Last night marked the beginning of a new series on Channel 4 called Deutschland 83, an 8 episode series set in 1980’s Cold War Germany.
It tells the story of Martin Rauch, an East German Border Guard who is forced away from his home and family to act as a spy in West Germany.
The story starts with Rauch being drugged by his Stasi agent Auntie, Lenora, after declining to work in West Germany due to his sick mother and family. He wakes up after being spirited away to West Germany to be planted as an aide to General Wolfgang Edel, A West German General who is working with the Americans to deploy Pershing II missiles in Germany.
The story is set in a very interesting time in the Cold War. US President Ronald Reagan had just referred to the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” and the Soviets had deployed short-range SS-20 Nuclear Missiles to the Eastern Bloc. The soviet action led to NATO’s “Double Track” approach which saw them offer the Warsaw Pact a mutual limitation of medium-range ballistic missiles and intermediate-range ballistic missiles combined with the threat that in case of disagreement NATO would deploy more middle-range nuclear weapons in Western Europe, particularly in Germany and the UK.
The story not only shows the differing beliefs between East and West Germans but also shows the fact that many people were happy in the East, a fact often lost in history which would have us believe East Germany to be a grey place with everyone miserable and wanting to leave. One of the most poignant scenes in episode 1 is where Martin Rauch ends up in a supermarket in the West and is amazed by the products and choice available whilst his Mother struggled to even get decent coffee and having been brought up believing the West to be a barren, struggling place.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
Presented in German and subtitled in English some may find Deutschland 83 hard going but judging by episode 1 it’s certainly worth the effort. Jonas Nay who plays Martin Rauch manages to portray strong East German soldier whilst maintaining the naivety to make his characters uncertainty of the West believable. Brilliant writing ensures the story is one that doesn’t take sides between capitalism and socialism yet manages to show the human side of life on both sides of the Wall.
The 1980’s were perhaps the most dangerous time in the Cold War, arguably more so than the Cuban Missile Crisis thanks to the placement of IRBM’s which reduced warning times to minutes. Spying was key for both sides and the information war was keenly fought. But in Martin Rauch we have a man who didn’t choose to be a spy yet was forced by his country and his own family to be one.
Will he do his duty, or will he be seduced by the west?
Deutschland 83 was first broadcast on Channel 4 at 9pm on the 3rd January 2016. Next Broadcast 9pm 10th January.