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Series / Deutschland 83

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Coming home.

Deutschland 83 is a German eight-episode Spy Fiction Thriller that revolves around an East German spy named Martin Rauch who is sent to work in West Germany undercover as a military aide-de-camp named Moritz Stamm. It premiered on June 17, 2015, on Sundance TV, making it the first German-language series to air on a U.S. network.

The show has received very positive reviews, with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.6 on IMDb, an 8.4 on, and 79% on Metacritic.

A second season, set three years later and called Deutschland 86, was broadcast in 2018 in Germany and 2019 in Britain. A final installment in the trilogy, Deutschland 89, began airing in 2020 (Germany, Austria and the US). It aired in the UK during March 2021.

Deutschland 83 provides examples of these tropes:

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    Deutschland 83 
  • Ate His Gun: Henrik Mayer shoots himself through the mouth after the SSD try to blackmail him into becoming a spy.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Martin intervenes in Project RYAN, among other things. He even kills the man responsible for the bombing of the French cultural center in West Berlin.
  • Betty and Veronica: Anette and Yvonne. Subverted in that Yvonne is a better person than Anette in most ways.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Martin helps to stop a nuclear war and gets to come home. But Edel or Alex seems to commit suicide, Yvonne finds out that not only is her boyfriend involved with another girlfriend but said girlfriend is pregnant with his child, Thomas is deported and Martin's relationship with Anette is strained at best.
  • Break the Cutie: Martin through the series, but especially after Linda is murdered after he fails to convert her and he's made to bury her in the woods.
  • Call-Back: The first episode opens with banned literature (Shakespeare) being confiscated by Martin in the un-free East. The second starts with Alex being chided for reading leftist literature (although it isn't taken from him in the more free West).
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • As in real history, East German and Soviet intelligence services refuse to believe that Able Archer 83 is just a military exercise, and dismiss any intelligence assets telling them so as just being duped or not seeing the bigger picture.
    • Wolfgang's sister-in-law overhears Martin sneaking a phone call to the East, realizing he's a spy. Because she was drugged and had drunk a lot of wine, everyone assumes it was a drunken delusion. Even her.
  • Chase Scene: After Martin blows his cover to Edel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Discussed. Two East German officers use American nuclear weapons production to justify their belief that war was imminent, likening it to the literary technique of Chekhov's Gun: "Don't put a rifle on stage unless someone is intended to fire it."
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Schweppenstette occasionally dons a trenchcoat and fedora.
  • Culture Clash: A big part of the series is about exploring the differences in culture between just East and West Germany. Both America and the Soviet Union are portrayed as very distant powers with very distant ideas.
  • Dead Drop: Martin receives orders and communications through coded papers hidden in a fake AA battery hidden inside a tree branch outside the base.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Some characters briefly argue in favor of nuclear war, arguing that a first strike is a winnable scenario.
    • Not to mention several characters smoking in front of a pregnant woman - a pregnant woman who drinks wine at one point.
  • Domestic Abuse: General Edel hits his wife a few times when he's sufficiently antagonized, though one was by accident. She blames the bruises on tennis.
  • Double Standard: Anette loses her shit when she finds out about Yvonne, even though she had an affair with Thomas.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Either General Edel or Alex are implied to shoot themselves at the end of the series - it's not confirmed which.
    • Mayer, the NATO analyst, kills himself when blackmailed by the SSD.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • If you know anything about Cold War history, specifically the history of NATO, you'll know that "Able Archer" was a military exercise that put the Soviet Union on high alert for several days. In the context of the show, however, the characters don't know this, and so they think they're scrambling to stop the Americans from a preemptive first strike. Interestingly, even if you know about the true historical nature of Able Archer, it still manages to be tense. The show, in general, is also this because we know there wasn't a nuclear war in the end and that 1983 didn't result in that much in the way of hostility. It's still pretty tense on a personal level though, and all the more tragic when several major players in the story die for what we the audience know is nothing.
    • When Martin returns home only to find Annette with a tied-up Yvonne, we know the circumstances that led to this, but Martin doesn't, and he panics, thinking Annette is working for East German Intelligence.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Kramer is shot dead by the West German police by pure bad luck while helping Martin to clean up after Alex Edel's calamitous hostage-taking protest action.
  • Dutch Angle: Used several times, most notably when Martin tells Edel he's the mole.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It takes place in Germany in 1983, with real historic events from that year being pivotal to the plot.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: General Edel sees "Moritz"/Martin this way after finding out he was actually a spy for East Germany.
  • Fish out of Water: Martin, who initially finds West Germany somewhat alien to him.
  • Historical Fiction: The show is set in Germany, 1983 if that wasn't obvious from the title. Events from that time, such as Able Archer 83, the shooting down of KAL 007, and the bombing of the French cultural center in Berlin play roles in the plot, as does the occasional Historical Domain Character. Season 2 takes place in 1986 and focuses on the fact that East Germany was very broke as well as the political situation in South Africa and adjourning states.
  • Hostage Situation: Alex takes General Jackson and a prostitute hostage in "Brandy Station".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the episodes are named after real NATO Exercises from 1983.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Played with regarding Anette and Yvonne. The blonde Anette is more domestic and fiercely loyal to the ideals of East Germany. The brunette Yvonne is rebellious and much more easy-going. Anette is also manipulative and Yvonne is innocent and loving.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Schweppenstette is Martin's father, although Martin never finds out in the show.
  • The Reveal: In-universe when Martin blows his cover to General Edel.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Lenora flees to Mozambique with her lover when she believes that World War III is imminent.
  • Source Music: Martin's cassette player provides Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" at one point.
  • Spy School: Tischbier prepares Martin to be a spy through a Training Montage in "Quantum Jump".
  • Stock Footage: There are clips from documentaries, movies, and news programs from 1983 present in every episode.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The anti-nuclear movement in West Germany is a useful-idiot movement for the Soviets and East Germans and in many cases led by eastern spies, as was later discovered happened in real history.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Turn or eliminate Linda Steiler."

