Reports & analysis by award-winning investigative journalist Lucy Komisar “”

My Stasi Files: getting banned by East German secret police in the 80s

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By Lucy Komisar
November 8, 2009

The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has called forth a plethora of memories and celebrations. Here are mine.

I visited West Germany in 1983 as it held massive demonstrations against the U.S. plan to station medium range missiles on German territory. The peace movement – objecting to the Ronald Reagan hard line against the East — had another view of how to bring down communism from within. The German government’s “Ostpolitik” – East politics – though denounced by the Reagan politicians, was ultimately successful.

On several occasions I went to East Berlin on day visas (good till midnight) as a tourist to see people of the peace movement of the other side. Leaders on both sides knew each other and shared the view that militarism would not lead to peace or freedom.

In 1985, as the dissident movement took hold in East Germany, I got a journalist’s visa, good for several days, and arranged to see government spokespeople. More importantly, I arranged extensive contacts with the opposition.

My contact with the government turned out rather surreal. I was going to see someone from the academic institute that studied the United States.

Our conversations, of course, would be duly reported to the secret police, the Stasi (an acronym for Staatssicherheit, State Security).

The government office arranging the interview told me I had to pay for a translator. I protested vehemently. “The people studying the United States speak very good English. If you want to send someone to take notes of our discussions, do it, but don’t ask me to pay for it!” After I refused to back down, they dropped their demand for cash.

But they did something else I didn’t find out about till later. They rifled my red Samsonite suitcase which I had left locked in my room at the Hotel Metropol on Friedrichstrasse. (I learned later that hotel was where the Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal frequently stayed).

A year later, when I tried to cross the border from West to East, the stone-faced guard told me, “Ihre Enreise in die DDR ist nicht erwünscht.” Your entrance into the GDR (German Democratic Republic) is not desired.” I loved the passive construction.

Visa from Lucy Komisar's Stasi file

Visa from Lucy Komisar’s Stasi file

A few years after that, I was a member of a group of U.S. journalists invited by a West German institute to participate in a seminar that included a day-trip to East Berlin to see the U.S. ambassador and visit the GDR’s U.S. studies institute. I told the organizer that she’d better make sure I’d be allowed over the border. “Oh, no problem,” she declared, brushing aside my qualms.

The day of the visit arrived. We took the S-Bahn – the rail line we could board in West Berlin but which sped through boarded up East German stops till it arrived at Friedrichstrasse. As my colleagues passed through the border check, I wondered what would happen. When my turn came, a government-issue stern-faced guard perused my passport, did some checks, and returned to announce, “Ihre Enreise in die DDR ist nicht erwünscht.”

I waved to the lady in charge of our group. “Well???? Do something!” The guard directed me to a bench. Forty-five minutes later, I was waved through.

I went to the first appointment, with the U.S. ambassador, Richard Barkley. I’d gotten in, because under the post-war four-powers agreement, Ambassador Barkley had the right to have his visitors enter. “Well, what have you being doing?” he inquired, with a grin. I had contacted him before my trip, because in New York I played tennis with his ex-wife Brigitte and had sought a private interview in addition to the group meeting. I had the private interview, though not in the way I’d expected.

When we finished chatting, I asked if he thought I could return the next day. “Ask the ministry of interior,” he replied, and dialed the number. I thanked the GDR official for letting me into his country and asked what would happen if I attempted to cross the border the next day. “I wouldn’t advise it,” he replied.

I used the rest of the day to visit some of the dissidents I’d seen before. Then I left Friedrichstrasse at minutes before midnight.

After the Wall was torn down, I was at a dinner given by the German Consul General in New York for Rev. Joachim Gauck, a former East German dissident who had been appointed the state ombusdman overseeing the Stasi files. I told him I thought I might have some. He said, “Write me a letter.” I did and got back about 300 pages!

Some of it was absurd. Government press releases I’d picked up in Romania and Bulgaria and other East European countries I’d been to before East Germany. Copies of my address books for Stockholm and Paris, which I was visiting.

But there was a lot more. There were pages indicating that I’d been followed by Stasi informants and officers who had written about my contacts with East German dissidents. A year later,  I returned to Berlin and visited some of the people who I’d talked to and who had turned me in to the GDR secret police. The article I wrote for the Wall Street Journal  follows.  After that are English translations of selected pages, plus a link to copies of pages from the files, in German.

The Stasi’s Willing Collaborators

Wall Street Journal, Dec 27, 1996

BERLIN—Guenter Krusche is a stocky, avuncular man who used to be the Lutheran superintendent for East Berlin. I had interviewed him in 1985 at his church, which that day was hosting a “peace fair,” a gathering of East German dissidents who sought protection of the church against harassment and arrest by the Stasi, East Germany’s state security police.

I returned to see him this fall, because my own Stasi file, which I had just obtained, described my 1985 visit. I showed him the file, which included pictures of me at the peace fair. The Stasi had summarized my trip under the heading: “On the negative-enemy activities of the American citizen Lucy Komisar in association with underground persons of the GDR.”

