Political dissidents don’t generally keep diaries—they could fall into the wrong hands—so in retrospect my friend P was rendered a service by the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS or “Stasi”), which kept track of his movements for almost ten years.
A civil servant environmental chemist frustrated by the impossibility of publicizing his findings, he found an outlet in occasional public talks and teaching at the local continuing education center. In January 1983, he resigned his government position—his wife continued to work full-time; the kids were in day care—and set about preparing a book-length indictment of the East German pollution situation.
It was ultra harsh. Lignite “coal” smoke filled the air, giving East Germany a characteristic blurry look and sour smell. (Lignite is crumbly, damp, brown, and odorous—like burning cat shit you found under the water heater—and is scheduled for phaseout in German power generation by 2038.) It rained sulfuric acid, like on Venus. Rivers were slimy, with tall heads of foam. The groundwater pH in one industrial town was 1.9—between vinegar and battery acid.
Soon after meeting P in 2011, I read his first book. The overall mood was utopian, yet pragmatic. Fable-like methods were used to depict bleak truths while avoiding finger-pointing: Once upon a time, farmers cleared a forest; the water table fell, so they dug a well, and it fell some more, et cetera. Red herrings abounded. One memorable paragraph lamented the extinction of Steller’s sea cow, a sluggish 30-foot behemoth that could have provided truly socialist quantities of meat and milk.
I mentioned him to an elderly journalist who had covered East German environmentalism for the West German magazine Stern. “That guy was a Stasi collaborator!” he insisted. His evidence: that P had been allowed to stop work as a chemist despite his doctorate—a long career was how the state recouped its investment in education and training—and that he had managed to publish anything at all before 1989.
I immediately emailed P to ask whether he had worked for the Stasi. He protested in outraged terms, but I never knew for sure.
The other day, however, I was at his house and noticed a pile of manila hanging folders—unusual enough in this land of two-ring binders—on the floor. He explained that he had dug his Stasi file out of the attic to verify a date.
I leafed through the folders for a bit. Much of the material had been collected by operatives stationed in the house next door, watching through the blinds and privy to nearly nothing. P takes a kid to school, some car arrives, the postman brings a letter, ad nauseam. Mostly it makes you shake your head in amazement that a state short of money would have employed multiple people to surveil a struggling freelancer. Many pages were devoted to competing accounts of his night school courses. The Stasi routinely assigned several operatives to cover a single event, as a loyalty test. Their reports cite P as saying that no political enhancements of any kind, much less additional parties, would be needed to fix the ecological situation, the groundwork having been laid in the East German constitution.
This was pussyfooting as a survival strategy. While MfS methods had mellowed—they no longer forced dissidents to sit in radioactive chairs—prison sentences followed by banishment were a vital source of hard currency. Over the years, 33,755 political prisoners and around 250,000 of their relatives were sold to the West German state in exchange for ca. $2 billion. When the state relaxed its grip in 1989, P became a co-founder of the East German Green party and served in the Volkskammer and unified Bundestag.
In May 1983, a decision was made to bug his apartment.
Observational measure 26/B initially produced nothing of interest, even to me. He explained that when he and his wife or friends discussed delicate matters, they instinctively whispered.
In short, P was so intent on staying out of prison that in November of 1983 the Stasi decided it had a potential operative on its hands.
November 25, 1983
Status Report [condensed]
Dr. P and his wife Q are being worked over on suspicion that they may be attempting to establish or support an association for the pursuit of aims counter to the law. Monitoring to date has not revealed a negative attitude toward our socialist state or societal order. To our knowledge there is no longer contact with the Lutheran Church [in the GDR, a hotbed of resistance]. With regard to the courses offered by Dr. P at the local adult education center and via state-sanctioned cultural and educational institutions, he appears to communicate party policy on questions of environmental protection. To date he has not introduced Green-party slogans or other hostile ideas into his courses, despite numerous opportunities to do so, given the specifics of the problem. Via measure 26/B, carried out in May/June, it was determined that even in private, Dr. P argues certain political points in a manner supportive of our state. Dr. P presents himself as a personality primarily and intensely interested in problems of environmental protection and less occupied with political problems. It has been decided to contact him directly and, with the aid of measure 26/B, gain information about his reaction to this conversation as well as reactions to the statements about his book manuscript that have been made to him by his publisher. In addition, his wife’s attitude toward our state will be explored.
