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Operation Reunification

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The Wall had fallen. He had become an envelope-steamer who was not allowed to read, let alone interpret, the material he now so patiently and delicately pried open. Better letters than people. Now that was a thought—and a career derailment—no one, not even he himself, could ever have anticipated. However, though he had been actively discouraged from reading at work, he had begun to read more at home. He devoured all the works of Brecht that he could get his hands on. And hoped that there would be more works by Dreyman, that the loss of Christa would not stop his pen just as surely as being held in a completely silent solitary confinement would have done had Wiesler not interferred.

After having started to read fiction in the place of theories of interrogation, he realized that he analyzed fictional characters much in the same way he had analyzed those he had observed and interrogated, observing that one had to carefully analyze every word in each case and understand the narrator’s mind as well as the characters’ minds in order to see whether or not they were attempting to deceive themselves and/or their readers. As he read, Wiesler began to understand, too, the ways in which Christa, despite her familiarity with a number of different narratives with a number of possibilities for the ending, had been unable to imagine any way out, let alone the truth of Wiesler hiding the evidence. He could understand why she had not cast him as a rescuer. After all, when people thought about the uses of Deus ex Machina they almost certainly never thought of Stasi captains.

Dreyman, too, was limited to one narrative line: that Christa must have moved the typewriter and saved him; she had sacrificed herself. No Stasi agents hid behind doors after having removed any evidence of unsanctioned article-writing in his imagination. While Wiesler regretted that Christa had seen no ending to her story other than to travel routes Lily Bart or Anna Karenina might have taken, he was well content to let Dreyman believe that Christa had been like a version of Eponine or Juliet. Not only to spare her memory as well as Dreyman's feelings, but to protect himself. He knew that he was now both watched and expendable--and could also easily cause the investigation into Dreyman to begin anew if it became known that he had made contact.

It was wondering about his concern over Dreyman and his regret over Christa that led him to question how many men like Dreyman he might already have condemned. The certainty that it had been many finally caused him to question the entire apparatus of the State and the glee with which it threw those it had called pearls-- like Christa-- before swine like Minister Hempf. Before, he had felt protective of Dreyman and had hidden his report when he realized the kind of life Dreyman would have endured had he turned it in. Yet his overall faith in the State as it stood, despite the goodness of some of its enemies and the sadism of some of its allies, had not waned. After Christa’s death and his discovery that he shared an assignment with the man who had made the joke about Honecker, it had started to. He still believed in the socialist cause, of course. However, he had begun to see the Stasi not as the party’s “shield and sword,” but as its prison wardens. And he began to want to do more than read: he wanted to write. About politics, love, and a world that was grey in the right ways. Not Stasi-grey or East Berlin concrete apartment block grey, but the range between black and white.
And after the Wall fell, he considered it safe to give writing a try. Despite the multitude of inexplicable events that had recently occurred, however, from the Wall falling to his own changing political opinions, Wiesler had not miraculously blossomed into a Dreyman or a Brecht. No, Gerd Wiesler’s genre had been—and likely would always be—the report.

Though he had been unable to match anything like the Brecht's “On a certain day in the blue-moon month of September/Beneath a young plum tree, quietly/I held her there, my quiet, pale beloved”—and he had tried (and burned the evidence even though there was now nobody both interested and powerful enough to search his home)—the reports he ultimately wrote reminded him of Brecht anyway, as they were addressed to Christa. She was beneath an oak tree, not a plum tree, and she was not Wiesler’s beloved, but he could not escape his interest and concern in Dreyman or his desire to reassure Christa in the way that he had failed to to before she died that Dreyman was safe. Though he knew it was irrational to think he could communicate in this way with the actual spirit of Christa and feared it would look treacly at worst and sentimental at best if his writings were ever discovered, Wiesler needed to tell her about Dreyman, about Berlin, in the same way that he had needed to reassure her at the coffee shop. Only she was his audience, his Publikum, now instead of vice versa.

The first opportunity for him to report to Christa about Dreyman came at a Christkindlesmarkt in the West after the Wall had fallen. He had tracked Dreyman and a female companion (an actress in one of Dreyman's plays, he knew, but was she more? He would find out) to the market, attempting to make himself unseen on streets that had been so nearby but that he had never walked upon. Though he appreciated the new streets (and the greater access to fresh produce and the loss of power of men like Minister Hempf), he did not appreciate the fact that his lack of familiarity with them led to him losing, for the first time, someone he had been tracking. No matter: he had heard the woman make Dreyman promise that they could remain at the market for some time.

