23.11.2016 23:13

Český špion Erwin van Haarlem/Czech spy Erwin van Haarlem (2005)

Autor: Miroslav Hanus | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

The book Czech Spy mediates hitherto little known information and primarily incredible story from the Cold War days. At the first sight we see that name Erwin isn't typical Czech name.

Yes, the name and surname is typical for the Netherlands. Yet the identity of the Czech intelligence service helped to create one of the most mysterious figures of espionage. Real Erwin van Haarlem was an orphan. He didn't know neither his father nor his mother. His German father died in World War II and his Dutch mother had postponed him during the war in an orphanage in the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic he found a new family and he accepted their surname. Name Erwin van Haarlem remained free and so name used the intelligence service. Life of Erwin van Haarlem lived Václav Jelínek.


Book describes the situation in communist Czechoslovakia and the mood in the world in the second half of the twentieth century. And above all an attitude of two major powers and their allies to information. This is the reason why the book recounts Jelínek´s beginnings with the intelligence services, his training, his first mission in Austria, and especially his most important mission in England. There here managed to infiltrate into the Jewish organizations, which was very important for the Soviet Union. On the other hand, there he has been confronted with the real mother of Erwin van Haarlem. Book describes the situation in an English prison too. In all of these events it is shown the human nature and unruly personality of the main character.


This book is a probe into a real life of agent. The reader to get a better picture of spy´s work. People who expected a book in style of Agent's 007 adventures might be a little disappointed. The reader will not find action scenes or car chases in the book. However, the book gives us an insight into a true agent´s routine, who must work right under by English agents’ nose. And it is also very thrilling.


The author of this book is Jaroslav Kmenta. He is a Czech writer and an investigative journalist. He writes about cases that connects politicians, businessmen and mafia. The book reads very well. It is a pity that the author reveals at the beginning of the book that Václav Jelínek was arrested. The story is narrated by the author. The author focuses only on Václav Jelínek and tells the story only from his side. The book is so one-sided. Which is a pity, especially in the judicial process and detect Jelínek would look at it from someone else's perspective. Maybe perspective from MI5 was not detrimental.


The book is very interesting especially for people who are interested in the lives of spies and little-known stories of the Cold War. Some passages in the books make you laugh, some passages of the book are dramatic. Yet the reader gets a new information through the book. And especially it's an incredible story that anyone could hardly invent. Life did it itself.

Klíčová slova: review, book, Czech spy, Jaroslav Kmenta, Erwin van Haarlem, spy


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