Series are perhaps a more effective vehicle for conveying the era of the Cold War to a younger generation, for the simple reason that they can take more time to develop characters, plots, landscapes, and moods.
In the much-praised “Deutschland 83,” the 24-year-old East German army border guard Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) is inserted by the Stasi into the depths of the Eifel region of West Germany as aide-de-camp to a NATO general.
Startlingly familiar, too, is the pervasive feeling that the adults are emotional sleepwalkers, messing around with equipment that could blow up the world at any moment.
The enemy here is not just the one lurking on the other side of the Wall, he’s also sitting on the sofa back home.
So it is all about attraction and repulsion, desire and suspicion, seduction and deception, love and hate, sex and death – the whole gamut of international relations.
The fact that the movers and shakers of this pre-1989 world were nearly all men added the subversive element of forbidden attraction, which in turn expanded the available means of leverage to blackmail. Is it not a stable relationship based on a balance of powers – with the consequence of mutually assured destruction if things go wrong?His mission: to find out whether the Pershing II missiles recently stationed by the Americans in the Federal Republic are really just there for deterrence (as the class enemy claims) or (as the Stasi suspects) to prepare the ground for World War III.“Deutschland 83” was filmed in German with English subtitles, produced by the US firm Sundance TV and written by the German-American couple Anna and Jörg Winger.Grumpy critics have decried its plot as overly construed.Indeed, Rauchʼs desperate efforts to prevent his East German masters from a catastrophic overreaction culminates in his successfully crossing the Berlin Wall back to East Germany; and there are numerous other little irritants.Enter James Donovan (Tom Hanks), public defender for the spy, who insists on Western values and due process, even for the enemy.This wins him respect from the US authorities as well as the trust of the spy and the Soviets – and he soon finds himself playing the role of negotiator for the super powers.Where “Deutschland 83” cuts back and forth between West and East, “Weissensee” sets the conflict firmly in the East German capital, at the end of the 1980s, in the bosom of family.Not just any family: the Kupfers are highly decorated pillars of socialism.Smiley’s opposite number in the Great Game of the Cold War is Karla – the cover name of the legendary head of Soviet counterintelligence who manages to plant a mole at the highest level of MI6.But the real enemy in the books is a different one – neither the Nazis, nor the post-war Germans, who interest him only in passing.