Honecker returns as a virus

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The Independent Online
ONE quality rarely associated with the late Erich Honecker was humour, writes Tony Barber. For German computer owners, the man who built the Berlin Wall is turning out to be even less amusing now he is in his grave.

Last Saturday, thousands of enthusiasts were tapping happily at their screens when an image loomed before them. It was Honecker, complete with thin spectacles and skeletal features. On the 33rd anniversary of the Wall's construction, he had resurfaced in the form of a computer virus.

Worse was to come. As Honecker stared gauntly from the screens, the anthem of the defunct East German state came piping through.

Distraught computer-owners pressed their hands to their ears. The virus pressed on, displaying a message that announced the destruction of programmes 'by order of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic'. A second message read: 'Honni's last revenge - I'll be back.'

A pattern quickly became clear. As leader of 'the first workers' and peasants' state on German soil', Honecker had done his utmost to keep western and eastern Germany apart. But as a computer virus, he was appearing in both parts of Germany. Software is being developed to wipe out the virus. If only it had been that simple in his lifetime.