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Today’s Europe feels eerily similar to watching Deutschland 86

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Stop all the clocks and never mind flinty Fleabag or the wince-inducing This Time with Alan Partridge — Deutschland 86 hits our screens on Friday. Having devoured Deutschland 83 (twice) and sneak-previewed its successor, the secret of their success is the ambience of unravelling certainties and driven individuals at sea with paradoxical claims on their loyalty. The characters all strive to be on the winning side while becoming increasingly unsure which one that is.

Jonas Nay once again plays Martin, the dishy East German agent who, singlehanded, prevented a pre-emptive nuclear strike by Moscow against West Germany in 1983. Three years on, Martin and his Stasi aunt are gallivanting around South Africa trying to sell arms to the apartheid state to balance the books of the declining East Germany. We head off into head-spinning entanglements across the Arab world, with Communist Moscow partly guiding the action and suspicious of the entanglements of satellite states.

Actually, I feel I should have had a walk-on part, since I lived in East Germany from 1986 as a student and later co-wrote the spy chief Markus Wolf’s memoirs, trying to pull the secret stories of the Cold War out of a man whose business was keeping secrets. Two things stood out from that experience. The first is that there is always much more going on in geopolitics than any slick narrative tells you at the time. The second is that, as Wolf once darkly observed to me, “Nothing........

© Evening Standard