8. First Report from IME “Dichter”: November 25, 1975

The first informant’s report on my activities during this time period is dated November 25, 1975. The report focuses on my activities during the month of November 1975, when I was visiting and interviewing GDR writers while staying at the Hotel Berolina in East Berlin. It was prepared by Captain Pönig and based in part on information he had received from IME “Dichter,” who as I mentioned earlier was a poet by the name of Paul Wiens. I first met Wiens while visiting his wife, the prominent feminist prose writer Irmtraud Morgner. He was present and listening attentively during our preliminary conversation and the taping of the interview. Morgner, obviously embarrassed that I had contacted her but not approached Wiens in connection with my project, insisted that I include him, which I readily agreed to do. Excerpts from this lengthy report follow:

Since Sept. 11, 1975, Dr. Zipser has appeared at the Writers’ Union a number of times with the following official concerns:

He intends to publish, in the USA, a book on GDR writers and to this end would like to conduct personal conversations and interviews with GDR writers. Dr. Zipser requested written permission from the Writers’ Union for the making of these tape recordings.

After Dr. Zipser refused in the initial discussion to state the names of GDR authors, in the subsequent discussions he disclosed the names of 30 GDR writers whom he intended to interview and provided a written questionnaire for these conversations (see attachment).

In the GDR Writers’ Union the following agreements were reached with Dr. Zipser:

1. The interviews and conversations with GDR authors are to be conducted without a sound recorder.
2. The texts from the interviews and conversations that are conducted are to be authorized by the GDR writers before their publication.
3. The publication of texts by GDR authors has to be carried out in compliance with the copyright laws of the GDR.
4. The GDR Writers’ Union named the following writers, in addition to the persons Dr. Zipser had named, for inclusion in his proposed undertaking.

Hermann Kant
Günter Görlich
Max Walter Schulz
Jurij Brězan und
Erwin Strittmatter

In the interest of a sound collaboration, Dr. Zipser was asked to inform the GDR Writers’ Union about the results of his conversations with GDR authors at the conclusion of his stay in the GDR.

By means of operative surveillance measures that were initiated, it was learned that Dr. Zipser had asked specifically—in the interviews already conducted with Christa Wolf und Gerhard Wolf, Plenzdorf, Schlesinger, Becker, Fühmann, Hermann and Uwe Kant, Mickel, Morgner, Hacks and Panitz—whether they favored the inclusion of Wolf Biermann in his project. Eight of the authors named above answered this question in the affirmative. [At that time, the famous dissident writer/singer Biermann was living under house arrest in East Berlin and was not permitted to publish or perform in the GDR. A year later, he would be expatriated, and the short period of liberalization in the cultural sphere would gradually come to an end.]

Plenzdorf has generously placed a portable tape recorder at his disposal. In order to avoid possible difficulties at border controls, Dr. Zipser indicated that he could have the tape recordings sent to the FRG via his embassy.

At the conclusion of Pönig’s report, I learn that the GDR authorities were debating whether or not to allow me to return to East Germany early in 1976 and continue work on my ambitious project.

Dr. Zipser intends to remain in the GDR until Nov. 30, 1975.

At the GDR Writers’ Union Dr. Zipser requested permission to reenter the GDR in February 1976, in order to conduct interviews with those GDR authors he cannot speak to before Nov. 30, 1975, presumably due to insufficient time.

The Cultural Division of the Central Committee of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) was informed of Z.’s intention by Comrade Henniger, Secretary of the GDR Writers’ Union.