‘Unofficial Collaborator’

Suddenly, Mr. Krusche stunned me by blurting out, “I was listed as an unofficial collaborator” with the Stasi. Later I learned that when that had been made public a few years ago, the activists who had met in his church had denounced him. A few days after that, his daughter had committed suicide. Mr. Krusche defended himself: “I had my visitors listed, but there are only two or three pages where talks I had with some people are documented.” The rest of our afternoon was given over to a discussion of the moral justification for the collaboration of some churchmen with the East German secret police.

In 1990, the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Stasi files were opened up; any German can go to an office in Berlin and examine his. The millions of pages of files are still roiling German society. One ex-dissident has set up a library and research center to index activists’ Stasi papers; another, who declined to see the thousands of pages about herself, said she wasn’t about to spend the second half of her life reading about the first half. Sascha Anderson, a dissident poet who turned out to be an informer, is now shunned by the eastern literati. But some leftist intellectuals from western Germany, many still Marxists, don’t want to talk about or publish the political criticisms of the former dissidents.             .

The church, once thought to be an ethical touchstone, turns out to have played a morally ambiguous role. Though some ministers were dissidents, others seemed to straddle the line between protecting dissidents and dealing with the Stasi to protect their own interests.

“After the wall was built,” explained Mr. Krusche, “the church confronted the question: We live here and God is here; we are the church in socialism, and we do the best we can. They weren’t easy years.” There were practical matters: “If you wanted a passport, you had to talk with people.” Mr. Krusche argues that to offer support and refuge for dissidents as well as to get greater freedom for the church, the church needed contacts with the government—and that meant talking to the Stasi. And Mr. Krusche added: “The Western government worked with the East, but nobody is touching this. The files which contain these points are secret.”

Dissidents, however, say some church leaders lacked courage. “Krusche could have talked to Stasi, but not reported on people,” said Rainer Eppelmann, a leading dissident in East German times and now a member of parliament from the conservative Christian Democratic party. A short man with a beard and mustache, Mr. Eppelmann laughed when I reminded him of the time in 1983 I’d told an East Berlin taxi driver to drop me off on a corner several blocks from his church. “Oh, you’re going to see Pastor Eppelmann!” the driver had smirked, After unification, Mr. Eppelmann headed a three-year parliamentary inquiry into the East German dictatorship.

Mr. Anderson, the poet-informer, had been a sweet young man, a musician with long, blond hair. He was one of the first dissidents I’d met in East Berlin in 1983. In a cafe in the old, slightly bohemian neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, where many dissidents still live, he flipped through my files.

People at peace fair, from Lucy Komisar's Stasi files

People at peace fair, from Lucy Komisar’s Stasi files

He pointed to the report written by a Fritz Mueller and declared, “That is me! I was an unofficial collaborator.” He read on: “You went to a peace meeting, you were identified as a foreigner, then the Stasi followed you. From the beginning of your trip, you were quickly observed.” Mr. Anderson showed no emotion as he sipped his espresso.

“Why did you report on me?” I asked.

It appeared to have had nothing to do with ideology or the Cold War. “I had been in jail,” he shrugged. “I had to find a way to exist. I reported by telephone once a month for 20 years. Everyone has his own story.” In telling his story, Mr. Anderson gropes for some sort of explanation of his actions: “My grandmother was from Russia,” he noted, as If this meant something. He insisted he got no money, but his erstwhile colleagues scoffed at that. He added, defensively, “But I didn’t tell them what you said.”

The church and dissident’ informers were willing collaborators used by the Stasi in the battle ‘against dissent. And Western journalists were used by both sides. The dissidents used them for protection.

Werner Fischer, left, talking to Lucy Komisar at peace fair, from Lucy Komisar's Stasi files

Werner Fischer, left, talking to Lucy Komisar at peace fair, from Lucy Komisar’s Stasi files

Werner Fischer, who recognized his lanky form in a photo of the church peace fair, was fired from his theater job after he joined the peace movement; he earned a living making pottery. “We wanted the State Security to know we had contacts,” he told me. “They were protection. The Stasi knew that if something happened to us, the news would go throughout the world. But we always worried that you might not be able to come in.” Indeed, after my early visits, I was banned.

Some Western journalists, in order to keep getting visas, shied away from reporting too much about the dissidents. Lutz Rathenow, a prominent East German writer who was part of both the literary and political dissident movements, explained that East Germany let in journalists it thought it could influence. Those who wanted visas had to “play by the” rules” and not pay too much attention to dissidents. It was worse, he said, for anyone who also had contact with government opponents from other East European countries.

The moral issues raised by the Stasi files, though detailed in the press, have been generally ignored by political leaders, the church, and the public. “Krusche wasn’t criticized by the Church,” Mr. Eppelmann noted. “He was part of the establishment.”

Many eastern Germans seem to view the East German political drama as morality tale, featuring in lead roles the Stasi, the dissidents, the informers, the churchmen who made deals and the journalists who pulled punches. Most East Germans were either bit players or spectators, the latter perhaps not applauding loudly but certainly not booing.

