Get Your Free Audiobook

Stasiland

Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
Narrated by: Denica Fairman
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (196 ratings)

Non-member price: $28.87

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards, the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany.

In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. She meets Miriam, who, as a 16-year-old, might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line that became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist."

Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together - or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.

©2003 Anna Funder (P)2009 Audible

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history...Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth." ( Evening Standard - Books of the Year)

"A journey into the bizarre, scary, secret history of the former East Germany that is both relevant and riveting." ( Sunday Times Travel Books of the Year)

"All this and much else comes wonderfully to life in Funder's racy account. The real heroes of the book and of the resistance are Miriam and her murdered husband Charlie. Miriam, a reluctant citizen of the GDR, whose story runs as a central strand throughout this gripping book, has reason to be bitter. East Germany cannot die for her while its bogeymen are still living in the same flats and drinking in the same pubs."( The Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    117
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    117
  • 4 Stars
    46
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    109
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    6
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling

The man and women of the Communist German Machine are best described as:
Brutality yet unrepentant.
Duplicitous yet haughty.
Nostalgic yet one-eyed.
Murderous yet holy.

Stasiland runs honestly from one source to another, seeking truth, closure, repentance, and forgiveness. Yet as history plods on none is found.

Well worth a listen or read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MISS
  • Australia
  • 05-05-2019

Interesting Approach to East Germany before unification

Interesting book I didn’t know a lot about the Stasi therefore I found this really interesting. The humans stories are compelling and heart wrenching. Anna Finders research style is interesting I found the book an easy read with some personal humour thrown in. I recommend if you want to know more about Berlin before and after the wall came down.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible story

A very important story, very interesting and an easy listen. Wish the narrator could actually speak German though as her pronunciation of German words and names was awful. Other than that I enjoyed listening to her.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing and deep

It was so good and deep and showed a side of the Berlin wall that I dotn think you would have ever seen unless you read this book becuase it showed biths sides, but also different points of views on those sides

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

eye opening look at East Germany

fascinating personal stories from behind the wall. such an interesting look at the practicalities of totalitarianism​, and experiences of the people trapped within.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

A fascinating insight into life on both sides of the wall. It makes me want to watch 'The Lives Of Others' again

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great window into people's lives in the GDR

This audiobook gives a great insight into life in the GDR, even for people who might already know quite a bit as it is narrated by following different people's life stories - not only ordinary people, but also high ranking Stasi officials.
My only little complaint is the narrator's pronunciation of the German words that are used quite a bit. As a native German speaker I couldn't understand some of them until the translation was given.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

My knowledge of German history is fairly restricted to the first and second world wars so I was fascinating to learn about the modern history of things that have happened in my lifetime.

I listened to this while watching Chernobyl and it must be said, both have given me a new appreciation for democracy.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story

I’m really enjoying the story, as a German born in 1982, growing up with a West German father who frequently travelled to the GDR for business, I have grown up with stories about the Stasi and the depressing reality of the ‘other Germany’.

I like how personable the writer talks about her own experience and impressions. I’m fascinated by the characters, life stories she encounters in her time in ‘the East’.

Only the narrators frequent gross mispronunciations irritate me throughout the book.
They should have been consulted on the correct pronunciation of names that frequently come up in the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a great book. great story's from all sides.

very well written and performed.
great discriptions of people, places and circumstances.
I like the light moments and the humor through out the book and the sensitive way the different story's are told.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jane
  • Jane
  • 27-01-2010

Important book

Anna Funder visits what was East Germany, armed with fluent German and knowledge of international law. She listens to the stories of those who endured immense pain at the hand of the Stasi, the regime which replaced Hitler as dictators of this part of Germany. She also listened with undisguised amazement and horror, to the world view and self justifications of some of the Stasi themselves. In Stasiland she portrays a society imprisoned by the notorious Wall as well as webs of betrayal, lies, mental and emotional torture.

This is neither sensationalist or a horror story. It is an intelligent, measured exploration of the extremes of human nature, from bravery and the capacity for endurance, to the self delusion and cruelty of dictators. It reveals the insidious ways that a people can be controlled through their minds -- in effect, life was simple if everyone capitulated without question to the arbitrary, contradictory, the blatantly ridiculous. In return, citizens were given apparent certainties in housing, employment and health, certainties which some now mourn.

