Stasiland

Stasiland Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Funder has lunch with Julia. They eat a big meal and drink beers. Suddenly, Julia tells Funder something: just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, she was raped.
Earlier Funder alluded to a “mystery” in Julia’s behavior—perhaps this horrific rape was the thing Funder sensed in Julia’s past.
Themes
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
After the Wall fell, Julia explains, she attended a wedding. That night, she met a man in her building elevator. The man stopped the elevator, hit Julia in the head, and threatened to kill her if she called for help. After the rape, he ran out of the elevator. Julia was shaken, but she found the courage to go to the police the next day. The police were cold, and Julia sensed that they didn’t believe her. However, they later caught the man, a serial rapist. In trial, Julia testified against him, which made her feel “violated all over again.” Perhaps worst of all, the new German state pardoned many criminals who were arrested at the time, so it’s possible that her rapist was released.
Julia is raped just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, at a time when many people were feeling elated and excited for the future. Instead of sharing in the collective joy, Julia got a horrific, painful reminder that her life in the new German state wouldn’t necessarily be any better than what had come before. And, maddeningly, the formation of a new German state was in some ways bad news for Julia, since it may have led to her rapist’s release from jail.
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
After listening to Julia’s story, Funder calls up Klaus and gets drunk with him. She wakes up the next day with a hangover. In the afternoon she goes for a swim in the community pool, only to realize that people use it as a bath—and, in fact, swimming “isn’t allowed” today. Funder surveys the chaos in the pool, and realizes that it’s actually a kind of “orderly chaos,” with everyone obeying the rule against swimming. She thinks about order in other parts of German life—for example, “handicapped” people are often required to wear yellow armbands, something that initially shocked her. Fed up with “too many rules,” she leaves the pool.
Funder seems to find Julia’s story almost too painful to bear: it undercuts the usual heroic, transcendent narratives about the rise of a new German state that she’s heard. The chapter ends with the disturbing suggestion that, deep down, little has changed in Germany: the people have been conditioned to obey rules, and that isn’t going to change under the new state. Funder even implies that the legacy of the Holocaust is still present in German society—the “yellow armbands” allude to the classification marks that Jews and other “undesirables” had to wear under the Nazis.
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon