Translating the untranslatable:
Weltanschauung – a comprehensive view or personal philosophy of human life and the universe
Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others
sippenhaft – liability of all the members of a family for the crimes of one member; a legal practice in Nazi Germany
Sonderweg – a theory that considers Germany to have followed its own, peculiar path through history
Scheissfreundlichkeit – exaggeratedly, and perhaps excessive, friendliness
Vergangenheitsbewältigung – the struggle to come to terms with the past
Anna Funder describes her visit to the Stasi File Authority in Zirndorf, just outside Nuremberg, on page 262 of Stasiland. She finds a small group of men and women, working long and hard with nothing but sellotape and a love of jigsaw puzzles. Thankfully, things have moved on since then.
In this article from May 2007, Kate Connolly reports that the German government have finally given the go-ahead to proceed with the new software (the so-called E-Puzzler) that will piece together the shredded Stasi files in a fraction of the time that the 'puzzle women' could ever have done.
Below, DW-TV reporter Georg Matthes investigates the Stasi file store and the process by which people can request information which may have been kept about themselves. The German government have recognised the ongoing need for the Stasi file archive, as requests for access to information continue to stream in, as reported in this article from January 2010.
Photographs taken secretly by a resident of Leipzig, show the demolition by the Communist authorities of St Paul's University Church on 30 May 1968. This was an attack on the city's culture and also on Christianity, all to make space for the new town square, Karl-Marx-Platz. Read more on Communism's stance on religion.
The Prague Spring began on 5 January 1968, when Alexander Dubček came to power, attempting to implement democratic reforms, the partial decentralisation of the economy and great citizens' rights including looser restrictions on the media, speech and travel. Unwilling to accept this more human version of socialism, the Soviets sent 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks from Warsaw Pact allies to invade the country. 72 Czechs and Slovaks were killed, 266 severely wounded and another 436 were injured. In the wake of the invasion, non-violent protests took place across the country, including Jan Palach's protest-suicide by self-immolation. Milan Kundera's famous novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being is set at the time of the Prague Spring.
This film shows historical footage, political background and contemporary interviews with those who experienced the Soviet invasion first hand.
An aerial view of the Brandenburg Gate in 1967, with the wall curving round in the foreground. This is what would have confronted the young Miriam Weber. Extending away eastwards is the main thoroughfare of Unter den Linden, and the tall Fernsehturm can be seen in the distance.
Map of the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint:
When the loosening of travel restrictions from the GDR was announced on 9 November 1989, the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint was flooded with hoards of people trying to pass through to the west; some wanted to escape forever, others wanted to go for a couple of hours to have a look around... just because they could. There's more about this on page 182 and some incredible footage on the Bookmark for that page.
Severe sleep deprivation in the short term can cause decreased alertness, impaired memory and cognitive ability, and an impaired immune system. In the long term it can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, depression and other psychiatric disorders, and mental impairment. This article has more detail, and a section on sleep deprivation for interrogation.