Presentation on theme: "STASILAND Revision Session "the most perfected surveillance state of all time." Interestingly, Funder revisits Germany again in her novel All That I Am."— Presentation transcript:
STASILAND Revision Session "the most perfected surveillance state of all time." Interestingly, Funder revisits Germany again in her novel All That I Am.
Funders exploration of the human story behind this disturbing part of German history A longing to understand how they could have turned on each other in the way that they did (remember Orwellian and 1984) She has great feeling for the German people (the German word is Mitgefühl), shown also by her interest in their Stickelbrick language and by the rigid mentality. She also has great sympathy for them. Two tragic events in the space of a century. What is it about Stasiland?
Continued… She shows tremendous sympathy for the victims of the Stasi, and seeks to understand the perpetrators. Interestingly, she finds little remorse from those perpetrators. Many defend the ideas still, whilst others see it as a joke (Herr Bock). Her voice is very evident in the text – this isnt a dispassionate exploration, its a personal story from the first chapter. Her outsiders perspective means that she has neither the pain nor the guilt… nor any reason for wanting to skim over the truth. Read reviews to see how others view her text.
Bits of reviews… gradually a picture of the world behind the Wall develops. As Julia, Funder's landlord, says (p144): For anyone to understand a regime like the GDR, the stories of ordinary people must be told. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and findsto her dismay and oursthat they have learned nothing. Stasiland is a brilliant account of the passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed Remember to go through the book club notes!
The stories She chooses to interview people to try to find out what really went on and how people are dealing with it even today. Everyday people woth unknown stories. She finds many examples of great bravery and heartbreaking tragedy here. What can we deduce from this? People tell stories facts and figures cant. She also describes Germany itself, and how it is changing (or not changing) in order to deal with the past.
Berlin, Winter 1996 The start of Annas journey (link to Berlin, Spring 2000 which is one of the final chapters) The toilet attendant who can now travel but wont (but would like to see the Great Wall of China) Her fascination for Germany Basic info on the Stasi
Miriam Considered the tragic hero of the text, she appears in more chapters than any other character (except perhaps Julia) Miriam shows how a 16-year-old girl could come to be considered an enemy of the state. This chapter also tells how Anna came to undertake this project – and the attitude of her boss reflects the attitude of everyday Germans.
Bornholmer Bridge This chapter outlines Miriams failed attempt to escape (although almost successful). Remember that she is still 16 at this point. Bornholmer Bridge is the spot she chooses for her attempt. This is followed by her torture (lack of human rights) and the crafting of a ridiculous story that they buy initially (showing the paranoia of the regime) Anna cannot believe they buy the story she sells them in order to get some peace.
Charlie This chapter is named after Miriams husband who saves her after she is changed by prison, and shares many of her political views. Charlie dies in custody in suspicious circumstances. She explains the strange behaviour of the funeral parlour. Miriam has cut herself out of photographs with him Miriam also details how she and he could not work and could barely survive a kind of blacklisting. They apply to leave several times. She is deported suddenly after his death.
The Linoleum Palace This refers to the apartment Anna rents from Julia. It is sparsely furnished, and Julia comes in irregularly to take more stuff. She compares it to Germany, which goes on despite times of the complete absence of joy. She describes how no-one knows what to do with the Palast der Republik (GDR Parliament) and Hitlers bunker. She thinks of Miriam and puts an ad in the paper to speak to Stasi men. We find later she is overrun with responses – why do you think this is?
Stasi HQ Anna visits the Stasi museum (the old Stasi HQ) on Normanenstrasse She describes their methods and how the Stasi evolved as a reaction to Nazism Details the plans to detain all people under suspicion into ghetto-like areas (ironic after Nazism) Also details how the wall came down
The Smell of Old Men Anna details the downfall of the Stasi after the wall comes down She watches a video where a psychologist says that the need to inform is a part of the German psyche, akin to their need for order and thoroughness and stuff like that. A cleaner talks to her about the fact that there were no womens toilets in the Stasi building – it was run by old men alone.
Telephone Calls Miriam calls Anna to thank her, but remains at a distance. She is also called by Herr Winz, who is a part of the Insiderkommittee, a group of ex-Stasi men. He joyfully tells her how many spies and informers they had. He also says capitalism is on its way out and gives her a copy of the Communist Manifesto. Anna finds him comical and out of date/touch
Julia has no story… But she does! She says her family went through Internal emigration - they kept their thoughts private. She talks about her (and her fathers) initial belief in the GDR, and mentions some positives such as a lack of prostitution. She disappears (in form) before Anna can get much out of her.
The Italian Boyfriend This is Julias real story. She had an Italian boyfriend, and was thus under surveillance. She could not continue to study where she wanted and couldnt find a job. GDR fictions (in the unemployment office). You are not unemployed! You are seeking work!... There is no unemployment in the GDR!