Too Forgiving

Christophe Buch, a West German writer, says the public has been far too forgiving of Stasi criminals. “Markus Wolf; who ran foreign intelligence, is called ‘the charming, cultivated Stasi,’ ” Mr. Buch told me. “He is witty and funny, but he sent people to jail and had them tortured. Now he appears on TV talk shows and speaks about Russian recipes.”

“People don’t want to know any more about it,” Mr. Fischer said. “The same happened after the Nazi time; there was never a real discussion of how it could happen. Was our silence partly to blame for the system? I don’t know if it’s typically German, but in the Nazi time and in East Germany, the majority was silent.”

When I asked Mr. Krusche if the Stasi revelations raised moral questions for churchmen, I was surprised when he also brought up the failure to deal with German accommodation to the Nazis. “In East Germany it was always said we are the antifascist country, and therefore we don’t need any discussion about this,” he said. “One of the problems is that we never had a discussion of civil courage.”

Calls to close the files now come from people on both sides of the old border. Perhaps that is why Sascha Anderson seemed so unperturbed. “Politics today is economic politics,” he told me. “I don’t know a country where the priority is their history.”

MY STASI FILES

GDR seal from Lucy Komisar's Stasi file

Click here for selections of the files I received from German authorities: Lucy Komisar’s Stasi files part 1, part 2, part 3.

Here are my translations and descriptions of selected pages from the files.

Nov 28, 83

Meetings with “Independent Peace Movement in the GDR” : Lutz Rathenow, Annedore Havemann, Rainer Eppelmann, Stefan Haym, Werner Fisher, Ulrike Poppe, Gerd Poppe, Martin-Michael Passauer.

Nov 28, 83, report that Nov 1 and 2 I had crossed the border to see Lutz Rathenow, Annedore Havemann, Gerd Poppe, Bärbel Bohley.

That I had “a great interest in the so called independent peace movement in the GDR.”

That on Nov 2 I went to a church service on the theme “Fasting for Peace” at the church of Minister Passauer, talked with people in the peace group and took notes in English.

That in 85 I took part in a peace workshop at a church in Berlin.

That in 89 “K went with a group to visit the Academy for State and Legal Studies.  K used her entry to meet Poppe and Fischer.”

24 Nov 83, a note that my papers had been copied when I cross the border.  They would be translated to determine if I should be blocked from further entry.

8 Nov 83

A note from the source IMB Fritz Mueller to Major Heimann. [Fritz Mueller was the code name for Sascha Anderson.]

Komisar is traveling in Europe to work for a number of large American papers. For one she is writing on the theme of Spanish Communism and her second central theme is the peace movement in the GDR and West Germany.

Notes meetings with Lutz Rathenow (on Nov 1 in the evening), Gerd Poppe, Sascha Anderson, Bärbel Bohley (Nov 2 from afternoon to evening).

On Nov 2 Komisar from 10 to about 1 was at Poppe, from 1 to 3 at Anderson and from 3 to 5 at Bärbel Bohley.

From there to Minister Passauer at the church. There she was going to a service on the theme of Fasting for Peace and to have talks with the peace circle.

In the afternoon would have a meeting with the secretary of Krusche, to talk about peace politics with Eppelmann, Passauer and Misselwitz, to interview people from the independent peace movement.

She points out that there is a difference with the Soviet Union where left and right dissidents exist, while in the GDR there are left dissidents and scarcely rightists.

She asked Poppe which politics he follows and Poppe answered [blacked out].

From Poppe and Rathenew she got the answer that [blacked out].

Lucy Komisar speaks German, but not very well. She is happy when she can speak English. So she spoke English in her talk with the secretariat of Krusche.

On the phone she was told that she would need state authorization/permission to have an official interview with Krusche.

Komisar endeavored to have an unofficial talk with Passauer.

At the same time, she received the information that it would be possible without giving names at any time to have an interview.

Since Nov 1, 83 she is in West Berlin and comes daily with a day visa to Berlin.

11 3 83

Report on a citizen of the USA who is organized in the peace movement.

On Nov 2, 83, about 10:05 pm from the capital of the GDR the citizen of the USA, Lucy Komisar, went over the border at Friedrichstr Bahnhof into West Berlin.

In her handbag were found a notebook with handwritten notes, English, sometimes shorthand, a slip of paper with names and phone numbers.  She tried to have the notebook not taken. In this situation she was reserved and cold.

In the notebook were the words SS 20, SU-US, (and some names and address) Most of the notes were not legible. [The SS 20s were Soviet intermediate range missiles.]

On a loose slip were the names, Gerd Ryke, Sascha Anderson, Bärbel Bohley, Gunter Krosche, Werner Fischer, Jutta Seidel, Cora Hubchen, Katja Havemann, Frau Lewll, Reinhard Schult, Martin Boettger. [Actually it was Gerd Poppe at Rykestr.]

