A Night Divided – The World of East Berlin

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | 55 comments

Nightdivided_XLGAre you getting as excited as me for A NIGHT DIVIDED to release? Okay, probably no one is excited as I am, but I hope you are looking forward to meeting Gerta, her brother, Fritz, and the other characters who populate their world!

A NIGHT DIVIDED will release on Aug 25, 2015. Please support your indie bookstore first, but if you want to buy online, you can also find the book at:



Barnes and Noble


In 1965, East Berlin was under the control of Communist Russia, but run by the East German government known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Even with the Berlin Wall up, people still made attempts to escape the East.

Some were successful…

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Many were not.










To give you an idea of the danger of living in East Berlin, just consider the numbers of their secret police, the Stasi.

You might have heard of the Russian Secret Police, the KGB. At the height of their power, there was one KGB agent for every 5,830 citizens. The Nazi Gestapo had one agent for every 2,000 people. That’s a lot, right?

The Stasi had one agent or regular informant for every 66 East Germans. When we take into account their spies and part-time informants, the number goes to one for every 6.5 citizens. This means that in any dinner party, at least one person was probably there to spy on you.

Every single apartment building had an informant. Every school, university,
hospital, and post office had spies. It might be your doctor, your bus driver, your waitress, or your priest. Phone lines were tapped. Holes were bored into apartments to film private citizens. Stasi officers might break into your home and rearrange the furniture, just to remind you that they can – and did – break into homes all the time.simonmenner-stasi-078

If you were arrested by the Stasi, nobody knew where you were taken. Nobody knew if or when you would return. And even today, few people who lived in the Stasi prisons will talk about what happened to them there.

Escape attempts were considered treason, and as such, could be punished by immediate death.

This is the world in which Gerta lives. The world she is going to attempt to escape.

A NIGHT DIVIDED. Coming on August 25th!

To read more, do your own Google search or you can start here.



  1. Wow. At least one person in any dinner party would spy on me? That’s… creepy. Those pictures in the black, gray and white make the photos seem so scary. Well, if they were in color, that would be scarier. I’m really glad I’m not trapped in East Berlin like Gerta. And to have my family separated? Not even going to think about it. Frightening.
    Thank you for explaining parts of A Night Divided! They are interesting, even if they are a bit scary.
    I have a question. In the first photo, it looks like there’s someone hidden in a car. Is she/he one of the successful ones, or one of the ones that didn’t survive? I think the person didn’t survive, because I think I see a uniform on the right.
    Thank you for writing amazing books!
    – Loreley

    • Hi Loreley – yes, the person in the car did survive. The soldiers you see are West German, helping her out.

  2. I wondered what will be Gerta’s plan to escape East Berlin where actions are limited due to those spies Miss Jen. This post of yours made me even more intrigued about your latest book this August 🙂

  3. I am looking forward to this. Will this going to be a series? I would have love to read a standalone novel from you, and I bet this one will fit the bill.


    • This is a standalone. Either she makes it out, or she doesn’t. 😉

  4. Of course we’re excited!! Probably even more than you seeing as you already know how it ends and I don’t…
    Can’t wait till the 25 th!

    • Aw yes, I do know how it ends! (Cue “duh duh duh dum” music here)

  5. I CANNOT WAIT to August 25. I CAN’T. But I am looking forward to it.

  6. Oh my God!!! I’ve finished A Night Divided and all I can say is WOW! It’s absolutely amazing! The Berlin Wall is such an interesting subject and definitely one I’d like to look into in more detail 🙂

    • Now I’m doubly glad you won an early copy, Anna! I hope you’ll get the chance to study more about it!

  7. I’ve finished the book (about a month ago but I haven’t had a chance to come here until now). Anyways, it was AMAZING! I would expect that since this is a book to do with a lot of history (although I do enjoy the subject very much) would have some scenes that are less captivating. However, A NIGHT DIVIDED held my attention to the very end. Also, I’ve never fully understood what the story behind the Berlin Wall was. Of course I’d studied The Cold War for academics but that particular bit stayed murky. I’m glad that it’s been cleared up. All I can say is ‘thank you’ but I do hope you know my gratitude for receiving an ARC copy for such an enjoyable story.

    • Warmest thanks, Lily Moon – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! (And really glad it was helpful to better understand the Berlin Wall time period)

  8. Wow! Definitely a difficult time! Not many books are written set in that period, so good choice. 😉
    One the only knock-knock jokes I actually found funny was about the KGB.
    Who’s there?
    The KGB.
    The KBG wh…
    SILENCE! No one questions the KGB!

  9. I have a project im doing on this book and I need to find traits for Gerta and why this is a trait for her if you could help that would be great

    • Also I love the book A Night Divided best book I have ever read!!!!

    • Well Max, I could do that, but I sorta think that you coming up with those ideas is the whole point of the assignment, no? The way I usually do this sort of task is to look at an event in the book and then ask, what does this event tell me about the kind of person Gerta is? For example, in the beginning when Muller puts his rifle against Gerta’s cheek as she faces him, what does that tell you about her? Good luck!

