April 7, 2012. Today, to my surprise, I found another communication from the Stasi Records Agency in my mailbox. I thought to myself: What is this about? The envelope contained six pages, including a one-page cover letter from the assembler, Ms. Doris Gorsler, the text of which appears in a slightly modified form below.
SUBJECT Notification about the use of documents for the
reassessment of activities of the State Security
in accordance with § 32a of the Stasi-Records-Law
Here: Central Evaluation and Information Group,
Edition 1977 / Logbook-No. 006269/93Z
REGARDING Items of Information from the Year 1977
ATTACHMENTS Excerpt from the Item of Information: K 3/13 from June 28, 1977
Dear Dr. Zipser,
Since 2009 the research department of the Stasi Records Agency has been
publishing the Ministry for State Security’s reports to the political leadership of the GDR as a reference book. The volumes of the for years 1961, 1976 and 1988 have already appeared under the title “The GDR from the Perspective of the Stasi. The secret reports to the SED Leadership.” At present the annual edition for the year 1977 is being prepared for publication.
Among the reports to be edited for this year’s publication is “Item of Information” K 3/13 from June 28, 1977 “Regarding Some Problems Related to Hostile-Negative Activities of Groups of Persons in the Area of Art and Culture.”
The report contains information about your person that was collected by the MfSS. According to § 32 a of the Stasi-Records-Law individuals from this time period, public office holders, and political functionaries are to be notified in advance when information about them is going to be published. Enclosed are the relevant sections from the report that I am sending for your information.
We will be grateful for annotations, corrections, or addenda to the information that is contained in the reports. If applicable, you will be acknowledged in the footnote commentary. [. . .]
The first page of the attached document is a handwritten distribution list with the names of high-ranking SED party officials and Stasi officers who received the report, as shown below.
CEIG 5530 [CEIG = Central Evaluation and Information Group]
Com. Hager, Kurt [Member, Politburo of the Central Committee,
Lamberz, Werner [Member, Politburo of the Central Committee, SED]
Mittig, Rudi [Deputy Minister of the Stasi]
Kienberg, Paul [Lieutenant General, Director of Main Department XX, MfSS]
Fischer, Karl [Member, Department of Agitation, MfSS]
Schorm [Colonel Bernhard Schorm, Deputy Director of Department I, MfSS]
Original Dept. VHA 190/7.7
MDS [Main Department Stamp]
The subject of the report appears on the next page, by itself, with a handwritten date, as follows:
about some problems in connection with hostile-negative activities of groups of persons in the area of art and culture
Next comes the report itself; the segment with references to me is three pages long and appears in a slightly modified form below. Astonishing to me as I read these pages is the high level of paranoia and irrational fear of activities perceived as hostile—on the part of regime-critical writers in the GDR, outsiders living in or visiting the GDR, such as journalists and publishers from the West, individuals like myself, and even the embassies of some non-socialist countries. For the Stasi, enemies of the GDR state, its brand of socialism, and its cultural policies are everywhere.
Active “Contact Persons” at present (among others) are especially
Schwarz– Correspondent for the “Spiegel” [German weekly
Nöldechen– Correspondent for the “Westfälische
Rundschau” [news magazine]
Sager– Correspondent for ZDF [Zweites Deutsches
Fernsehen, German public service television
Schulz – Correspondent for the DPA [Deutsche Presse-
Agentur, German news agency.]
Nette– Correspondent for the ARD [Arbeitsgemeinschaft
der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten
der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, consortium of
regional public broadcasters in Germany]
Menge– Correspondent for “Die Zeit” [German national
Vickers– Correspondent for the BBC [British Broadcasting
Corporation, public service broadcaster]
Johnson– Correspondent for the BBC
Sudau– Correspondent for the “Frankfurter Rundschau”
[German daily newspaper]
Barkow– Correspondent for “Stern” [German weekly news
Employees of FRG publishing houses systematically seek out writers who were signees of the “protest petition” [a reference to the GDR writers’ declaration of protest against the government’s expatriation of oppositional writer/singer Wolf Biermann in November 1976] and conduct lengthy “discussions” with them. (Take, as examples, Ingrid Grimm/Bertelsmann-Publishing, Elisabeth Borchers/Suhrkamp-Publishing, Ingrid Krüger/Luchterhand-Publishing.)
