Michael's Reviews > Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Stasiland by Anna Funder
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it was amazing
bookshelves: five-star-books

The GDR or East Germany as it was formerly known lasted for just over 40 years. One of the main things that kept it alive for that length of time apart from the Berlin Wall was the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit or Stasi as it was commonly known. The Stasi used every method both legal and illegal to try and keep the people subdued including an army of informers who would track your every move to methods of punishment which ranged from brutal to straight out inhumane. Stasiland by Aussie author Anna Funder looks at people who lives were shaped by the organisation with victims and those who were apart of it.

The victims story are for some tragic such as a mother separated from her sick son for years when the Berlin Wall went up to people who would be sent to prison and tortured for refusing to go along with the countries ways and try and escape. Each person has has there own sincerity with some such as one person who was a member of a rock band (something that was not tolerated in the country) and would eventually be disbanded by order of the Stasi. These stories were real eye openers for me and made me feel glad to live in a country were freedom is assured.

Funder also interviews Stasi members who had numerous different roles in the organisation. The thing that most suprised me reading what they had to say was how many of them were living in denial about what they had done and many were still living there lives as the Wall had never fallen. How deeply some former members felt about there denials was shown with one member who bravely told his story to a magazine something that seen him recieve death threats. The other main theme for me is the total unsureness from a united Germany on what to do with its not so distant past. While many dont want to hear anything about the GDR and the Stasi others do as the country struggles with having had two toltarian regimes in the last 60 odd years.

Overall Funder has done a wonderful job with what would of been a difficult project. She treated everyone she interviewed with respect and dignity. While it was clear many of them on the Stasi side had leaned nothing and Anna along with all of us was dismayed she never judged. Stasiland has it all including heroism, laughter, brutality , psycholgy and compassion in a beautiful and intriguing read.
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Reading Progress

August 9, 2011 – Shelved
July 1, 2012 – Started Reading
July 1, 2012 –
page 47
16.32%
July 2, 2012 –
page 129
44.79%
July 3, 2012 –
page 189
65.63%
July 4, 2012 –
page 235
81.6%
July 5, 2012 –
page 267
92.71%
July 6, 2012 – Finished Reading
July 7, 2012 – Shelved as: five-star-books

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