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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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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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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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”

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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”

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