Stasiland Summary and Study Guide

Anna Funder

Stasiland

  • 47-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 28 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with an MFA in Creative Writing
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Stasiland Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 47-page guide for “Stasiland” by Anna Funder includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 28 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Importance of Remembering and The Danger of Manufactured Reality.

Plot Summary

Stasiland, by Anna Funder, originally published in 2002, is the true account of life in East Germany during the Communist regime, from 1949 to 1990. It tells the stories of those who resisted and engaged in what has been called the most perfected surveillance state of all time.

First, Funder visits Leipzig, Germany, to meet with Miriam Weber, a woman who was arrested by the Stasi, brutally interrogated, and who later tried to escape over the Wall at age sixteen. Her husband, Charlie, was later arrested and died under suspicious circumstances in a cell under the Stasi’s watch. Miriam suspects that her husband was killed by the Stasi.

In an attempt to hear the other side of the story, Funder takes out an ad seeking the stories of former Stasi officers and receives a response from Herr Winz, who seems to have little regret over his role in the Stasi and still believes socialism to be the best political doctrine.

Next, Funder hears the story of her landlord, Julia, who grew up in East Germany. Julia tells of the invasiveness of the Stasi, and of how the Stasi read her love letters to her Italian boyfriend. 

Funder meets with several ex-Stasi men, including Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, a propagandist who hosted a television show called The Black Channel and rants about western imperialism, as well as Herr Christian, a flippant man who encoded western communications to send to the government in Berlin. Hagen Koch is the cartographer who drew the line where the Berlin Wall would be built. 

Funder then meets with Frau Paul, who was separated from her son because he required medical attention in West Germany, and who multiple times tried to escape to see him. 

Finally, Funder meets with Herr Bohnsack, who worked for the overseas spy service and ended up outing himself. He is the figure who is the least dogmatic about socialism.

Four years later, Funder returns to Berlin. She learns that Julia has moved to San Francisco and is working at a feminist bookshop. Frau Paul now works for an organization that campaigns for the compensation of those persecuted by the regime. She reunites with Hagen Koch at a museum, and he takes her on his tour, educating tourists on the eastern side of the Wall. Finally, she reconnects with Miriam and finds some closure in a poem that Charlie wrote.

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Chapters 1-3