Anneliese Löffler

           In the spring of 1977 I was awarded an International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) grant, which enabled me to return to the GDR for three months, in order to complete the work on my book project that had to be carried out in that country. IREX officials allowed me to divide my stay into two parts, as follows: two months in the fall/winter of 1977, and one month in the spring/summer of 1978. I was worried that I would not be able to accomplish everything that still needed to be done in the GDR in a single three-month stay, hence my request to spend two months there initially and then return for one month a half year later. As it turned out, this plan worked out very well.

            On October 15, 1977, with the approval of the GDR Ministry of Higher Education and sponsorship of the Humboldt University, I returned to East Berlin as an IREX scholar. The Humboldt University provided me free of charge with a very modest studio apartment in a dreary highrise building in a settlement known then as the “Hans-Loch-Viertel.”

            As an IREX scholar, I was assigned a “Betreuer” or minder by the name of Anneliese Löffler, a professor of GDR literature at the Humboldt University and a doctrinaire SED Party loyalist. Löffler (code name IM “Dölbl”) was rumored to have close ties to the Ministry for State Security (MfS), and several writers warned me to be careful in conversations with her and not to trust her. When the Stasi archives were opened in the 1990s, the nature and extent of her involvement with the secret police became known—and it was substantial. In order to advance her career, Löffler became an important source of information for the Stasi in the early 1970s. She informed on and denounced many GDR writers, carried out special assignments for the Stasi, and also used her influence as book manuscript reviewer (“Gutachterin”) to prevent literary works she considered politically incorrect from being published; hence, she wielded a lot of power and influence. Her assignment this time was to keep a watchful eye on me and find out as much as possible about my project, also to get a look at the manuscript. The Stasi would rely heavily on her to assess the potential damage my book could do to the GDR’s image when published. I purposely had very little contact with Löffler during my two-month stay in East Berlin, and her reports to the Stasi reflect a great deal of frustration.

First Report from IM “Dölbl”: October 19, 1977

Professor Löffler made her first report orally, in a meeting with her Stasi-handler two days after we had dinner together at Hotel Unter den Linden, where I had been her guest. It appears below in its entirety.

          Main Department XX/7                                                                                  Berlin, 10/19/1977


          IM “Dölbl” reported at our rendezvous on 10/19/1977 that the USA citizen

Zipser, Richard
  born: 1/23/1943
                                       Professor at Oberlin College Ohio/USA

         has been staying in the GDR again, since 10/15/1977, now
         within the framework of an exchange agreement with the Ministry of Higher Education.

         For the entire duration of ZIPSER’s 8-week stay in the GDR, IM  “Dölbl” is assigned to be his contact person
         with regard to all  questions related to his work opportunities at the Humboldt University.  So far, in an initial
         conversation with Zipser on 10/17/1977, the unofficial collaborator was able to find out the following about what
         ZIPSER intends to do during his stay in the GDR:

          At the Humboldt University, Zipser wants to familiarize himself with the way students are trained
          in the field of German language and literature, with overall problems in German studies, and with
          GDR literature. With this in mind he is participating in courses (lectures and seminars, colloquia, etc.)
          and having conversations with faculty members.

          Furthermore, ZIPSER intends to complete the scholarly project on GDR literature that he already began
          during his previous stays in the GDR. For this purpose he had selected and interviewed 35 GDR authors,
          asking all of them the same questions, during earlier visits to the GDR. ZIPSER tape recorded
          the responses to these questions. Up to now ZIPSER has mentioned the following authors’ names to the
          unofficial collaborator:

          Stephan HERMLIN                                                                Peter HACKS
          Christa und Gerhard WOLF                                                   Paul WIENS
          Franz FÜHMANN                                                                   Irmtraud MORGNER
          Günter KUNERT                                                                    Max-Walter SCHULZ
          Jurek BECKER                                                                      Erik NEUTSCH
          Ulrich PLENZDORF                                                               Uwe BERGER
          Volker BRAUN                                                                       Eberhard PANITZ
          Erich ARENDT                                                                       Günter GÖRLICH
          Klaus SCHLESINGER                                                           Benno PLUDRA
          Martin STADE                                                                        Hermann KANT
          K.-H. JAKOBS                                                                       Uwe KANT
          Heiner MÜLLER
          Rainer KIRSCH
          Karl MICKEL

         The first of the questions ZIPSER asked is: “Where do you stand with regard to the SED Party and GDR          State?” [Actually, the first question was: What, in your opinion, is the function of literature and art in the socialist          state?]

