Stasiland

Anna Funder Character Analysis

Anna Funder is the Australian author and narrator of Stasiland. Beginning in 1994 and ending in 2000, she makes three trips to Berlin to work for a German TV station and, more importantly, study the way the city’s people are adjusting to the recent collapse of the East German state. Funder explores Berlin and surrounding cities like Leipzig and Nuremberg, which were once a part of the Communist East German state. She interviews dozens of Germans, many of whom were once officers in the Stasi—the East German surveillance force and secret police. Especially in the first half of the book, Funder is most often a witness to other characters’ memories and experiences, rather than a dynamic character in her own right. But as the book proceeds, Funder begins to put herself into the narrative more and more. Her own personal connections with German history and with Berlin form a central part of the story, and by the final chapters, she feels a strange sense of melancholy that the history of the East German state is either being destroyed or exhibited in museums—when, in reality, this history is still very a much a part of her life and the other characters’ lives.

Anna Funder Quotes in Stasiland

The Stasiland quotes below are all either spoken by Anna Funder or refer to Anna Funder. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Stasiland published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The Stasi guards had asked to see the demonstrators’ identity cards, in a strange parody of the control they were, at that very moment, losing. The demonstrators, in shock, obediently pulled their cards from their wallets. Then they seized the building.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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‘Look.’ Uwe touched my forearm gently, turning me towards him like a dance partner. His eyes were green and slanted up, his teeth short and neat, little pearls. ‘You're probably right. No-one here is interested—they were backward and they were broke, and the whole Stasi thing...’ He trailed off. His breath was minty. ‘It’s sort of...embarrassing.’

Related Characters: Uwe Schmidt (speaker), Anna Funder
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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The German media called East Germany ‘the most perfected surveillance state of all time’. At the end, the Stasi had 97,000 employees—more than enough to oversee a country of seventeen million people.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Either Herr Winz doesn't know much, or he's not telling. He won't respond to my questions about the Insiderkomitee or talk about himself either. Each time I ask him about the reality of life in the GDR he returns to the beauties of socialist theory. I think he hopes, through me, to sow the seeds of socialism in an untainted corner of the world.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Herr Winz
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

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Whenever he stayed with her, the surveillance was intense and overt.
The couple could hardly leave the house without being stopped by the police and asked to account for themselves.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Julia Behrend
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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She is convinced that, in the amnesties of 1990, mistakes were made and the serial rapist was released. ‘It was terrible that this happened to me right at that time,’ she says. ‘It meant that before the good things about the west got to us, this negative thing—the letting loose of the criminals—affected me.’

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Julia Behrend (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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There's order everywhere else in German life—even the handicapped are labeled with yellow (yellow!) armbands.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker)
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

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Was this the point? Was Koch using the available evidence—in this case a bicycle permit—to construct or confirm a story of his father's innocence during the war? There's clearly a portion of the past here that cannot be pinned down with facts, or documents. All that exists is permission to ride a bike.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Hagen Koch, Heinz Koch
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Stasi subjected him to disciplinary proceedings on account of ‘inconstancy’, and in their files attributed the remarriage to ‘the repeated negative influence of Frau Koch’.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Hagen Koch
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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Klaus worked for years in the west as a sound-man in the theatre. After the Wall came down, he found out that ‘we'd become a cult band in the GDR—our records were more expensive than a Pink Floyd album’.

Related Characters: Klaus Jentzsch (speaker), Anna Funder
Related Symbols: The Berlin Wall
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Here he is once more getting the trust of his people and selling them cheap.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Herr Bock
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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It seems to me that Frau Paul, as one does, may have overestimated her own strength, her resistance to damage, and that she is now, for her principles, a lonely, teary guilt-wracked wreck.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker)
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

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I am working in a feminist bookshop near Berkeley, and have made some friends. 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 here.

Related Characters: Julia Behrend (speaker), Anna Funder
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

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He is telling me, in his quiet way, that the resources united Germany is throwing at this part of reconstructing the lives of its former East German citizens are pitiful, some kind of Sisyphean joke. What he is running here is an almost totally symbolic act.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Herr Raillard
Related Symbols: Shredded Documents
Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:

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Things have been put behind glass, but it is not yet over.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker)
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

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Anna Funder Character Timeline in Stasiland

