The first reference in my file to prose writer/informant Fritz Rudolf Fries, aka IMS “Pedro Hagen,” occurs in the surveillance report that covers the three-day period May 29 to May 31, 1978, while the 8th GDR Writers Congress was underway. Fries does not resurface in my file until March 1985, but—as I would discover—he was busy gathering information on me and reporting it to his Stasi-handler from 1978 on.
In November 2002, almost four years after I had received my Stasi-file, I found another package from the Stasi Records Agency in my mailbox. Its contents came as a real surprise. A cover letter dated November 5 enlightened me:
Dear Dr. Zipser,
With a letter dated 01/15/99 you received copies of the documents from the Stasi-files that had been assembled on your person.
For the purpose of historical and political reappraisal of the activities of the State Security Service, according to §§ 32 ff. of the Stasi Records Act, researchers and representatives of the media may also have access to the documents. Personal information about personages of recent history, holders of political positions, or public officials carrying out their duties will—when they are related to the public actions of these individuals—also be made available without their explicit consent.
As the result of such requests from researchers and the media new documents were discovered in the files of an unofficial collaborator, from the circle of writers in the GDR, that contain information about you as a third party.
[. . .]
In compliance with §32 a of the Stasi Records Act, I hereby am notifying you of their planned release for the purposes of research and media projects, and I am also now sending you copies of these documents, so that you will have the opportunity to raise objections to allowing access to information that is related to your person.
[. . .]
[. . .]
The cover page of the enclosed document reveals that I had been sent a portion of IMS “Pedro Hagen’s” Stasi-file. When I looked up the meaning of IMS, an acronym not used in my own file, I found that it stands for “Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter zur politisch-operativen Durchdringung und Sicherung des Verantwortungsbereichs” (literally: unofficial collaborator for political-operative penetration and safeguarding of the area of responsibility). Evidently, Fries was a highly trusted Stasi collaborator who was given special assignments related to state security. One of those assignments was to gather information and report on the activities of Richard Zipser. (For the record, I did not object to allowing access to any of the information Fries had gathered on me.)
What disturbed and still disturbs me most about the reports on me from Fries’s file, which are longer and more detailed than those of any IM in my own file, is the fact that there is no cross-reference or mention of “Pedro Hagen” in my file. In the May 1978 surveillance report in which Fries is mentioned, he is given a different alias, “Falke” (Falcon), presumably to protect his “Pedro Hagen” cover. Now I had a new question to ponder: How many other IM reports on me exist in the files of GDR writers and acquaintances, reports that were placed only in their files and not in mine? In September 1999, about nine months after the arrival of my Stasi-file, I sent the names of eight persons I thought might be collaborators to my case worker at the Stasi Records Agency, in an effort to obtain additional information. However, I never received a response to my inquiry. In the end, I decided not to pursue the matter further, which is probably what the officials overseeing the Stasi-files desired.