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Saturday, June 19, 2010

A battle rages in Berlin over preserving the Stasi headquarters:

The row involves Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative-liberal government, city planners and the erstwhile opponents of East Germany's Communist regime.

The German government, which has been criticised for failing to adequately address the country's history prior to reunification in 1990, wants to take over the building and turn it into a national memorial.

The local Berlin borough, which is sick of its reputation for being the home of one of the nastiest secret police forces in history, would like to see the entire complex demolished.

Yet the former East German dissidents who have been running Berlin's Stasi museum for the past two decades fear both options so much that they have defied government orders to vacate the premises and are now squatting in the building and refusing to budge.

"Obviously, we don't want to see our museum demolished," said Jörg Drieselmann, a former East German dissident who is the museum's director. "Neither do we want to be taken over by the government. We are afraid that they will sanitise the place and destroy the authenticity that makes Berlin's Stasi museum unique," he told The Independent. "We were supposed to get out on 31 May, but nobody has come to evict us so far. Effectively, we are squatters," he added.

Count me in the camp that would preserve the place as it is. Future generations should always be made aware of the evils that men are capable of, especially when committed in the name of the people.

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