         ZIPSER emphasized in the presence of the unofficial collaborator, by way of example, that BECKER,
         PLENZDORF and SCHLESINGER insisted that ZIPSER return the answers they had already submitted and
         gave him new answers. In the new answers, according to ZIPSER’s account, the prevailing tone that was
         originally optimistic and affirmative with regard to socialism has changed to one of deep resignation over the
         alleged lack of prospects for the development of socialism in the GDR. According to Zipser’s statements,
         BECKER, PLENZDORF and SCHLESINGER are now placing all their hope in young people growing up in the          GDR.

         With regard to the format of his book on GDR literature, ZIPSER commented that he plans to begin with his own          assessment of GDR literature, which will be approximately 10 pages in length. That will be followed by texts,          completely new ones for the most part, written by the 35 selected writers; these are supposed to impart a          picture of GDR literature.

         A short biographical introduction will then be provided for each of the selected writers. ZIPSER’s interviews with          the GDR writers will be included as well. The 35 authors’ answers to each individual question will appear one          beneath the other.

         In ZIPSER’s opinion, as expressed to the unofficial collaborator, the authors’ answers are astonishingly varied          and repudiate the notion prevailing up to now that GDR literature is characterized by “uniformity.”

         The unofficial collaborator observed additionally about ZIPSER that he posed rather tightly focused questions to
         members of the faculty at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

         Furthermore, the unofficial collaborator described as extraordinary the fact that ZIPSER has a          disproportionately long time at his disposal for the work he is doing on GDR literature. While it is customary for          faculty employed at colleges in the USA to be granted a one-semester leave every 5 years for the purpose of          studying abroad,ZIPSER has already required more than 3 semesters for his project. When the unofficial          collaborator asked him how this is possible,ZIPSER said that he is handling things privately, without any          financial support from the college.

         During his stay in the GDR, ZIPSER is living in a Humboldt University of Berlin apartment in Berlin          Friedrichsfelde, Volkradstrasse.

         On 10/15/1977 a representative of the Humboldt University met and welcomed ZIPSER at the Friedrichstrasse          train station. In the process, the assigned representative ascertained that a friend of Sarah KIRSCH,

Wardetzky, Jutta
            born [blacked out] 1939
                              residence: 104 Berlin, [blacked out]

          was also waiting for ZIPSER.

          ZIPSER greeted WARDETZKY with these words: “Best regards from Sarah! Everything is going well.”
          WARDETZKY also drove ZIPSER to his quarters in her automobile.

          From 10/18/1977 until the weekend ZIPSER is staying at Plenzdorf’s countryside cottage in [blacked out].

Second Report from IM “Dölbl”: October 19, 1977

The next report on me, containing information from Anneliese Löffler, is nine pages long, single-spaced. There are two sections: 1) a three-page preamble labelled “Report” that appears to have been written by her Stasi-handler, Captain Joachim Tischendorf, who specialized in cultural issues, and 2) a six-page report entitled “Prof. Zipser’s Project,” which appears to have been composed and typed by Löffler. A cover page bears the following heading:

           Main Department XX/7                                                                   Berlin, 12/1/1977

           Collaborator/Source: Captain Tischendorf / “Dölbl”>

And there is a notation indicating that the source of the information has been checked (“überprüft”) and is reliable (“zuverlässig”). Below are the two documents:


        In accordance with the assignment that was given, IM “Dölbl” had arranged a get-together on 11/28/1977 with         USA citizen Dr. Richard ZIPSER, who is currently residing in the GDR. In the course of this meeting the         unofficial collaborator was able to gather a considerable amount of information about the content, goal, and         political aspects of ZIPSER’s book on GDR literature. The attached report, which the unofficial collaborator         prepared, summarizes this information.

