Writing the Stasi – guest post by Fiona Rintoul

Leipzig Town Centre in the 80s (C) Fiona Rintoul
Leipzig Town Centre in the 80s © Fiona Rintoul, 1986

“Stasi” was the first new vocabulary item I learnt when I arrived at the Karl-Marx-University Leipzig as an exchange student in the 1980s. Short for Staatsicherheit – the hated East German secret service – Stasi was a word you whispered, like the name of a terrible disease. Continue reading “Writing the Stasi – guest post by Fiona Rintoul”

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Map for Book 3 of the East Berlin Series, Spectre At The Feast

The map to be found in the book Spectre At The Feast is reproduced here. Click to enlarge the thumbnail.

Map of Berlin showing scenes from Spectre At The Feast
Map based on OpenStreetMap, ©OpenStreetMap and contributors.

For more details, including a preview of the book, have a look at the entry for Spectre At The Feast

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Stasi Tactics – Zersetzung

Huge eye watching a group of friends

This post takes a look at the experiences of political activists in East Germany (GDR) who had to deal with Stasi informants and infiltration before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Continue reading “Stasi Tactics – Zersetzung”

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For Our Country

The original print out of the Für Unser Land statement

(This article was originally written for and posted on the website of the interdisciplinary academic network Cultures of the Cold War.)

In the counter-factual novel Stealing The Future the rift with reality is pinpointed as beginning on the 4th November 1989, but the subsequent publication of the  For Our Country Statement played a significant role in building East Germans’ confidence in their ability to remain independent of West Germany. Continue reading “For Our Country”

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Contemporary fiction set in the GDR

Enjoyed Deutschland 83? Want to read some stories about East Germany? Here’s a list of contemporary fiction dealing with, or set in East Germany. Updated June 2018 Continue reading “Contemporary fiction set in the GDR”

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How realistic is Deutschland 83?

As the author of various novels set in East Germany I’ve been asked a fair bit about Deutschland 83 over the last few weeks – mostly about whether or not the series is at all realistic. The series is a fun but unreliable witness to both East and West in 1983, but in this post I shall be outlining how Martin Rauch would have been recruited in the real GDR of 1983.

Continue reading “How realistic is Deutschland 83?”

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Political Structures in Stealing the Future

Citizens enter the main Stasi HQ in Berlin

Where to start?

When writing a political novel the author needs to be very clear about the political structures that form the framework of the story, not to mention how they work on a day-to-day basis (indeed it is the tension between the theory and the practice of these institutions that provide the gaps that allow such stories to be developed).

The reader of Stealing the Future will have picked up on the fact that there are parliaments at several levels (Volkskammer at the federal level, and the Landeskammern at the Land, or regional level). But in Martin’s everyday life, most of the actual decisions are taken by the Ministry of the Interior (at which he works) or by the various assemblies – from the Central Round Table right down to the plenary meeting of the residents in his tenement block. Continue reading “Political Structures in Stealing the Future”

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Could the GDR have survived? Part III – the Geopolitics of Stealing the Future

Gorbachev and Honecker in conference

 

 

As I said in Part II, in Stealing the Future I’ve tried to remain as true to historical fact as possible – practically this means trying to keep the history of countries other than Germany pretty much true to real life. Outside the GDR the biggest surprise is the continued existence of the USSR. I decided to let Mikhail Gorbachev keep the Soviet ship of state afloat, despite all its leaks and mutinies. Continue reading “Could the GDR have survived? Part III – the Geopolitics of Stealing the Future”

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Spelling – how to spell West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin…

An East German Map, showing West Berlin as an empty space.

West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin, Berlin (West), B(W), BW?!?

It wasn’t until I’d finished my first draft of Stealing The Future that I started worrying about how to spell Westberlin (or West Berlin, West-Berlin or even Berlin (West)!). I’d blithely tapped away at my keyboard, using the Eastgerman (East German) vernacular, only realising that this may seem odd to a non-German audience, or even a Westgerman (West German) audience.

In English it’s really not very hard: West Berlin, West Germany, East Berlin, East Germany. But in German the way you spell West Berlin tells the reader something about you, and your politics. Yep, you guessed right, it’s about the Cold War, of course. Continue reading “Spelling – how to spell West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin…”

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