(conversation about being in peace movement, opposition to all weapons, east and west, the danger of a computer error)

She was friendly and polite.

She was cleanly dressed and well groomed.

signed by the operative, Morgenstern, OSL and Major Naumann.

Report at Nov 4 83 that at the border railway station F, Komisar is subject known through clarification of circumstances on Nov 2.  In the framework of filtration it could be established that Komisar appeared with further persons. She was at the same clearance place and spoke in English very stirred up during her waiting period. Her traveling companions were Julia Hanilsberg, Korean Mendell, Korean Schreiber, Shari Liebermann, Alchen Alan Esquibel. [I never heard of any of them.]

It was not possible to talk with those persons. They said they were entering as tourists.

Further measures/ precautions.

Head of the central service informed that the searched for object and the traveling companies would be returned to West Berlin together.

OLZ of the head office Gen Boehm notified.

OPD Berlin Gen Hornig informed.

signed Morgenstern and Naumann

Nov 25, 83

note Dear General, further investigations are initiated.

After the translation of the materials decide over search or ban.

Dec 2, 83

To Gen Klein

Investigation of Lucy Komisar.

The search was initiated. All the reports follow under the number…

Proposals on the extension must be filed by the latest 14 days before the expiration of the period by the HA VI, Office of investigation by the service of the commune 20 days before the expiration of the period by the responsible office.

then June 25, 85

On June 14, 85 at 11:50 the consulate has given a visa to the prohibited object #053 etc.

Learn that she was banned in Dec 83 because she used her stay in the capital of the GDR Nov 1 and 2 to talk with Lutz Rathenow, Gerd Poppe, Annedore Havemann, Sascha Anderson and Bärbel Bohley to get information over the so-called independent peace movement in the GDR.  She also used the trip to go to a church service of the known Minister Passauer on the theme of Fasting for Peace on Nov 2, 83 and had a talk with Passauer’s peace group.

It was proposed by the HA II the ground of the entry and nonobservance of the ban through the MfAA  as well as to let Komisar prove her concrete intention and through that to decide if the visit for the time should be approved.

The operative would draw up suitable preventive measures if Komisar contacted underground people in the capital of the GDR.

Then a note, [name misspelled] Lucie Comeson, journalist from NY, made contact with Gunter Krusche. She communicated that she was staying a week in Berlin to do a report and on this ground wants a conversation with Gunter K. Gunter K wants above all to know for whom she works, upon which she says that she is freelance journalist. Above all she works for the newspapers Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and Philadelphia Inquirer. With regard to an interview appointment Gunter K observes that this week is very full. Lucie Comeson can come to his office on Sunday since because of the Peace Workship he will be there. Gunter K is of the opinion that she can meet a lot of interesting young and older people there. There she can see specifically what she can’t see on the street. Gunter K believes that the people she speaks with will also have the right questions.  Lucie Comeson will arrange to go to Gunter K’s office on Sunday and lets him describe the way to get there.  13:28 hours

Then some days later 3 pictures of me at the Peace Workshop as well as one at a cafe where I went to talk with Bärbel Bohley.

At this point I picked up a sobriquet, Balken (means a long flat piece of wood).

6/29/85  interview with Bärbel  B.

“Balken” (Komisar) 29.6  17:08 hours.

“Latte” interview with Bohley.

“Latte” and a woman who has the name “Balken” leave the Church grounds.

They walk in the direction of Noldnerstrase to an ice cream cafe in Lueckstrasse.

At the ice cream cafe with Barbel Bohley, right, photo from Lucy Komisar's Stasi files

At the ice cream cafe with Barbel Bohley, right, photo from Lucy Komisar’s Stasi files

17:13 the two people go into the cafe, buy two ice creams and take a table in the garden of the Cafe. “Balken” takes out of a black, leather-like case a computer-like machine with keyboard and built-in screen and both people occupy themselves intensively with this machine, the keyboard of which Balken uses.  [This was the Radio Shack Model 100] On the way to the cafe and during the conversation there Balken and Latte carried on a stimulating conversation, of which Latte was the leader.

18:11 Two unknown men walk into the cafe with a 4 year old child, go up to Balken and Latte at the table and sit down after casual greetings.  In the continued course of the conversation Latte looked at a large sheet of paper the contents of which no particulars could be made.

18:28 Balken, Latte, the two men and the child leave the cafe and walk through Noldnerstrasse back to the Church which they

18:35 enter, where they were previously

17:30 the event ends.  At this time a large number of the participants leave the area alone or in groups and set out predominantly for the Rummelsburg S-bahn [railway] station or go with the ready PKW.

18:00 about 25 persons stay at the church area.

18:01 Eppelmann leaves with his PKW from the area.

19:00 were only a few people at the church area.

19:50 Balken leaves the place of the event. From there the observation at the Erloschurch was broken and the Balken connection carried on.  She walked through Noldnerstrasse to the Rummelsburg S-bahn station.

19:57 She walked into the station, bought a fare card in the automatic machine and went onto the platform.

