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Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall Paperback – September 20, 2011
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"Its job was to know everything about everyone, using any means it chose. It knew who your visitors were, it knew whom you telephoned, and it knew if your wife slept around." This was the fearsome Stasi, the Ministry for State Security of the late and unlamented German Democratic Republic. Funder, an Australian writer, international lawyer and TV and radio producer, visiting Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, finds herself captivated by stories of people who resisted the Stasi-moving stories that she collects in her first book, which was shortlisted for two literary awards in Australia. For instance, Miriam Weber, a slight woman with a "surprisingly big nicotine-stained voice," was placed in solitary confinement at the age of 16 for printing and distributing protest leaflets; she was caught again during a dramatic nighttime attempt to go over the Wall. Filtered through Funder's own keen perspective, these dramatic tales highlight the courage that ordinary people can display in torturous circumstances.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
During its 40-year history, the German Democratic Republic--East Germany--was, with Soviet assistance, the perfect police state. The organ of surveillance within the GDR (as well as foreign intelligence activities) was the Stasi, which, better than any other modern secret police, had organized a large army of citizen informers. Australian writer Funder thoroughly documents that culture of domestic spying and its effects on a cross-section of East German society. To call the stories that she relates as Orwellian is rather an understatement; the fact that they are true alone goes beyond Orwell: the mysterious death of a husband while in detention, the sudden "nonexistence" of a rock star, a mother's separation from her critically ill infant. What the reader learns from these stories is that evil swings like a pendulum, from the banal to the surreal, but no matter where it is in the spectrum, it always leaves pain behind. Frank Caso
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The author successfully explored, while behind the Wall, the GDR citizen needed to compromise and balance one's humanistic values, to survive the false narratives of the one party state (the Socialist Unity Party -SED), while living the reality of survival . Further, the author explored how the GDR citizen coped with the emotional toll, upon learning of how the Stasi directly or indirectly affected one's personal, professional, social, and familial life. This book has made me further believe that the human spirit does survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Oh, and there is humor in the book, I could not stop laughing about a plate, which reminds me - life heroes are those who can laugh and carry on.
The reader learns the stories of individuals and families who experienced the worst of a totalitarian system, but also travel with Anna into her own thoughts and feelings as well as her struggles to discover the truth and to document it well.
Anna Funder uses all her skills and determination to win the trust of ex-Stasi informers and operatives - including two highly ranked officers of the East German system. In doing so, the author reveals how unrepentant some of these characters are and how some East Germans long for the old system of communism to return.
The reader learns so much about the Berlin Wall and its trip wires, dogs, guards, and alarm systems to stop people escaping to the West. And about those who were sent by the Stasi out of East Berlin because they were deemed to be more trouble than they were worth.
Any reader with interest in post-WWII German history will find this book informative and emotionally engaging.