        The unofficial collaborator pointed out the politically explosive effect that would result from the publication of         ZIPSER’s book, which now comprises around 800 pages in manuscript form. This explosiveness stems from the         fact that the answers of the 38 GDR writers ZIPSER interviewed, to each individual question the unofficial
        collaborator cited in the report, are reproduced one after another without the name of the respondent being         mentioned again. Hence, by way of example the answers from KUNZE could appear beside those of Günter         GÖRLICH or Hermann KANT. [Reiner Kunze was a dissident writer who at the time of the interview was not          permitted to publish in the GDR. Günter Görlich and Hermann Kant were writers loyal to the SED Party.]         Even more dangerous, in the unofficial collaborator’s opinion, is the fact that—aside from a few exceptions—the         answers give voice to a collection of alleged conflicts, unresolved problems and difficulties in the GDR,         especially in the development of literature, which in their totality present a completely distorted picture of the         Party and State cultural policy.

        In addition, the unofficial collaborator pointed out difficulties in gaining access to ZIPSER’s manuscript on the         basis of the exchange agreement, since there is in fact no provision requiring ZIPSER to allow perusal of the

        The basis for ZIPSER’s recurring stay in the GDR is an existing agreement between the GDR and the USA,         within the scope of the UNESCO Organization IREX, regarding the exchange of scholars. [UNESCO is the         United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.] The Ministry of Higher Education is         responsible for ZIPSER’s support and care and the regulation of all organizational aspects of his residence in         the GDR. ZIPSER’s intention to write a book on GDR literature is set forth in the existing related contract with         him.

        [ . . . ]

        The unofficial collaborator was instructed to communicate the established facts as regards ZIPSER’s project at         the next executive board meeting of the Berlin Writers’ Union, making reference to the political consequences         that would follow the publication of his book, in order to precipitate a discussion among the positive forces         participating in ZIPSER’s project, the goal of which is to demand access to ZIPSER’s complete manuscript. The
        further participation of these authors in ZIPSER’s book project should be made contingent on that. Furthermore,         measures to prevent the publication of this book with its present hostile bias should be initiated. [The GDR         Writers’ Union had insisted that I include in my book some writers known to be party loyalists; these are the         “positive forces” Tischendorf refers to above. If those writers had withdrawn from the project, my book would         have lacked balance and presented a more negative and potentially damaging portrayal of the GDR state and its         cultural policy. Only one writer—Siegfried Pitschmann—withdrew from the project after agreeing to participate,         and I do not think the Writers’ Union officials encouraged him or any other authors to do so.]

        In addition, the unofficial collaborator was instructed to review the existing contract IREX and the Ministry of         Higher Education have with ZIPSER, to see if legal grounds for gaining access to the complete manuscript might         be worked out.

Prof. Zipser’s Project

        1. Zipser began his work in 1975. According to his own statements, the following induced him to undertake his         current project:

        a) the need, in the interest of his own professional reputation, to begin working on a new and extremely         appealing project;

         b) the intellectual stimulation resulting from a stay in the GDR that he carried out while residing in Austria;

        c) the advice he received from Gerhard Wolf, who spent half of a semester in Oberlin (USA) with his wife Christa         Wolf. Reportedly, the format of the planned book is for the most part his idea.