December 28, 1983
Report on a conversation conducted with Dr. P
Today, from 10 AM to 11:20 AM, a contact conversation with Dr. P was conducted. Participants were Major General X [senior MfS officer] and First Lieutenant Y [author of the report and subsequent transcript].
The fact was thereby exploited that P and X know each other from university. P made an open-minded impression and immediately allowed us into his home.
The conversation took place in the aforementioned person’s living room. Initially P and X spoke about shared points of contact during their time as students. X then transitioned into asking P whether he knew where X now works. P did not know. X told him that he works for the MfS. P displayed no especial reaction to this information. The conversation was then steered toward P’s activities with regard to environmental protection work. P said that he was fulfilling a childhood dream of occupying himself intensively with the environment. He said he works as a freelancer. We braided in the information that we are aware of his activities to a certain extent, including his adult education courses. He said that he had also submitted a manuscript to a publisher and had been surprised, even amazed, by its positive reception. This, for him, was very stimulating. He then emphasized that he would not recommend the career of a freelance writer to anyone, but that for him it constituted fulfillment. In addition, his wife was very supportive. During his years of monitoring water quality for the state, he had often found himself dissatisfied in the evenings, because he felt that not all his time had been used productively. Now he has the feeling that he can work in a concentrated fashion, within his area of expertise. He also emphasized that his series of courses at the continuing education center had enjoyed an unexpected resonance, from young citizens to retirees. That these people are interested in environmental questions, thinking actively, fills him with satisfaction.
General X then shifted the conversation to certain specific questions of the work of our organization. We, too, are engaged with problems of environmental protection work. This occurs of course primarily in terms of damage prevention and damage prophylaxis, but also in terms of the abuse of the goodwill of numerous of our people for hostile aims by certain circles and organizations. General X cited the example of Poland, where many people have been abused. P understood this.
We then asked him whether he had noticed any instances of such abuse. He said no. He said that on occasion provocative questions are asked, such as whether it is five minutes to midnight or already five after, but he had experienced no hostile attacks on our state. He said he is not the type to campaign for sewage treatment or exhaust scrubbers, explaining that he is aware of the economic problems and associated high costs. His goal is to awaken more people to the environmental question and devote more mental energy and fewer material assets to solving problems. For example, he finds the use of salt on sidewalks in winter problematic. It is convenient, but in certain years it can damage trees, for example, those on Diesdorfer Street.
We informed him that we expect him to help us with certain questions, because he is a specialist and could help us cope with certain questions. This could include evaluation of certain printed materials. Here P asked whether we meant official materials, for instance materials sourced from non-socialist economic systems. General X explained that it would include domestic materials, which he would be obligated to assess on both a political and a scientific basis. P said that would be okay, if he could find the time.
General X then went on to say that there would also be a possibility that P would be asked to assess certain lectures. As the MfS, we are an organ of the party and it is our task to inform the party of certain problems and solve them if possible.
P said that even as a non-party-member he acknowledged that the party was a necessity. He said that through his work he had good contacts to an environmentalist Comrade N from the party’s city council, resulting in benefits for his work.
The conversation was then steered concretely toward problems in the work of the Lutheran Church. General X suggested that P attend the Evangelical Academy of Saxony’s conference on January 28, 1984, which had announced a session on ecological problems, using the GDR as an example. He (P) expressed that he had no interest at all in doing that. He had attended several such events in the past and learned nothing from them. The lectures had been obsolete, and there were no new ideas on offer. General X then clarified that we would be interested in his attending the session because he is a specialist and could offer us certain assessments.
It was agreed that we would come back to tell him (orally) about the conference program. Perhaps there might be sessions of interest to him.
P asked us to inform us in advance of our arrival, since he often spends his mornings in libraries. We agreed that he will receive a postcard from “Wolfgang” suggesting two possible appointments.
We then clarified that our work can only be done on the basis of mutual trust. He agreed. He did not break off our contact, and we are free to visit him again.
January 10, 1984
Transcript of the contact conversation with Dr. P on 12/28/83
The undersigned also took part in the conversation. Dr. P’s home was entered by us at 10:00 AM. (The person “Ruth” is the wife of General X. Dr. P studied with her. Through her Dr. P is also personally acquainted with Comrade X.)
P: Yes, what’s Ruth up to?
X: Are you in the middle of work?
P: Yes, I always have work to do.
X: Are we disturbing you?
P: Sit down. You’re already here. After that you’re not allowed to ask whether you’re disturbing me.
X: Well, for quite a while now I don’t think you and Ruth have been . . .
