30. First Report from IM “Dölbl”: October 19, 1977

Professor Löffler made her first report orally, in a meeting with her Stasi-handler two days after we had dinner together at Hotel Unter den Linden, where I had been her guest. It appears below in its entirety.

Main department xx/7 Berlin, 10/19/1977


IM “Dölbl” reported at our rendezvous on 10/19/1977 that the USA citizen

Z i p s e r, Richard
born: 1/23/1943
Professor at Oberlin College Ohio/USA

has been staying in the GDR again, since 10/15/1977, now within the framework of an exchange agreement with the Ministry of Higher Education.

For the entire duration of ZIPSER’s 8-week stay in the GDR, IM “Dölbl” is assigned to be his contact person with regard to all questions related to his work opportunities at the Humboldt University. So far, in an initial conversation with Zipser on 10/17/1977, the unofficial collaborator was able to find out the following about what ZIPSER intends to do during his stay in the GDR:

At the Humboldt University, Zipser wants to familiarize himself with the way students are trained in the field of German language and literature, with overall problems in German studies, and with GDR literature. With this in mind he is participating in courses (lectures and seminars, colloquia, etc.) and having conversations with faculty members.

Furthermore, ZIPSER intends to complete the scholarly project on GDR literature that he already began during his previous stays in the GDR. For this purpose he had selected and interviewed 35 GDR authors, asking all of them the same questions, during earlier visits to the GDR. ZIPSER tape recorded the responses to these questions. Up to now ZIPSER has mentioned the following authors’ names to the unofficial collaborator:

Christa und Gerhard WOLF Paul WIENS
Günter KUNERT Max-Walter SCHULZ
Volker BRAUN Eberhard PANITZ
Martin STADE Hermann KANT

The first of the questions ZIPSER asked is: “Where do you stand with regard to the SED Party and GDR State?” [Actually, the first question was: What, in your opinion, is the function of literature and art in the socialist state?]
ZIPSER emphasized in the presence of the unofficial collaborator, by way of example, that BECKER, PLENZDORF and SCHLESINGER insisted that ZIPSER return the answers they had already submitted and gave him new answers. In the new answers, according to ZIPSER’s account, the prevailing tone that was originally optimistic and affirmative with regard to socialism has changed to one of deep resignation over the alleged lack of prospects for the development of socialism in the GDR. According to Zipser’s statements, BECKER, PLENZDORF and SCHLESINGER are now placing all of their hope in young people growing up in the GDR.

With regard to the format of his book on GDR literature, ZIPSER commented that he plans to begin with his own assessment of GDR literature, which will be approximately 10 pages in length. That will be followed by texts, completely new ones for the most part, written by the 35 selected writers; these are supposed to impart a picture of GDR literature.
A short biographical introduction will then be provided for each of the selected writers. ZIPSER’s interviews with the GDR writers will be included as well. The 35 authors’ answers to each individual question will appear one below the other.

In ZIPSER’s opinion, as expressed to the unofficial collaborator, the authors’ answers are astonishingly varied and repudiate the notion that has prevailed up to now that GDR literature is characterized by “uniformity.”

The unofficial collaborator observed additionally about ZIPSER that he posed rather tightly focused questions to members of the faculty at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Furthermore, the unofficial collaborator described as extraordinary the fact that ZIPSER has a disproportionately long time at his disposal for the work he is doing on GDR literature. While it is customary for faculty employed at colleges in the USA to be granted a one-semester leave every 5 years for the purpose of studying abroad, ZIPSER has already required more than 3 semesters for his project. When the unofficial collaborator asked him how this is possible, ZIPSER said that he is taking care of things privately, without any financial support from the college.

During his stay in the GDR, ZIPSER is living in a Humboldt University of Berlin apartment in Berlin Friedrichsfelde, Volkradstrasse.

On 10/15/1977 a representative of the Humboldt University met and welcomed ZIPSER at the Friedrichstrasse train station. In the process, the assigned representative ascertained that a friend of Sarah KIRSCH,

W a r d e t z k y, Jutta
born: [blacked out] 1939
residence: 104 Berlin, [blacked out]

was also waiting for ZIPSER.

ZIPSER greeted WARDETZKY with these words: “Best regards from Sarah! Everything is going well.” WARDETZKY also drove ZIPSER to his quarters in her automobile.

From 10/18/1977 until the weekend ZIPSER is staying at Plenzdorf’s countryside cottage in [blacked out].