Honecker hunting lodge fetches 3.4 m euros at auction

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The former hunting lodge of East German strongman Erich Honecker was sold at auction on Monday for 3.4 million euros ($4.6 million) to a Dutch hotel group, the court arranging the sale said.

"The estimated value (of the lodge), which was 3.7 million euros, was nearly reached. Therefore, it's a good price," said Matthias Brandt, a spokesman from the local administrative court in the eastern German town of Waren.

Closed to the public until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the thatched lodge looks out over 14 hectares (35 acres) of forest some 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Berlin.

The communist strongman hosted visits there by various colleagues from "brother countries" such as Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The hotel group, Van Der Valk, officially becomes owner of the property and hopes to attact families by concentrating on the cultural aspects of the site.

Honecker, who ran East Germany for 13 years, was toppled less than a month before the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, under popular pressure and abandoned by his masters in Moscow.

He died in exile in Chile in 1994, aged 81.

© 2011 AFP

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