Stasiland

Stasiland Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In early 1963, Coch tells Funder, he was prepared to sneak out of East Berlin with the help of his student friends, who were staying in Frau Paul’s apartment. The plan was to wait for word from a courier, who would tell the group where to find the building that led to a tunnel into West Berlin. The group moved to the address the courier signaled, which today, Funder finds, is just a normal-looking apartment complex. But when Coch knocked on the apartment door and gave the password, the people inside took him to the police. Frau Paul’s attempt to get into West Berlin had been foiled once again.
Once again, Frau Paul was unable to cross into West Berlin. It’s possible that the courier himself was informing to the Stasi—he needed Coch to incriminate himself by knocking on the door and giving the password. By this time, it’s clear, the Stasi had gained a vast network of informants, and it was very difficult to find someone to truly trust.
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Shortly afterwards, Frau Paul was arrested by the Stasi. They offered her a deal: she’d be allowed to be with her child—who, they claimed, was very ill—if she helped them capture Michael Hinze. In that moment, Frau Paul tells Funder, she remembered Karl Wilhelm Fricke, the iconic German journalist. In the 1950s, Fricke was a prominent opponent of the Stasi, and even after he was imprisoned, he risked his own life by broadcasting the story of how the Stasi had tried to bully him into silence. Offered a deal by the Stasi, Frau Paul decided to refuse and remain apart from her child. As she explains this to Funder, she weeps. Funder realizes that Frau Paul’s decision, while brave, left her a “guilt-wracked wreck.”
Frau Paul was offered a Faustian bargain: she’d gain her child, but she’d lose her friends and her sense of personal dignity and honor. Instead of cooperating with the Stasi and taking the deal, Paul heroically chose to protect her friends. However, as Funder points out, Paul’s decision left her emotionally scarred for years to come: she acted “bravely,” but partly because she didn’t think through the consequences of her bravery, and this morally “righteous” act affected her and her child in many negative ways.
Themes
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon