Germans visit HQ of ex-Stasi boss Mielke

Mielke's office in former Stasi HQ
Image caption Mielke gave orders from this desk to suppress any dissent

The heart of the former East German police state - the office of Stasi chief Erich Mielke - has been opened to the public in Berlin.

The original plush furnishings have been restored at "Haus 1" - the former communist secret police headquarters, which is now a museum.

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 about 8,000 Stasi agents worked there, isolated from ordinary citizens.

Twenty-two years ago protesters stormed the HQ and saved many secret files.

The German state spent about 11m euros (£9m; $14m) renovating the GDR (German Democratic Republic) Ministry for State Security, which covers about 20 hectares (50 acres).

Image caption Mielke became a security officer in the Soviet occupation zone after WWII

Mielke's restored office includes an oil painting by his favourite artist, Wolfgang Frankenstein, and a large television made by the Dutch firm Philips - a luxury that normal GDR citizens could only dream of. He ran the Stasi from 1957 to 1989.

There are also GDR-built electric typewriters and Mielke's highly polished desk.

Mielke, who died in 2000, served two years in prison (1993-95) for the 1931 murder of two police officers.

The Stasi Records Office says 460 museum visitors made requests to see their Stasi files on Saturday.

Since the files were opened to the public about 2.8 million people have made such requests.

Computers are being used to piece together the files that the Stasi tried to destroy before the GDR collapsed.

In total 15,500 sacks each containing up to 80,000 bits of paper were recovered, the AFP news agency reports.

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