P: What I mean to say is that I haven’t seen her since the university, but I’ve talked to her on the phone two or three times . . .
X: Yes, she told me . . .
P: Tell me if you’re cold. (Closes the open window.)
X: No, it’s fine. She was at [Q’s employer] once because she was interested in a different job, and she talked with your wife there, or at least met her . . .
P: Yes, she told me about that, that my former colleague Mrs. R wanted to apply there. Yeah, if you’d said you were coming, I’d have a little more . . . (Difficult to understand, P is tidying up.)
X: Well, we’re also here because, do you know where I work?
X: It’s on account of my job that I’m visiting you—I mean, that the two of us are here. I’m currently—what am I saying, “currently,” it’s been quite a few years—employed by the MfS. I don’t quite know whether you heard about it at the time?
P: Have you always worked there? I don’t know.
X: Well, at least during Ruth’s final year at university, I was working there.
P: Hmm. I asked her once, and I remember now that she somehow, well, wasn’t into it.
X: Yes, and that actually has to do with the fact that we both approached you and since I know you by name and a little bit personally, I thought, hey, why not go over and talk to him. So that’s actually the reason, that’s why we’re here. We thought, we’ll go by his house first . . .
P: You got lucky. I just got back from shopping.
X: Well, we would have come back again. So in any case, how are you doing?
P: What should I say, as to how I’m doing? Not bad.
X: You always wanted to be doing scientific work.
P: Yes, human beings grow and develop, you know, and after my studies I realized that hitting production goals can’t be my personal fulfillment, so I joined the bureau of water quality . . . and as I said I developed . . . it’s been going on for a long time . . . a tendency to write. (P indicated that he is a freelance writer.)
X: Do you publish?
P: . . . I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It’s not easy. It’s a constant struggle, a major struggle, for one, on the material side, and then the moral question of where you stand. . . . Money is also important . . . making sacrifices . . . I mean, it’s not in high demand, the idea of making sacrifices, but for me personally it is . . .
X: Yes, I think that when one has ambitious goals in life, whether as a writer or concretely, as with our work, it’s always in conjunction with personal sacrifices, in your case surely material things, particularly for your family, and when you’re working I imagine that it’s a great deal of mental effort . . .
P: Yes, I’m in the middle of it right now . . .
X: If you do it right, you surely have to . . .
P: Yes, I weigh certain things, I have to weigh them, so that I don’t have to make so many trade-offs in my main work. . . . Things to do with keeping house, for example, those get pushed to the bottom of the list, and personal things as well . . .
X: . . . That places great demands on you, and your wife is also burdened . . .
P: Yes, she knows me. (Laughter). She has fully accepted that this is my path [the freelance work]. There are strengths and weaknesses . . . she supports me and she profits, because I’m blossoming . . . inwardly . . . when I notice that the day hasn’t been a fulfilling one, the effect wasn’t sufficient, that a person could have made more out of the day, out of his time.
X: That’s how I remember you, P the seeker in my eyes, always a free spirit, very dissatisfied with himself and his environment and here and there . . . and of course very fun-loving, having parties.
P: Fun-loving . . . (Laughter) Maybe, but it’s true that the greatest humorists we have were actually very earnest people.
P: I don’t want to compare myself with them, but there’s something true there.
Rustling, nothing audible.
X: . . . because you were saying just now that that from childhood on, the wish to address questions of human habitat should go in this direction or even more broadly.
P: More broadly, of course. It’s not simply about the narrow view of the environment, but environment in a broader sense.
X: In the comprehensive sense . . .
P: Yes, where people—I’m not so attached to any one aspect, not a specialist. There have to be specialists, but honestly I never would want to be one. . . . Giving an overview has advantages and disadvantages. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me.
X: So more or less . . . because I had heard that you give talks, and I thought you might be going in a specific direction . . .
P: No, no, they’re a combination of literary writing and popular science.
X: So it’s the environment that you want to address, and how far along are you, have you published anything?
P: Well, there’s a book project.
X: Is it finished yet?
P: Yes. . . . Of course it takes a while until they . . . but up to this point it’s gone well, after careful perusal by the evaluators . . . (rustling) . . . so many little things, a lot depends on . . .
X: Of course it has a tremendous effect on morale, when the first attempt . . .
P: You hear from a lot of people that when their book is finished, they’re totally exhausted. (P went on to say that he also pursues other projects.)
X: Without addressing people, solving major problems . . . destroying the environment, the small problems . . . (rustling)
The conversation turned to the role of the MfS, that there are books about it, and from there we began to speak about the evaluation of people.
P: The people I can more or less appraise are the ones in my radius of action . . . but of course your experience differs . . .
X: I wanted to acquaint you with the idea . . . we are tasked by the party and the state . . . current events . . . e.g. Poland . . . other conditions . . . but they’re still the same organizations and institutions . . . that follow their aims for years on end . . . different areas . . . missile emplacements . . . so, those are problems that I wanted to point out to you, for no good reason . . . where we would like to hear your opinion . . . you’re a scientist who has tackled such questions . . . who can make an evaluation from a scientific standpoint . . . that we concretely, we would like evaluations on certain . . . there should be no . . .
P: It’s not about wastewater treatment plants . . .
X: I want to suggest an idea to you. The danger with these activities, where one elicits enthusiasm . . . many unadorned problems, about which our ministry provides information . . . that’s part of the damage prevention . . . that the information gets to the right place . . . an entire complex, starting at the district level . . . no central decision is possible without the many assessments of the situation . . . concrete situation . . . your personal commitment. You’re not pursuing this life goal you’ve set yourself for its own sake. On the contrary, a quite explicit concrete tendency . . .
P: We only have the thinnest of threads, and you have the hot wire . . . you also struggle with the consequences . . .
X: Yes, I think you mean that we take a very genuine approach to things. That’s why we came to you, because we could see that you occupy yourself with such questions and we would like to deliberately get your advice and help . . . not in parallel . . . but together . . . basis . . . mutual trust, as I have said to you here . . . that are things that are really based on trust, our trusting in you, that you recognize what we’re attempting. . . your cooperation and help . . . we don’t want to wear it out, definitely not . . . just a sort of consultant role . . . only when we acquire materials where we simply need a verdict . . .
P: Are you talking about magazines or . . .
X: Yes, sometimes magazines as well, that illegally end up with us . . . maybe you know “The Earth Can Be Saved”. . . from Wittenberg, but also others . . .
P: You mean things that were published here, but not officially.
X: Not officially.
P: So not things from abroad.
X: Less of that.
P: Uh huh. Less of that.
X: Or it might be included when it gets included, that can happen, that sort of thing . . . with them we’d like to . . . firstly so you get an overview . . . secondly so you can give us an assessment . . . quite concrete questions in the direction . . . Evangelical Academy on January 28 of the new year. We would be interested, if you would be willing to participate . . . scientific evaluation . . . because besides the positive aspects, which are amazing, what they do . . . let’s say . . . what finds a lot of resonance at the Kulturbund [state-sanctioned civil society umbrella organization] . . . could internally be . . . because certain forces play a role there that in this sense . . . are as I told you . . . it would be interesting to hear your opinion . . . and perhaps to evaluate the background considerations that people bring up . . .
P: I must say that I have no inclination to do so. I stuck my nose in there once, but I noticed that they . . . snows of yesteryear . . . I withdrew to a distance . . . I have no ambitions in that regard . . . because it doesn’t help me in any way . . . these are the subjective experiences of a non-party-member . . . this is really not my speed . . . to be perfectly honest . . . possibly they would also talk to me there . . .
X: Of course, P. I mean . . .
P: Of course, people would ask me what I’m doing there, if it’s an internal event. If it were public, and a person could go anonymously, but in any case I have no interest, because I know that it will bring me nothing useful . . . Okay, maybe somebody might bring up an interesting idea, but I’ve been studying environmental questions for years . . . year after year, always the same . . . I’ve heard people give the same lecture three times . . . these are people of rank and reputation, with respected positions, and they haven’t read a scientific journal in ten years. They take it all from random textbooks, when they give their talks. My positive experiences are those here on my own turf . . . good people who work together on the city council . . .
X: I understand. Assuredly, perhaps, it would be of no benefit to you or your work . . . or maybe a few new thoughts . . . environmental activism, the interest is broad-based and the church has a strong interest . . . this institution [the Evangelical Academy] has been a factor in the direction of constant work in a certain political direction . . . below the threshold of criminal law . . . church and state, it’s complicated . . . but we would truly be interested if you would, from the scientific angle, make an accurate assessment of the things that go on in the discussions there, maybe get involved yourself, take part in the discussion from your standpoint. It would be desirable for us, if it would be possible on your part . . . we need someone there with a basis . . . it’s hard to judge in advance . . .