20:02 She went with the S-bahn in the direction of Alexanderplatz.

20:14 Balken got out at Alexanderplatz, stayed on the platform and got

20:16 in a train in the direction of Friedrichstrasse that shortly left.

20:19 she got off at the Friedrichstrasse station, left the train station and went in the direction of the Metropol Interhotel which she

20:29 walked into.  There she went to the reception and asked if anything might be left for her, that she had an appointment at 12:30 that she could not keep. I could not hear what was answered.  Following that, she went to the 7th floor.

30.6 12:20  [can't read it],  photo.

14:00 meeting with Bohley.

15:35 talk with Eppelmann.

16:50 Fischer, interview with technical apparatus [my computer].

july 2, 85

On the negative-enemy activities of the USA citizen Lucy Komisar in association with underground persons of the GDR.

On June 14, 85 it was learned that USA citizen Lucy Komisar proposed a visa for entry into the capital of the GDR from June 24 to July 7. along with a  journalistic plan request.

Komisar was first in November 83 operative made an appearance  as she on Nov 1 and 2 used her entrance as a tourist to talk with Lutz Rathenow, Gerd Poppe, Annedore Havemann, Bärbel  Bohley and Alexander Anderson, to take part in a church service of the known Minister Martin-Michael Passauer on the theme of Fasting for Peace and over the talks took notes which on her return over the border were taken and documented.

Komisar continued to attempt on Nov 4 83 together with other persons from the USA to travel into the capital of the GDR.  This trip was as a result of the short-term initiated banning measure together with for one to prevent this day’s planned provocative action by underground people of the GDR together with members of the FRG [West German] Greens.

[I had thought so]

On the ground of the above mentioned activities a travel ban was initiated against Komisar.

On the ground of the aforementioned activities a travel ban was initiated.

Investigation by the head office II on the requested visa from June 24 to July 7 1985  showed that Komisar at the international press center of MfAA was accredited for on June 27 a talk with the secretary of the NDPD director Hartmann and on June 28 a talk with the chief editor of the magazine Horizont, Gen Schwabe, with collaborators of the Institutes for Politik and Economy as well as with collaborators of the Institute for International Relations in Potsdam.

During these plans Komisar was accompanied by a known GDR escort.

As a result of this investigation the entry ban against Komisar was for the said time interrupted.

Her entry in the capital of the GDR would follow on June 24 and the exit on June 30.  During the period of her time here Komisar lived in the Hotel Metropol.

Through the control operation was carried in coordination with the local administration of Berlin, it was learned that Komisar misused her hoped for entry possibility in the capital of the GDR,  so that addition to her registered journalistic plan, she had interview talks with known operatives of the political underground and on this account prepared notes.

So did she on June 29 in a cafe have an extensive talk with the known operative Ulrike Poppe,  and before apparently from a message of Komisar an interview with Bärbel Bohley.

Komisar was further photographed on June 30 from 12:20 to 16:50 at the “Peace Workshop” at the Erloserkirche in Berlin, Noldnerplatz, and she had conversations with known operatives Rainer Eppelmann, Werner Fischer and Bärbel Bohley about which she made written notes.

After leaving the “Peace Workshop” she traveled to West Berlin.

Unofficially it can be further known that Komisar on June 25 had contact with the known writer Sefan Heym and expressed the wish to talk with him about questions of foreign policy in the GDR and the East-West relations.  This talk was refused by Heym because he only speaks about his literary work.

It was proposed over the MfAA to take a decision if Komisar on the ground of her activities together with the underground people should be allowed further entries for journalistic plans in the GDR in the future.

(copies to five places: Director of HA XX, HA II, BV Berlin, Office XX, HAXX/AKG, and HA XX/9

(HA XX is the church office)

July 9, 85

Report

K is freelance journalist and writes for Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, The Nation, sometimes in the NY Times.

She is concerned with foreign policy, especially with LA and Europe. For some years she regularly visits West Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) [later two not true]

During these trips she has interviewed W. Brandt, H. Ehmke, K Voigt and E. Bahr as well as Craxi and Palme.  [This was Willy Brandt, Horst Ehmke, Karsten Voigt, Egon Bahr – all German Social Democratic leaders – and Bruno Craxi and Olaf Palme, socialist leaders of Italy and Sweden].

The suggestion to visit also the GDR and other socialist countries came from W Brandt and other men of the SPD.  So she has taken the proposal of the press attaché in the GDR in Washington to travel.

K would like through this trip to find out how people in East and West Europe think about the relations between the US and USSR, FRG and GDR, SDI and the American foreign policy in general.  The talks in the GDR pleased her a lot. She had not expected such open and constructive talks on the basic themes.  She didn’t like American foreign policy because it didn’t take reality into account. For example in Central America Reagan was playing a hopeless game.  He didn’t take into account the real interests of the people in this area. According to her, it would not come through American military intervention because the US would risk its political influence in this area and the anti-American mood could deepen.  She holds the strengthening of the economic and financial pressure on Nicaragua as possible.  The reaction in the US Congress after the Ortega visit in Moscow is due according to initiated American political circles to the support of the contras, it doesn’t include the right of the president to send troops.  Vietnam is in political circles not long surmounted.

