In the GDR people were required to acknowledge an assortment of fictions as fact. Some of these fictions were fundamental, such as the idea that human nature is a work-in-progress which can be improved upon, and that Communism is the way to do it.
Others were more specific: that East Germans were not the Germans responsible (even in part) for the Holocaust; that the GDR was a multi-party democracy; that socialism was peace-loving; that there were no former Nazis left in the country; and that, under socialism, prostitution did not exist.
Many people withdrew into what they called ‘internal emigration’. They sheltered their secret inner lives in an attempt to keep something of themselves from the authorities.
After 1989 Dieter retired from teaching as soon as he could. He was depressed, and required medication. ‘I think one could count him too, as a victim of the regime,’ Julia says. Living for so long in a relation of unspoken hostility but outward compliance to the state had broken him.