This part in the series of cultural snapshots around German reunification: a fantastic book about searching for truth in 90s East Berlin
In the 1990s, Australian journalist Anna Funder was living in an almost derelict apartment in East Berlin. She wanted to write about her neighbours and the people around her, and in particular, she wanted to speak to the perpretrators and victims of the secret police.
There is more to East Germany than the Stasi, and everyday life could be as normal and boring as anywhere else, but if you were to read one book on the state’s intrusion into the lives of its citizens, Stasiland is excellent.
This is a society which is post-reunification, pre-reckoning. The city is still scarred, lives are still raw, and many perpetrators face few consequences.
Funder does not stereotype or sensationalise, and her style is perceptive and engaging. She speaks to a defensive Stasi man and shows his banal life. She interviews victims who might never recover from what was done to them. She also paints an image of crumbling Prenzlauerberg, a Berlin district which now has exponentially rising rents and stylish cafes on every corner.
Read Stasiland for one journalist’s exploration of a city in transition.