Roland Walter eyed a nifty short-wave radio as he stood in line at a very strange checkout counter.
"Radios are a hobby of mine and I've been looking for one of these," said Walter. He is one of hundreds of people who occasionally visit the dimly lit halls of the secret police headquarters - to do a little shopping.The East Berlin student wants to rid his country of the remnants of the secret police force known as the Stasi, but a rummage sale of Stasi goods offers bargains too good to pass up.
Since April, the democratic government has been selling items collected from the labyrinthine complex that once was Stasi headquarters. Hundreds of tape recorders, televisions, amplifiers, windbreakers, attache cases, Communist flags and even soup bowls, tennis shoes, and record albums - somebody liked military marches - fill dozens of tables in a cavernous room at the headquarters.
Wolfgang Haubold, who works for a committee set up to oversee the dissolution of the Stasi, said only $6,333 to $7,595 worth of goods have been sold. Old tape recorders sell for as little as $3.15.
The famed Stasi surveillance equipment isn't included, although electronic goods that could have been used for such purposes - microphones, amplifiers, relay switches and a variety of tape recorders - fill many tables.
Most of the sale items are odds and ends gathered from the hundreds of offices in the Stasi complex.
The Stasi also reportedly controlled billions of dollars in property, buildings, cars and other goods. Much of what happens to that material will be decided by a united German government after the two nations merge Oct. 3, but some Stasi buildings already are being rented.
Jacqueline Buss, 24, was part of the exodus of refugees who fled East Germany last year in the dying days of the Communist government, settling in Heemsen, West Germany. She was back this week to visit family and to pick up a leather purse - a Stasi purse? - for a scant 10 marks, or $6.30.
"I came because I was curious," she said. "This is the last place anyone wanted to be before last year."
Walter bought his short-wave radio for $95. He said that under the Communist regime, it sold new for the equivalent of $6,333.