The Olympic Order controversially awarded to East Germany’s former leader Erich Honecker 35 years ago is to be put up for auction next month.
The item is part of a collection of medals and awards given to Honecker during his career available at a sale being organised by German auction house Andreas Thies in Nürtingen on July 11.
Honecker controlled the German Democratic Republic Government from 1971 until he was forced out in the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989.
The Olympic Order in gold was awarded to Honecker in 1985 by then International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
"The Olympic Order," according to the IOC, "is awarded to recognise an individual who has illustrated the Olympic ideal" or has "rendered outstanding services to the Olympic cause."
Honecker had overseen the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and when he became leader he ordered his country's border guards to shoot to kill citizens trying to escape communist East Germany into the West.
He was also head of a Government that created a state doping programme which involved more than 10,000 athletes being given performance-enhancing drugs, often unknowingly or against their will.
It is now known that several members of the IOC and its Medical Commission were aware of East Germany’s state-sponsored doping programme but chose to do nothing about it.
In 1996, Samaranch defended the decision to award Honecker the Olympic Order, along with Romania’s former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who also received it in 1985.
"Presidents Ceausescu and Honecker received not only awards from the IOC, they received important awards of many countries around the world, many Western countries," Samaranch said.
Samaranch claimed the IOC honoured Honecker because East Germany was the first Communist country to confirm its participation in the Seoul 1988 Olympics, heading off the possibility of another boycott following disrupted Games at Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.
"The gestures of these two men were important for the Olympic Movement," Samaranch said.
The Olympic Order was established by the IOC in 1975.
The insignia of the Olympic Order is in the form of a collar in gold, silver or bronze according to grade.
The front of the chain depicts the five rings of the Olympic Movement, flanked on either side by an olive wreath.
A lapel badge, in the form of the five rings in gold, silver and bronze according to grade, is presented to recipients to wear as appropriate.
The pin is also up for auction along with the Order.
The Order was made by Bertoni, Milano, which also manufactured the FIFA World Cup trophy.
According to the catalogue published by Andreas Thies for the auction, it is the first time that an Olympic Order has been put up for public sale.
The reserve for the item is €10,000 (£9,000/$11,000) but it is expected to fetch much more.
Honeckher died in exile in Santiago in Chile in 1994 at the age of 81.
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