        2. In 1975 he held preliminary discussions with Comrade Scheibner from the Writers’ Union. He gave him a list         of writers’ names he had prepared with Gerhard Wolf, which Scheibner supplemented. Zipser is not prepared to         say who was on the list prior to that and who was added later on. His response: “Oh, you know, that has         changed so many times.” I know that the names of 38 authors are now on the list. I was able to identify the         following: Jurek Becker, Uwe Berger, Volker Braun, Juri [sic] Brězan, Günter de Bruyn, Adolf Endler, Elke Erb,         Karl-Heinz Jakobs, Fritz L. [sic] Fries, Franz Fühmann, Günter Görlich, Peter Hacks, Bernd Jentzsch, Benno         Pludra, Rainer Kirsch, Sarah Kirsch, Rainer [sic] Kunze, Heiner Müller, Rolf Schneider, Paul Wiens, Irmtraud         Morgner, Karl Mickel, Stefan Hermlin, Stefan Heym, Eberhard Panitz, Klaus Schlesinger, Martin Stade, Ulrich         Plenzdorf, Günter Kunert, Hermann Kant, Christa Wolf, Gerhard Wolf, Uwe Kant. As Zipser said, he would also         have placed importance on the opinion of Anna Seghers and Erwin Strittmatter, but both have been unwilling to         provide him with information. When asked about the reason for this selection, he said that he had picked those         authors who played a role in literary proceedings after 1970 (the first draft of his proposal stated: authors who         attained prominence after 1960!). When I said to him that subsequently completely different names had come         under discussion, he narrowed the focus to the period after 1970.

        3. The format of his book looks like this:

        a) introduction by Zipser on the development of literary activity in the GDR over the past 15 years, i.e., since the
        beginning of the 1960s;

        b) biographical sketches of writers which for the most part are drawn from relevant reference works;

        c) brief personal statements about writing, focusing on the questions: What goals have you set for your artistic         work and do think you can achieve them?

        d) the statements that were provided through the interviews and, to be specific, presented in this format: At the         beginning of each set of questions the names of the authors who responded to that question appear and then         comes a series of answers (without the names being cited again). It is not possible to discern who has given         which answer to a particular question. Since the answers remain anonymous in each sequence, basically only         someone who knows the authors can figure it out. [It seems that Löffler misunderstood what I had told her. In the
        volume containing the interviews, each author’s name always appears before his/her answer to a given         question.]

        e) a literary text of approximately 10 to 15 pages in length for each author appearing in the book;

        f) Zipser’s commentary on these texts, the main purpose of which—according to him—is to clarify for the reader         unfamiliar information and connections in the content of these works.

        4. The questions for the authors are of a social nature. Just in case they are not known, I am listing them below.         [A list of the interview questions follows].

        5. Upon his arrival Zipser explained that he had completed the most important preliminary work, especially on         the interviews, back in 1975 and 1976. His main concern now is to have the writers authorize the interviews. I         asked if I could take a look at the manuscripts; at first he said he didn’t have them with him. When I pointed out         that this could not be possible because ultimately one cannot secure permissions to publish without the         manuscripts, he referred to the incomplete state of the project and the possibility of viewing it at a later point in         time.

        6. Zipser stated emphatically that he is focusing for the most part on texts written in 1975 [actually, between         1971 and 1976, the first five years of the Honecker era]. He claims that the authors presently have a completely         different attitude toward the texts they wrote during the earlier 1970s, as a result of the events that occurred in         November 1976. [This is a reference to the expatriation of dissident writer/singer Wolf Biermann that precipitated         massive protests on the part of GDR writers and artists.] Prior to that a very optimistic mood still prevailed,         Zipser says, but now he senses that just the opposite is the case. Many writers have expressed a desire to give         him new written material for his book. He says he urged the writers to allow him to use the texts from the earlier         1970s, because their significance as part of a historical document would otherwise be lost. When asked which
        authors he had interviewed most recently, he replied: Christa Wolf, Volker Braun, Heiner Müller, and Peter         Hacks. Moreover, all four agreed to give answers based on statements that reflect the perspective they had in         1975, so they would not stand out in contrast to the others. When asked why the authors were viewing         everything differently today, he replied: after the 8th Party Congress [June 1971) a new cultural policy and a new         freedom for the arts came into being; however, this freedom was curtailed at the 9th Party Congress [May 1976]         and in the past year it was eliminated completely.

