Stasiland

The Plastic Plate Symbol Analysis

The Plastic Plate Symbol Icon

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 Plastic Plate Quotes in Stasiland

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:
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 18 Quotes

You know though, it was worth it. All the courage I had is in that plate. The whole shitty little skerrick of it. That’s all I had.

Related Characters: Hagen Koch (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Plastic Plate
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Plastic Plate Symbol Timeline in Stasiland

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
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...East German army. Before he left the Stasi, Koch took a tiny souvenir—a little plastic plate his unit had won for its “cultural work.” Three weeks after he left, he got... (full context)
Authoritarianism and the East German State Theme Icon
Surveillance and Privacy Theme Icon
Bravery and Heroism Theme Icon
Museums and Artifacts Theme Icon
...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)