Feeds

Computer saves shredded Stasi files

600 million pieces of totalitarian history

Build a business case: developing custom apps

East German historians have employed the help of a computer program to reconstruct 16,000 sacks of shredded paper that once documented the snooping of the Stasi police.

The job was previously done by hand, with a team of 30 workers piecing together 350 sacks of shreds since 1991, The Guardian reports. The team estimated that at that rate it would take 400 to 800 years to finish the job.

E-Puzzler, a software program designed by Berlin's Fraunhofer Institute for Design Technology, was employed to reconstruct what remained of the 600 million shreds from 45 million documents, which recorded the lives of six million people watched by the Stasi.

It reconstructed the originals by examining the type of paper as well as the nature of the script. The program had already been used to help reconstruct broken figures from China's Terracotta Army and "hundreds of thousands of bank notes shredded by a mother in an attempt to block her estranged daughter from her inheritance".

Other countries that had suffered under military dictatorship and the tyranny of secret police had apparently approached the institute to help reconstruct their shreds of history as well.

Stasi boss Erich Mielke apparently ordered the files to be shredded and burned after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. But the shredders were in such a hurry to get away they left the sacks in the basement of their Berlin headquarters.

The operation was proposed by the institute in 2003. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.