A few days later, Funder meets her next “Stasi man,” Herr Christian, who’s in his mid-forties. Christian takes Funder to a large house where he used to work, recording and coding transcripts of citizens’ phone conversations. Christian began working for the Stasi at the age of 19, guarding their main nuclear bunker. Nowadays, he works as a private detective, doing most of the same things he did for the Stasi.
Herr Christian has adjusted to his new German life more successfully than some of his Stasi peers. He now lends his services to private customers, instead of the state.
Christian tells Funder that during his time with the Stasi, he was involved in an affair with his son’s teacher. After he told his best friend the truth, the friend told the Stasi, and Christian was locked up for three days and demoted—not for the affair itself but for hiding something from his employers. Later on, Christian’s job was to track down cars obtained by potential defectors. He brought hundreds of defectors to the Stasi; usually they received a year or two in jail.
Like many corrupt organizations, the Stasi maintained its own system of values, in which the gravest sin was being disloyal to the Stasi itself.
Christian tells Funder that one of his favorite things about his old job was that he got to wear disguises. His favorite disguise was a blind man. “Being a blind man,” he claims, “is the best way to observe people.”
Christian’s ironic observation could be taken symbolically to mean that, while the Stasi had almost unlimited tools for observing other people, they were, and are, “blind” to their own mistakes and weaknesses.