Stasiland

Windmill knight

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I recently came across 'Stasiland', by Anna Funder. The back cover reads:

Berlin in the 1990s. A city split for forty years by the Wall is trying to knit itself back together - a city where former Stasi men
and their victims now pass one another in the street, and where, just under the surface, the Nazi past lies buried. When Anna Funder hears
of ordinary people who resisted the fearsome Stasi - extraordinary stories that are barely being told now - she sets out to explore the
underbelly of the most perfected surveillance state of all time, the former East Germany.

Funder finds Miriam Weber, imprisoned as a teenager because she might have started World War III, and Frau Paul who never, ever wanted to be
a hero. She visits the regime's cartographer, obsessed to this day with the Berlin Wall, and she gets drunk with the legendary 'Mik
Jegger' of the east, the rock star Klaus Renft, once declared by the authorities to 'no longer exist'. Then she meets former Stasi men, now
coping with the end of their world - men who spied on their families and friends, who irradiated people to track them with Geiger counters,
or stole pieces of their underwear for 'smell samples'.

Funder is a fiercely talented new writer, with a novelist's eye for character and story. She has written an extraordinary book: a lyrical,
at times blackly funny look at courage and conscience and the extremes of what humans will do to one another.
If you saw that movie 'The Lives of Others', you now what the Stasi is about.

I have only read the first few chapters and I already find it extraordinary indeed, comparable to Sebastian Haffner's 'Defying
Hitler
' in style and insights about human experiences under oppression. I hadn't read two chapters and I had already laughed and
cried at the absurdity of it all and at what the human spirit (or lack of) will make people do. Did you know, for example, that for some
years the Stasi would punish people who had their tv antennas pointing to the West?!

Just a while ago I read Funder's description of the head of the Stasi, Erich Mielke, and she says:

"Photos show Mielke to be a small man with no neck. His eyes are set close together, his cheeks puffy. He has the face and the lisp of a
pugilist. He loved to hunt; footage shows him inspecting a line of deer carcasses as he would a military parade. He loved his medals, and
wore them pinned over his chest in shiny, noisy rows. He also loved to sing, mainly rousing marches and, of course, 'The Internationale'. It
is said that psychopaths, people utterly untroubled by conscience, make supremely effective generals and politicians, and perhaps he was
one.
He was certainly the most feared man in the GDR; feared by colleagues, feared by Party members, feared by workers and the general
population. 'We are not immune from villains among us,' he told a gathering of high-ranking Stasi officers in 1982. 'If I knew of any
already, they wouldn't live past tomorrow. Short shrift. It's because I'm a humanist, that I am of this view.' And, 'All this blithering
about to execute or not to execute, for the death penalty or against - al rot, comrades. Execute! And, when necessary, without a court
judgment.'"
Compare to Ponerology!
 

Alana

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Photos show Mielke to be a small man with no neck. His eyes are set close together, his cheeks puffy. He has the face and the lisp of a
pugilist. He loved to hunt; footage shows him inspecting a line of deer carcasses as he would a military parade. He loved his medals, and
wore them pinned over his chest in shiny, noisy rows.
The above description sounds like the guy is an amalgamation of Palin/McCain! :evil:

Great find Windmill knight. I watched The Lives of Others and it seems that Stasi had perfected citizens surveillance ala 1984 in the locked up, small part of East Germany at that time.
 
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