P: I don’t need this conference. I have enough thoughts and ideas.
X: It’s really the thing with . . . (Laughter.)
P: I noticed. Where’s the pistol? (Laughter.) If I could take some time to think it over . . .
P: If there are conference proceedings, I wouldn’t mind reading them, but of course that requires effort . . . People like to think, Oh, he’s a freelancer, he has time. The opposite is true. This man has to work, he’s dependent on results. If I went back to my old job, I could work myself to death and get the same salary I would get for twiddling my thumbs, and unfortunately that’s an experience I’ve had firsthand. Here I have to wrestle hard for every word, for everything, and it has to be on a very high level.
X: I believe you.
P: Mediocre stuff can’t leave my desk. I can’t offer it to anyone. I’m not the kind of person who writes for money. I write little, but well . . . providing evidence of my existence . . .
X: I find that very sympathetic in you, that you take that approach . . . So I don’t expect an immediate decision. I just wanted to make things clear to you, simply say what we’d like, very concretely with regard to this specific issue . . . if you could fit it into your schedule, I mean the costs you would incur. . . reimburse the effort as well . . . you’re a freelancer, you have to see to getting your work . . . finding the time . . . it’s your expertise we want to exploit, for such instances that arise . . . I mean, we’re bringing you trust from our side, that’s why we came to you, and I’d be happy if from your side as well . . .
P: It’s like this . . . (rustling). It used to be that I would have expected it. I’m afraid I would get angry about it. Great, anger everywhere . . . I try to avoid aggravation when it’s not productive . . . just as an example . . .
X: Your wife is pregnant . . . When’s she due?
P: May. . . . So that’s how it is, I’m . . . you can also convert that into productivity . . . I suffered [at the water quality bureau] through the evenings and beyond . . . came home . . . a dead man . . .
X: Because you probably take everything so seriously . . . psychological barrier . . .
P: Every person is different . . .
X: . . . not the worst by any means . . .
P: I want to use it as a strength, by creating the objective conditions.
X: . . . the mutual trust we’d like to create shouldn’t foster conflict situations.
P: No, that’s not in our interest . . . that’s also a duty I’ve sworn to uphold.
X: Yes, that’s a relationship of trust one enters into . . . I also see it that way, maybe that will help you . . . an enrichment to your creative work . . .
Loss of quality, not understandable.
X: So I’m glad you display such understanding for our work, your trust first of all, that’s the most important thing, the most important thing actually . . .
P: I’m not a talkative person, but I’m also psychologically complicated . . . you talk yourself free, you write yourself free, you share your joy and suffering . . . what you’re asking of me couldn’t be shared.
X: No life is entirely without burdens. Surely you haven’t evaded such decisions, traveling the difficult path of the freelancer . . . hardly imaginable to an outsider . . .
P: That’s why I don’t recommend it to anyone . . .
X: Your wife’s help . . .
P: . . . it’s not merely material support. It’s also moral . . . the children . . .
X: That’s true. I also have two.
P: Are they in school?
X: The older one, yes . . . children . . . my wife’s work . . . no time in the evenings . . . postponed her dissertation until the kids are bigger.
Loss of quality, not understandable.
P: I love peace and quiet, having green outside my windows . . . the apartment . . . only one requirement, quiet surroundings, a comfort that costs nothing.
X: So, P, we’re done here . . . make another appointment . . .
P: I’m usually at a library somewhere.
X: A postcard . . .
P: But let me know well in advance . . . Say hi to Ruth.
X: I can’t do that . . . I’m not that easily discouraged . . .
January 11, 1984
The conversation between P and his wife that started at 3:25 PM on December 28, 1983 was transcribed twice—once on January 3 by a junior officer, and again a few days later, in greater detail and with significant changes, by Y himself. Only in Y’s account is Y called fat and X’s wife weird; it is Y who has P give an ambiguous answer to Q’s question about whether he plans to collaborate. Where they do not overlap, I have combined the two versions to make the conversation more complete. —NZ
P: I hadn’t been listening to the radio for every long, and the doorbell rings. Two short bursts, and I immediately . . . I was always . . . grab my wallet, must be a package, and I open the door and there stand two guys in suits . . . two men, hmm, a young skinny guy and a fat guy, and the young skinny one looked familiar to me. I’m starting to recognize him and he says, still know me? Sure, I say, not sure about the first name. Wolfgang. Sure, Wolfgang. Yes, we want to visit you. Yeah, okay, then come in, whatever, they come in, can we take off our coats, sure, I hope we’re not disturbing you. Well, whatever. I knew him at university.
