Could Georgia-Russia conflict spark 'Cold War II'?
World War I, World War II, Cold War I...Cold War II.
The conflict between Georgia and Russia has all the makings of a "Second Cold War," according to a spy who experienced part of the first Soviet-U.S. stand-off behind bars.
In a presentation to a group of about 50 at the In Their Own Words Veterans Museum, Werner I. Juretzko provided an insider's perspective of the Cold War.
A spy who gathered East German intelligence for the United States, Werner was imprisoned for six years during the height of the Cold War--1955-1961.
Conflicts in Georgia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East create an environment that could foster a "Cold War II."
"There are really just three players--Russia, China and the U.S.--everything else is just a brush fire," said Juretzko, an ardent anti-Communist who immigrated to the U.S. after his release and forged a career in engineering. Now retired, he describes himself as a Cold War historian, who has also been active in helping establish museums dedicated to the half-century history of the Cold War.
"There is nothing new in the world--everything that has happened has happened before," said the German-born spy, suggesting that history will repeat itself.
Despite the fall of the Berlin Wall and break-up of the Soviet Union, Juretzko doesn't hide deep distrust of Russian Soviets.
Russian leader Putin's background is somewhat shrouded, but Juretzko is convinced that he was a spy in Dresden, Germany, for 15 years--based on photographs he has seen.
"Second oldest profession in the world" is how Juretzko describes espionage and spying. In fact, he quoted several Bible passages, including an Old Testament verse that told of God asking Moses to spy on neighboring lands.
"It's the only profession God created," he laughed. He also noted that the Biblical references constitute the first recorded spy mission.
Despite a few humorous references, there is noting funny about the way prisoners were treated--including torture.
---His roommate at the prison, run by the infamous East German agency "Stasi" was beheaded for espionage, by a guillotine.
---For much of his six years in the maximum security prison, he didn't see the sunlight--as he was locked in solitary confinement.
---Dozens of alleged spies and political prisoners were killed, especially during the Soviet internal power struggles after Stalin died in 1953.
Why was he spared?
To this day, Juretzko has no idea why he was not executed--whether it was friends in high places or pressure from the U.S.
Actually, he also has no idea how he was uncovered and arrested--whether somebody turned him in, or by evidence.
After his release, he became essentially a civilian in the U.S., working for a Fortune 500 company and later owning his own company.
"Once your cover is blown (as a spy), you are no good to anyone."
Commenting on American intelligence gathering, he faults the CIA and FBI, in part, for the 9-11 bombing of New York City. At the time, according to Juretzko, agents who could read Arabic were in short supply, and it would take as long as four days to turn around a translation.
Compared to espionage and spy activity today, "sometimes I feel like I was Fred Flintstone," said Juretzko. There were no computers and very little in the way of technology.
Most of the time, he had no idea how his assignments would serve Western intelligence-gathering.
"Intelligence is like a big puzzle, and you are only one piece," he said, so agents rarely knew the bigger picture.
In one instance, he was ordered to go to an open field and photograph a complete circle. The images were providing the U.S. with topographic information on a possible Soviet air landing installation.