Reading Response #4: Stasiland
In the 1990s Anna Funder, an Australian native travels to Berlin, Germany to uncover the stories of many people affected by the split of Berlin under the Stasi. Her book, Stasiland, tells the untold stories of people which otherwise would be long forgotten during this time period. The books highlights the ways in which most of these people have a feeling of ostalgie, in English translates to nostalgia, and how during this time of oppression still leaves a void in their hearts wishing to go back in time to uncover the truth of exactly why these events have either negatively or positively affected their current living situation.
Funder highlights how courage, resistance, resilience, trust, memories, forgetting, and personal views of self governing have all affected their current lives and have shaped these individuals into strong, admirable, and respected individuals from living in the German Democratic Republic after the fall of the Berlin Wall. These themes also challenge rational and understanding attitudes on the past and future, emphasizing ostalgie. Even while people of former East Germany struggle to cope with the the unforgiving capitalist society, with his or her own deprivation and psychological legacy of Stasi surveillance, Funder insists that all of them reflect upon the darkness of the past. She also reminds us of all of their determined forgetting of Nazism perpetuated oppression in the following regime after.
Funder travels to both Leipzig and Berlin and in 1996 encounters Miriam Webber. Webber, shares her story of growing up in East Germany as a teenager and the effects of the construction of the Berlin Wall had affected her. She and a friend had written pamphlets about their critiques on the police and were eventually sent to solitary confinement in prison for treason. She was tracked down by the Stasi quickly after the pamphlets were released because of the close and highly monitored society by the government at the time, for the exact reasons of rebellion against the government. Miriam, explains her efforts to escape by jumping the wall over into West Berlin. When talking with Funder, she explains how she didn’t think she could get around the barbed wire of the wall and instead climbed over a fence to her escape. After she was released from prison Webber marries her husband Charlie who, as she had been, had been deemed and “Enemy of the State” and also had served time in jail after being arrested. Charlie, had died while in prison because of suicide which made Miriam incredibly skeptical. Miriam did not believe that her husband had killed himself and months after his death when she was finally able to see the body, concluded she was right. The markings on her husband’s body were not of markings that would determine suicide, and set on a quest to bring attention to uncover the truth about the death of her husband. Unfortunately, because the Stasi had sealed files of thousands of deaths during t...