Page 101. " Worse than the no-news, was the anti-news. The students also had to watch 'Der Schwarze Kanal' (The Black Channel), with Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler. "

Der Schwarze Kanal broadcast between 1960 and 1989. It took extracts from West German television and criticised them with a propagandist, Communist commentary. The notorious presenter, Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler was the face of the programme for its entire 29 year run. 

Stasiland delves deeper into the subject of Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler and Der Schwarze Kanal on page 121.

Page 119. " The train network under the streets is so dense I can go anywhere on it, popping out of the earth in one place or another. It is a skein of arteries, pumping people around the city. "

This film gives a sense of how punctual, quiet, empty and efficient the Berlin U-Bahn system is.


Filmed in the GDR, this records a journey on a West Berlin train as it bypasses Bernauer Strasse – a Geisterbahnhof (ghost station) – as it travels briefly into East Berlin, before stopping at Voltastrasse, a station back in the west. This map, showing where the Wall once stood, makes it clear why this happened.


Page 119. " 'Do you like Elton John?' he says. Before I can answer he turns on the tape-deck full blast. "

Perhaps Uwe Schmidt was cruising around Berlin in his shiny new Golf, listening to Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)...

Page 120. " 'There's a man around who as a young Stasi officer drew the line along the street where the Wall would be built, and he's prepared to talk about the whole thing. His name is Hagen Koch "

This book review from the New York Times describes Hagen Koch's role in the planning and construction of the Wall, and reveals the twist in the tale... that he was also put in charge of its destruction after 1989, as well as safeguarding memorials of the era. Hagen Koch has published a significant collection of photographs from his extensive Wall Archive in The Berlin Wall: Division of a City, co-authored by Thomas Flemming.

Anna Funder describes her first meeting with Hagen Koch on page 155.

Page 123. " I remember what the German absurdist poet Kurt Tucholsky said "

Kurt Tucholsky in Paris, 1928
Public DomainKurt Tucholsky in Paris, 1928 - Credit: Sonja Thomassen
Kurt Tucholsky was an important, politically engaged journalist, satirist, and a social critic. Born in Berlin in 1890, he moved to Paris in 1925, where this picture was taken. As a left-wing pacifist and firm believer in democracy, it is not surprising that his books were burned by the Nazis as part of their censorship of Entartete Kunst ('Degenerate Art').