‘Puzzle Women’: Piecing collectively the information destroyed by East Germany’s secret police | EUROtoday

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Since the autumn of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a group of archivists has been tirelessly sorting, pasting and reassembling paperwork that had been destroyed by the Stasi, the East German secret police. Nicknamed the “Puzzle Women”, these heroines of collective reminiscence face the Herculean job of piecing collectively these information: the paper fragments are tiny, and the variety of archivists is just a fraction of what could be required to finish the job with out recourse to new know-how. Meanwhile, the Stasi’s victims are getting older, and time is operating out. Niagara Tonolli studies.

In 1989, East Germany’s Communist regime collapsed with the autumn of the Berlin Wall. At the Berlin headquarters of the Stasi, the omnipotent secret police, panicked orders got to right away destroy the hundreds of thousands of playing cards and information that documented many years of police surveillance. When the gang lastly entered the Stasi headquarters, 111 kilometres of archives and 16,000 sacks filled with paper strips – the stays of hundreds of thousands of shredded or ripped-up information – had been saved by East German residents.

On the eve of German reunification in 1990, a group of archivists was arrange in a bid to make sense of this gigantic paper jigsaw. Most of the archivists had been ladies, and for the previous 30 years they’ve been devoting themselves to this titanic job. With the desire and self-sacrifice of monks from the Middle Ages, they patiently reassemble the fragments of information, reconstructing the historical past of their fellow residents. When they lastly come to learn the yellowing information, victims generally study that it was a husband, relative or work colleague who betrayed them to the Stasi.

The work of the “Puzzle Women” is crucial to understanding the historical past of the German Democratic Republic, the previous East Germany. But their job is colossal. The contents of solely 500 luggage out of a complete of 16,000 have been reassembled over the previous three many years. It’s estimated that it will take a number of hundred years to manually piece collectively the contents of the 55 million pages nonetheless ready to be assembled. That’s until new know-how and political will are mixed to decipher this heap of confetti as rapidly as doable, unveiling the legacy of a police state that some wish to learn… and others overlook.