Page last updated at 00:51 GMT, Saturday, 25 October 2008 01:51 UK

Honecker guns to go under hammer

By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

Erich Honecker, file pic from 1989
Honecker was a keen hunter who took communist leaders on shooting trips

Weapons that once belonged to former East German leader Erich Honecker are to be sold at auction in Germany.

A rare collection of 31 hunting rifles and pistols owned by Honecker and other communist officials are to go under the hammer near the central city of Erfurt.

The weapons include a Walther pistol that was allegedly used by Erich Mielke - a notorious Stasi police chief - to murder two policemen in 1931.

The guns have attracted interest and are expected to fetch up to $600,000.

It has been reported that the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich - who is apparently an avid gun hunter - is keen to buy the weapons.

Honecker - who ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1971 to 1989 and died in 1994 - was a fanatical hunter who enjoyed entertaining other communist leaders by taking them on long hunting trips.

There are some people in Germany who are nostalgic about the country's communist past.

There are still countless souvenirs from the communist era on sale, and recently a pub opened in Berlin which is dedicated to the Stasi - the GDR's widely-feared secret police.

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