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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Europe / Germany
  • Language:English
  • Pages:380
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667807485

Remembering East Germany

From Oberlin to East Berlin

by Richard A. Zipser

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Overview
"Remembering East Germany" is a memoir focused on experiences Richard A. Zipser had while travelling and doing research in communist East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s. The memoir is based primarily on a 396-page file the East German secret police--the Stasi--compiled on him with the help of at least ten informants over a twelve-year period. The reports in the file provide a kind of factual foundation for the memoir, as do reports about Zipser found in the Stasi-files of other persons, various printed materials, letters he wrote and received, and some memories as well. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification in 1990, Zipser was able to obtain a copy of his Stasi-file, a process that took seven years from beginning to end. His memoir provides unique insights into a society and literary scene that no other Westerner was able to experience so intensely. It reflects, on several levels, how he experienced communist East Germany and how it in turn experienced him. This fascinating book transports its readers back in time to the chilling Cold War days of yesteryear.
Description
"Remembering East Germany" is a documentary memoir focused on experiences Richard A. Zipser had while travelling and doing research in communist East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s. The memoir is based primarily on a 396-page file the East German secret police--the Stasi--compiled on him with the complicity of at least ten informants over a twelve-year period. The informants were all East Germans from different walks of life--three well-established writers, a prominent publisher, a university professor who was assigned to keep an eye on Zipser, an opportunist affiliated with the communist party academy, a lawyer, a functionary in the East German Writers' Union, the spouse of a Sorbian-German poet, and the housekeeper of East Germany's most famous writer. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification in 1990, Zipser was able to obtain a copy of his Stasi-file, a process that took seven years from beginning to end. Large sections of the top secret file have been incorporated into this book, along with appropriate commentary. Zipser's memoir provides unique insights into a society and literary scene that no other Westerner was able to experience so intensely. It reflects, on several levels, how he experienced communist East Germany and how it in turn experienced him. This fascinating book will transport you back in time to the chilling Cold War days of yesteryear and take you behind the Iron Curtain. There you will encounter one of the first and most efficient surveillance societies of the 20th century, and you will gain insight into the modus operandi of the ruthless secret police all East Germans feared and hated--and much more!
About the author
Richard Zipser has a PhD in German Literature from The Johns Hopkins University. From 1969 to 1986, he taught German language and literature at Oberlin College. From 1986 to 2013, he was Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Delaware. He retired on August 31, 2014. Dr. Zipser's field of specialization is literature of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known as East Germany. He is the author of three major books that focus on different and very important aspects of East German literature and cultural policy. In addition to this book, which was first published in German in 2013 and then translated into English by Zipser, he has published a three-volume book focusing on East German writing during the 1970s and a documentary work on literary censorship in East Germany. From 1986 to 2014, Zipser was General Editor of DDR-STUDIEN/EAST GERMAN STUDIES, a series of scholarly monographs on topics in the humanities and social sciences pertaining to the GDR. At present, he is completing a memoir entitled "Memories of Life in East Germany: Snapshots." Over the course of his long career, Richard Zipser has been the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and grants. In 1977-1978, with the support of a prestigious International Research and Exchanges Board Scholarship, he carried out research projects in the GDR. In 1980-1981, he was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 1985, at the 1985 Leipzig Book Fair in East Germany, he had the privilege of presiding over an exhibit of "America's Best: Prizewinning Books 1983-1984." This exhibit, the first of its kind behind the Iron Curtain, was sponsored by the United States Information Agency and the American Embassy to the GDR in East Berlin. In 1987, Zipser served as President of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages Executive Committee, Modern Language Association. In 1992-1993, he was Visiting Humanities Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University's American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. And in 2018, he was honored to accept an invitation to become a member of the International PEN Centre of German-Speaking Authors Abroad / PRN Zentrum deutschsprachiger Autoren im Ausland. On the national and international level, Richard Zipser is considered to be one of the leading experts on East German literature and cultural policy.
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