Katja Hoyer Longlist Interview
20 September 2023
The definitive new history of East Germany by a highly acclaimed young historian. In 1990, a country disappeared. When the iron curtain fell, East Germany simply ceased to be. For over forty years, from the ruin of the Second World War to the cusp of a new millennium, the GDR presented a radically different German identity to anything that had come before, and anything that exists today. Socialist solidarity, secret police, central planning, barbed wire: this was a Germany forged on the fault lines of ideology and geopolitics.
In Beyond the Wall, acclaimed historian Katja Hoyer offers a kaleidoscopic new vision of this vanished country. Beginning with the bitter experience of German Marxists exiled by Hitler, she traces the arc of the state they would go on to create, first under the watchful eye of Stalin, and then in an increasingly distinctive German fashion. From the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, to the relative prosperity of the 1970s, and on to the creaking foundations of socialism in the mid-1980s, Hoyer argues that amid oppression and frequent hardship, East Germany was yet home to a rich political, social and cultural landscape, a place far more dynamic than the Cold War caricature often painted in the West.
Powerfully told, and drawing on a vast array of never-before-seen interviews, letters and records, this is the definitive history of the other Germany, the one beyond the wall
What the judges said
"Beyond the Wall is history at its best. Katya Hoyer evokes life – many lives – in the GDR in all its complexity without just focusing on the Stasi but also without being nostalgic"
Katja Hoyer is a German-British historian, journalist and the author of the widely acclaimed Blood and Iron. A visiting Research Fellow at King's College London and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, she is a columnist for the Washington Post and hosts the podcast The New Germany together with Oliver Moody. She was born in East Germany and is now based in the UK.