        7. Issues related to Zipser’s stance:

        a) His stance on GDR literature stems from his close friendship with Christa Wolf and Ulrich Plenzdorf, who both         (Christa Wolf with her husband) spent a half year in Oberlin. Plenzdorf and Becker (who is going to Oberlin next         year) have for the most part smoothed the way for him here. A woman who works in the Academy of Arts, a         friend of Sarah Kirsch, has been carrying out organizational tasks for him.

        b) Zipser emphasizes his friendly attitude toward GDR literature and his indifferent attitude toward the GDR in         general. He says that a project like the one he is doing could not have originated in the FRG (West Germany)         because there ideological reservations would come to the fore. With him, he asserts, everything is being         organized without prejudice; as a result, his book will be genuine publicity for GDR literature. Besides, so he         says, he can proceed in an uninfluenced manner because—although he has in fact been interested in GDR         literature for a long time—he had not been fully cognizant of how many works and authors this literature has to         offer.

        c) Zipser pretends to be remarkably naïve and reticent; he gives the impression that with him it is all about a         friendly scholar who comes to a foreign country without any preconceived notions and observes with wide-eyed         amazement everything that is going on there. Here is what seems questionable to me:

        his in-depth knowledge of GDR literature and the completion of a project that one individual cannot possibly         complete without assistance;

        the possibility of receiving free time and money, over and above what is legitimately due him, which actually         guarantees that he can accomplish his work. He always downplays this question, i.e., the question about the         value of his project for the government agencies in the USA or even for the general public. He says he cannot         expect success in the public sphere or even public recognition, since no more than 1,500 copies of his book will         be printed and these are certain to be purchased by libraries only. However, this information actually makes the         extraordinary sponsorship even more questionable. Basically, what remains is merely the still unanswered         question about the significance of his project for the GDR, which is becoming increasingly serious.

        d) Zipser maintains that the length of his stay is barely sufficient for the completion of his work. Hence, he needs         to concentrate entirely on his work with the writers and is unable to be involved with the university. He is indeed         very interested in this activity (i.e., active involvement with the university), but he has to put every available         minute into completing his project. In response to the objection that he is after all a guest of the university, he         said the following: yes, but as stipulated in the agreement, for the purpose of completing a project the university         knew about and the goals of which were presented ahead of time. This also conforms to the terms of the IREX         agreement. University staff members would also not be able to help him because basically everything has         already been set in motion and now only needs to be completed. What remains to be done is a question of         organization and mutual understanding with the writers as regards the manuscripts. His own foreword has not         yet been completed; he has not yet begun working on it, but plans to write it in January and then will gladly         consult with me in May. His initial avowed desire to participate in seminars and possibly some lectures at the         university also cannot be put into practice, since he was confronted with problems related to his divorce during         the first weeks of his residence here. On October 26 he received two letters (from his wife) which suddenly put         him in this situation and really threw him for a loop; as a result he was also unable to work. Things will be
        different next year, he says, since he will establish close contact with the university.

        e) Informal meetings with students: Zipser has had two informal meetings with students from the group of         degree candidates in their fourth year of study. The participants were: Gregor Edelmann, his wife, Tatjana Rese,         Doris Stauffenberg, Andre Baulgart, and some other students who were present only at the first gathering.         According to the students’ statements, the conversations were concerned with the following topics:

        His most recent problems with GDR writers which he generally just called “problems,” without making any         distinctions. He expressed annoyance with the GDR writers a number of times, because of all the difficulties         they were causing him due to their unreliability.

        The bureaucracy of GDR agencies, especially the International Office at the Humboldt University and the         Ministry of Higher Education.

        Ways of life in the GDR, housing and living conditions, opportunities for higher education, types of jobs at the         university level, etc.