The intent and purpose of these contacts, especially with writers, is above all to strengthen their misgivings and their negative attitude as regards the cultural policies of the GDR. At the same time, detailed advice is provided on personal problems related to the “creation of literature” and the publication of their “works” in the FRG.
To be integrated into the totality of hostile activities are the growing attempts to make contact and exert influence on the part of the embassies of non-socialist countries, particularly the Permanent Mission of the FRG in the GDR. Since the beginning of December 1976 a marked increase has been detected in reciprocal visits and discussions between employees of the Permanent Mission of the FRG in the GDR, as well as employees of the Embassy of the Republic of Austria, and persons from groups within the GDR of negative creative artists and persons engaged in the cultural sector; (to be singled out are the Leader of the Permanent Mission, [Günter] Gaus, and the Speaker for Culture and Sport, Winfried Staar). [After the creation of the German Democratic Republic in 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany did not recognize the GDR as a separate and independent state with sovereign authority. It therefore did not have an embassy in East Berlin, which the GDR maintained was its capital city. Instead, the FRG established a Permanent Mission of the FRG to the GDR, which was situated in East Berlin. This enabled it to conduct whatever diplomatic activities it deemed necessary within the GDR.]
Western embassies and the FRG mission systematically issue invitations to writers and persons from the cultural sector of the GDR to participate in receptions, dinners, and discussions in their quarters—without giving notification in every instance, in compliance with the diplomatic conventions of the MfFA [Ministry for Foreign Affairs]—and in private dwellings with [authors] Heym, Jurek Becker, Hermlin, Schlesinger, Kunert, Schneider and others participating.
(According to information on hand, this group of persons accepts the invitations on a regular basis and comes up with their own initiatives to obtain invitations.)
At such gatherings, especially the ones in private dwellings, advice is provided on essentially the same “problems” that were mentioned earlier.
An integral part of the adversarial efforts aimed at converting, manipulating, disrupting, as well as creating an “inner opposition” among persons from the cultural sphere and writers in the GDR are notably also the activities of such persons as, for example,
President of the West Berlin
Writers’ Union and Secretary
of the so-called “Freedom and
andDr. ZIPSER, Richard
Professor of German Studies at
[ . . . ]
The MfSS has known for some time that Dr. Zipser is a contact partner to hostile-negative GDR writers who willingly provide him with detailed information about the state of affairs within these groups of persons. In June 1977 he again had several face-to-face meetings with signees of the protest declaration ([Sarah] Kirsch, Plenzdorf and others).
What I cannot understand after reading the paragraphs above, which reveal that the Stasi believed in June 1977 that I was engaging in subversive activities, is why the GDR authorities permitted me to return to that country as an IREX scholar in the fall 1977 and spring 1978. Perhaps, since the agreement with IREX was relatively new (established in 1975) and important to the GDR in their effort to gain international recognition, they did not want to do anything that might strain relations. Also, I had been awarded the IREX fellowship several months before this report was written and distributed.
The final paragraphs of the report, cited below, provide further insight into the psychosis that pervaded the Stasi and a reminder that it was one of the most hated and feared secret police agencies the world has ever known.
In recent months the most active hostile-negative forces among writers and persons from the cultural sector of the GDR increasingly organized get-togethers in private dwellings of varying types and modes of concealment (birthday celebrations, so-called farewell parties for persons relocating to the FRG, and so forth), mostly with the participation of diplomats from embassies of non-socialist states within the GDR, journalists, writers and employees of publishers from non-socialist states, in particular the FRG and West Berlin.
FRG writer Günter Grass has participated in a number of these gatherings lately.
The purpose and intent of these gatherings apparently consists of “emerging from their isolation,” to encourage each other as regards their negative and wavering stance, to discuss their situation and give advice on their modes of behavior and actions vis-à-vis Party sanctions, government bodies, and social institutions as well as during discussions with leading representatives of the Party and government; to inform Western contact partners especially about the state of affairs among the writers and persons engaged in the cultural sector of the GDR and their intentions; to exchange and spread half-truths, unsubstantiated reports and allegations of reputed sanctions of the Party and security agencies imposed on the so-called signees, so that a certain psychosis against the Party and security agencies will be fomented.
These forces intend to continue being active literarily, in the way they have been previously.