stasiland sample essay

Essay by 123456678910High School, 12th gradeA-, September 2014

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"You won't find the great story of human courage you are looking for." Anna Funder's great victory is that she does. Discuss.

Anna Funder's 2002 work of literary journalism, Stasiland, relates her journey through a "land gone wrong", the German Democratic Republic. Separated by the Berlin Wall and political ideology, East Germans lived under the ubiquitous and omniscient control of the Stasi, the secret police, whose "job it was to know everything about everyone". Throughout her quest, Funder uncovers several stories of courage in the face of such oppression, both in acts of resistance and in sustained displays of resilience, however these acts are individual and ineffectual in toppling the regime. Despite these brave individuals' fortitude, they were unable to weaken the Stasi's power or to incite remorse from them. Regardless, Funder is successful in finding and then assembling an inspirational narrative from these admirable recounts of defiance and thus, she succeeds in her original goal.

In a society under constant surveillance, acts of defiance were possible but met with quick retribution by the Stasi. Vocalised by Funder's archetypal dissident, Miriam; "[t]hey break you". Miriam's denunciation as an "enemy of the state" began at age sixteen with her publication and distribution of rebellious leaflets and continued for many years in her attempted escape at Bornholmer Bridge, her deception of Major Flesicher in interrogation and her relentless search for the truth about Charlie's death. The repercussions were also unremitting: incarceration, torture, constant surveillance, restrictions on education and employment and a complete destruction of autonomy. Through Miriam's plight, Funder reminds audiences of the "kind of mortgage [these] acts put on [their] future", evoking compassion for the lasting and unjust suffering. Funder's admiration of Miriam's "big voice" against the authorities is evident as her search for truth becomes intertwined...