Frau Paul is another woman to whom Anna Funder speaks during her time in Berlin in the 1990s. Paul witnessed the rise of the East German state following the fall of the Third Reich, and in 1961, the same year that the Berlin Wall was built, she gave birth to a child named Torsten. Torsten was rushed to a West Berlin hospital, and Paul was separated from her baby for years. During this time, she tried and failed to sneak under the Wall, and when the Stasi offered to reunite her with her child if she informed on her friends, she refused. Paul therefore stands as a symbol of defiance—she’s one of the few people in the book who directly stood up to the Stasi. However, as Funder points out, Paul has lived with the pain of her decision for many decades, and like so many “brave” people, she summons the will to be brave because she doesn’t fully consider the pain she’s causing herself in doing so.
The timeline below shows where the character Frau Paul appears in Stasiland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: The Smell of Old Men
Chapter 21: Frau Paul
Chapter 22: The Deal
Chapter 23: Hohenschönhausen
Chapter 26: The Wall