Herr Koch tells Anna Funder about stealing a tiny plastic plate after leaving the Stasi. The plate commended Koch’s division for its “cultural work,” and it wasn’t a particularly beautiful, interesting, or hotly desired object. Nevertheless, Koch stole the plate as a sign of defiance against the Stasi and East German tyranny itself. Over time, as the Stasi tries harder and harder to recover the plate—eventually charging Koch with theft, and later perjury—the plate becomes a symbol of Koch’s defiance and reckless bravery.
The Stasiland quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Plastic Plate. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Stasiland published in 2011.).
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Plastic Plate appears in Stasiland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18: The Plate
...Koch was interviewed for German television, and the interviewer, noticing the distracting glare from the plate on the wall, asked Koch to remove it. Koch fiercely refused. A couple days after... (full context)