Stasiland

Miriam Weber Character Analysis

Of all the people Anna Funder interviews over the course of Stasiland, Miriam Weber is perhaps the most important to the book’s themes. Miriam grew up in East Germany during the 1960s, the same decade during which the Communist government built the Berlin Wall, dividing East and West Berlin for the next twenty-eight years. As a teenager, she tried and nearly succeeded to sneak past the Wall into West Berlin, but she was caught and sentenced to jail time for her “crime.” Later, Miriam’s husband Charlie was mysteriously arrested, and supposedly hanged himself in his cell. Miriam has spent the last forty years trying to learn the truth about Charlie’s death, and whether he was murdered by Stasi guards. Miriam’s ongoing ordeal represents the relationship between present-day Germany and its recent past. The back-to-back nightmares of the Holocaust and the Stasi police state cannot be forgotten so easily, and Miriam and millions of other Germans continue to suffer from their memories of these atrocities.

Miriam Weber Quotes in Stasiland

The Stasiland quotes below are all either spoken by Miriam Weber or refer to Miriam Weber. 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 3 Quotes

On the eleventh night, Miriam gave them what they wanted. ‘I thought, “You people want an underground escape organization? Well, I'll give you one then.”’
Fleischer had won.

Related Characters: Anna Funder (speaker), Miriam Weber, Major Fleischer
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

Even in that terrible light, I could still see his head injuries. And I could see his neck—they'd forgotten to cover it up. There were no strangulation marks, nothing.

Related Characters: Miriam Weber (speaker), Karl-Heinz Weber / “Charlie”
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
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And I think about those Stasi men. They would never in their lives have imagined that they would cease to exist and that their offices would be a museum. A museum!

Related Characters: Miriam Weber (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miriam Weber Character Timeline in Stasiland

The timeline below shows where the character Miriam Weber 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
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, Funder decides to research “the... (full context)
Chapter 2: Miriam
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 explains to Funder that she became an “Enemy... (full context)
Chapter 3: Bornholmer Bridge
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
In 1968, Miriam Weber was released from prison in East Berlin, and tried to get past the Berlin... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
After climbing the fence, Miriam saw a large watchdog. Luckily, a train passed at the exact time when the dog... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Back in Leipzig, Miriam was placed in solitary confinement again. She was tortured with sleep deprivation, causing her to... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Miriam’s story was ridiculous—nobody could have taken it seriously. According to her, she met a member... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
A week later, Fleischer met with Miriam, furious that she’d lied to him. He explained that now she was up for an... (full context)
Chapter 4: Charlie
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
When Miriam got out of jail, she was “no longer human.” For a year and a half,... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Miriam was released from prison in 1970, shortly before her 18th birthday. She began dating her... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
The Webers were under a lot of suspicion due to Miriam’s police record and Charlie’s journalism. Miriam found it almost impossible to get a job—the Stasi... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...the academy, and the legal system toed the party line on all issues. So when Miriam tried to find a lawyer to investigate her husband’s death, she was told that Charlie... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Later, the Stasi informed Miriam that Charlie’s body was ready for burial. At the funeral parlor, a man told her... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Miriam applied to leave East Germany. This was uncommon, but not unheard of in the 1980s:... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
In May 1989, the Stasi summoned Miriam to their headquarters, with her identity papers. They informed her that she’d be placed on... (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
Back in 1996, Funder asks Miriam why she returned to Leipzig. Miriam explains that Leipzig is the best place from which... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Linoleum Palace
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...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 have been like to be a... (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 meet again; Miriam hesitates, but... (full context)
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Funder calls Miriam a second time and leaves a message, suggesting that they speak further. She receives many... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Plate
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Shortly after this interview, Funder calls Miriam and leaves a message to ask if they can talk more. She goes to the... (full context)
Chapter 24: Herr Bohnsack
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
...meaning that Funder will need to go home and be with her family. She calls Miriam and informs her that she’ll be leaving soon. Back at home, Funder explains, she spends... (full context)
Chapter 25: Berlin, Spring 2000
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
...the same apartment in which she lived previously. Before arriving, she’s sent a letter to Miriam, explaining that she’d tried to write Miriam’s story, but found that she needed to do... (full context)
Chapter 27: Puzzlers
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...documents—and there are only 31 people in the office. Funder is stunned. She thinks about Miriam and the hidden files that changed her life forever, and wonders when, if ever, these... (full context)
Chapter 28: Miriam and Charlie
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...of the Berlin Wall. Funder thinks about how the girl is the same age that Miriam was when she tried to cross into West Berlin. (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Funder calls Miriam and, to her amazement, Miriam answers and explains that she’s back in Leipzig. Miriam agrees... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Miriam shows Funder a photo of herself with Charlie. Funder gently asks Miriam what Charlie was... (full context)
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Grief and Memory Theme Icon
Miriam hasn’t given up trying to exhume Charlie’s coffin. Recently, she’s spoken with a witness who... (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
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
Funder spends the night at Miriam’s house, and the next morning Miriam takes her to the station. On the train back... (full context)