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Germany

East German Leaders' Gun Collections to Be Auctioned

A unique collection of 31 hunting rifles and pistols once belonging to East German chief Erich Honecker, Stasi head Erich Mielke and others communist leaders will go under the hammer -- if it's not bought up first.

East German flag and emblem

Interest remains strong in East German memorabilia

Sixteen of the 31 weapons formerly belonged to Mielke, an avid gun collector who later rose to the top of East Germany's dreaded secret police, the Stasi. Among them is a Walther pistol he used in a police shootout in 1931, one of the most notorious gunfights of the Weimar Republic era that left two officers dead.

The guns from Mielke and Honecker, as well as party secretary Walter Ulbricht and Politbuero member Guenter Mittag, are slated to be auctioned on Oct. 25 in the eastern German city of Erfurt.

"At face value, not counting the nostalgic value, the collection is worth about 500,000 euros ($727,000)," Rene-Andre Dittrich from the auctioning group B&A told DW-WORLD.DE, adding that the weapons could fetch around one million euros at auction.

Erich Mielke in 1982

Mielke headed East Germany's feared secret police

"Only about three or four of the pistols and rifles were commissioned by the East German leaders," said Dittrich. Some date back to the early 1900s and their previous histories also increase their value.

Russian billionaire may buy set

He added that a number of the weapons were made in the former Soviet Union, and that Russian investors -- including multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich -- had expressed interest in the collection. The 41-year-old oligarch is known as an ardent weapons collector.

If a buyer is found before Oct. 25, the collection won't go under the hammer.

Nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the communist government, memorabilia from East Germany remains in high demand. This collection is particularly unique, as there were very few private gun owners in communist East Germany.

Germany's Bild newspaper called the upcoming sale the "auction of the year."

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