Anthony Ernest Hanbury was born in 1943 and raised in Indian Head, Saskatchewan. He joined the foreign service in 1967, and then had assignments in San Francisco, Washington, Cairo, Caracas and Kuala Lumpur before being assigned to Berlin as consul in 1992.
Irving Heywood comes from New Brunswick was for many years Hanbury's boss in a division responsible for international disarmament questions. Shortly after Hanbury is assigned to Berlin, Heywood is moved over to the influential position of head of personnel
Sabine Schwartz, neé Müller, fell in love with Tony Hanbury when he lived in Berlin as a student. They shared an apartment for some time on Berlin's Savignyplatz. She is now married to Werner Schwartz and works in a bookstore called Bücher Geissler.
Werner Schwartz is a descendant of a famous and wealthy East Prussian family, but the family fortune was lost during the war. He is now a professor of history.
Albert Müller, an 83 old lawyer, widower and Sabine's father, is Hanbury's friend and mentor. Even at his age he remains an eager sportsman and dedicated cyclist. He is a typical Berliner with a satirical sense of humour.
Randolph McEwen is an aging British intelligence officer, close to retirement, but still in charge of Berlin Station which will soon close down. He has a deep dislike, bordering on racism, for Germans.
Alexander Graf Bornhof, an urbane senior officer in the German intelligence establishment, is responsible for the transfer of McEwen's ingenious intelligence networks to German control.
Earl Gifford is the locally engaged administrative officer in the Canadian diplomatic mission who is frustrated because he is not wealthy and will do much for money.
Sturm is Hanbury's superstitious, philosophic and chatty driver.
Gerhard von Helmholtz, Berlin's chief of protocol, develops a rapport with Hanbury and eases his path into Berlin's high society. He also spots Gundula Jahn as a great journalistic talent, acts as her patron, and introduces her to Hanbury .
Gundula Jahn is from Schwerin, a provincial city in north-eastern Germany. Her family fell under close observation by the Stasi. In the novel she writes a series of columns called The Life and Times of Gregor Donner Reich, a parody of the GDR.
Günther Rauch, an intellectually dedicated Marxist, despised the Stalinism of the GDR regime. He met Hanbury several times in East Berlin in their student days , then prevented the Stasi from destroying their archives in 1989 during the East German revolution. Like Gundula Jahn, has an extensive Stasi file.
Dr. Kurt Stobbe is the chief archivist in charge of the Stasi files and arranges for Hanbury to have access the files which allows him to do research on Nazi war criminals.