The timeline below shows where the character Anna Funder appears in Stasiland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Berlin, Winter 1996
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Anna Funder walks through Berlin’s Alexanderplatz station. She is trying to catch the train to Leipzig, a... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
On the train, Funder contemplates the previous night, during which she visited a pub with her friend Klaus. Funder... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Funder visited Leipzig in 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
The curator of the Stasi Museum, Frau Hollitzer, tells Funder about a woman named Miriam, whose husband was arrested by the Stasi. Fascinated and horrified,... (full context)
Chapter 2: Miriam
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Funder works in television in the former West Berlin. Her boss is a man named Alexander... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Funder receives a letter from a German viewer regarding the famous “puzzle women”—women who try to... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
In 1996, Funder’s train arrives in Leipzig. There, Funder meets Miriam Weber, a woman in her mid-forties. Miriam... (full context)
Chapter 3: Bornholmer Bridge
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
...climb over it, cutting herself badly in the process. As Miriam explains all this to Funder, they both laugh—Miriam was barely more than a child, and yet she had the courage... (full context)
Chapter 4: Charlie
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Back in 1996, Funder asks Miriam why she returned to Leipzig. Miriam explains that Leipzig is the best place... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Linoleum Palace
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Funder returns to Berlin from Leipzig. When she enters her room, a voice shouts, “Don’t be... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
The next morning, it’s very cold—the heating has cut out. Funder surveys the room where she’s staying. It’s bare and ugly, and Julia repeatedly shows up... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...over what to do with the building. Nearby lies the neighborhood of Mitte, through which Funder now strolls. She thinks about Miriam and about the Stasi. She wonders what it must... (full context)
Chapter 6: Stasi HQ
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Funder gets lots of responses to her ad in the paper: most of the responders are... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Funder describes the offices of a man named Erich Mielke, the Minister for State Security, whose... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
The Stasi headquarters is now full of tourists. Funder listens as a guide explains that demonstrators broke into the building—known as “the House of... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Smell of Old Men
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Alone with the tour guide in the museum, Funder tells the guide that she’s trying to learn about people who confronted Stasi leadership. The... (full context)
Chapter 8: Telephone Calls
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
After going to the museum, Funder gets a call from Miriam, thanking her for talking to her. Funder suggests that they... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
The next morning, Funder wakes up to the sound of the phone ringing. She has another caller about her... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder meets with Herr Winz, who suggests that they talk in a hotel café. There, Winz... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder proceeds to ask Herr Winz about his work for the Stasi, but he refuses to... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder calls Miriam a second time and leaves a message, suggesting that they speak further. She... (full context)
Chapter 9: Julia Has No Story
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
In the evening, Funder walks through the park. She notices “drunks and punks” smoking and drinking in the grass.... (full context)
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Julia Behrend and Funder are the same age, which means that Julia was 23 when the Berlin Wall came... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...translating Russian. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a translator. As she opens up to Funder, Funder begins to get an idea of what Julia’s life in East Germany has been... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Italian Boyfriend
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
...begged them to convince Julia to break up with her boyfriend. The state, Julia tells Funder, must have assumed she was planning to leave East Germany. (full context)
Chapter 11: Major N.
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...Julia must not repeat their conversation to anyone. As Julia tells all of this to Funder in 1996, her voice is slow and low—she admits, “I think I’d totally repressed that... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Julia finishes her story and bids Funder goodnight. As Funder sees Julia out, she wonders how this woman, who seems so timid,... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Lipsi
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
At work, Funder reads hate mail from a German TV viewer, who explains that Germany will never forget... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
In the car ride home, Funder tells Uwe about the ad she placed in the paper, and about the stories Julia... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
In the following days Funder familiarizes herself with von Schnitzler’s TV program, “The Black Channel,” first broadcast in 1960. In... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Funder visits the former East German television station, now a “multimedia center.” Inside, she speaks with... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Weeks after Funder’s visit, she gets a call from Herr Winz, connecting her to von Schnitzler’s wife, who... (full context)
Chapter 13: Von Schni-
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Funder arrives at the von Schnitzler home. Frau Marta von Schnitzler, a former actress, lets her... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...Germany revolved around his ability to provide commentary for West German television. Angrily, he tells Funder that recent German television is “trash.” He also mentions “that big television tyrant” who runs... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder asks von Schnitzler if the East German state could have done anything better. Von Schnitzler... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Before she goes, Funder offers von Schnitzler a gift, a small pin showing the Australian and German flags crossed... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Worse You Feel
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Funder has lunch with Julia. They eat a big meal and drink beers. Suddenly, Julia tells... (full context)
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... (full context)
Chapter 15: Herr Christian
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
A few days later, Funder meets her next “Stasi man,” Herr Christian, who’s in his mid-forties. Christian takes Funder to... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Christian tells Funder that during his time with the Stasi, he was involved in an affair with his... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Christian tells Funder that one of his favorite things about his old job was that he got to... (full context)
