66. IMB “Pedro Hagen” Plans to Visit Richard Zipser in California

In early March 1981, while I was at the Hoover Institution, Fritz Rudolf Fries requested and received permission from the GDR authorities to travel to the United States from March 17 to May 4, 1981. While there is no mention of his trip in my Stasi-file, a large section of the Fries/Zipser file is devoted to it. His status as an informant had been upgraded from IMS to IMB, which signals a higher level of trust, reliability, and responsibility. IMB “Pedro Hagen” would not just collaborate with the Stasi and inform on persons of interest to them, he would actively help protect the GDR state against those persons who were considered threats to its security. The first report related to his trip to the US, a fascinating document, sets forth the informant’s multifaceted assignment. One very important mission was to recruit German studies professors, especially those who were “sympathetic” to the GDR socialist state and its cultural policies, to actively help portray that country in positive terms. The report is presented below in its entirety.

Department XX/7 Frankfurt (O),3/3/1981

Travel assignment
for the IMB “Pedro Hagen”
Register no. V/1106/72 

The IM will travel to the USA for the time period of 3/17/1981 until 5/4/1981.

I. For his journey the IM was assigned the following tasks by Comrade Flehr, Regional Headquarters Frankfurt (O), Dept. XV

— Clarification of the governance system
– arrival and departure in New York
– registration formalities at hotels, university camps [sic]. . .
– contacts to official government agencies
– travel arrangements for domestic trips

— Clarification of contacts
– at universities
– in the state sector
– in the private sector

When reviewing the contacts be sure to differentiate among established scholars, assistants, students.

— Acquisition of references to FRG citizens [West Germans] who are living in the USA (purpose, length of time, objective of the stay). In the case of FRG citizens consideration can be given to the possibility of inviting them to visit the GDR.

— In the case of contact persons who are interested in further contact and exhibit a special interest in GDR literature and/or the GDR in general, such invitations can be issued orally (universities, libraries, seminars can be offered).

— Clarification and breakdown of the system of supervision (where, how, what, at which level)

— Acquisition of references to centers of research on the GDR, particularly in the area of German studies

At the meeting on 3/2/81 the IM was briefed on the set of issues cited. With regard to his behavior, it was determined that he is hesitant to initiate activities on his own, but focuses his attention fixedly on all activities dealing with America. In connection with the briefing it was made clear that the intelligence apparatus is active at universities in the USA and that for this reason the highest level of vigilance overall is essential. The IM accepted these points and agreed to keep the problem areas mentioned in mind during his trip.

II. The IM is being assigned the following additional tasks:

— Based on the political situation at the present time, on the arms-buildup-oriented direction of the Reagan administration and on the peace program of the 26th Congress of the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union], there is a need to gather information about the political climate, particularly at the universities the IM will be visiting. In doing so, the important thing is to identify centers of power.

— It must be assumed that trips to the USA by citizens of the GDR are not commonplace and that there is interest in the GDR’s creative artists. Therefore

* Information on the reasons for the invitation to the USA needs to be gathered. In doing so, one must keep in mind that the USA Germanist Dr. Zipser last visited the GDR in 1978, on the occasion of the 8th Writers Congress, and had contact with many GDR authors including the IM, so that a political assessment of the IM can take place.

* Information needs to be compiled on GDR research, particularly in the area of German studies. In this connection an effort should be made to gather detailed information about Dr. Zipser and the book project he announced in 1978. Of particular interest would be a meeting with Dr. Zipser, during which the discussion would have to focus on his book project and his plans and intentions.

* Information needs to be gathered on Germanists, particularly those who come from German-speaking countries, while taking into account that scholars and mid-level research personnel from the FRG would have to be given a special standing. Ongoing contacts with the designated individuals can be pursued.

— It is to be expected that students in the USA know little about the development of society in the GDR and, as a result, are also unable to contextualize phenomena in its cultural development. In disputes, discussions, conversations, etc., the basic position has to be that in the GDR a new, peace-loving, humanistic, anti-fascist, socialist state was created, which differentiates itself fundamentally from the FRG. The desire for peace, humanism, and anti-fascism are to be emphasized. These concepts can be defined. Everything possible must be done to establish the boundaries of the argument for a unified German nation and culture.

— It is to be expected that there will be questions on connections to GDR authors who have left the GDR, because some of them were also in the USA (Kunert, Becker, Kirsch).