        The next section of the report focuses on a presentation I gave on November 28, 1977, at Löffler’s insistence, to a small group of German literature professors from her department at the Humboldt University. Since I had been avoiding Löffler during my two-month stay, and since I had not accepted any of her invitations to visit with her at her weekend cottage in the country, I felt I had to comply with this request. The problem I faced was how to give detailed information on my project, including an interesting sample of the interview material, without revealing too much.

        My talk amounted to a report on the nature and goal of my book project combined with some information I had gathered through interviews with GDR writers to be represented in it. To give an example, I distributed a sheet to everyone present with sixteen answers to one of the questions I had asked GDR writers: “Which contemporary social problems are of the greatest concern to you as a writer?” I listed the authors who had responded in alphabetical order, without linking any one of them to a specific answer; the answers to the question were listed randomly. The Germanists in the room, all of whom were conversant with contemporary GDR literature, were invited to match the names of authors to answers, which of course no one would be able to do. Löffler was not amused by my impish game and, when we were alone following my presentation, she proceeded to scold me. I was delighted to read her lengthy report on this gathering of professors.

        8. Meeting at the German Studies Department of the Humboldt University. Participants: Prof. Löffler, Prof. Eva         Kaufmann, Dr. Hörnigk, Dr. Karin Kögel, Dr. Brigitte Stuhlmacher.

        I had asked Mr. Zipser to present his project in as much detail as possible, and asked my colleagues to ask as         many questions as possible about the project.

        The Outcome:

        a) Presentation by Zipser which did not divulge more than has been stated in sections 1 to 4 of this report.

        b) The presentation and reading of answers to the question cited in section 4 b). [Which contemporary social         problems are of the greatest concern to you as a writer?]

        And here is where the problem with this book begins: only two of the answers went into social progress in the         GDR, and they came across—whether as a result of editing or due to inadequate ability on the part of the         respondents—as exceptionally banal and vacuous. All of the other answers delved into ‘hot’ problems and         conflicts: questions of power—i.e., how does power manifest itself for the individual person, questions of         democracy, the achievement principle, young people’s problems, problems in general education, the         dubiousness of societal advancement, if at all. Aside from a few answers, I can easily imagine that to an         individual author an individual answer might not seem very problematic—and probably in isolation it also is not.         In the aggregate, however, the compendium must come across as a unique collection of concerns which right         now, on top of that, are not voiced and discussed in the GDR. I asked him afterwards what the answers look like         in the other sets of questions. He gave a vague answer, but I could definitely tell that it will for the most part be         even more problematic; for example, in the section on trivial literature where—so he told me—the entire         body of literature published by the Military Press is designated as trivial. Probably the authors had a false         conception of trivial literature, he says, and he will make some changes there.

        In any case: if this conglomeration of answers—even if presented in an anonymous format—were made public         here in our country, this would have to have the effect of a major blow, objectively speaking, since people would         immediately say: that is what our writers are saying about the realities of the GDR when they are allowed to         express themselves ‘freely’, and that is what they said in 1975, so what would they have to say today?

        Furthermore, the situation is such that we are certainly going to be surprised by the outcome in its entirety, since         no one will see the manuscript as a whole prior to its publication. There is no way for us to compel him to hand it         over. I have requested that he do so many times; each time he pointed to the incomplete state of the project and         to the fact that every text will have been written and authorized by an author residing in the GDR, so therefore         any misgivings are totally out of place, and he would show me his foreword in May of next year. Apart from that         he says his book will definintely promote the cause of GDR literature; any excessively glowing presentation         would only be in conflict with this goal.

        c) The entire meeting did not proceed in the way it potentially might have gone. In order to clarify this disclosure,         I would like to quote an opinion expressed by Dr. Hörnigk, who on the evening of the day our meeting took place         (11/28/77) told me this: He and Eva Kaufmann had left the room on the pretext that they had an appointment         with the department head, because they perceived themselves as incapable of questioning a man who was         doing a project that actually we should be doing but would not be permitted to do.

