Beyond the Wall

A History of East Germany

Coming Soon


By Katja Hoyer

Formats and Prices



  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
  2. ebook $19.99 $25.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $35.00 $44.00 CAD

AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the ashes of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the definitive history of East Germany, "a fascinating, sparkling book, filled with insights" (Peter Frankopan)
In 1990, a country disappeared. When the Iron Curtain fell, East Germany ceased to be. For over forty years, from the ruin of the Second World War to the cusp of a new millennium, the German Democratic Republic presented a radically different Germany than what had come before and what exists today. Socialist solidarity, secret police, central planning, barbed wire: this was a Germany forged on the fault lines of ideology and geopolitics. 
In Beyond the Wall, acclaimed historian Katja Hoyer sets aside the usual Cold War caricatures of the GDR to offer a kaleidoscopic new vision of this vanished country, revealing the rich political, social, and cultural landscape that existed amid oppression and hardship. Drawing on a vast array of never-before-seen interviews and documents, this is the definitive history of the other Germany, beyond the Wall. 


  • “[An] enthralling, fascinating and very readable history.”—Mail on Sunday
  • "[An] enormously refreshing history of the German Democratic Republic.”—Sunday Times
  • “[A] vivid political story of the communist German state.” —Economist
  • "[F]ast-paced, vivid and engaging."—Times Literary Supplement
  • “A fantastic, sparkling book, filled with insights not only about East Germany but about the Cold War, Europe and the forging of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”
     —Peter Frankopan, New York Times-bestselling author of The Silk Roads
  • “With Beyond the Wall, Katja Hoyer confirms her place as one of the best young historians writing in English today. On the heels of her superb Blood and Iron, about the rise and fall of the Second Reich, comes another masterpiece, this one about the aftermath of the Third Reich in the East. Well-researched, well-written, and profoundly insightful, it explodes many of the lazy Western cliches about East Germany.”
     —Andrew Roberts, New York Times-bestselling author of Churchill
  • “Superb, totally fascinating, and compelling, Katja Hoyer's first full history of East Germany's rise and fall is a work of revelatory original research—and a gripping read with a brilliant cast of characters. Essential reading.”
     —Simon Sebag Montefiore, New York Times-bestselling author of The Romanovs
  • “A colourful and often revelatory re-appraisal of one of modern history's most fascinating political curiosities. Katja Hoyer skilfully weaves diverse political and private lives together, from the communist elite to ordinary East Germans.”
     —Frederick Taylor, author of The Berlin Wall
  • “Katja Hoyer brilliantly shows that the history of East Germany was a significant chapter of German history, not just a footnote to it or a copy of the Soviet Union. To understand Germany today we have to grapple with the history and legacy of its all but dismissed East.”
     —Serhii Plokhy, New York Times-bestselling author of The Gates of Europe
  • “A gripping and nuanced history of the GDR from its beginnings as a separate German socialist state against the wishes of Stalin to its final rapprochement with its Western other against those of Gorbachev. Beyond the Wall is a unique fresco of everyday reality in East Germany. Elegantly moving between diplomatic history, political economy and cultural analysis, this is an essential read to understand not only the life and death of the GDR but also the parts of it that still survive in the emotions of its former citizens.”
     —Lea Ypi, author of Free
  • “Utterly brilliant. This gripping account of East Germany sheds new light on what for many of us remains an opaque chapter of history. Authoritative, lively, and profoundly human, it is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand post-World War II Europe.”
     —Julia Boyd, author of Travelers in the Third Reich
  • “The joke has it that the duty of the last East German to escape from the country was to turn off the lights. In Beyond the Wall Katja Hoyer turns the light back on and gives us the best kind of history: frank, vivid, nuanced and filled with interesting people.”
     —Ivan Krastev, author of After Europe
  • “Katja Hoyer is becoming the authoritative voice in the English-speaking world for all things German. Thanks to her, German history has the prominence in the Anglosphere it certainly deserves.”
     —Dan Snow, History Hit
  • “A beyond-brilliant new picture of the rise and fall of the East German state. Katja Hoyer gives us not only pin-sharp historical analysis, but an up-close and personal view of both key characters and ordinary citizens whose lives charted some of the darkest hours of the Cold War. If you thought you knew the history of East Germany, think again. An utterly riveting read.”
     —Julie Etchingham, ITV News
  • “A refreshing and eye-opening book on a country that is routinely reduced to cartoonish cliché. Beyond the Wall is a tribute to the ordinary East Germans who built themselves a society that—for a time—worked for them, a society carved out of a state founded in the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism.”
     —Owen Hatherley, author of Landscapes of Communism

On Sale
Sep 5, 2023
Hachette Audio

Katja Hoyer

About the Author

Katja Hoyer is a German British historian, journalist, and the author of the widely acclaimed Blood and Iron. A visiting research fellow at King’s College London and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, she is a columnist for the Washington Post and host of the podcast The New Germany. She was born in East Germany and is now based in the UK. 

Learn more about this author