K starts out from that after the Reagan administration the American foreign policy in this area will change. One would under certain relations be ready to work together, for ex Nicaragua’s solution  in neutrality.

In the winter months she will travel again to Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

Komisar is traveling after her GDR stay to Prague, Budapest and probably to Vienna (she doesn’t know exactly).

The talks in the GDR have strengthened her wish to visit the GDR again in 1986. Then she would deal with special GDR problems. In this event she criticizes that the working conditions for American journalists in the GDR are really more complicated than in the FRG.  There she can call people she wants to speak with directly.  Since she didn’t know the GDR, she informed herself in the FRG.  In the SPD circles, with which she has close relations, were the names E. Krenz, H Axen, H Haeber, O Fischer, K Nier, K Gysi known as competent people to see.

K makes a markedly intelligent impression. She travels a lot, next to Europe and Latin America she has visited Africa. She maintains that she is objective. She is against any sensational journalism known in East and West and rejects every kind of slander and is against such words as class struggle, deadly enemy, foe, etc. Such a form of journalism stirs up hatred. She would only write what she can completely account for.

note nov 25, 85

atop: streng geheim: strictly secret/confidential

Dear Chief Reuter

For the proposal of Lucy Komisar promptly to decide again.

July 11, 85

Information

On the negative-enemy activities of the USA citizen Lucy Komisar together with underground persons of the GDR.

On June 14, 85 it was learned that USA citizen Lucy Komisar proposed a visa for entry into the capital of the GDR from June 24 to July 7  along with a  journalistic plan request.

Investigation by the HA II revealed that Komisar by the International Press center of MfAA had asked for accreditation for on June 27 a talk with the secretary of the NDPD director Hartmann and on June 28 a talk with the chief editor of the magazine Horizont, Gen Schwabe, with collaborators of the Institutes for Politics and Economy as well as with collaborators of the Institute for International Relations in Potsdam.

As a result of this investigation the entry ban against Komisar was for the said time interrupted and Komisar got a visa for the time from June 24 to June 28, 1985.

The entry ban was initiated in November 1983 because Komisar on Nov 1 and 2 83 used her entry as a tourist to the capital of the GDR to talk with the known operatives Lutz Rathenow, Gerd Poppe, Annedore Havemann, Bärbel Bohley and Alexander Anderson followed by taking part in a church service of the known operative Minister Martin-Micahel Passauer on the theme of “Fasting for Peace”  and  prepared extensive notes over  the following talks.  These notes were on her departure at the border seized and documented.

Komisar continued to attempt on Nov 4 83 together with other persons from the USA to travel into the capital of the GDR.  This trip was as a result of the short-term initiated banning measure together with one to prevent this day’s planned provocative action by underground people of the GDR together with members of the FRG [West German] Greens.

Through the control operation was carried in coordination with the local administration of Berlin, it was learned that Komisar misused her hoped for entry possibility in the capital of the GDR,  so that addition to her registered journalistic plan, she had interview talks with known operatives of the political underground and on this account prepared notes.

She didn’t leave after the expiration of her visa on June 28, instead she obtained a visa extension in the Hotel Metropol where she lived through her stay.

On June 29 Komisar went to a cage for an extensive talk with the known operative Ulrike Poppe,  and before apparently from a message of Komisar an interview with Bärbel Bohley.

Komisar was further photographed on June 30 from 12:20 to 16:50 at the “Peace Workshop” at the Erloserkirche in Berlin, Noldnerplatz, and she had conversations with known operatives Rainer Eppelmann, Werner Fischer and Bärbel Bohley about which she made written notes.

The meetings with the named persons was photographically documented by Office VIII of the community administration of Berlin.

With regard to the contents of the talks of Komisar with the named persons cant be gotten at because all the talks were under four eyewitnesses, and the planted unofficial source had no possibility to take part.  After leaving the “Peace Workshop” Komisar traveled to West Berlin.

Unofficially it can be further known that Komisar on June 25 had contact with the known writer Stefan Heym and expressed the wish to talk with him about questions of foreign policy in the GDR and East-West relations.  This talk was refused by Heym because he speaks only about his literary work.

Through an unofficial source of the HVA it was known that Komisar after some work as a freelance journalist works for the USA newspapers Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday and The Nation and is involved with foreign policy themes, especially with Latin America and Europe.

She regularly for some years visits West Europe and has through that contacts with leading politicians of the SPD by whom it was suggested that she should visit the GDR and other socialist states.

Her visit in the GDR was further attributed to a suggestion of the press attaché of the embassy of the GDR in the USA.

Concerning her trip through Europe is to find out what one in East and West Europe thinks about the relations between the USA and the SSR, between the FRG and the GDR, of the so-called strategic defense initiative of the USA as well as about American foreign policy. Komisar left the source the impression that she is very happy with her talks in the GDR and has a strengthened wish to visit the GDR again in 1986. Then she would deal with special GDR problems.

