Quotes from The Lives of Others


Gerd Wiesler: No. It’s for me.

Gerd Wiesler: An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered. He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries. He knows he’s there for a reason. The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation.

Anton Grubitz: I have to show you something: “Prison Conditions for Subversive Artists: Based on Character Profile”. Pretty scientific, eh? And look at this: “Dissertation Supervisor, A. Grubitz”. That’s great, isn’t it? I only gave him a B. They shouldn’t think getting a doctorate with me is easy. But his is first-class. Did you know that there are just five types of artists? Your guy, Dreyman, is a Type 4, a “hysterical anthropocentrist.” Can’t bear being alone, always talking, needing friends. That type should never be brought to trial. They thrive on that. Temporary detention is the best way to deal with them. Complete isolation and no set release date. No human contact the whole time, not even with the guards. Good treatment, no harassment, no abuse, no scandals, nothing they could write about later. After 10 months, we release. Suddenly, that guy won’t cause us any more trouble. Know what the best part is? Most type 4s we’ve processed in this way never write anything again. Or paint anything, or whatever artists do. And that without any use of force. Just like that. Kind of like a present.

Georg Dreyman: The state office for statistics on Hans-Beimler street counts everything; knows everything: how many pairs of shoes I buy a year: 2.3, how many books I read a year: 3.2 and how many students graduate with perfect marks: 6,347. But there’s one statistic that isn’t collected there, perhaps because such numbers cause even paper-pushers pain: and that is the suicide rate.

Gerd Wiesler: Madam?

Christa-Maria Sieland: Go away. I want to be alone.

Gerd Wiesler: Madam Sieland?

Christa-Maria Sieland: Do we know each other?

Gerd Wiesler: You don’t know me, but I know you. Many people love you for who you are.

Christa-Maria Sieland: Actors are never “who they are.”

Gerd Wiesler: You are. I’ve seen you on stage. You were more who you are than you are now.

Christa-Maria Sieland: So you know what I’m like.

Gerd Wiesler: I’m your audience.

Christa-Maria Sieland: I have to go.

Gerd Wiesler: Where to?

Christa-Maria Sieland: I’m meeting an old classmate. I…

Gerd Wiesler: You see? Just now, you weren’t being yourself.

Christa-Maria Sieland: No?

Gerd Wiesler: No.

Christa-Maria Sieland: So you know her well, this Christa-Maria Sieland. What do you think – would she hurt someone who loves her above all else? Would she sell herself for art?

Gerd Wiesler: For art? You already have art. That’d be a bad deal. You are a great artist. Don’t you know that?

Christa-Maria Sieland: And you are a good man.


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