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Germany

Stasi Chief Mielke's Estate Auctioned Off

A medal belonging to the feared former leader of communist East Germany's secret police, Erich Mielke, fetched €24,000 ($29,400) at a weekend auction amid a wave of nostalgia for the fallen state. Auctioneer Carsten Zeige said he was "very pleased" with the price paid for the golden medal covered in jewels and emblazoned with the words "GDR Hero" issued by the German Democratic Republic. A total of 177 awards, medals and other memorabilia from the late Mielke's estate pulled in a total of €162,000 amid fierce bidding for the most prized pieces at Zeige's auction house in the northern city of Hamburg. The medal "Golden Star for the Hero of the Soviet Union" went to a telephone bidder who beat out 29 private collectors with his offer of €8,500. "The business in medals is going well and postwar criminals interest people," said dealer Andre Huesken. Mielke, who died in 2000 at the age of 92, ran from 1957 to 1989 the vast Stasi network, which employed 85,000 staff collaborators and more than 100,000 informants to spy for the communist regime. AFP