The Cold War period may seem a little dusty these days, but the gripping adventures of an East German spy in hit TV series Deutschland 83, Deutschland 86 and Deutschland 89 will surely glue you to the screen, too…
The Story: The Lives of Others just got an upgrade!
In 1983, Germany is a divided country. The East is communist, the West capitalist. Plus, the Cold War between the US and Russia is on an all-time high.
Martin discovers the walkman Photo: © RTL / Laura Deschner
In this politically volatile climate, a young man from East Germany called Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) is sent on an undercover spy mission to West Germany. Dutiful Martin does a good job. However, he soon finds himself in several situations where he is driven by his emotions rather than his head, which can be quite dangerous for a spy…
East German Martin in a West German supermarket.
Photo: © RTL / Laura Deschner
The Location: So close, but worlds apart
In 1983, the Berlin Wall had been up for 22 years. At one point, 24-year-old Martin says: “West Germany is so close, but totally different.”
Border crossing sign at Checkpoint Charlie
Photo: © Sonja Irani / filmfantravel.com
There certainly is no better place to relive the Cold War tensions than the now reunited German capital Berlin. Most filming was done here and in the nearby Potsdam Babelsberg film park. Don’t miss the German Spy Museum, Berlin’s AlliiertenMuseum Berlin, and the famous border control point Checkpoint Charlie.
Me at (what's left of) the Berlin Wall. Photo: © Sonja Irani / filmfantravel.com
The final verdict: People over politics
On a personal level, this suspenseful drama brilliantly recounts how the lives of the people got affected by their time. Plus, who can resist the legendary Eighties pop soundtrack?
Martin with his radical political aunt in "Deutschland 83"
Photo: © RTL / Nik Konietzny
Thanks to the German series being a huge international hit, a second season and third season have been produced, which according to the years they are set in got slightly different names.
Deutschland 86 was released in Amazon Prime in 2018. In 1986, Martin saw even more of the world with his undercover assignments taking him to Johannesburg, Tripoli and Paris. In the meantime, he has become a father back in East Germany and has a few romantic entanglements in West Germany, among others a cougar/toyboy thing with a woman who is a few years older than him.
Finally, a third season called Deutschland 89, the year in which the Berlin Wall eventually fell, has been released in September 2020. In this season, Martin's world is once more torn apart as everything changes yet again. The release date comes just in time for the 30th anniversary of German unity, which was first celebrated on October 3, 1990 (one year after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989).
A little too violent at times, but otherwise a stunning time travel experience, which teaches you a lot about German (and world) history!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Jonas Nay and Ludwig Trepte (Generation War) in a scene from Deutschland 83 Photo: © RTL / Nik Konietzny
Berlin Museum Tips for Cold War and Spy Sightseeing:
AlliiertenMuseum Berlin FREE ENTRY!
Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Straße FREE ENTRY!