    Deutschland 86 
  • Cutting Corners: What East Germany has to do in season 2, given that they are very broke. They sell patients to the west as testers for risky medical studies, they sell weapons to their enemies just to get money, and their yearly celebration for the true workers has to be cut down.
  • Defector from Commie Land: When Tina Fischer discovers the full details of the drugs trial and is fired, she tries to get her family to the West by hiding in a modified van. The East German authorities are tipped off when her secret tape discussing the trial is played on West German radio; the driver is shot running away from the police. Fischer and her husband are sent to prison, their children to an orphanage. Later, Tina is allowed to go the West in exchange for Martin, but Annett crosses the rest of her family off the list of people being sent across. Martin gets her children out in the finale, along with Lenora, although the last of these gets arrested by the West Germans.
  • The Fundamentalist: Both Leonora and Annett have shades of this. Schweppenstette, however, who was this in season 1, has lost his idealism in the three years between the seasons and is now seen enjoying forbidden West German TV.
  • Money, Dear Boy:
    • In universe, East Germany is in such an economic mess that they must raise funds by selling weapons to the Apartheid regime in South Africa, even though they are aligned with the resistance movements and neighboring communist states.
    • The fact that they have hired Barbara Dietrich as their new financial consultant for this reason really hammers it home. She very openly is Only in It for the Money and certainly thinks money has more value than people - she has nothing but contempt for the citizens of East Germany. All in all, she embodies the polar opposite attitude of what the regime claims to have.
  • Moral Myopia: Leonora is selling weapons to the actors of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, even though the East is in political and moral conflict with them (indeed, not supporting the racist Apartheid regime is one of the points where the East has the moral high ground!) simply because East Germany is completely broke and desperately needs the money. She doesn't seem to see the problem with it, which is probably because she desperately wants to believe in the East, but Martin stops the sale when he learns that the weapons are supposed to be used to destroy a building close to the orphanage he spent the last three years working at
  • Properly Paranoid: Tina looks paranoid when she is convinced her home has been bugged and is frantically tearing her whole house apart looking for one, even to the point of ripping up cushions and pillows. But she was right - she finds the bug.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Martin in season 2. He saved the world from a nuclear war, and as a reward, he's been stuck in Africa for three years and has never even met his son. He also really doesn't trust his aunt anymore. Also, Schweppenstette, formerly a near-fanatical believer in East Germany, is seen to watch forbidden West TV.
  • Took a Level in Idealism:Annett, sort of. She's even more fanatic in her belief in the ideology of East Germany now.
  • Undercover as Lovers:Martin and Annett have to pretend to be a loving couple to be prospective adoptive parents for Sandra and Steffi Fischer in order to smuggle them out of East Germany to be reunited with their mother Tina. The fact that Martin and Annett are former lovers who now hate each other means it is very tense!

    Deutschland 89 
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • Fritz invents a computer with a camera on top, similar to a webcam. A West German businessman refuses to invest in it, asking "Who wants to be watched while they are on the computer?!?".
    • Averted later in the series, where Fritz invents a system which can turn on house appliances via voice activation, a bit like Alexa. Dietrich and Fuchs think Fritz's inventions will catch on, to the point where they try to rip Fritz off by attempting to trick him into signing the rights to the inventions and his whole company over to them.
  • Properly Paranoid: Tina, again. She's convinced a man she sees at a nearby table and who later comes to see her for medical advice is the same man who interrogated her in the Stasi. People tell her she is being paranoid, and she even begins to think she is herself. But it turns out she was right the first time.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Walter has to go undercover in West Germany in order to infiltrate the banking system there. He is given a brand new identity, along with a fake wife, Beate, who is another HVA agent. They meet for the first time at "their" house and have to act like they are a couple who have been married for years.