        The question-and-answer game proceeded in a corresponding manner. Zipser explained the nature and purpose         of his undertaking, adding to the already mentioned reasons for it that GDR scholars were after all not always         able to write what they want. Also approvingly received was his opinion that GDR literature, as a result of its         strong social ties to the reality of the GDR, has decidedly provincial traits. When I asked him what his conception         actually was of worldliness and world literature, he pointed to Christa Wolf and her novel Nachdenken über         Christa T. (The Quest for Christa T., 1968), and Frank Hörnigk then commented that Heiner Müller was an         author pursuing worldwide prominence, also right now an author of international importance.

        In addition, he was asked about how he was going to handle Bernd Jentzsch, Sarah Kirsch, and Reiner Kunze.         [These three disaffected authors had recently resettled in the West. Earlier in 1977, Kirsch had been granted an         exit visa and was living in West Berlin. The GDR regime had expatriated Kunze in April of that year, whereupon         he moved to West Germany (Bavaria). Jentzsch, who had become involved in the furor surrounding the         expatriation of dissident chansonnier Wolf Biermann in 1976, decided not to return from a trip to Switzerland so         as to avoid imprisonment.] In response he said that he could not eliminate them; after all, vis-à-vis all the other         authors who wanted to revise their texts under the shadow of the current situation, he would react by referring to         the historical importance and authenticity of their texts from the year 1975. But that would also mean that he         would have to treat all the authors who were living in this country at that time as GDR authors.

        There was further discussion about the view that the 8th Party Congress ushered in a new cultural policy. Many         authors were indeed of this opinion, Zipser said, but ultimately they were not right. As a result the insistent         reference to continuity of cultural policy through the 9th Party Congress has been combined with a process of         disillusionment for most of the authors. The emphasis was on the relationship of cultural policy and the         development of the arts after 1961, together with all of the contradictions and conflicts.

        Following this detailed recounting of the question-and-answer period, Löffler concludes her report. Her         frustration and anger are evident:

        Afterwards, in a private conversation between Zipser and me, I urged him strongly to take seriously the         collaboration with the partner institution that under the terms of the contract is making his residence in the GDR         possible. He asked once again for my understanding of his precarious situation, claiming that he was at his wit’s         end as a result of his divorce and would barely be able to complete the most essential tasks during the time         remaining to him. He likewise made reference to the difficulty of working with the authors, but seemed surprised         when I asked him what difficulties he had apart from that.

Report on Meeting with Students on June 15-16, 1978

During my first stay in Berlin as an IREX scholar, from mid-October to mid-December 1977, I had gotten to know a group of students from the Institute for German Studies at the Humboldt University. I would meet with them informally from time to time, and the file contains a report based on what one of these students told his professor, Anneliese Löffler, who was still my official minder. The report appears in its entirety below.

           Main Department XX/7                                                                   Berlin, 6/23/1978


           Dr. Richard ZIPSER — USA Germanist

           In a face-to-face meeting with unofficial collaborator “Dölbl”,”


           a German studies student at the Humboldt University, stated that he together with another German studies            student,

RESE, Tatjana,

           had met on the night of 6/15 to 6/16/1978 with the USA citizen

Dr. ZIPSER, Richard.

           Edelmann und Rese have been acquainted with Zipser since his last stay in the GDR toward the end of 1977.

           According to Edelmann, Zipser had been under the influence of alcohol and expressed views on the            situation among GDR writers.           

           While doing so Zipser stated his belief that the writer Rolf Schneider as well as Jurek Becker would soon be            applying to leave the GDR for an extended period of time. Zipser apparently learned that in a conversation            with Schneider.

           In addition, Zipser related some impressions derived from his conversations with young GDR writers.

           In his opinion, the functionaries in the GDR should not let themselves have any illusions about the young            generation of GDR writers. The overwhelming majority, he claims, embraces positions that are aimed against            the policies of the State, and the GDR is going to have “lots of trouble” with them.

