Category Archives: Anna Funder

Anna Funder

‘You’re late—we were expecting you earlier,’ the man behind the desk said.
‘What? Who told you I was coming? I didn’t know myself I was coming here until half an hour ago.’

Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, New York, 2002, p. 39

Anna Funder

The Russians ran the eastern parts of Germany directly until the German Democratic Republic was established as a satellite state of the USSR in 1949. Production was nationalised, factories and property turned over to the state, health care, rent and food were subsidised. One-party rule was established with an all-powerful secret service to back it up. And the Russians, having refused the offer of American capital, plundered East German production for themselves.

They stripped factories of plant and equipment which they sent back to the USSR. At the same time, they required a rhetoric of ‘Communist brotherhood’ from the East Germans whom they had ‘liberated’ from fascism. Whatever their personal histories and private allegiances, the people living in this zone had to switch from being (rhetorically, at the very least) Nazis one day to being Communists and brothers with their former enemies the next.

And almost overnight the Germans in the eastern states were made, or made themselves, innocent of Nazism. It seemed as if they actually believed that Nazis had come from and returned to the western parts of Germany, and were somehow separate from them—which was in no way true. History was so quickly remade, and so successfully, that it can truly be said that the easterners did not feel then, and do not feel now, that they were the same Germans as those responsible for Hitler’s regime. This sleight-of-history must rank as one of the most extraordinary innocence manoeuvres of the century.

Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, New York, 2002, p. 161

Anna Funder

“How are you treated today, as a former Stasi man?’ I ask. I would like to find out why he is disguised as a westerner.

‘The foe has made a propaganda war against us, a slander and smear campaign. And therefore I don’t often reveal myself to people. But in Potsdam people come up and say’—he puts on a small sorry voice—‘“You were right. Capitalism is even worse than you told us it would be. In the GDR you could go out alone at night as a woman! You could leave your apartment door open!”’

You didn’t need to, I think, they could see inside anyway.

‘This capitalism is, above all, exploitation! It is unfair. It’s brutal. The rich get richer and the masses get steadily poorer. And capitalism makes war! German imperialism in particular! Each industrialist is a criminal at war with the other, each business at war with the next!’ He takes a sip of coffee and holds his hand up to stop me asking any more questions.

‘Capitalism plunders the planet too—this hole in the ozone layer, the exploitation of the forests, pollution—we must get rid of this social system! Otherwise the human race will not last the next fifty years!’

There is an art, a deeply political art, of taking circumstances as they arise and attributing them to your side or the opposition, in a constant tallying of reality towards ends of which it is innocent. And it becomes clear as he speaks that socialism, as an article of faith, can continue to exist in minds and hearts regardless of the miseries of history. This man is disguised as a westerner, the better to fit unnoticed into the world he finds himself in, but the more he talks the clearer it becomes that he is undercover, waiting for the Second Coming of socialism.

Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, New York, 2002, p. 86