Set against a perilous political backdrop and set amid real events, Deutschland 83 is Channel 4’s new German-language thriller.
Created by German-American husband and wife team Anna Winger and Joerg Winger, the eight-part series reveals the experiences of Germans from both sides of the Berlin wall during a pivotal period of Cold War tensions where the world’s nuclear arsenals rested on a hair trigger.
It’s 1983. The Cold War is heating up. Russian SS20 Missiles in East Germany are pointed West, American Pershing II Missiles will soon be placed in West Germany, to point East. The very real threat of nuclear conflict looms.
Deutschland 83 follows Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay), a 24 year old East Germany native, who is thrust from the world as he knows and sent over the wall to the West as an undercover spy for the Stasi. Hiding in plain sight in the West German army, he must gather the secrets of NATO military strategy while trying to resist the pleasures that the West has to offer. Everything is new to him, nothing is quite what it seems and everyone he encounters is harbouring secrets.
MARTIN RAUCH / MORITZ STAMM (played by Jonas Nay)
Born in the East, he’s sent to the West as a spy by the HVA. Martin/Moritz is handsome, smart, charismatic, but wet behind the ears. He was raised by his single mother, Ingrid, in a Communist Party family. Theirs is a good life of relative privilege in the GDR, self-contained and protected.
As the series opens, Moritz is in the last months of his NVA military service, working as a border guard at Friedrichstrasse. Then he is ejected from the world he knows and thrust into the life of a spy. Everything is new and nothing, and no one, is quite as they seem. Everyone is harbouring secrets, both political and personal.
LENORA RAUCH (played by Maria Schrader)
Moritz’s aunt, and his boss. Officially the Cultural Attaché at the East German Embassy in Bonn, her real job is to run the GDR’s covert assets in the West for the HVA (East German Secret Service). She is a Party believer who sacrificed her youth to the cause.
She has never married and has no children. But with East German budgets running out, and a paranoid HVA, Lenora is feeling increasingly desperate. She loves her sister, so her loyalties are torn when it comes to her nephew Martin/Moritz, but she will stop at nothing to get the job done.
TOBIAS TISCHBIER (played by Alexander Beyer)
Moritz’s mentor in the HVA, he’s both his superior officer and a father figure. Working for DDR undercover in the West since the early 1960s, Tischbier’s job is to stimulate the peace movement, the anti-nuclear movement and to stir up trouble from the Left.
His cover job is a popular law professor at University of Bonn, where he is a hero to Alex Edel and other young idealists who attend peace rallies.
ANNETT SCHNEIDER (played by Sonja Gerhardt)
Martin/Moritz’s fiancée and childhood sweetheart back home in Kleinmachnow. She loves Martin/Moritz and believes he is the “right” kind of man to create a life with in the GDR. But she is tempted by Thomas Posimski, the polar opposite of the “right” kind of man…
She is canny, seductive and determined, the kind of person who would do well in any system.
ALEX EDEL (played by Ludwig Trepte)
General Edel’s rebellious son. He is forced into a military career against his will and he often clashes with his father. At first, his interest in the peace movement seems like simple rebellion. But Alex becomes increasingly radicalised and determined to take action, both to shame his father and to prove himself.
YVONNE EDEL (played by Lisa Tomaschewsky)
General Edel’s talented daughter is also rebelling against her controlling father. She has discovered the popular cult around Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, has moved into the commune and is performing as a singer in their nightclub.
Martin/Moritz is immediately drawn to her, but she has competition with his commitment to Annett back home in his “real” life in East Germany.
GENERAL WOLFGANG EDEL (played by Ulrich Noethen)
Martin’s boss in the Bundeswehr and another father figure, General Edel is a West German official involved in the top secret Pershing Commission, privy to NATO secrets and government plans.
He is a family man of strong convictions, but he has a terrible temper and a tendency toward violence, behavior that has left a dark stain on his relationship with both of his children, who are spiralling out of control in different ways.
WALTER SCHWEPPENSTETTE (played by Sylvester Groth)
High up in the hierarchy at the HVA, Schweppenstette is Lenora’s boss. They came up the ranks together and know each other well. Ambitious and ruthless, Schweppenstette shows himself to be willing to put everything on the line for his own career advancement.
Who’s your favourite character in Deutschland 83? Let us know below…