81. No Sign of Richard Zipser or His Book

Returning to the Fries/Zipser file, the next document of interest is the informant’s two-page report to Stasi officer Gerhard Hoffmann on controversial activities related to the forthcoming 9th GDR Writers Congress in East Berlin, May 31 – June 2, 1983, which had world peace as its principal theme and focused on the contribution of GDR writers in the struggle for international peace. The final paragraph of the report, which is cited below, focuses on another topic—the whereabouts of Richard Zipser and his book.

Also of apparent interest is the fact that the American Germanist, Dr. Richard Zipser, who up to now has shown keen interest in individual GDR authors and GDR Writers Congresses, has not yet expressed interest once again. He has not signaled in any way that he intends to come to Berlin for the Congress. One factor, possibly, is that the books on GDR literature he announced with fanfare have not yet been published. As far as is known, the publisher that originally was interested in the publication has withdrawn its interest. Hence, the publication did not occur. Evidently, there is also not yet a new publisher interested in Zipser’s works. It could be said speculatively that Zipser did not intend to prepare a book, but rather to gather information about the problems in the GDR literary scene. But this thought is a matter of subjective speculation, based solely on the knowledge that Zipser for one carried out his work in part with a fellowship from the HOOVER Institution of San Francisco University [Stanford University, actually] and now the non-publication of the book is being explained by the fact that there is no publisher.

The next document in the Fries/Zipser file, dated October 1, 1984, also focuses on the whereabouts of Richard Zipser and his book as well as on Fries’s desire to return to the US. The informant reports via tape recording to Stasi officer Hoffmann on a meeting/conversation he had on September 25, 1984, with a professor from a small university in the US who is identified only with the initial D. This might well be the same Germanist who in July 1982 attended the conference in Leipzig and then had three days of meetings with Fries, as reported earlier in the document dated September 15, 1982. The heading of the report and the text on the second page appear below; the text on the first page has been completely blacked out, probably to protect D.

Department XX/7Frankfurt (O), 10/1/1984

source: IM
on: 9/25/1984

– Transcript of tape recording –

Dr. Zipser, Richard, was also a topic of conversation. It turned out that D., in spite of his efforts, had received no information about whether the book Zipser announced on GDR literature in the 1970s has been published. According to information from D., the book announced by Zipser is not to be found in the USA. D. surmises that Zipser’s research results were either so unimportant that no publisher wanted to have anything to do with it or that the research results are of such an inflammatory nature that one steers away from their publication. However, as D. explained, what speaks against that possibility are the publication practices in the USA where publishing is unscrupulous. So, there is no information about Zipser.

Also discussed was the issue of another educational trip to the USA. D. made it clear that, as far as he is concerned, there are no possibilities because his small university cannot provide the financial resources for such an undertaking. It would be advisable to use a conference as an opportunity [for a trip to the USA] or a residency at a large university. He agreed to be on the lookout and to intently investigate ways to make a residency in America possible for me. We did not make commitments of any kind.

Likewise, he was not able to say if he would be returning to Europe.

In sum, one can say that D. is making himself small, small at his university, not producing anything of significance and probably also not interested in doing so.

With regard to politics he seems to be indifferent and colorless, which however is not unusual in the American context.

                        Speaker IM


The IM took it upon himself to report; the information has been checked partially through data in Dept. VI.

Measures to be taken

Addition to D.’s index card and evaluation within existing material on D.