111. In Search of More Information in the Stasi-Files of Others

In the concluding paragraphs of her letter dated January 15, 1999, which accompanied the shipment of my Stasi-file, Ms. Jabs addresses my inquiry about the possibility of checking the files of some other persons for more information about me. She indicates that the Stasi Records Law provides for this particular type of access which is regarded as a third-party request. To help initiate the search process, the applicant has to furnish the names, addresses, and other pieces of information about the persons whose files are to be inspected. After further correspondence on this subject, she gave me a deadline for submission of the information needed to narrow and facilitate the search—September 30, 1999. I called Ms. Jabs in mid-August and let her know that I would be sending her the information she had requested to conduct further research on my behalf. In early September 1999, I sent her a long letter in which I provided the names of five GDR writers, a professor, a publisher, a GDR Writers’ Union functionary, and a married couple whose Stasi files—assuming that they existed—might contain reports or other information on me.

I never received a response to this letter, which might have gone astray in the mail or been misplaced at the Agency. Or, it is possible that Agency officials decided it would be too time-consuming to do the amount of research my additional request would have involved. From my first attempt to gain access to my file in 1993, which began a process that took almost six years to conclude, I expected that the search for more information on me in the files of others would take a very long time. Hence, I was not concerned when I did not hear anything more from Ms. Jabs, who had been very helpful to me. In November 2002, I received a package containing 44 pages from Fritz Rudolf Fries’s Stasi-file, which came as quite a surprise. It had not been sent to me by Ms. Jabs or in response to the letter mentioned above. After reading and incorporating some of that material into my memoir, I had what one might call file fatigue. As the years went by, I decided to be patient and not make further inquiries. One day, perhaps, I will find another package from the Stasi Records Agency in my mailbox, another surprise. But if that package never arrives, I will not be disappointed. Again, and especially after writing this memoir and then translating it into English, I have a serious case of file fatigue and am eager for closure.

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