47. Assertions about Richard Zipser

Shortly before my departure from East Berlin on June 15, 1978, an undated and unsigned document containing assertions about the hostile nature of my work in the GDR and recommendations for the future was added to my file. The primary recommendation is that consideration be given to prohibiting me from re-entering the GDR. The document, which was probably composed in the second week of June, appears in its entirety below.

Assertions about Dr. Richard Zipser

Pursuant to existing references on hand to activities directed against the GDR by

Dr. ZIPSER, Richard
born on January 23, 1943 in Maryland/USA
residence: Oberlin, Ohio/USA
102 Shipherd Circle
profession: Germanist

consideration should be given to subjecting him to a travel ban, so that after the conclusion of his current contractually fixed period of residence in the GDR he will not receive any new opportunities to enter the GDR.

Since 1975 ZIPSER has maintained active contacts primarily to those writers and authors in the GDR that the Ministry for State Security considers to be politically hostile, contrary, or wavering. Upon the recommendation of Christa and Gerhard WOLF, who undertook a lecture tour in the USA in 1974 and became acquainted with ZIPSER there, he was granted permission—via an agreement between the Writers’ Union of the GDR and the Central Committee’s Department of Culture—to prepare a book in the GDR about contemporary GDR literature.

Since then he has travelled to the GDR a number of times and in 1977 obtained additional official clearances for re-entry as a scholar designated by the USA organization IREX (International Research and Exchange Board) within the discipline of German studies.

(The re-entry clearances mentioned above were possible due to a May 1977 agreement between the GDR Ministry of Higher Education and IREX—IREX is a private USA organization with legal authority to negotiate contracts with corresponding research institutes in socialist countries regarding the exchange of scholars between the USA and socialist countries.)

The purpose of ZIPSER’s re-entry is specified in the contract: the carrying out of studies related to the preparation of an 800-page book on GDR literature, for which he requires contacts to ca. 35 GDR authors, the GDR Writers’ Union, and the Humboldt University.

ZIPSER, who at present is again residing in the GDR from May 15 until June 15, 1978, did in point of fact establish contacts in this quantity, but predominantly to such writers as Christa and Gerhard WOLF, Ulrich PLENZDORF, Klaus SCHLESINGER, Martin STADE, and Jurek BECKER and now Erika Becker [Jurek Becker’s first wife, who was not a writer]. In a large number of interviews that ZIPSER conducted within these circles, he prompts the interviewees to take positions on problems in the development of the GDR in the cultural, political, and ideological spheres. By proceeding in this way he was also able to obtain detailed information about “literary” projects, for example in 1975 on the anthology project “Berlin Stories,” which was hostile to the SED Party. Proceeding in a focused manner he gathered extensive information from the cultural sphere following the events related to BIERMANN. ZIPSER is always aiming to screen additional GDR writers with respect to their basic political stance. For this activity he has had at his disposal triple the amount of time than normally would be the case, while the source of funding for his travels still remains unclear.

A few years later, the Stasi would conclude—wrongly, I might add—that I was in fact a CIA agent and recommend that I not be permitted to re-enter the GDR.  Fortunately, by that time I had completed my work there and did not need to return for professional reasons.