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

Stasiland by Anna Funder
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it was amazing
bookshelves: aww2019

A book I've been meaning to read for a VERY long time. While the technology, geopolitics, and world concerns are like opening a time capsule, Anna Funder's observations, interviews, and perseverance to pin down the stories of ex-Stasi informers and officers, dissidents, political prisoners, and others who were indelibly affected by the GDR regime, the material reality of the Wall and its coming down, makes for a relevant and immersive read. Her task reminded me of the puzzlers she visits in Nuremburg, who will take 375 years to piece together the shredded surveillance files on ordinary East Germans. Each perspective she presents is a fragment of a regime that has no sides or edges, where truth was made fake and propaganda made truth. I particularly found Funder's interviews with ex-Stasi officers insightful, without her passing judgement but exposing their flaws as humans, their resoluteness or contritition or rationalisation of their actions speaking volumes.
I could not help but think about the personal files kept by various State Departments in Australia who controlled every aspect of First Nations Peoples' lives under "Protection Acts". One of my former jobs was for one such department, piecing together archival records, redacting personal files, and filling in the gaps in clients' family histories. The surveillance methods had been different to those used on the East Germans, but I trawled through heartbreaking personal correspondence, employment registers, applications to marry the person of their choice, requests for their bank savings to purchase a car, please. And noted the handwritten scrawls in margins where departmental officers gave pithy reasons to deny such requests. Their power, like the Stasi's, was malevolent and disgusting.
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Reading Progress

December 17, 2019 – Started Reading
December 17, 2019 – Shelved
December 18, 2019 –
page 67
December 20, 2019 –
page 204
December 21, 2019 – Shelved as: aww2019
December 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

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