Review and commentary on Stasiland

August 22nd, 2015  |  Published in Amazon reviews, Creative non-fiction, Dark Tales, English teacher resource, History, Literary comparison, Reviews

This is a review on the text. The nature of a review is different to that of an essay. A review offers more scope and choices than with an essay. The purpose of this review is to remind students of some of the salient features of the text and the necessity of being able to encapsulate these clearly and succinctly. On the other hand an essay has a path set down by the topic; however, it still requires clear expression of ideas and an outline that states and defines the discussion you undertake in the body of your essay.

Before you even being writing your draft it is essential that you:

  • Unpack the topic
  • Highlight key words
  • Define key words in terms of how they relate to the overall text
  • Determine the angle of discussion you are going to undertake.

This is a grim memoir and part investigative journalism. Anna Funder travels to Berlin to partly explore her heritage and uncover real stories revealing unhappy and disturbing truths about the German Democratic Republic (GDR). She present a range of voices from the most damaged victims of this brutal regime to authoritarian figure who still stand by the GDR’s ideology despite being crushed by it and then rendered powerless.

Even though this read is overlong and repetitive, Funder explores a time in history that has been too conveniently forgotten since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Stasiland is a disturbing reminder of the horror of totalitarianism and a warning about governments. In the western world, this includes corporations who are answerable to no one and often powerbrokers for governments. It came as a shock to read that approximately one in sixty people were informants for the GDR, a far higher figure than in Stalin’s Russia. This is an indictment of the fear this regime generated. Ordinary individuals were often polarised between, choosing to be informants, complying with the regime and others who were prepared to face torture and even risk death. Stories told by disgruntled former Stasi men claiming that they administered a fairer state protecting the people from the worst excesses of capitalism and disenfranchisement is sadly and chillingly the truth. Victims’ stories reveal that despite the end of this regime, life in East Berlin is still grim and victims like their tormentors are often still stuck in the past. This is also testimony to the power of propaganda, showing how individuals, such as Miriam and Julia, who rebelled against the regime, in many ways remain trapped by it long after the wall fell.

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