      • Thank you that helped a lot!! 🙂

  10. I Loved the book!

  11. How would you explain gertas living situation, like detains about her home. Something like the type of music she is forced to listen to or books and news she’s supposed to read

    • Hi, Mika. Apartments and homes in East Germany tended to be relatively simple. You can google “East German apartment” to get an idea of how many homes looked and then combine that with the details Gerta provides in her narration. She liked to listen to Western rock music, but that was illegal. To better understand the music and books of East Germany, you can Google “East Germany pop culture.” Everything was censored and promoted themes of work, industry, and community. The news was controlled by the government – so only what they approved of got reported on, and the way the government told the news to say it.

  12. Hi Jennifer,

    I found your book at a school book fair. I read it and it brought back lots of memories from my childhood. I was born in East Germany. My father left the East legally, but went through a lot of trouble with the Stasi. I thought back then I will never see him again. But only a couple years later the nightmare ended and the wall came down.
    Today my kids can read your book and understand how their mother grew up and under what conditions we had to live. Thank you for writing this book and telling others about small facts about life in the East zone.

    • Wow, Michaela, that’s incredible! I know enough of the East zone to know that your comment here has only barely scratched the surface of your family’s story. Thank you for choosing A Night Divided for a read. I’m glad it’s helped connect your children with your history.

      • Hi, I also saw it at the book fair and I’m reading it right now. It gets more and more intense. I’m looking forward towards the end.

  13. I loved this book sooo much. Once I started reading it I couldn’t stop!!! It’s a real page turner!

    • Thank you, Elizabeth – this is any author’s big hope, so I’m very glad you enjoyed this book that much!

  14. My daughter loved this book and she said that when she read it she could imagine the feelings and the pictures in her head.

  15. Where can we see/get the movie? My 13-yo son is reading (and loving!) the book right now as his summer reading requirement, but we want to watch the movie before school starts in a few weeks if possible?

    • I’m afraid there is no movie for this book, Susan. Perhaps one day, if the movie Gods are willing! 😉

  16. Were you inspired by the movie Escape from East Berlin?

    • I haven’t seen that movie, but I have heard about it. Most of what I put into the book was either my own ideas for how an escape could work, or else from research about what other people did in real life.

  17. hey do you know where i can find the movie a night divided?

    • Hi Summer! As of right now, there is no movie of A Night Divided. Perhaps one day there will be, but not yet!

      • OK thank you

  18. I am half way through the book and I am getting really excited.I bought this book at a book fair last year and kinda forgot about it but then I picked it back up and started reading it.I would be so scared if I was in those living conditions.I love the book so far.I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

    • Thanks very much, Grace – I hope you will love it all the way through to the end. And you’re right – those are difficult living conditions. It’s hard for me to imagine people having lived that way.

  19. Also it would be AWESOME if there was a movie,you should consider that…

    • I would be interested, but this would have to start with the movie studio coming to me. Perhaps one day!

  20. Hi Jennifer,

    Last year my kid asked for $10 for a book and I asked him what book and he said A Night Divided so I thought about and did some research and bought a copy. It’s a good book so far and my kid ( he’s 12) want’s to know when you plan to make the movie for it?

    • Hi Bobbie! I’m so glad your son enjoyed A Night Divided – tell him thank you for giving it a try! At this time, there are no plans for a movie. A studio would need to approach me with an offer. Fingers crossed for that one day in the future!

      • amen

  21. Awesome book I’d love to see a movie of it or even better see you in person I love the book if you could see gerta again and get it in more full detail and some pictures it would mean a lot to me.

    • Hi Dakota! I think this would be a great movie too, though then I’d have to dive into more movie updates, right? But it would be cool to really bring to live the images from the story.

  22. I choose this book for book club at school. My classmates that have read it said it was great, so I’m like I will read it. When I finished the first thing that went to my mind was WOW! It’s amazing. This book has helped me to be happy that i have a bit more freedom than they had.I also noticed that my family is kinda divided too.Most of my family lives in another country and some of my family lives in Oregon with me. Thank you for writing this book, i can now know that family may be separated by a boarder or wall but not by heart. I didn’t know anything about this but now I’m happy that I did. In school, my group is writing a companion book to A Night Divided. I was wondering, is the theme is that taking a risky/dangerous decision to reach for your dream/goal may be the best one.Well, because that is what I think it is. What do you think about the theme i chose?

    • Hi DC – thanks very much for your kind words. I think it’s incredibly cool that your group is creating a companion book to A Night Divided. There are many themes a person might pull from the story – yours sounds pretty awesome!

  23. Hi Jennifer! (Again). I posted a comment over my Thanksgiving break.
    We had to choose a book for a reading project for our final achievement grade in ELA, And guess what? … I chose YOUR book! I absolutely love A Night Divided! I like how it’s historical but suspenseful! I have 3 mini projects (tic-tac-toe) inside of 1 big project (summary presentation). I can’t wait to share this amazing book with the class!

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