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.