According to her declaration to the source, Komisar plans after her stay in the GDR to go to Prague and Budapest as well as to Vienna.

It was proposed to give the information on the knowledge of the HA II and to check whether to produce further information on the activities of Komisar during her stay in the GDR.

Through the ZAIG have prepared  a party information on which grounds by the MfAA a decision can be taken if Komisar on the grounds of her activities together with the underground people should be allowed further entries for journalistic purposes in the GDR in the future.

Note July 4, 85

Dear chief lieutenant Reuter

Check the enclosed sheets of the known talk.  Accordingly prepare official information for the MfAA.

Information

Working material of a freelance journalist from the USA whose trip in the socialist states was supported by the SPD  [That is the West German Social Democratic Party.]

The American citizen Lucy Komisar
Came on Aug 26, 1985 at about 9:05 am with the Flight LO 161 from Warsaw to Berlin-Schoenefeld airport to continue a trip to West Berlin.

According to the documented requested English-speaking working material, she is a freelance journalist and writer.  According to her resume, she gained in 1964 the academic grade BA in history from the City University in New York.  She speaks in addition to her mother tongue also Spanish, French and Italian.   Besides that she has a basic knowledge of German and Portuguese.  Her article “German Ostpolitik” for the US press agency AP compares the attitude of the former SPD government with that of the CDU/CSU/ FDP coalition toward the socialist states.  Especially criticizes the conflictive statements of Chancellor Kohl and other rightist politicians on the question of borders in Europe.  In addition, Komisar refers to the planned trip in July/August 1985 to the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Poland.  The trip is in accord with Eugen Selbmann from a concrete objective of the trip is not contained in the submitted writing from May 29 85 signed Selbmann, stationary of Prof. Dr. Horst Ehmke, Member of the German Parliament, about people considered Komisar should see of which the following were recommended:

Poland: Rakowski, Bercikowski, Richard Wojna and from the Catholic Church circle Miczewski.

Hungary: Berecz, Acil (Cited: “You remember we had in last year a good talk with him), Peter Reenyi from the Newspaper Neepzabadzaag.

Czechoslovakia: “it is very hard here to get a good person to talk with. The best man would naturally be Bilak, but I don’t think he would be available…Naturally a talk with Hayek offers itself, but in the opposite situation in Prague our embassy cant arrange it, but the Norwegian embassy can. I would talk covertly with our ambassador, but I must then know what days you are going to be in Prague.”

(A Hajek, Jiri, is known as the signatory of “Charter 77,” inimical to the state.)

Komisar was in writing from June 21, 1985 informed about her contact possibilities in the forenamed states.  So she in Warsaw should go to Mr. Glabinski Interpress and the FRG Ambassador Mr. Koepping.  In Hungary, Arpad Argita, SK of the USAP, was informed about her trip.  For Czechoslovakia it was foreseen that she would phone Mr. Scheuer from the FRG embassy.

During her trip in the socialist states she prepared handwritten notes that are very hard to read.

[They didn't know the half of it--besides my speedwriting, meant to be intelligible only to me, most of my notes were carried on floppy disks!]

The notes include interview meetings and advice about the names of people to see.

Enclosure: film negative

Appropriate specific measures Komisar would go through a notifiedborder control at the OG ZF . The control reached only the large pack and was without knowledge of the traveler.

note  Oct 1, 86

….of Komisar in the ban of…

Apr 26, 88

Statement on  result of the search object

Lucy Komisar

The object aimed on Apr 26, 88 to travel to the capital of the GDR at 17:38.

The object was sent back.  Supplementary statement of the object: use other side [not there].

Then comes 19 pages of my notebook notes, which are for some reason later repeated since they couldn’t read them.

Seroxes of my phone calling card, health insurance card.

Several forms list me as a political science professor. I’m not, but I have a feeling I might have said that first time at the border when they found my notes about the SS20 since I figured I feared they’d take them if I said I was a journalist; but they never figured out that mistake, and the ID persisted.

Then there are 9 pages in Russian, sent at various times to the KGB.

Nov 12, 86

Czechoslovakia  (sent from Czechoslovakia to the Stasi).

K is a person that the EID pursued,  seized.

On July 9, 1985, in Czechoslovakia she visited Jiri Hayek, a member of the “Charter 77.”  She is interested in the current situation in Czechoslovakia and the results of the accomplishment of the resolution of the Helsinki Conference in Czechoslovakia.  K met with various members of the Czechoslovakian opposition.

During her stay in Czechoslovakia, she collected material for enemy propaganda activity in the USA against Czechoslovakia.

K was processed in 1985 through administration 10 of the KNS of the Czechoslovakia operative.

The statements appear on the year 1985 and were put in the system in 198?

may 29, 85 letter from Eugen Seltmann, notice for Dr. Horst Ehmke, MP, People for Lucy Komisar to see.

