Stasiland

Stasiland Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Funder gets another phone call about her ad in the paper, this time from a man named Herr Bock. He says that he worked as a professor at the training academy of the Ministry of State Security, where he specialized in “spezialdisziplin,” the art of recruiting informers.
Bock, as a professor for the Stasi, promises to offer a more refined or theoretical take on Stasi operations.
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Funder meets with Herr Bock in his home. Bock immediately tells Funder that she’s not allowed to use his real name, and Funder agrees to this condition. Bock then explains that the Stasi were divided into different departments, each with its own informant network. One such department was the church—by the eighties, Bock claims, more than half of all church leaders were Stasi informers.
“Bock,” evidently, is a false name. He maintains a higher degree of secrecy than some of his peers, suggesting that he was privy to a greater amount of confidential information—for example, the fact that half of church leaders were informers. (Actually, the notion of using priests as informants isn’t unique to Berlin—in France under the Nazis, for example, priests sometimes leaked people’s confessional statements.)
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bock also tells Funder about Stasi training methods. There was a rigid process for recruiting informers: deciding what institutions the Stasi needed to monitor, what kind of person would be most likely to inform, what personal information would be most useful in pressuring people to inform, etc. Bock also showed Stasi trainees how to tap phones and tail suspects. The Stasi generally tried to use informers who were calm and stable. Informers weren’t paid well, however, and many weren’t paid at all. Herr Bock now works as a business adviser, showing West German companies how to negotiate with their East German counterparts—or, as Funder thinks, “getting the trust of his people and selling them cheap.”
The fact that informers weren’t paid well suggests that most acted out of fear or anxiety (or because they were being blackmailed with secrets of their own) rather than a desire for any material reward. Funder doesn’t usually betray her emotions, but it’s clear that she finds Herr Bock to be a generally despicable person. More than the other Stasi officers in the book, Bock is a “hired gun,” without any particular allegiance to the ideologies of either capitalism or Communism—he just sells his services to the highest bidder (which is, ironically, a fundamentally capitalist mindset).
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Funder calls a taxi from Bock’s home, and, since it’s dark outside, waits for the taxi inside. Bock, sensing that he has Funder at his mercy, turns off all the lights, claiming, “This way we can see the taxi come.” Funder becomes very uncomfortable and wonders if Bock might try to assault her. However, the cab comes quickly, and she leaves the house.
Bock is still a manipulative, bullying man: he doesn’t have the power of the Stasi behind him any more, and he doesn’t harm Funder in any physical way here, but he nevertheless seems to be enjoying the power he holds over her.
Themes
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
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