AC says the fragments add up to an enormous jigsaw puzzle, There's 16,000 bags of hand torn documents or pieces of paper. (So what was in the shredder is gone and forgotten?) Pretty much. The Stasi burned out the motors in these industrial wood chipper machines by doing so much shredding and then resorted to tearing by hand. (How can you possibly put this together even with the help of technology?) The idea is to train a computer to look at it like a human. The computer will look and collect all the white pieces of paper, and then the white pieces of paper with type writing, and then white pieces of paper with type writing and hand notation. The key is not notation really but developing a scanner that can move these papers fast enough. They're working with scanners that scan automatically forms that you might use to apply for a credit card. These challenges are very big. (Up until recently they were doing most of this work by hand). At one lab I visited they told me a good reconstructor could do one bag by hand per year. (Why don't you tell us about one woman whose life was thoroughly documented by the Stasi?) This woman was blackballed from university and founded a group that agitated to demilitarize East Germany and was thus put under constant surveillance. (She found out about this through documents that had not been torn.) In 1992, the German police opened the vaults. It was 1.8 million people who have asked to see their files. I think it's important for Germans to come to terms with their past. Today is the 75th anniversary of Hitler coming to power. There's been a realization that they didn't deal with their Nazi past quickly enough and they're trying to learn from that in dealing with their East German past. Most people are not really sure what they can expect in finding out more.
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