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?”

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”

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”

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 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?”

Martin’s Music – Introduction

Music Cassette Tapes
Throughout the East Berlin Series the protagonist, Martin, name drops some of the bands he's listening to, and is just as often teased by his daughter, Katrin, who finds her father's musical tastes to be somewhat outdated, and at times even embarrassing.

Originally I wanted music to play a much bigger part in the book - I was interested in the musical clash between East and West. It's not as if Martin didn't have the chance to listen to Western music - living in Berlin he could receive all the West Berlin radio stations. On the other hand he could only buy those records which the state record label, Amiga, released. Continue reading "Martin’s Music – Introduction"

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”

Tour 2 – Prisons, Factories, Russians and the Stasi

Entrance to the Stasi HQ in Lichtenberg

This tour of scenes from Stealing The Future visits the Rummelsburg Prison, where Chris Fremdiswalde, the main suspect in the Maier case was held, then on to the Klingenberg Power Station, a trip to KWO and then to Karlshorst, where the Russians had their main base in Berlin, continuing, by way of Friedrichsfelde (where Fremdiswalde had a flat) to the Stasi HQ in Lichtenberg.

Allow 6 hours, less if you don’t wish to visit the museums.

Walking distance (includes some sections by tram): 1.3 miles (2.15km) in Rummelsburg; an optional 3/4 mile (1.3km) near KWO plus 3/4 mile (1.25km) in Karlshorst.
or Cycling distance: 20 km/13 miles.
Time: 2 hrs plus time to visit museums.
Start: Rummelsburg S-Bahn station;
End: Stasi HQ, near Magdalenenstrasse U-Bahn station. Continue reading “Tour 2 – Prisons, Factories, Russians and the Stasi”