This is a shared personal journey and the narrator, Denica Fairman, offers a reading that works as an outstanding partnership with Funder.
Stasiland not only delves into recent history, but places before the reader the realities of human nature that contribute to human society -- from small communities to whole nations.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Wallen
  • Wallen
  • 20-04-2011

Small people crushed by the events of time

This book is a valauble addition to the Audible line of books. It depicts how ordinary people - none of them really political activists - acted against the oppression of Communist East Germany. At times it is more suspensful than many suspense novels, even without having had that intention. The portraits are great and you really get to know these people - or at least you wish that you had known them.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alexis
  • Alexis
  • 16-03-2011

an excellent book

Maybe it is because I too moved to Germany rather spontaneously, and ended up finding so much meaning here, that this book is not only one of the best I have ever ordered from Audible, but is also one of the best books of my experience. For anyone with an interest in modern German history, this book brings so much life and so many thought-provoking examples to the facts and figures of communist East Germany. The book is both emotionally and intellectually superb.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gallantly Rabbit!
  • Gallantly Rabbit!
  • 22-01-2011

A stunning achievement.

This penetrating look at life in East Germany, seen from the perspective of an outsider, is saturated in heartbreak, courage and a fractured senses of safety.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Simone
  • Simone
  • 27-05-2013

Very Interesting

I read this right after reading “The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989” by Frederick Taylor in the hopes that it would give me more of a people’s view rather then a politician’s view of life - and it did. I could have done without author’s story of how she went about writing the book itself, but still – I got what I wanted out of it and enjoyed it very much.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Vicki
  • Vicki
  • 02-10-2012

Peeking behind the curtain

Where does Stasiland rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I don't often read non fiction so this was a real surprise - it has to rank up there with the best eye-witness accounts of the life experiences of people surviving in such different circumstances from my own. The generosity of of people to disclose such painful, sometimes humiliating experiences is a testament to the Anna Funder's capacity to retell - and in another language!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Stasiland?

Walking through the Stasi prison with a victim-guide kept my emotions dancing on hot coals all night.

Have you listened to any of Denica Fairman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

What made the performance so good was the excellent pronunciation by Denica Fairman - getting things right. More often a story has been spoilt by the laziness of a performer failing to pronounce names and places correctly. The tone and spareness of the narration fully enabled the engagement of an over-active imagination like mine.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had to hold my breath when Anna, with brutal insight and honesty, met with each informant.

Any additional comments?

I had heard Anna Funder interviewed on radio a couple of times and it took me a few years to tackle the book. Brilliant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anja Schmidt
  • Anja Schmidt
  • 21-07-2012

So interesting

Would you listen to Stasiland again? Why?

I seldom read anything twice.

Which scene was your favorite?

When one of the main persons are taken in for interrogation about her love letters to a long gone boyfriend.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The great something watching over you

Any additional comments?

The narrator is really fantastic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tristin
  • Tristin
  • 07-01-2014

Author's narcissism blights otherwise good account

Any additional comments?

This book is indeed laced with riveting accounts from ex-Stasi and the people they oppressed. You'll hear tense stories of teenage girls sneaking past dogs to jump the wall, meet with greying old ex-Stasi pensioners who reminisce about striking fear into the hearts of their neighbours and get an intimate sense of the surreal details of East German life that are even now being forgotten. But to get to these portions, you'll have to spend hours listening to Ms. Funder describe the inside of her Berlin apartment, detail her urban malaise, outline the workplace tensions at her public broadcasting job, etc. These plodding (and frequent) sections read like passages from a teenager's travel blog, and it's frustrating to think that Ms. Funder decided that the minutiae of her Berlin existence deserved equal billing beside the incredible stories told by her various sources. If a better (and more humble) writer had had access to the sources available to Ms. Funder, this book could have been a Pulitzer Prize winner. But as it stands, this is not the definitive account of East German life you're looking for.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tim Sneath
  • Tim Sneath
  • 25-06-2019

Good listen if you can get over the accent

This is a book about an Australian woman's experiences living in East Germany and researching the Stasi.

The narrator, on the other hand, has an English accent and was either unable or unwilling to learn the correct German pronunciation of key words and names in the book. This was a real "break the fourth wall" moment for me, particularly when she attempted different regional English accents to portray the various characters in the book. So strange to hear someone speaking with a faux-Cockney accent to represent an East German. Frequently used names like 'Uwe' were mangled into "Ooo-wee' rather than 'Oo-ve'.