Chapter 16: Socialist Man
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...a line in the streets of Berlin, marking the future location of the Berlin Wall. Funder visits Koch in his apartment, which Koch jokingly calls the “Wall Archive,” since it’s full... (full context)
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...compliment than to suggest he work for the Stasi. Love for the East German state, Funder realizes, was for all intents and purposes a religion—and like any religion, it had its... (full context)
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...the military in 1929, and later fought for the Nazis in France. Peculiarly, Koch tells Funder that the Soviet state gave his father permission to ride a bike in 1945, suggesting... (full context)
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...that the American military was dropping beetles on East German crops, creating mass starvation. When Funder asks how anybody could believe such an absurd allegation, Hagen Koch points out that Americans... (full context)
Chapter 17: Drawing the Line
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Hagen Koch continues his story for Funder. In 1960, he became a Stasi soldier. Because Heinz had been a mayoral candidate and... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Plate
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...plate was. Koch was never tried, but his wife lost her job. However, Koch tells Funder, “All the courage I had is in that plate.” (full context)
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Shortly after this interview, Funder calls Miriam and leaves a message to ask if they can talk more. She goes... (full context)
Chapter 19: Klaus
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In the afternoon, Funder calls Klaus and asks to come over. By 6 pm, the two friends are on... (full context)
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...tags, and pellets to trace dissidents and, it’s entirely possible, to slowly murder them. When Funder asks Klaus about this atrocity, he just says, “I think the Stasi people have been... (full context)
Chapter 20: Herr Bock of Golm
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Funder gets another phone call about her ad in the paper, this time from a man... (full context)
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Funder meets with Herr Bock in his home. Bock immediately tells Funder that she’s not allowed... (full context)
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Bock also tells Funder about Stasi training methods. There was a rigid process for recruiting informers: deciding what institutions... (full context)
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Funder calls a taxi from Bock’s home, and, since it’s dark outside, waits for the taxi... (full context)
Chapter 21: Frau Paul
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Funder next goes to speak with Frau Paul, the woman whom the guide at the Stasi... (full context)
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After interviewing Frau Paul, Funder spoke to Michael Hinze about his experiences. He explained how, in 1961, his parents put... (full context)
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Funder resumes describing her interview with Frau Paul. Frau Paul and her husband tried to do... (full context)
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Funder again resumes describing her interview with Frau Paul. In February 1963, the students asked Frau... (full context)
Chapter 22: The Deal
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In early 1963, Coch tells Funder, he was prepared to sneak out of East Berlin with the help of his student... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 23: Hohenschönhausen
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...found guilty and sent to Hohenschönhausen, where she served almost two years. Frau Paul takes Funder to this infamous prison building. Inside, Paul shows Funder the cell in which she was... (full context)
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...concept of life outside his hospital. Sometimes, Torsten felt like a stranger. Frau Paul introduces Funder to Torsten, a small, unhealthy-looking man. He tells Funder that he’s proud of his mother... (full context)
Chapter 24: Herr Bohnsack
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Funder speaks to one more “Stasi man,” Herr Bohnsack. Over drinks in a pub, Bohnsack tells... (full context)
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That night, Funder gets a call from home—doctors have found tumors in her mother’s head, meaning that Funder... (full context)
Chapter 25: Berlin, Spring 2000
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Back in Berlin in the spring of 2000, Funder surveys the beautiful greenery and handsome buildings. She returns to the same apartment in which... (full context)
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Early in the morning, Funder sips coffee and studies the famous statue of Heinrich Heine, the great German poet. She... (full context)
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The park worker tells Funder that he’s headed to go mushroom picking. In old East Germany, he says, he was... (full context)
Chapter 26: The Wall
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Late at night, Funder walks through the streets of Berlin, passing by a drunk man. The man cries, “I... (full context)
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A few days later, Funder learns that there’s been a request for the Stasi surveillance file on Mielke himself. It... (full context)
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Funder reunites with Frau Paul, who’s been involved with organizing people who were persecuted in East... (full context)
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Funder finds that a portion of the Berlin Wall has become a tourist destination—“airbrushed for effect.”... (full context)
Chapter 27: Puzzlers
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Funder takes the train to Nuremberg so she can visit the Stasi File Authority office, located... (full context)
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When Funder interviews workers at the office, they tell Funder they’re still moved and baffled by the... (full context)
Chapter 28: Miriam and Charlie
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On her train ride back to Berlin, Funder decides to get off in Leipzig. She wanders through the city, noting the new buildings... (full context)
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Funder leaves the museum and walks through the streets. She notices a girl, probably about sixteen... (full context)
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Funder calls Miriam and, to her amazement, Miriam answers and explains that she’s back in Leipzig.... (full context)
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Miriam shows Funder a photo of herself with Charlie. Funder gently asks Miriam what Charlie was like, and... (full context)
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...guesses that the guards beat up Charlie and left him to die, slowly and painfully. Funder imagines that Miriam could be right—but she wonders, “will digging him up reveal anything?” Miriam,... (full context)
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Funder spends the night at Miriam’s house, and the next morning Miriam takes her to the... (full context)
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Back in Berlin, Funder watches people play in the park: “People shake infants up and down to make them... (full context)