The GDR made a practice of inviting US Germanists it considered to be sympathetic to its communistic form of government to attend summer seminars and workshops, where they would interact with carefully selected writers and scholars from around the GDR. The goal was not only to create a bond between intellectuals from the GDR and the US, but also to showcase the GDR in the most positive way, in the hope that the US scholars would project that image to students at their colleges and universities. Special summer seminars were held in East Berlin, Weimar, and Leipzig, and the GDR would typically cover the cost of registration, room, board, and excursions for the participants it had invited. In his September 15, 1982 report to Stasi officer Gerhard Hoffmann, Fries refers to one such gathering, a conference in Leipzig held in July, 1982. It is interesting to note that the informant had not abandoned the idea of making another visit to the US, but to do that he needed an institution in the US to invite and sponsor him—i.e., to cover the expenses of his trip.
Department XX/7Frankfurt (O), 9/15/1982
source: IMB “Pedro Hagen”
received: Capt. Hoffmann
[Name blacked out] / Zipser, Richard (USA)
The IM provided the following information orally on [name blacked out]: In July of this year [blacked out] was in the GDR along with other Germanists from the USA. He was participating in an international conference for Germanists that was held in Leipzig. As far as is known [blacked out] stayed in private housing while in Leipzig.
The conference in Leipzig focused on problems in applied German studies. The Deputy Cultural Minister [Klaus] Höpcke was one of the speakers at the conference. According to [blacked out], Höpcke was well received by the Germanists from foreign countries because he spoke convincingly.
After the conference in Leipzig [blacked out] made his way to Berlin, so he said, at the invitation of the International Friendship League of the GDR. Interrupting the trip to Berlin, he made a stopover and that led to a three-day visit.
During the course of this visit the past stay in the USA was a topic, and there was discussion of a personal nature about what had been successful and less successful.
In our conversations the project that involves taking another trip to the USA was also discussed. [Blacked out] thinks this project is feasible. He will investigate the preconditions for a stay in Florida in spring 1983. An idea that emerged was the possibility of bringing along to the USA a copy of the just completed feature film which deserves to be exported and shown at festivals. [The film is “Das Luftschiff”, based on Fries’s novel with the same title, directed by Rainer Simon.] One would need to check and see just what the possibilities, preconditions are in relation to this.
The conversations with [blacked out] did not lead to any commitments.
Our conversations also focused on the Germanist Zipser, who during the last stay in the USA showed [the IM] the galley proofs of a book he authored on GDR literature. [Blacked out] had no information whatever on Zipser and his whereabouts. He knew that Zipser had completed his work at the Hoover Institution of San Francisco University [Stanford University, actually], but did not know where he is now living and working. [Blacked out] was also unable to provide any information about the publication of Zipser’s book; he had not yet seen a copy of it in the USA.
From Berlin [blacked out] was planning to travel on to Austria, in order to take a vacation there.
The IM took it upon himself to report on this matter; the encounter with [blacked out] was unplanned. The IM asserted that—apart from the information presented—the conversations had no particular significance; the subject matter was the creative work of the IM, personal things, and general topics.
Measures to be taken
– Review [blacked out] in archive files of Main Department VI
– Evaluation of the information on Zipser using operative process “Narr” [“Fool”] and materials on hand
– Initiation of further measures after results of the review have been received..