Page 227. " It was in offices that the Stasi truly came into their own: as innovators, story-makers, and Faustian bargain-hunters. "

In this context, the use of the term Faustian places the Stasi in the role of the devil, manipulating the prisoner into unthinkable deals, in an attempt to quench their insatiable thirst for knowledge. This illustration by Harry Clarke was made for Goethe's famous interpretation of the Faust story; in the top left corner is the devil, represented by the demon Mephistopheles.

 

 

         

 

Page 227. " Not one of the torturers at Hohenschönhausen has been brought to justice. "

For a source regarding this chilling fact, Funder cites Alexandra Richie's Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin, Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc, New York, 1998, p.877

Page 236. " I'll have a wheat beer and a Korn "
Korn - around 32% ABV
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumKorn - around 32% ABV - Credit: Susannah Worth

Korn is a spirit made from wheat, rye or barley. Herr Bohnsack orders it with a wheat beer; this popular combination is known as Herrengedeck (gentlemen's cover). Cheap and strong, Korn has a dubious reputation in Germany, but recent attempts to revive its image have seen weaker, fruit flavoured versions on the market.

In this article, Natasha Vuckovic extols the virtues of these spirits, neglected outside their countries of origin.

Page 236. " A lieutenant colonel, he worked in one of the most secret divisions of the overseas spy service, the Hauptverwarltung Aufklärung (HVA). "
Office building of the HVA in the Ministry for State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg – now the offices of Deutsche Bahn
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOffice building of the HVA in the Ministry for State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg – now the offices of Deutsche Bahn - Credit: Bettenburg

The Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA) was the main directorate of intelligence, a replica of the Russian KGB, which merged with the Stasi in 1953.

Portrait of Markus Wolf, December 1989
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePortrait of Markus Wolf, December 1989 - Credit: Elke Schöps

 Markus Wolf was made chief of secret intelligence in 1951; a Communist and fluent Russian speaker, he had spent time as a refugee in the Soviet Union and retained strong relationships with the country. It was while working as a radio journalist in Moscow, that he met Walter Ulbricht who would go on to be instrumental in the early years of the German Democratic Republic. Markus Wolf died in 2006. In Stasiland, Herr Bohnsack describes Markus Wolf as a "tall slim elegant intellectual", and he was apparently the model for Karla in John le Carré's trilogy.

Spymaster: The Real-Life Karla, his Moles and the East German Secret Police is a probing biography by Leslie Colitt which poses questions about why Wolf slipped through the net, and never spent even a single night in jail.

                   

Page 237. " it managed, at least in one instance, to exert an extraordinary influence over the political process in West Germany itself. "
Willy Brandt meeting with John F. Kennedy at The White House in 1961
Public DomainWilly Brandt meeting with John F. Kennedy at The White House in 1961 - Credit: Marion S. Trikosko

For more on the Willy Brandt affair, one of the most notorious operations of Markus Wolf's career as a spymaster, see his obituary.

Page 240. " 'Our man in Budapest has told me that in the drama of '56 his people were hanged in the trees outside their offices.' "
Hungarians gather around the head of the toppled Stalin Monument in Budapest, 1956
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumHungarians gather around the head of the toppled Stalin Monument in Budapest, 1956 - Credit: The American Hungarian Federation

 The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began as a student demonstration against the Stalinist government. It attracted thousands more as the march proceeded through Budapest to the Parliament building. A delegation entered the state radio station, hoping to broadcast their demands. When the demonstrators outside demanded their release, the State Security Police (ÁVH) opened fire into the crowds, sparking violence and disorder across the city.

Page 243. " 'Je suis foutu, je suis foutu.' "

foutu translates as damned, ruined, finished, history...

Page 245. " The trees are huge and lush, light green. "

 

Lush green in the Tiergarten
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumLush green in the Tiergarten - Credit: Susannah Worth

 

Decoration on a building in Berlin: Frühling (spring)
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumDecoration on a building in Berlin: Frühling (spring) - Credit: Susannah Worth
Trees growing up around an old water tower, now converted into flats, in the fashionable Prenzlauerberg district
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumTrees growing up around an old water tower, now converted into flats, in the fashionable Prenzlauerberg district - Credit: Susannah Worth

When Anna Funder returns to Berlin in 2000, she realises she has never been there in springtime before and is delighted to be greeted with sunshine and foliage. In fact, around one third of the city is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

Page 246. " 'We went on a 'Reclaim the Night' march recently, something that made me feel real positive, and far away from Thüringen and everything that happened there.' "

Reclaim the Night
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeReclaim the Night - Credit: openDemocracy
Reclaim the Night is an event held internationally to protest and direct action against rape and other forms of sexual violence. It originated in the 1970s as part of the feminist movement. Marches and rallies still happen all around the world.

Page 247. " I sit on one of the benches and look up at the statue of Heine. "
Berlin's monument to Heine, 1954-56
Creative Commons AttributionBerlin's monument to Heine, 1954-56 - Credit: Axel Mauruszat

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) was a journalist, essayist, literary critic, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. He is remembered chiefly for selections of his lyric poetry, many of which were set to music in the form of lieder by German composers. Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe is the composer's best known song-cycle. The texts for the songs come from Heine's Das Buch der Lieder.

Ian Bostridge sings Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai; appropriate for a spring day in Berlin. The words translate as:

In beautiful May, when the buds sprang, love sprang up in my heart /

In beautiful May, when the birds all sang, I told you my suffering and longing.

Heine, Lyrical Intermezzo no 1