Reading Your Stasi

In New English Review Dalrymple reviews Red Love: the Story of an East German Family, which illuminates the challenge of navigating the changing totalitarian regimes in 20th Century Europe during the heyday of communism:

The author conveys very well the mental contortions required to live in East Germany (or in any such regime): the mixture of belief, cynicism, indifference, calculation, compromise, wilful ignorance, opportunism, bravery, effrontery and all the many shades and interactions between them. The author does not make himself out a hero, quite the reverse: he is an ordinary, intelligent likeable person who just wants a ‘normal’ life and would prefer to live without overt political interference.

The moral reprehensibility and degradation of the regime was obvious both from the outside and in retrospect: but from within and at the time, matters were often more equivocal. Perhaps the hardest words in the book are reserved for those in the west who admired the GDR…

5 thoughts on “Reading Your Stasi

  1. Jonathan Tedd

    The BBC are broadcasting a play by James Follett called Rules of Asylum first aired in 1973 and set in a fictitious eastern bloc country. Well worth a listen. The film The Lives of others also well conveys the oppression and paranoia from those days.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      Jonathan, I have only seen The Lives of Others once, but it seems like yesterday, so strong was its impression on me. I believe William F. Buckley said it was the greatest film he had ever seen.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Mental contortions needed to live in East Germany | A dose of Theodore Dalrymple

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