As noted in IMV “Kurt’s” last report, I had decided to have a farewell dinner party before returning to Oberlin. The event was held at the new Hotel Metropol, which had an excellent restaurant where I would be able to pay the bill with East German marks. This would be an opportunity to thank and say goodbye to my GDR writer friends and others who had helped me during my two-month visit. The writers in attendance were Christa and Gerhard Wolf, Ulrich Plenzdorf and his wife Helga, Klaus Schlesinger, and Martin Stade. Willy Moese, a well-known caricature artist was there, as was his wife Maria, a well-known television personality. Also present were Dirk Strassenberger, a lawyer I had gotten to know while living in East Berlin; Helga Schrader, a friend from West Berlin; and Carlos, a Chilean doctoral candidate who was living across the hall from me in the apartment house.
As the file reveals, the Stasi had advance notice of my farewell party and decided to conduct a surveillance operation, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on December 13, and ending shortly after 3:00 a.m. on December 14. This report is supplemented by a long, detailed narrative one of my guests (IMV “Kurt”) provided a few days later. When one reads and compares the two reports, it is obvious that the Stasi surveillance team did not know one of my guests was an informant. He has a different alias in their report (“Milan,” not “Kurt”), and therefore his identity is protected. All but one of the other guests in the Stasi-report were given ornithological code names—“Blackbird,” “Starling,” “Titmouse,” “Finch,” “Raven,” “Magpie,” “Swallow,” and “Siskin,” probably so they would not seem out of place at “Eagle’s” farewell party. One guest has the code name “Haken” (Hook), which he had been given at an earlier point in time. The event itself is described in considerable detail—from start to finish—in the surveillance report, sections of which I have reproduced below. First comes (A) the approved formal request to conduct the surveillance, which presents the rationale for it, then (B) the surveillance report itself.
Council of Ministers of the
German Democratic Republic
Ministry for State Security
Registry No. 2395/77
Main Department VIII Division VIII
Main Department XX/7
Assignment Request – Surveillance
Code name: “Eagle”
[My real name appears beneath the code name, along with my date and place of birth, marital status, home address, profession, etc.]
Goal and Purpose of the Surveillance
The person is to be observed from 8:00 p.m. on 12/13/77 until 3:00 a.m. on 12/14/77.
Where is the surveillance to take place?
In the Hotel “Metropol” where the person under
surveillance is having a get-together
with GDR writers on 12/13/77 at 8:00 p.m.
Justification in concrete terms of the necessity and goal of the
surveillance that is to be carried out. What specific information
is going to be gathered through the surveillance?
Identification of as yet unknown contacts of the
person under surveillance, who are participating
in the social event mentioned above.
Assignment request actualized by Main Department VII 3/3.
VII/3/3Berlin, December 14, 1977
Z i p s e r, Richardborn 01/23/1943
102 Shipherd CircleOberlin/Ohio (USA)
“ E a g l e ”
12/13/1977from 7 p.m. until 3.05 a.m.
The target of the search “228507” [Sarah Kirsch] did not show up at
the scheduled get-together.
The presumptive rendezvous partners were placed under operative surveillance.
7:00 p.m. the surveillance was initiated in the Nationalities
Berlin – Mitte [Center]
7:52 p.m. a younger male person, who is being given the code name
“Eagle,” entered the restaurant, looked around, and then
left the premises.
7:55 p.m. “Eagle,” three male persons and two female persons
entered the restaurant and seated themselves at a table
that was set for 12 persons.
One of the male persons was identified as the contact known
as “Hook.” The remaining persons were given the code
names “Finch,” “Titmouse,” “Siskin,” and “Swallow.”
After everyone was seated at the table, “Hook” directed the
serving staff to reconfigure the seating arrangement so as to
make it smaller. The servers objected to this because
everyone would then be sitting too close to one another. After
that they all agreed to remove two tables from the seating
arrangement and place the chairs so that 4 persons would
be sitting on each of the longer sides and 2 persons
on each of the shorter sides. The attendees each ordered
an aperitif of their own choosing. Then they began to
converse interactively, but in hushed voices.
8:05 p.m. a female and a male person came to the table. They were
given the code names “Blackbird” and “Starling.” As they
greeted the other attendees, those persons stood up,
returned the greetings by shaking hands and in some
cases bowing. After that they sat down, also ordered an
aperitif and took part in the conversation. The conversation
had a superficial nature, since it was carried out in muted
voices as all persons conversed with one another.
Small conversation groups formed and the conversations
took place in very low voices.
8:09 p.m. a male and a female person came to the table. They were
given the code names “Raven” and “Magpie.” They greeted
all the other attendees, who however all remained seated
this time, with handshakes. Both of them then sat down,
ordered an aperitif and also joined in the conversation.
