The False Dutchman

In spring 1993 an inconspicuous man came to the Czech Republic from Great Britain, unnoticed by the media. Hardly anybody was aware that this man was an officer of the I. Directorate of Security Corps – the foreign intelligence service of communist Czechoslovakia, former Lieutenant Colonel Václav Jelínek, who stayed in the UK as a Czechoslovak spy for thirteen years under the cover identity of a Dutchmen Erwin van Haarlem.

As part of the recent acquisitions to the personal repository of the Security Services Archive, based in Kanice, near Brno, the Archive also acquired the personal file of Václav Jelínek, now lodged under no. 2955/44. According to that, in 1967 Václav Jelínek was transferred from the V. Directorate (Protection of State and Government Officials) to the I. Directorate of the Security Corps. Shortly afterwards, his special training to become a member of the illegal intelligence started. “He was not afraid to make his own opinion about specific problems and was deeply interested in political developments,” his then superiors stated. According to the conclusions from the Assessment Committee of the I. Directorate, Jelínek was “politically mature, ideologically sound and as regards the teaching of Marxism-Leninism, always consistent. He recognizes the policy of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia as right.” His journey to the countries of the “main enemy” was opened by a letter from the Department Chief: “(Jelínek) studied the outcomes of the labor and communist parties’ meetings in Moscow, which he accepted as the main line of the proletarian internationalism in the fight against the world imperialism, (in August 1968) he stayed calm and friendly towards the USSR. (…) He is self-sufficient, dresses in a modern manner though soberly. ”

 The archival materials of personal nature have some specifics. The specific language of the time sometimes also bears serious information, for instance, about Jelínek’s activities in Great Britain: “Jelínek established interesting connections from the viewpoint of intelligence with an organization that develops hostile activities against the USSR. (…) Subsequently he has secured continuous inflow of intelligence information.” The report speaks about B’nai B’rith organization whose target was illegal emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, and for the Soviet secret service KGB it was a hostile organization in the 1980s.

In the personal evaluation of Václav Jelínek from the end of 1989 one can also read: “in the interests of socialism and internationalism, (Jelínek) also temporarily lost his personal freedom for some time (…) Nowadays is he one of most active illegal intelligence officers.” This reflects upon the fact that in 1988, Jelínek was uncovered by the British intelligence service MI5, arrested and sentenced for 10 years in prison. However, at the beginning of the 1990s, thanks to the intervention of Radovan Procházka, the director of the Office for the International Affairs and Information, he was released, at that time under his real identity of Václav Jelínek, not as Erwin van Haarlem, from the British prison and could return to his homeland.

The personal file of Václav Jelínek presents not only himself, his ideology and the full course of his training; it also shows a number of facts about the activities of the I. Directorate of SNB in the 1960s and 1970s. It is interesting to see the personal file of V. Jelínek in the broader context, e.g. to compare it with his internal personal file no. 39589, with the cover name GRAGERT, that has also been recently acquired by the Security Services Archive from the Office for Foreign Relations and Information. Besides, the story of Václav Jelínek is so interesting that the rights to make it a film script have been bought by Hollywood.