Stasiland

Julia Behrend Character Analysis

Julia Behrend is the owner of the apartment where Anna Funder stays during her time in Berlin. She’s a young woman, the same age as Anna, and she grew up in East Germany at a time when the Stasi were being particularly aggressive in monitoring its citizens. Julia excelled at languages, but she was barred from becoming a translator or an interpreter because of her relationship with an Italian man. Amazingly, she was able to pressure Stasi officers into giving her some work by threatening to write directly to Erich Honecker. Julia’s memories of East Germany, and the immediate aftermath of the fall of the East German state, continue to wound her. Shortly after the Berlin Wall falls, she was raped by a strange man who, it’s quite possible, was released from prison in the confusion of the new political order.

Julia Behrend Quotes in Stasiland

The Stasiland quotes below are all either spoken by Julia Behrend or refer to Julia Behrend. 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

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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Her voice is slow. ‘I think I'd totally repressed that entire episode,’ she says. ‘Maybe what came later, the whole 1989 story, was so severe that other things just fell away. Otherwise, I can't explain it.’

Related Characters: Julia Behrend (speaker)
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

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Julia doesn't know why the Stasi was afraid of them complaining to Honecker. Possibly because both her parents were teachers, and outwardly conformist, or because the Stasi had no ‘legal’ basis for what it had done to her. Who knows? It is one of the very rare occasions when the bluff was called and someone ‘won’ against the Firm.
‘The amazing thing was,’ Julia says, ‘the next week I was rung up about a job.’ She was taken on as a receptionist in a hotel. It looked like she would work there for her lifetime.

Related Characters: Julia Behrend (speaker)
Page Number: 117
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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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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Julia Behrend Character Timeline in Stasiland

The timeline below shows where the character Julia Behrend appears in Stasiland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: The Linoleum Palace
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
...When she enters her room, a voice shouts, “Don’t be frightened.” The voice belongs to Julia, the person from whom Funder rents the room. She explains that she’s removing some bookshelves... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...has cut out. Funder surveys the room where she’s staying. It’s bare and ugly, and Julia repeatedly shows up to take the remaining items away. The apartment used to be beautiful,... (full context)
Chapter 9: Julia Has No Story
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...and punks” smoking and drinking in the grass. Back at home, she finds her door unlocked—Julia is there again, this time retrieving some old love letters. Funder asks Julia about homeless... (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... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Julia excelled at languages as a young girl, and won prizes for translating Russian. Growing up,... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Italian Boyfriend
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
At the age of the sixteen, Julia worked as an usher at the annual Leipzig Fair. There, she met her Italian boyfriend,... (full context)
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
As a teenager, Julia was mandatorily sent to boarding school; the authorities never offered an explanation. At school, she... (full context)
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Julia graduated from school with superb grades, and applied to become a state translator. However, she... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Desperate for work, Julia went to the East German “Employment Office.” Julia explained that she needed work because she... (full context)
Chapter 11: Major N.
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
After Julia broke up with her boyfriend, she returned to East Germany. She was the summoned to... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Major N. showed Julia copies of the letters she’d sent her Italian boyfriend, which he proceeded to read aloud.... (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
Back at home, Julia had to decide whether or not to inform on her Italian boyfriend. She decided 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... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Lipsi
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
...Funder tells Uwe about the ad she placed in the paper, and about the stories Julia has told her. Uwe tells Funder about a man named Hagen Koch, who the TV... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Worse You Feel
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder has lunch with Julia. They eat a big meal and drink beers. Suddenly, Julia tells Funder something: just after... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
After the Wall fell, Julia explains, she attended a wedding. That night, she met a man in her building elevator.... (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... (full context)
Chapter 25: Berlin, Spring 2000
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
...Miriam’s story, but found that she needed to do more research first. Funder also emails Julia letting her know she’ll be back in the city. Julia tells Funder that she’s living... (full context)