1972 and had taken “needle-sharp photographs at close range” of the attack on Israel’s Olympic team.

The BBC’s Steve Rosenburg in Berlin has said it has been a desperately slow process which, according to some estimates, could take 600 years to complete.

The BBC report reveals that new computer software is being employed by Berlin’s Frauenhofer Institute to speed up the process.

German scientists now believe they can complete the puzzle in the space of a few years.