Wiesler found himself wandering the market drinking gluhwein, eating bratwurst, and simultaneously hoping and dreading that these Westerners would easily mark him as Eastern. While he was still happy to be seen as a socialist, especially with the kind of consumerist decadence on display during the holiday season, he did not want to be looked at with suspicion as someone who might have informed or been informed upon. Or, worse yet, as a former Stasi captain at the feast.

However, despite his disgust at the culture of consumption, he did find, between the stall selling gingerbread hearts and the one selling toys at a price that would have cost Eastern parents a week’s pay, something he wanted to buy: a three-tier pyramid made of light wood, its angel with a sash of stars followed by Old Saint Nick with his sack and staff followed by a shepherd and his sheep.

Though he had come to the market for the express purpose of observing Dreyman, he had become so entranced by the workmanship of the pyramid that it was a surprise to hear Dreyman’s voice, this time addressing him rather than Christa or Hauser.

“Something good did come out of the East then, didn’t it?” Dreyman asked, amused by Wiesler's apparent inability to take his eyes off the pyramid.

“Lazlo praises Eastern craftsmanship” ran through Weisler’s mind before he could even process that Dreyman was standing alone over his shoulder and that they were both in a Western Christkindlesmarkt rather than in situation in which he would need to write a response to cover for Dreyman.

“What do you mean?” he asked, keeping his eyes on slowly revolving angel.

“We made those pyramids in the East and exported them here. I had one, but only because a friend brought it back over the border with some books I had asked for. I’m sure all the party chairmen found ways to keep their own angels too. But now there are angels for us all.”

“Ah, I chose a good moment to rejoin you,” Dreyman’s companion remarked as she appeared next to him.

For a moment, despite the woman’s blond hair, Wiesler thought it was Christa because their voices, even to one trained in surveillance and detection, sounded eerily similar. From the look on Dreyman’s face, Wiesler concluded that Dreyman had had the same thought.

“Yes, my angel, you did,” Dreyman replied in a voice that suggested that he would be at home performing on the stage in addition to writing for it. “I wish you joy with your reclaimed socialist pyramid,” he said to Wiesler before departing with the woman and returning to his (or, as Wiesler later discovered, what was now their) apartment.

Wiesler found that his first report to Christa, and many of the ones that followed, necessitated a degree of truth-massaging, though never quite as much as the reports he had written about Dreyman for the Stasi. He wanted her to know she was missed, but not that Dreyman could not sit through performances of works in which she had had starring roles. Or, honestly, even the ones in which she had had any role at all. And he wanted her to know that Dreyman saw other people (there were others, and not all actresses, after his Christkindlesmarkt companion moved out), as she would, he was sure, have wanted Dreyman to move on. But he could not, and would not, say that that Dreyman could not make these relationships last because of the guilt he felt over the situation with Christa.


And so his reports, which he left at Christa's gravesite after discovering that Dreyman could not ever bear to visit it, contained statements like “Dreyman, codename "Tristan" observed enjoying wine and dancing with Silke Schmidt, who plays a seamstress from the East attempting to find work in the West,” followed by “Tristan has photo of CMS put on stage before every production in which she starred. Tristan returns to the theatre after the production is finished and spends hours at the theatre looking at it after everyone, even the janitors, have left.”

The next year he was less able to keep up what had become his quarterly surveillance of Dreyman, given the demands of his new mail route, but he was able to report that Dreyman had written a new play, one which explored the strain put on couples forced to inform on one another. Ultimately, there was understanding and forgiveness. And no one had died.

And the following year….well, the following year saw the publication of Die Sonate vom Guten Menschen. Dreyman knew what Gerd had done and what Christa had not done. And had almost certainly known when he had written the play about the lovers and the informing they had done. This was the final report, then, the one that did not need any truth-massaging: “Tristan has written a book describing the events of the past as he now knows them to be. He still loves CMS.”

As Wiesler straightened up from placing the last report at the grave, he looked up to find Dreyman watching him.

“Forgive me,” Dreyman said. “I’ve known about you, and these reports, for some time. I thought you would come here at some point after the book was published. The book was my thank you. This meeting between us today will allow me to give you hers.

And with that, Dreyman took Wiesler’s report, read it, and added: “Tristan thanks HGW on behalf of himself and CMS. Operation Reunification successfully completed.”