Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime
Time: 19 episodes of 45-50 minutes each
Cast: Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Sylvester Groth, Carina Wiese, Sonja Gerhardt, Alexander Beyer
At the height of the Cold War, Europe was divided into two – Communists and Capitalists. The city of Berlin was literally split by the construction of a wall.
The Deutschland series (Deutschland 83, Deutschland 86 and Deutschland 89) covers the decade leading up to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism in Europe. It provides a front row seat to the Cold War by depicting the adventures of the East German spy, Martin Rauch (played by Jonas Nay). Rauch is a reluctant spy who is forcibly recruited by his aunt Lenora (played by Maria Schrader) – a spy herself. Planted as the assistant to a West German general in NATO, Rauch passes on secrets from the West to communist East Germany.
Deutschland 83 is the first season that was released in 2015. It is set in 1983 at the height of the Cold War. The second season, Deutschland 86, came out in 2018 and reveals how cash-strapped East Germany tries to make money by embracing not-so-socialist ideas. The third season, Deutschland 89, was released in 2020. It is set in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sadly, Amazon Prime only carries the first 2 seasons in India. However, it includes a documentary on East Germany, which is a great watch for history buffs.
While the characters in the Deutschland series are fictious, some of the key incidents are based on real-life events. This includes NATO’s Able Archer war exercise that the East Germans believed to be an actual attack. In the series, our hero, Rauch, is able to correct this misunderstanding and prevent the breakout of war in Europe. Rauch comes across as a street-smart character who consistently thinks on his feet to extricate himself from dangerous situations. Not quite James Bond, he displays the vulnerabilities of his young age and lack of experience. As he learns more of the world around him, Martin Rauch tries to maintain his moral compass.
Deutschland is an engrossing and binge-worthy show. It brings in a bit of 80s nostalgia with its music and fashion. It also touches on more serious issues such as the breakout of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. Fans of this series in India are missing closure, so let’s hope that Amazon Prime streams Deutschland 89 soon.