51. Top Secret Informational Report: July 17, 1978

Following my departure from Berlin and return to Oberlin on June 16, 1978, the Stasi prepared a confidential report on my activities in the GDR that were related and unrelated to my book project. This “top secret” report, which appears in an abridged form below, begins with information on the purpose of my visit as an IREX scholar and the contractual basis for it. It concludes with the recommendation that the GDR Ministry of Higher Education not enter into another agreement with IREX that would permit me to return to the GDR.

Main Department XXBerlin, 07/17/1978

Top Secretprepared  7  copies

684  / 78


about the residence in the GDR of USA Germanist Dr. Richard ZIPSER in May/June 1978

The USA Germanist known operatively

Dr. ZIPSER, Richard
Born on 01/23/1943 in Maryland
Residence:  102 Shipherd Circle/USA
Associate Professor at Oberlin College in Ohio/USA

was residing in the GDR from 05/15–06/16/1978.

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During his residence in the GDR ZIPSER got together on numerous occasions with Ulrich PLENZDORF – his closest contact person during earlier stays in the GDR as well – and also spent a good amount of time at his weekend retreat in [blacked out].

In addition, ZIPSER had personal encounters (several times in some cases) with Fritz Rudolf FRIES, Klaus SCHLESINGER, Rolf SCHNEIDER, Helga SCHÜTZ, Adolf ENDLER, Kito LORENC, Erik NEUTSCH, Siegfried PITSCHMANN, Eberhard PANITZ, Willy and Maria MOESE, Max Walter SCHULZ, Martin STADE, and others. Beyond that he met and had discussions with, among others, Heiner MÜLLER, Volker BRAUN, and Günter GÖRLICH as well with some German studies students from the Humboldt University of Berlin.

During his stay ZIPSER sought above all to obtain from these writers their revised and authorized contributions for his forthcoming book. At times he issued emphatic warnings that this period of residence would be the final opportunity for him to take delivery of the texts.

ZIPSER stated a number of times that he plans to conclude all work on the book manuscript by the end of 1978/beginning of 1979, so it can be published in the USA in the fall of 1979 or thereabouts. He says provision has been made for the publication of a 1,500-volume edition in the German language, intended primarily for students of German studies in the USA.

In various conversations related to the 8th GDR Writers Congress, ZIPSER put on a display of naïveté as regards the importance and objective of a congress like this one, so he would be able to ask seemingly “innocent” questions, according to the assessments on hand.

On the other hand, ZIPSER displayed considerable interest in the female person who is Director of the Cultural Division of the Central Committee of the SED (Socialist Unity Party), in details of the events related to Biermann’s expulsion from the GDR, in creative artists who are on so-called blacklists (e.g., DEFA documentary filmmaker Jürgen BÖTTCHER and feature film director Egon GÜNTHER), as well as in problems of artistic creativity from the perspective of given possibilities for veiled depiction of deplorable aspects of society. [DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft) was the state-owned film studio of the GDR throughout the country’s existence.]

[. . .]

ZIPSER designated STADE and PLENZDORF as the persons with whom he got along especially well over the course of his stay in the GDR. In the case of PLENZDORF he admires above all the open and generous way he shares his feelings, his private thoughts and desires with him, ZIPSER.

In some conversations ZIPSER signaled his intention, following the completion of his current book manuscript, to undertake a new book project focusing specifically on lyric poetry of the GDR. This would give him a reason for additional stays in the GDR and for establishing connections to additional GDR writers. [Actually, when I returned to the United States in mid-June 1978, I already had in my possession texts from each of the fourteen poets represented in the “Contemporary East German Poetry” anthology, as well as written permission from each writer to publish his/her poems. It was not necessary for me to return the GDR to complete this project.]

Considering ZIPSER’s shadowy behavior, his deliberate attempts to lure away GDR creative artists during his stays in the GDR to date, which have previously been reported a number of times, it is recommended that the GDR Ministry for Higher Education not enter into a new contract with IREX that would enable ZIPSER to have another period of residence.

Distribution List:
Deputy Minister
Director Main Department XX
Colonel Stange
Central Evaluation and Information Group
Main Department XX/7
Main Department XX/Evaluation and Information Group


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