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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Software to reveal Stasi secrets
New software to reconstruct Stasi files on display in Berlin
The Stasi had thousands of records on prominent West Germans
German scientists are piloting new software to try to reassemble secret documents shredded by East Germany's secret police before reunification.

Some 16,250 sacks containing pieces of 45m documents were found and confiscated by authorities after the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989.

Correspondents say the haul contained classified and compromising documents about Stasi informers and victims.

Experts say they now hope to complete the task in four to five years.

Reconstruction 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.

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

Last great secrets

Now, however, computer software being employed by Berlin's Frauenhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology is set to speed up the process.

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

The German government is helping to finance the 6.3m euro (4.3m; $8.5m) project.

It is hoped that restoring the shredded files will help reveal the last great secrets of the Stasi, our correspondent says.

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