Those who haven’t been taught to think critically about the society in which they live cannot ask critical questions. They cannot ask themselves, those to whom they are close, and those in their surroundings. This ultimately means an introverted society – a communist society, for example- that discourages creativity and eventually fails.
Dutch citizen Peter van Wermeskerken has quite a story to tell, and he tells it with considerable wit, humor and style. In 1967, at the young age of 27 and with no formal education, he was recruited by the notorious East German spy agency HUV, popularly known as the Stasi, to work for them as a secret agent in the Netherlands. Wisely, Peter immediately reported this contact to the Netherlands’ own secret police agency, the BVD, who took him under their wing and used him as a double agent. What follows in Peter’s account is a series of fascinating episodes and adventures that give us a unique insight into this murky world of double espionage from a very human, down to earth perspective. Some of the adventures are quirky and strange, many are absurdly funny – casting light on the incompetence and naivete of his East German handlers, and occasionally even the ineptitude of his ‘friends’ in the BVD. All the adventures, however, are colored by Peter’s remarkable personality, which is marked by an astonishing bravura and self-confidence. I marveled at Peter’s capacity to sail through some harrowing experiences and close calls with such lighthearted aplomb, coming through these ordeals with enough energy to spare to bicker for a pay rise! This is a remarkable book told by a remarkable man. This title was selected from Book Club Reading List.
Many people have asked me if I found my activities exciting, or if I had been in danger. I can answer both questions with a clear “No.” One has to keep a clear head, and be matter-of-fact and resilient. Boredom and long waiting periods are essential aspects. You have to be able to cope with that. But dangerous? No way.