8:13 p.m. a male person wearing an overcoat and holding a briefcase,
who is being given the code name “Milan,” came to the table;
he greeted everyone briefly by nodding his head and then
left the restaurant. After about a minute, Milan reentered the
restaurant and sat down at the table. He had stored his
coat and briefcase outside. During their stay in the restaurant
the conversations were mainly between “Siskin” and
“Milan,” “Eagle” and “Blackbird,” “Finch” and “Titmouse”
and “Starling” as well as “Swallow,” “Raven” and “Magpie.”
“Hook” sat there impassively much of the time or joined in
the conversation that “Finch,” “Titmouse” and “Starling”
were having. Everyone ate saddle of veal, which was served
from the whole roast, a portion of whipped cream, and
drank white wine. From
10:00 p.m. until everyone left the hotel the attendees were no longer
11:55 p.m. “Eagle” and [blacked out] left the hotel, walked until they
were alongside Café “Metropol,” where they stopped,
chatted and kissed.
12:00 midnight “Eagle” bid farewell to “Swallow” with a kiss and
then returned to the hotel. “Swallow” walked quickly along
Friedrichstrasse to the Friedrichstrasse Railway Station and
asked something at the rapid transit ticket counters. After
that the person on duty at the counter window pointed
immediately in the direction of the departure pavilion.
“Swallow” walked through the station concourse, searching,
and subsequently made her way to the departure pavilion.
12:07 a.m. “Swallow” passed through the Friedrichstrasse border
checkpoint and was consigned to Main Department VI for
12:05 a.m. the rest of the persons in the group left the hotel and
stood in front of the hotel’s main entrance until departing at
12:06 a.m. after a brief conversation “Blackbird,” “Starling,”
“Finch,” “Titmouse,” “Siskin,” and “Hook” said goodnight
to “Eagle,” “Milan,” “Magpie,” and “Raven” and were not
monitored further. The last four persons mentioned
proceeded directly to Hotel “Unter den Linden” and at
12:15 a.m. entered the lobby bar of the hotel which, however, at this
time was filled to capacity. After looking around for a short
while, they left the hotel and slowly made their way via
Unter den Linden and Otto Grotewohl-Strasse to Hermann-
Matern-Strasse. On the way, “Eagle” and “Magpie” as well
as “Milan” and “Raven” always walked together in pairs and
engaged in conversation.
12:34 a.m. the four persons who were to be observed entered the artclub
and were not under surveillance there.
2:35 a.m. “Milan”, “Eagle”, “Raven”, und “Magpie” left the club and
climbed into a waiting taxi of the
License plate no.: IAT 3 – 16.
The taxi drove these persons to Volkradstrasse, via the most
direct route: Unter den Linden, Karl-Marx-Allee, Lichtenberger
2:50 a.m. “Milan” und “Eagle” climbed out of the taxi and walked,
while conversing, to the well-known point of contact
Volkradstrasse No. 8
Berlin – Lichtenberg.
On the way there, “Milan” was overheard commenting to “Eagle”
in broken German:
“. . . Christa was very reticent. . .”
In addition, one of these persons was overheard saying:
“. . . I am glad that you included me . . .”
3:10 a.m. the surveillance of “Milan” and “Eagle” at the well-known
point of contact was terminated.
The taxi drove “Raven” und “Magpie” to Adolfstrasse in Biesdorf
via Massower Strasse, the most direct route.
3:05 a.m. both of them entered the well-known point of contact
Adolfstrasse No. 13
Berlin – Lichtenberg
and the surveillance of “Raven” und “Magpie” was terminated.
Descriptions of Persons
“ S w a l l o w “female
According to information from Main Department VI, identical to:
Born on:[blacked out] 1945 in Venusberg
Age:ca. 28 years old
Height:ca. 1.65 meters
Hair:light blond, tinted, short, curly
Eyes:light in color, light blond eyebrows
Clothing:brown shoes, salt and papper pants,
3/4-length calfskin jacket (brown-white)
“ E a g l e “male
Age:ca. 23 – 28 years old
Height:ca. 1.75 meters
Hair:blond, parted on left side, full, neck-length
Clothing:light brown sport jacket, brown pants,
3/4 length overcoat (brown, woven fabric),
Accessory items:light-colored shoulder bag, plastic
“M i l a n”male
Age:ca. 30 – 35 years old
Height:ca. 1.75 meters
Face:oval, haggard, sunken cheeks
Beard:combination mustache and goatee
Nose:bridge of nose bent outward, base dips downward,
Hair:light brown, full, neck-length, groomed
Clothing:dark brown overcoat, dark blue suit, light blue shirt,
dark blue necktie, black shoes
Accessory items:black executive briefcase
“Blackbird”female identical to [blacked out]
“Starling”male identical to [blacked out]
“Titmouse”female identical to [blacked out]
“Finch”male identical to [blacked out]
“Hook”male identical to [blacked out]
“Raven”male identical to [blacked out]
“Magpie”female identical to [blacked out]
“Siskin”male identical to [blacked out]
Head of the Department