Major N He attempts to make Julia inform on her boyfriend, but she has already broken up with him. He has a lot of detail about her personal life which alarms her, including her mail. He threatens her, but she tells her family and miraculously fobs him off by threatening to write to Mielke. This shows us that some Stasi officers went beyond duty and spied on people without instruction.
The Lipsi Named after a dance manufactured by the GDR with no bodily contact. She sees the video (along with the Black Channel) at Stasi HQ. Goes towards Orwellian thought control.
Von Schni… Anna interviews Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, who hosted the Black Channel which produced propaganda demonising the West. He still emphatically holds his views, and she finds him quite ridiculous and closed minded. Interestingly, the wifes maiden name is on the door – showing how reviled he is.
The Worse You Feel Anna asks Miriam over for lunch. She reveals the story of her rape, showing the mistakes made by both sides of Germany. This leads Anna to go drinking with Klaus
Herr Christian A charming man, who treats his Stasi past like a game. Anna says he treats her like a co- conspirator. The difference is he was never ideological. He is also punished by the regime for keeping secrets (an extra-marital affair)
Socialist Man We meet Hagen Koch, once a true believer due to his upbringing. (Mielkes cartographer) He talk about the them and us mentality – better to be one of us, than one of them He talks about his father who is blackmailed into joining the party (under threat of further imprisonment) and as a teacher must bring up his son according to GDR ideals. Hagen becomes a poster boy for the GDR.
Drawing the Line Koch talks about the need for the wall (they were robbing us blind) and how he began to question the regime after his marriage. They disapproved of this and attempt to split them up. Hagen is brought up on trumped up charges and his wife is threatened with the loss of their child if she does not support the party Eventually he discovers the truth and they remarry – he faces disciplinary proceedings.
The Plate Hagen resigns from the army when he is not allowed to attend his fathers funeral as a western relative is attending. In defiance, he takes a plate congratulating his unit on their work. Their determinedness to get it back, even years later, shows the smallmindedness of the party.
Klaus Annas drinking buddy Klaus talks about his experiences as a rebellious rock star with the Stasi Renfts lyrics challenge the establishment and criticise the East German government They are banned and told they no longer exist. Many are later arrested and imprisoned. Pannach dies of a rare form of cancer, that appears to be caused by radioactive tracking experiments.
Herr Bock of Golm This Stasi man was in Spezialdiziplin (a handler who recruited informants). He talks (impressed with his own cleverness) at the process of choosing someone to be an informer (use of blackmail) He also demonstrates how well Stasi men are doing in the new system – successful rather than being held accountable. He also behaves strangely upon her leaving, enjoying her discomfort at being stuck in the dark with him.
Frau Paul (Rührdanz) The initial story shows how people and families were separated by the wall – her sick baby Thorsten was in a hospital in West Berlin. She tries to leave unsuccessfully herself and becomes embroiled with a group helping people leave East Berlin.
The Deal Eventually she is picked up by the Stasi. A real story of genuine heroism – she has a baby stuck on the other side of the wall, and refuses to give up a West Berliner to stay out of prison and see her baby. These are the hidden stories of East Germany.
Hohenschönhausen Frau Paul details her prison stay and the ridiculous trial. The prison was so secret that they could not receive visitors there – they were transported out to see them on limited occasions. She talks about tortures she and other inmates experienced. And how none of the men that performed these was ever brought to justice. The man she protected talks about his regard for her. (Michael Hinze) She talks about Mauer in Kopf – but also in a way that represent a fear of it all happening again. Because they havent seen the change or accountability needed.
Herr Bohnsack A Stasi man who outed himself, before he was outed A spy who travelled to the West to spread disinformation. He was cultured and elite – and gives examples of Mielke being an idiot. He destroyed files without permission when the wall came down He has now been ostracized and harassed for his actions by the old Stasi men. But is not portrayed in any way as a hero. Anna leaves (calls Miriam) to be with her sick mother
Berlin Spring 2000 Anna returns to Germany after her mothers death. She tries to get in contact with Miriam (no luck) and Julia (who has moved to America) She sits in the park and encounters a group of old men romanticising how good things were in the GDR. Anna thinks this is unrealistic. …if you didnt buck the system, then it wouldnt harm you. Anna says from what she can tell this isnt necessarily true.
The Wall A drunk sobs that he doesnt want to be Germany anymore! Hagen Koch is running a tourist bus exploring the history of the wall. He wants to remember the past. This chapter also shows how things have changed since Anna was last here.
Puzzlers Anna visits the Nuremberg Puzzle Women. The public has a romantic idea about them but what Anna finds is a harsh reality – it is underfunded and understaffed and the harsh reality of 375 years worth of work makes her feel sorry for Miriam – for whom there may never be any truth or justice.
Miriam and Charlie Miriam bookends the text She has moved and seems a little more at peace She bemoans the existence of Ostalgie parties, and her boss tells her that she needs to conform to the culture of the station. This reminds her of the past. Miriam has lost faith that she will find out the truth about Charlie. So its not over for her – nor for many East Germans. I think this is what Anna concludes.