24. Persons Pursuing Ideological Subversion: December, 1976

I next turn my attention to a bound 27-page attachment to my file, the cover page of which bears the following stamps: “Original received,” “Ministry for State Security/General Repository for Individuals,” and “Closed Filing,” indicating that it was a top secret document. The first page in the attachment is a letter, written on December 3, 1976, from Generalmajor Paul Kienberg, Director of Main Department XX in the MfSS, to the Director of Department X in the same building. In this internal communication, Kienberg instructs his colleague to request information from the state security agencies of other socialist countries on a number of persons considered hostile to the GDR. Attached to this letter is a list of nine persons, all of them foreigners from Western nations—England, the Netherlands, and the United States, who purportedly have been engaging in subversive activities in the GDR. The names of these persons and the personal information about each are blacked out on my copy—with one exception, which shocks me. That person is none other than

Dr. ZIPSER, Richard
Born on 1/23/1943 in Baltimore
Residence 102 Shipherd Circle/USA
Assistant Prof. of German Literature
Oberlin College/Ohio/USA
USA Citizen

A MfSS stamp on the letter, signed by Colonel Willi Damm and dated December 4, 1976, acknowledges receipt of this order and the information-gathering process begins that day.

The attachment also contains letters from Colonel Willi Damm of the Stasi to the Ministry of the Interior, which was ultimately in charge of state security, in the following communist countries: Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia. The letters were written in the first week of December 1976. They are virtually identical, so I am reproducing just one as an example:

December 1976

Persons, who
carry out
ideological subversion

PERSONAL                                                                TOP SECRET !

Ministry of the Interior
Hungarian People’s Republic
Comrade Lieutenant Colonel DACZI


Esteemed Comrade Daczi!

I am contacting you to request that you have reviews undertaken on the persons named on the enclosed list with attention to the following:

Have the named individuals previously entered the Hungarian PR?

Where applicable, when and for what purpose did these entries occur?

Have any of these individuals previously surfaced as operatives and is there possibly evidence of their connections to hostile agencies and intelligence services?

The named individuals became known to the MfSS in connection with its work on hostile entities in the GDR in the category of political-ideological subversion.

I thank you in advance for your assistance.

With socialist greetings





The responses from the four state security agencies to Colonel Damm’s inquiries arrived at MfSS headquarters in late January/early February 1977; they were promptly translated into German and forwarded to Generalmajor Kienberg for evaluation. In my case, reference is made only to trips I had taken as a tourist to Hungary in 1969 and to Czechoslovakia in 1973 and 1975. The information on the nine foreigners thought to have been engaging in subversive activities in the GDR, a total of 79 pages in a bound volume, was archived on March 16, 1988.


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