After coming out in 2015, Deutschland 83 had an unexpected popularity in the United States. This is primarily due to the content, given that it takes place in a still-divided Germany during the Cold War, and the fact that the show is mostly in German and requires subtitles if you don’t already speak it.
Its pacing is refreshing in comparison to many other shows based around events in history. It’s got some moments of thrilling action that leave you on the edge of your seat. At times you wonder if there will actually be nuclear war, despite the fact that the Cold War ended without that happening.
The show begins in a rather tense way. We’re introduced to our protagonist, Martin Rauch, when he’s working as a border guard for East Germany. He’s rather strict with the people he’s confiscating books from, but immediately laughs with his fellow border guard as soon as the people are escorted from the room.
From there, we see him at a party at his family home. We are introduced to his mother, aunt, and girlfriend, who become important to the story later on. The viewer can see Martin as a regular person living a regular life, something not entirely common with depictions of life during the Cold War behind the Iron Curtain.
Life does not remain easy for Martin, because he’s then recruited to be a spy by his own aunt. He’s to replace a real man, Moritz Stamm, and assume his identity as a soldier in the West German army. While living as Moritz, he makes friends, falls in love, and is caught up in the threat of nuclear war.
Martin makes for a compelling protagonist, and there are moments where you’ll find yourself rooting for him. He’s doing what he can to survive and live another day, which makes for a common theme even in America in 2021.