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Software Aids in Putting Together Stasi Past

Thanks to the latest in computer technology, more than 600 million shreds of torn up Stasi files can be pieced together again. According to a feasibility study released on Monday, the reconstruction of the fragments contained in some 16,000 sacks in the basement of the former East German state secret police office in Magdeburg will take about five years. Instead of the time consuming restoration of the historic files by hand -- which would take some 450 years to complete -- workers at the documentation center will be relying on a software program developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Science in conjunction with Lufthansa Systems. Much like matching up the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, the computer scans each individual snip of paper and searches for a fitting piece. But the computerized puzzler comes with a hefty price tag of €57 million ($68 million) and still needs to be approved by the German parliament before beginning its work.

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