Jürgen Breitbarth was born in 1954 in Zwickau. In 1976, he was arrested and sentenced to four months' imprisonment following an attempted escape. He participated in the protests after songwriter Wolf Biermann was expatriated in 1977. As a result, he was again detained and forced to spend eighteen months in prison. Upon his discharge, the Ministry of State Security (MfS) forced him to choose whether to go to the West or return to prison. He decided to live in liberty.