Web of spies

PUBLISHED: 13:59 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:15 31 May 2010

Cynthia Engelmann with her book Maria’s Code – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cynthia Engelmann with her book Maria's Code - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

A TRUE story of crime and espionage from the Second World War penned by a Saffron Walden housewife has hit the bookshelves 14 years after she started it. Cynthia Engelmann, 64, of Radwinter Road, was inspired to write Maria s Code after meeting former Pol

A TRUE story of crime and espionage from the Second World War penned by a Saffron Walden housewife has hit the bookshelves 14 years after she started it.

Cynthia Engelmann, 64, of Radwinter Road, was inspired to write Maria's Code after meeting former Polish prisoner of war Maria Weychan in 1976, from whom she bought a horse.

The author, who lives with her husband and has three adult children, said: "I wrote the first chapter 14 years ago and kept putting it aside, but in the last two years I've got it done and made a resolution this year to finally get it published.

"I have travelled to Poland and Germany on 12 occasions over the last 12 years or so and after all this time there are still questions which need answering.

"It's a very intriguing tale and I'm very much hoping that readers will be able to come back to me and tell me more."

Maria and her mother, Antonina, were POWs in the Gestapo camp of Fort Seven, south of Poznan, for two years following their arrest in 1943.

The book, published by Grosvenor House, tries to shed light on whether she was a double agent or a spy, following an intriguing incident which saw her and her mother freed at the end of the war.

"Maria told me herself that in the first week of January 1945, they were sent down to the Gestapo office and a German soldier told them to get out," said Mrs Engelmann.

"They went through the doors and they were free, carrying a piece of paper allowing them to get on the train to Berlin.

"It's a fascinating story and I have dedicated it to all victims of ethnic cleansing."

To uncover the mystery for yourself, see www.amazon.co.uk to order your copy of Maria's Code for £9.99.

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