Joachim Walther’s Comments on Anneliese Löffler: IMS “Dölbl”

In his foundational study, Sicherungsbereich Literatur: Schriftsteller und Staatssicherheit in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (Security Zone Literature: Writers and State Security in the German Democratic Republic, Berlin: Ch. Links, 1996), former East German author Joachim Walther reveals how extensive, far-reaching, and malevolent Löffler’s activities were as a Stasi collaborator. Victims of her ongoing spying and reporting to the secret police included a large number of GDR writers, many of her colleagues at the Humboldt University and even some of her students, editors at a few publishing houses and scholarly journals, the head of the Aufbau-Verlag, Fritz-Georg Voigt, and more. The character of her reader reports, according to Walther who had access to all the report files, is decidedly negative and denunciatory. The main purpose was to advance her own career and elevate her status within the MfS and SED channels by disparaging others. (Cf. Walther, 584-85).

Joachim Walther relates that the first of her IM reports is dated May 17, 1971 (585). He tells us that she uses crude language at times and also incorporates heresay into the reports. In 1972 she was made Professor of GDR Literature at the Humboldt University, but from 1980 on she was involved only in the role of Honorary Professor. One can easily imagine that her colleagues were not eager to have her participate actively in the life of their department. Walther speculates that some of Löffler’s report files may have been destroyed and, if so, we do not know the full story of her informant activity.

           After “Dölbl” had written reader’s reports in the summer of 1978 on Günter Grass (“Der Butt” [“The Flounder”])            and Klaus Poche (“Atemnot” [“Shortness of Breath”]) and delivered reports on the USA Germanist Richard            Zipser as well as Franz Fühmann and on some of her students, her report file breaks off abruptly with the            reader’s report dated August 13, 1978 on Poche’s novel, without any reference to archiving or completing that            piece of work. This would suggest that the remaining parts have been destroyed, so that it is not possible to            make a reliable statement about the duration of IM “Dölbl’s” informant activity beyond the year 1978. (589)

Welcome to My Home Library

Before moving on from this snapshot, I encourage you to read Anneliese Löffler’s present-day (September 2022) homepage on her website, which has a friendly greeting and an interesting message for visitors. The main purpose of the site, it seems to me after having read the back-cover blurb, is to promote her publication with co-author/publisher Eike Jürgen Tolzien of Private Site von Anneliese Löffler. Das Buch (Berlin: Verlag Berliner Kreis, 2021). Löffler, obviously concerned about her legacy and how she will be judged, writes:

           A warm welcome to my home which readers are invited to visit. Take a seat in my living room, surrounded by            books, manuscripts, and a decorative arrangement of German-German works of art. From this book you will            learn more about me and my creative work—my life’s work. . . . This book provides information about me, my            interests, my activities, and the individual stations of my life. Added to this are my projects, lectures and book            publications. And not to forget the Weimarer Beiträge and the literary studies. . . . And of course the areas of            poetry and prose. Memories of authors like: Christa Wolf, Bärbel Bohley and Stefan Heym in the Brecht House            in Berlin. Erwin Strittmatter and Spremberg in Lusatia. Additionally, there are also well-known personalities and            an inviting picture gallery. This includes awards and achievements. A rectification, records and a personal            declaration against insinuations. And books, books, books, of course, that all want to be read . . . and many            other contributions. As you can see, I have nothing to hide; step into the realm of humanistic knowledge, of            poetical art, write that down as long as it is still possible, the private site of Anneliese Löffler offers the reader            that opportunity . . . and in the process also be sure to remember those who are forever mired in the past, who            think they know everything but actually know nothing at all. (Translated into English by R. Zipser)

Now well over ninety years old, Anneliese Löffler appears determined to set the record straight while she still can. She does not want to be remembered as a rigid Stalinist; she wants to put forward her version of what she did and accomplished in the GDR especially, also her version of what sort of person she was and is, and at the same time find room for her works and her actions within the humanistic tradition.

%d bloggers like this: