Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder


“I think its important what you’re doing… For anyone to understand a regime like the GDR the stories of ordinary people must be told.” (Pg 144)


In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited and East Germany ceased to exist. In this book, Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, including the story of Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III.

So this book combines two of my latest obsessions: Australia and Germany. I’m currently learning  German and plan on moving to Berlin in the next couple of years so even the slightest mention of the country sends me into a tizzy.

First off, Stasiland is very readable – when Funder recounts personal experiences I forgot I was reading non-fiction. Funder balances out these stories with a broad overview of German politics during the Cold War and I definitely felt like I walked away having learnt something. Notably, did you know that East Germany use to “sell” dissidents to West Germany?

But I do have to admit to being slightly disappointed overall. I think I was expecting something more in the vein of Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time with its plethora of experiences and perspectives. I really wanted more personal anecdotes about living in a divided Berlin. Another complaint: this might be me being overly sensitive but I cringed every time Funder used the word “cripple” as a noun.

Although I enjoyed the book and it definitely piqued my interest I can’t say I was ever really sucked in completely. Well-written but not addictive.

3 thoughts on “Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder

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