Years Without Hope

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Years Without Hope

By Werner Juretzko

The date: Aug. 19, 1955.

The setting: A cheap hotel room in Schwerin, East Germany. Outside, the wind howls on an unseasonably chilly August evening. A thunderstorm crackles ominously in the distance.

Twenty-three-year-old Werner Juretzko has just returned from yet another dangerous mission collecting information for a western military intelligence service. He’s tired from a typical day of evasion and deception, and he’s about to go to bed.

Suddenly, there’s a sharp knock at the door. Juretzko darts to the window and prepares to leap from his second floor room.

But outside, several KGB/Stasi security agents surround his hotel.

He realizes he’s caught. Juretzko tears up several incriminating photo negatives and eats them. Then he opens the door to find several guns pointed at him. He surrenders.

That’s where the harmless movie scenario ends and the harsh reality of Cold War brutality begins.

Juretzko was arrested and thrown in prison. For the next six years, he eked out a miserable existence between various East German jails. He was beaten, tortured and saw several friends executed.

“Forty-one western operatives ended up dead – and those were just the ones I knew,” he says.

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1 review for Years Without Hope

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Darren Pulsford

    A quite moving and gripping story; Years without hope is a translated memoir that details the turbulent post WWII years in the life of Werner Juretzko – who grew up in Silesian Germany, fought for the Nazis against the Russians at the end of War, then escaped to the West, was recruited as a Spy, went back into the East Zone against the Russians, was captured and then spent years from prison to prison, awaiting and serving a sentence for espionage.

    Much more than the bare facts though; this is an enthralling tale that drags you along every bump of Werner’s formative years, and spares no punches or heartbreak in describing the helplessness of internment, the sense of betrayal at abandonment, the callousness and ridiculous rules of his captors, or the yearning for freedom by all the various inmates he meets along the way.

    Written from memories etched into his soul, this is a must read for anyone wanting to truly understand what the early part of the Cold War was actually like for those who lived it.

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