If you can overcome this, the book itself is great. Just can't understand why a more appropriate narrator wasn't used.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. Young
  • J. Young
  • 08-03-2019

yup highly interesting story to visit but you...

yep, highly interesting story to visit but you wouldn't want to live there. I can recommend this everybody schoolchildren to Grandma. it's the most human interest story I've heard in a long time.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Madeleine
  • Madeleine
  • 12-02-2011

Great project, well written but underdone

I'm glad to hear that Ms. Funder is now writing fiction, because I think she's a good writer but not a great researcher. There has been a trend in the last decade to embrace the inevitable subjectivity of any research by confronting and including researcher's subjective experiences into the account of the investigation. Ms. Funder does this to such an extent that she becomes a central character in the narrative and her reactions, which she writes about very eloquently, tend to overshadow the product of her research. So the book becomes, not a documentation of the experiences of people who were either in the Stasi or victims of it, but of her reaction to meeting them.

I felt this book was okay, but simply did not have enough meat in it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Stephen W
  • Stephen W
  • 16-06-2014

A little disappointing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Frankly there wasn't much in this book that I didn't know already. In fact I have heard a great deal more in German magazines.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

You cannot change the story, but as another reviewer already elquently stated, there needs to be more meat on this particular bone.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

This really is something that I fail to understand. If I was the author or publisher or indeed the narrator, I would take the trouble of finding out how to pronounce German words. One of the key characters is Uwe. Every time the narrator got it wrong it irritated the hell out of me.

Did Stasiland inspire you to do anything?

No, the whole Stasi story is peculiar to the Germans but the book did not tell me anything new

Any additional comments?

No, I really wanted to tlike this book and it disappointed me somewhat.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Richard
  • Richard
  • 21-01-2014

More of a diary than a study

Well written and read but the book is more about the writer and her time in Germany trying to be a non fiction writer. Way too much filler where the writer describes how she feels, what she's thinking or how the light shines on this and that. There is some interesting stuff in there but its not detailed and not based on fact in the main.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr. P. J. Curt
  • Mr. P. J. Curt
  • 01-11-2011

Different approach

This is a great read and uniquely written. Whilst you do learn much of the Stasi workings and general DDR state it is told by way of interesting encouters between the author and former East German subjects and Stasi members. Despite the nature of the subject matter it flows and is not the heavy read you may expect. You would need some level of interest in the times but it is a fresh take on the historical text. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ken Sanderson
  • Ken Sanderson
  • 30-06-2019

interesting stories recent history blurring lines

disturbing stories about how terror and compliance are derived from things other than just violence.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for G
  • G
  • 14-05-2019

Ok I guess

Some interesting stuff in here, but this is a story of one journalist’s visits to the former GDR to research this book.

She’s clearly researched this, but what’s presented here is largely subjective and it’s the life story of a handful of people that lived among the GDR.

I was hoping for something more of a history of the Stasi and it’s influence on the GDR more widely - while there is aspects of this, this is more a deep dive into a few people’s lives. Ultimately it’s the story of her time researching this book and the lives of the people she meets.

I finished this and really enjoyed elements but as a whole it’s not really one I’d recommend.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for cach9801
  • cach9801
  • 18-03-2019

Could not stop listening!

This book was wonderful. I could not stop listening to it. I loved hearing about the bizarre experiences from former residents or police from the former East Germany. Thank you for an excellent book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for ben fuller
  • ben fuller
  • 04-01-2019

Powerful and scary history

Fantastic book which I'd recommend to anyone. Shame narrator can't pronounce basic German words though.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazonian
  • Amazonian
  • 30-12-2018

This is what history books should be like!

Stasiland by Anna Funder is the real "1984", the greatest study of evil I have ever read. Not the evil of carnage and genocide, but the evil of prejudice, mendacity and ideological expedience. Writing with unfailing compassion and lucidity, Anna Funder does not need to resort to theological language to show how evil extends its suffocating tentacles through every layer of a model atheist society where lies, cowardice and the grim banality of power corrupt and twist minds and intentions in Orwellian ways. The author does not seek to lecture or analyse cold facts and statistics – she meets with East Germans and tells us their human stories that speak louder and clearer than any stats or slogans could ever do. The communist experiment in East Germany was based on threats, secrecy and lies (remember all their now discredited Olympic "achievements"?), and survived by turning one in every three citizens into an informant. Anna Funder shows us what kind of hell it was to live under such control, and why hundreds of thousands of exhausted East Germans voted with their feet when the Wall cracked. A lesson in history that should never be forgotten, impeccably narrated by Denica Fairman.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John London
  • John London
  • 26-12-2018

Unexpected

I was expected a factual dry details type book and received a novel of deep feeling - in the times we have it makes me believe the unbelievable- that is we in Europe are going this way again