P: I had . . . Wolfgang X.
Q: (amazed) X!
P: (with emphasis) X!
Q: Who was with that weird woman X.
P: Ruth X.
Q: The one who’s with the Stasi.
P: Yes, he immediately said so. You know where I work, right? Well, not exactly. So yeah, I work for the Stasi. And they wanted to have a talk with me.
P: Yeah, and then we talked for almost two hours. Terrific, right? So I have quite a few pages (leafs through papers). Yes, very friendly, the two of them. One of them didn’t say a word.
Q: And what did they want to know?
P: How you’re doing [Y: “how I’m doing”], of course!
Q: I can imagine they might be a little concerned about our finances.
P: Yeah, they said that too . . . Mr. X . . .
Q: Do you think they went to the extra trouble of sending somebody who knows you, or was it a coincidence?
P: Well, he said, he has something to do with securing the—
Q: (she interrupts) Actually—
P: . . . of course.
Q: He said . . .
P: Counter-revolutionaries . . .
Q: Does he want to recruit you?
P: Obviously (laughing). Yes . . . ideas . . .
Q: Can you guess, how do you know that . . .
P: They proposed a quite concrete assignment . . . to a conference, namely the Evangelical Academy . . .
Q: . . .
P: Yeah, they had . . . continuing education center . . . was organized . . . (laughter).
Q: I never would have thought that of you. Did you accept?
P: No [Y: “Well,”]. I said I had to . . . I mean the . . .
Q: Of course. . .
P: He was always nice to me, even when we were in school, when he . . .
Q: What . . . explain please . . .
P: . . . I mean, well, I said I work here on the societal level [Y: “with the Society for Nature and the Environment”].
Q: What do you think, what they were referring to, that your . . .
P: Well, I said, I . . .
Q: Work for them.
P: No, no, I said even if I’d known an event like that was happening, I wouldn’t have gone, because it’s no help to me, it’s the snows of yesteryear.
Q: . . .
P: . . . well, that you (inaudible; probably “remained loyal to me”)
Q: Did he say that . . .
P: No, no, totally sneaky, he wanted to know what goes on here.
Q: What else did he say?
P: He started to . . . yeah, I should evaluate certain papers, publications, flyers . . . on scientific grounds . . . he can’t [Y: “I can”] make sense of them.
Q: . . .
P: . . . For example, there was a certain Biermann [Wolf Biermann, singer-songwriter who was exiled and stripped of his citizenship in 1976] paper—
Q: (amazed) Biermann?
P: You know the one, “The Earth Can Be Saved.” So I say sure . . . then they . . . sometimes just individual pages, but also things that . . .
Q: . . . do you only have specialists . . .
P: So I fairly completely . . . I stated my case clearly . . . inertia . . . yes, and then . . . questions of upbringing, questions of . . . reactions, there’s always debate, public relations, and I answer every single question, yes, the most important root causes, there were also sometimes truly [Y: slightly] provocative questions . . .
Q: About your private life.
P: Of course not.
Q: I meant today.
P: Oh, that’s what you meant. Yes, there was that too.
Q: . . .
P: . . . Yeah, I . . . I’m not a clairvoyant . . . well-intentioned people . . . who want to know . . . sure, that’s okay, that’s fine, they said.
From 3:41 to 3:49 PM I can’t understand anything, too quiet.
Q: . . . left . . .
P: He was pretty calm at the start . . . whatever . . .
Q: . . . imagine . . .
P: . . . trivial and earthshaking matters . . .
From 3:49 to 3:54 PM, again not clearly audible.
P: . . . to work with things you’re not allowed to talk about . . . it’s shitty that a person can’t . . .
Q: . . . no, I mean now . . .
P: Oh, you mean . . .
Q: Application to emigrate, leader of the peace movement, nothing like that . . .
P: Well . . .
Q: . . . it’s expected . . . it’s somehow . . .
P: (laughter) . . . conversation about how I’m not a party member . . . I succeeded at that . . .
Q: . . .
P: . . . that I’m a double agent [Y: “Thanks that I’m a double agent.”]
Both stand up.
P: . . . thought there was . . .
Q: . . . no, nobody there . . .
P: No . . .
Q: . . . then I guess they left . . .
During the final two minutes, from 4:00 to 4:02, the two people lowered their voices to a whisper, and I am unable to provide context for the phrase “double agent.”