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Behind the scenes of Motherland

Images from the story behind the story.

  Chapter 1
Selling the Morning Star

My mum was wearing a Sixty Years of Socialism T-shirt, the red turned pink, the hammer and sickle flaking because of Co-op own-brand powder.
Sixty Years of Socialism

  Chapter 2
In loco parentis

Mr Howard liked to talk, and sometimes I didn’t mind listening – when I was home and I’d done my homework, and my mum was still out, and it was a warm evening, and we both happened to be out the back.
Tamworth gardens

  Chapter 3
An invitation

‘How many people from Tamworth, Jess, will ever get to see the GDR?’
Potsdam map

  Chapter 4
Actually Existing Socialism

The sky was a deep blue. Several suns sat in the windows of King Frederick’s palace. Stone figures queued around the rooftop. Golden angels balanced on one foot.
  Chapter 5
A Day Trip into the Cold War

I hadn’t expected the Berlin Wall to be clean and white and smooth. It looked more like the edge of the swimming baths than the edge of the Cold War.
Berlin Wall
  Chapter 6
The Young Communist League

‘I want you to apply Stalin to Tamworth.’
The Tasks Of Youth
Chapter 7
Election night

I’d been certified Unfit for England.
Enemy Of The State
Chapter 8
Treptow War Memorial

‘If there is one thing I have learned, it is your friends can become your enemies and your enemies your friends. Knowing this has helped me to survive.’
  Chapter 9
Plänterwald Kulturpark

‘But after all that death, I thought perhaps some lightness. I thought we could all go to the funfair.’
Chapter 10
New Year

I was defecting on the Prinz Hamlet, sailing over to the other side on the last crossing of the seventies.
Prinz Hamlet
  Chapter 11
At the GDR Embassy

Behind his head, a photo of Erich Honecker – the official one I knew from all over the place with the blue background and sun-lamped skin.
  Chapter 12
At the lake

Martina said, ‘Would nothing put you off the GDR?’ Her gaze stropped to the water. I shrugged. ‘If something happened to you, maybe.’
Chapter 13
Peter in Tamworth

I’d seen his solidarity book, the monthly dues like Co-op stamps only prettier, as if one day he’d be able to collect divi on World Revolution.
Solidarity Book
  Chapter 14
Troubles mount

My bedroom curtains were closed, but a glow from the street fell under them, spilling onto my GDR shrine. It lit the plug-in, revolving TV Tower, which I unplugged at night because of the hum.
TV Tower
  Chapter 15
Building the Wall

On Strausberger Platz, the fountain was back on… Peter stood in abandoned flags and the first dark spots of summer rain, his feet wreathed in crushed carnations.
Strausberger Platz
  Chapter 16
Our People

Our People were just a rumour. They were so secret, no one knew who they were. They didn’t even know who they were. And now I was going to meet them.
Our People
  Chapter 17

‘We need all our warriors, Jess. Do not be fooled. Do not be a fool.’
Join The Army badge
Chapter 18
The wait

‘I think you’ll find the Tamworth branch is already dead. I’m merely unplugging the life-support machine.’
 CPGB cards
Chapter 19
Visiting Eleanor

I found the glade where Martina had told me she didn’t tell me the bad news, where she’d let Schwielowsee sand run between her fingers, where she’d vanished into the water, when it was still water. Now it was bright with ice.
Schwielowsee in winter

© Jo McMillan 2020