East Germany

Books of the year 2013: Fiction in translation

How should authors transform autobiography into self-standing fiction? For Karl Ove Knausgaard, with A Man in Love (translated by Don Bartlett; Vintage, £8.99), this second volume in the Norwegian writer's acclaimed "My Struggle" series mines the everyday material of young fatherhood. Yet he converts it into a stunningly eloquent set of reflections on masculinity, domesticity and the artist's itch to escape.

Classical review: Tosca - Adam Spreadbury-Maher's production doesn't

OperaUpClose specialises in bold transpositions, best exemplified by its witty setting of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera in an IKEA store. For Tosca their writer-director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has effected a different kind of transposition, but one which is entirely logical.

Lothar Bisky: Communist who helped former comrades enter the political

Lothar Bisky, who died on 13 August at the age of 71, was a politican, who after German reunification helped steer discredited East German communists into the mainstream of national politics. He was among a handful of East German Communists who took the helm of the discredited former ruling Socialist Unity Party following the opening of the Berlin Wall and the removal of the hard-line leadership. They transformed the former Stalinist party into a Western-style left-wing movement that still enjoys support, mostly in former Communist areas of eastern Germany.

Inge Lange: One of few women to hold power in the GDR

Although the Communist regime of Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker always claimed that East Germany was the most advanced state as far as women's rights were concerned, it proved very difficult for women to advance to leadership positions in many spheres.

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Ikea used forced prison labour to make furniture

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant whose flat-pack offerings grace homes from Bolton to Bangkok, has admitted that East German political prisoners had been used to make its goods for as long as three decades.

Barbara, Christian Petzold, 105 mins (12A)

Remember the 2006 drama The Lives of Others, about surveillance in the old East Germany? Its ambitious novelistic sprawl would have expanded nicely into a television series – you could imagine the film's Stasi snooper as a TV anti-hero, a shabbier Don Draper or Tony Soprano in ill-fitting headphones.