My advice for Warsaw: Rakowski, Barcikowski, Wojna and out of the Catholics, the top close camp, Miczewski. As for the first three, I would recommend that you in the next week your speak with Riyszard Wojna.  The talk with Miczewski should be arranged through our embassy in Warsaw (Koerting).

For Hungary: Berecz and the Politburo member Acil. You remember we had a good talk with him last year.  If the meeting for the Budapest visit is arranged, we should connect the Hungarian ambassador on the arrangements, for example I will phone Hargita directly in Budapest.

Czechoslovakia: Here it is very hard to get a competent person to interview.  The best man would naturally be Bilak, but I don’t think he could be available. Ambassador Meyer in Prague is these days cut off through a new ambassador, I don’t remember the name, who till now was in Latin America and doesn’t have any knowledge of Czechoslovakia.  You have an opportunity of course for a talk with Hayek and in the opposition situation in Prague our embassy can’t arrange that, but the Norwegian embassy can.  I would covertly happily talk with our ambassador, but I must then know what days you will be in Prague.

Further: Peter Reenyi, from the newspaper Neepzabadzang.

And another letter June 21 85, letterhead SPD Fraction in the German Parliament, Coming back from our talk, I pass on as people to interview.

For Warsaw: at Interpress, Mr. Glabinski.  He is apprised by the Polish embassy.  And Mr. Herting from the FRG embassy.  He is at the phone number 004822/12 30 12 or 17 60 44 or 17 60 45.

In Hungary you should meet with Mr. Arpad Hargita.  He is also apprised. He is reachable at the phone number  00361/ 311-400.

In Czechoslovakia you should contact Mr Scheur from the Germany embassy.  You can reach him at the number 00422/ 53 23 51.

With friendly greetings, Eugen Seltmann.

Then copies of my typescript of a story on German Ostpolitik (copied 4 times)

A government paper on Bulgarian Jews.

Another “Negative Aspects of Private Farm Plots Criticized.”

Ways of Achieving Higher Agricultural Output Discussed.

Names and phone numbers of contacts in Sweden and France.

“Andrei Gromyko replies to questions on the meeting between the USSR and the USA in Geneva.”

A U.S. State Dept paper on “Soviet Active Measures: The Christian Peace Conference.”

A U.S. government paper about issue of  MFN for Romania, Hungary, China, 12 pgs.

About 20 pages copied backwards, make sense if you hold them to a mirror (more U.S. government statements).

My resume.

Some 50 pages of notes from a small appointment book.

Names, directions, expense records, most not intelligible even to me.

Copies of my airline ticket for the Europe trip.

Copies of 33 business cards from officials, journalists and others in various East European countries.

A copy of my official program in Budapest.

A page of phone numbers of American and other western media representatives in Warsaw.

My visa.

A paper with phone numbers of dissidents I was planning to contact on 1983 trip.

Pictures of me at the “peace fair,” 1985.

My favorite pages are the seven last, directions for how to use the Radio Shack Model 100 computer (remember that?) with acoustic couplers–a few pages of diagrams and complex formulae such as  (tab) (graf + f) (enter), or “Basic Error Codes, such as Code 52 FF File Not Found.” I like to imagine the Stasi analysts puzzling over that.

4 Responses for “My Stasi Files: getting banned by East German secret police in the 80s”

  1. Craig says:

    Great article. Your file has satisfied a great deal of curiosity for me. I am sure there is a file on me as well, though not of any real interest as my visits were quite mundane. It is fascinating to see the correlation between your activities and the STASI reports.

  2. Lynne E. Machado says:

    How do I request a copy of my Stasi file?

    LK: Write to
    Der Bundesbeautragte fur die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik
    Glinkastrasse 35
    10117 Berlin
    Germany

    The phone is 49 (0)30 2241 70
    Fax is 49 (0)30 2241 7762
    (In both cases, exclude the first 0 if you call from outside Germany. 49 is code for Germany, 30 is Berlin.)

    Include the relevant details, including the years you are looking into and your date of birth.

  3. [...] no personal knowledge, but saw this from Lucy Komisar's (journalist) website: How do I request a copy of my Stasi file? LK: Write to Der Bundesbeautragte fur die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik Glinkastrasse 35 10117 Berlin Germany The phone is 49 (0)30 2241 70 Fax is 49 (0)30 2241 7762 (In both cases, exclude the first 0 if you call from outside Germany) Include your date of birth. – See more at: http://www.thekomisarscoop.com/2009/….Eo53apPS.dpuf [...]

  4. John says:

    I actually studied outside of Dresden in a small city in Radebeul for 3 months in 1988/1989. I studied initially in class for westerners (only 2 girls from Austalia) showed up) and then joined goup of communist students from throughout communist block and studied German with them. It was amazing. I was American living in Switzerland before I went and was interviewed at East German consulate by Ambassador before getting my Visa. I’m sure they thought I was a spy but I was only out for cheap tuition. I’d love to see the file on me. The whole place was bugged I’m sure.

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