Stasiland Essay

1382 Words6 Pages
Topic: "People here talk of the Mauer im Kopf or the Wall in the Head.” Discuss how Funder uses symbols to explore key themes in Stasiland.

‘Stasiland’ is a non-fiction text written by Anna Funder and follows the personal recounts and experiences of those who lived throughout the GDR prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. While the book primarily revolves around the conversations and reflections which Funder holds in relation to these stories, it is the authors remarkable use of symbolism which enables her to go beyond mere conversation delve into the complexities of not just other’s but her own experience in Stasiland. The use of physical motifs such as Hagen Koch’s Stasi plate are representative of the unrelenting oppression and control
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The force for ‘...Plate Re-Procurement...’ established by the Stasi solely to send a message to Koch of their power demonstrates the drastic determination so heavily embedded in the Stasi ethos. The Stasi could not care less for the plate itself - being worth ‘....only 16 marks...’ - but are obsessed with demonstrating their absolute power and control and go to extreme lengths in order to regain what was ‘...rightfully property of the GDR.’ In this sense, Hagen Koch’s plate is more than just a manifestation of courage and personal triumph, but becomes symbolic of the intense oppression and control with which the Stasi operated against their people throughout the GDR.

Funder’s use of symbolism in order to explore themes relevant to her own personal struggle with finding comfort and security within the former GDR is a concept central to Stasiland. The author’s more abstract use of darkness enables Funder to draw parallels between her own difficulty living in the former GDR and those who endured the true terror of the Stasi Regime, particularly in the retelling of Miriam Weber’s attempted escape to West Berlin. ‘It was dark...’ on the Eastern side of the Wall, and ‘ the west the neon shone.’ West Berlin is painted as a safe haven, away from the dangerous and frightening ‘dark’ GDR.
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