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”

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”

Für unser Land

Demonstration for an open country and free people 1989

Unser Land steckt in einer tiefen Krise. Wie wir bisher gelebt haben, können und wollen wir nicht mehr leben. Die Führung einer Partei hatte sich die Herrschaft über das Volk und seine Vertretungen angemaßt, vom Stalinismus geprägte Strukturen hatten alle Lebensbereiche durchdrungen. Gewaltfrei, durch Massendemonstrationen hat das Volk den Prozess der revolutionären Erneuerung erzwungen, der sich in atemberaubender Geschwindigkeit vollzieht. Uns bleibt nur wenig Zeit, auf die verschiedenen Möglichkeiten Einfluss zu nehmen, die sich als Auswege aus der Krise anbieten. Continue reading “Für unser Land”

Constitution of 1990

Header from the government gazette of the GDR

One of the joys of writing fiction, I find, is the absolute power an author has over the characters and events in the story. Nevertheless, that power is limited by the needs of the reader—unconvincing, illogical and irrational plots may be fun to dream up and write, but will leave most readers unsatisfied.

For that reason, when writing The East Berlin Series I found I needed to place the events into various kinds of frameworks and contexts—there was a real need to make the story both plausible and believable.

Clearly history presented me with one set of limits. The East Berlin Series is counter-factual – branching away from ‘real’ history at the beginning of November 1989 – but I felt there was a practical limit as to what a society (no matter how energetic and idealistic) could achieve in just under three years. Continue reading “Constitution of 1990”

Point of Divergence – when history splits

GDR Coat of Arms

Point of Divergence

Stealing the Future is set in 1993 – nearly three years after (in ‘our’ world) the GDR ceased to exist. But in the East Berlin Series, the GDR has continued to exist, and is searching for ways to remain economically, politically and socially viable as a country in its own right.

Inevitably a change such as this would have an impact on the rest of the world, and perhaps more importantly, demands other changes in order to be at all possible. I talk about this more in the post How plausible is Stealing the Future, (including a look at the economic and the geo-political situation). Continue reading “Point of Divergence – when history splits”

Could the GDR have survived? Part II – the Economics of Stealing the Future

External factors were the main cause of death for the GDR economy. In those days the economies of the Soviet dominated Eastern Bloc were far more globalised than we are even today, and the collapse of COMECON – the East European trading bloc in January 1990 meant that export markets disappeared overnight. New trade links could theoretically have been built were it not for the preparations to introduce the West German D-Mark in the GDR. This happened in June 1990 and meant that all the GDR’s traditional trade partners were simply unable to pay for goods or services from East Germany. Continue reading “Could the GDR have survived? Part II – the Economics of Stealing the Future”

Could the GDR have survived? Part I How Plausible is Stealing The Future?

Stealing the Future and its sequels have a very simple premise: that East Germany did not get taken over by the West in 1990, but carried on as an independent state. I believe it’s fair to say that many, probably most people in the East Germany (the GDR) in 1989-90 actually wanted to stay independent, and it’s very clear that those who were already in active opposition to the regime before 1989 weren’t aiming for unification with West Germany. Continue reading “Could the GDR have survived? Part I How Plausible is Stealing The Future?”

Tour 3 – Cops and Squats

Mainzer Strasse in 1990

A walking tour around some of the squats of Friedrichshain, a trip to the Museum of Youth Resistance against the Nazis and the Communists, taking in the impressive Stalinist architecture of the Karl-Marx-Allee and the notorious police station near the film set of the The Lives of Others on Marchlewskistrasse. Consider doing this tour in the evening if you want to try the food, beer and punk bands playing in the social centres in the old squats!

Walking distance: 4km/2.5 Miles; 90 mins, plus time to visit museum.
Start: Samariterstrasse U-Bahn Station (U5); End: Weberwiese U-Bahn Station (U5) or Warschauer Strasse S and U-Bahn Station (U1). Continue reading “Tour 3 – Cops and Squats”