Out of the Night

[Ebook] Out of the Night By Jan Valtin – Johndore.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 720 pages
  • Out of the Night
  • Jan Valtin
  • English
  • 09 December 2017
  • 9781902593869

About the Author: Jan Valtin

Jan Valtin was the alias of Richard Julius Hermann Krebs, a German writer during the interwar period He settled to the United States in 1938, and in 1940 as Valtin wrote his bestselling book Out of the Night.Krebs became active in the Communist movement as a boy, when his father was involved in the naval mutiny that heralded the German Revolution of 1918 19 In 1923, he saw action in the fail

Out of the NightA Bestseller In 1941, Selected By The Book Of The Month Club For A Special Edition And Described By Book Of The Month Club News As Full Of Sensational Revelations And Interspersed With Episodes Of Daring, Of Desperate Conflict, Of Torture, And Of Ruthless Conspiracy It Is, First Of All, An Autobiography The Like Of Which Has Seldom Been The Son Of A Seafaring Father, Richard Julius Herman Krebs, A.k.a Jan Valtin, Came Of Age As A Bicycle Messenger During A Maritime Rebellion His Life As An Intimate Insider Account Of The Dramatic Events Of 1920 S And 1930s, Where He Rose Both Within The Ranks Of The Communist Party And On The Gestapo Hit List Known For His Honesty And Incredible Memory, Krebs Dedicated His Life To The Communist Party, Rising To A Position As Head Of Maritime, Organizing Worldwide For The Comintern, Only To Flee The Party And Europe To Evade His Own Comrade S Attempts To Kill Him As A Professional Revolutionary, Agitator, Spy And Would Be Assassin, Krebs Traveled The Globe From Germany To China, India To Sierra Leon, Moscow To The United States Where A Botched Assassination Attempt Landed Him A Stint In San Quentin.From His Spellbinding Account Of Artful Deception To Gain Release From A Nazi Prison And His Work As A Double Agent Within The Gestapo, To His Vivid Depiction Of A Communist Party Fraught With Intrigue And Subterfuge, Krebs Gives An Unflinching Portrayal Of The Internal Machinations Of Both Parties.Writing At Age 36 Under The Name Jan Valtin, Krebs Lays Bare A Young Life Filled With Idealism And Devotion Disillusionment And Loss In A World Full Of Revolutionary Promise Gone Immeasurably Wrong An Exciting, Real Book Without A Trace Of Unnecessary Melodrama H.G.Wells

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10 thoughts on “Out of the Night

  1. Moxie Marlinspike says:

    As the newest addition to AK Press s Nabat series, I suspected that this would be an interesting book In fact, it is an absolutely amazing account of the world political scene in the 1920s and 1930s, in the form of a memoir of an organizer in the German Communist Party At heart, though, the book is an act of revenge an attempt to expose the Communist Party for its betrayal of the author and all of those who sacrificed themselves for the benefit of The Cause It is also one of the most incredible adventure stories that I have ever read, detailing one man s quixotic attempt to do anything possible for the advancement of the Comunist Party while living with the mantra there s nothing a Bolshevik can t do This book is an excellent example of how powerful narrative history can be It is much compelling than abstract overviews of how many people Stalin murdered or how the Communist Party operated Reading about how these things intersect with Jan Valtin in the context of his life, love, hopes, and dreams is priceless Far from a historical account of the Communist Party from a wide angle lens, this is a description of how the first world, Stalin s rise to power, and the emergence of the Nazi party affected the life of a German worker.In the end, it is overwhelming to realize that this book is written by someone who rowed a dingy across the straights of Juan Del Fuca, did time in San Quentin, sacrificed the lives of his family, and endured four years of near continuous Nazi torture for the benefit of the Communist Part only to end up wanted dead by the party itself His life story vividly demonstrates how painful sacrifice to an organization or ideology can be, and how even victories in that context are empty victories his life and death strongly warn us against organizations and ideas that make demands extending beyond the needs of the individuals involved.

  2. Douglas says:

    This book, published in 1940, was a national best seller and generated a lot of sparks in the international communist world In summary they hated it and did what they could to discredit Valtin calling him everything from a Nazi collaborator and turncoat he had become a member of the Gestapo to escape a Nazi jail to a fabulist who made everything up One goodreads member concludes Valtin s work is an act of revenge Many people especially those coming of age after the Cold War have probably never heard of the Communist International or Comintern in Soviet newspeak Ostensibly an international organization working towards world communism, Valtin, one of its passionate and active members, gradually learns that it is little than an arm of the Soviet GPU the predecessor of the KGB The book is long but is kept moving by lots of action and lots of profound insights salted along the way For example, reflecting, during his imprisonment in a filthy cottage before being shipped back to the Soviet Union to be shot in some GPU dungeon or worked to death in a labor camp, on the fates of similar victims who had preceeded him, Valtin writes, I had no feud with the Comintern But neither had the othersIt was not only a feud between individual rebels and the International It was, often as not, a war between conscientious proletarian internationalists and the bureaucratic clique that followed Stalin The clique always won Its creed was the GPU If Stalin commanded Georgi Dimitrov secretary general of the Comintern in Moscow to hoist the swastika over the Comintern building, Dimitrov would do it If Stalin told Ernst Wollweber ranking member of the German Communist Party to publish a pamphlet proclaiming Lenin was a pickpocket Wollweber would do itThe revolutionary vangard was now no than a poisoned dagger in Stalin s hands.To all the fiery eyed radicals who thought they were fighting for world revolution and a just order, the truth of the matter is the banner under which they fought, betrayed, sabotaged, and sacrificed was just a prop sent up by a government agency in perpetuation of its own bureaucratic interests and, perhaps just the tool of a single individual working for his own benefit Lots of things go limp when the idealistic mind embraces a truth like this which also, I think, shows that this work is than an act of revenge, but a lament and an awakening as well Those who have had their eyes opened are often desperate that the blind shall see.The little known fact again, especially having in mind the younger generations is that thousands of passionate and influential adherents to the world communist movement chucked it in upon learning something similar Stalin s famous betrayal vis a vis his concordat with the Nazis and, later, Khrushchev s revelations at the famous party congress or less put an end to the Communist Party in the United States reducing it to little than splinter movement that, after reaching a sizable membership during the depression, never regained its stature Many conservatives sprung from events like these and books like Valtin s And many who could not go that far just dropped their involvement with the party.Empirically, Communism, socialism, Leninism, Stalinism whatever the label have never been about anything other than as Orwell put it, a boot ground in the face of humanity Some have wondered whether the brutalisms attending communism s gaining power are endemic as opposed to the claim of its defenders that the immiseration it has brought about is due to doctrinal impurity, defects in leadership and imperfect organization Valtin s book seems to answer this affirmatively by placing the reader into the action and letting him see for himself as he wends with the author the path to the ultimate realization.

  3. Gerald Ocker says:

    1 This is one of the few stunning and amazing books that I would recommend to anyone 2 This biography of German Communist between WWI and WWII will teach you about humanity and evil and politics than anything else i have read 3 I read this first at about 16 and I read it about every 10 years 4 I think this should be required reading in every high school college course on political science International studies etc 5 Not only is this a great history book The writer wrote eloquently and imaginatively.

  4. Dr. Stanley says:

    This might be the best written and most thrilling autobiography by a revolutionary Jan Valtin, real name Krebs ever written I discovered it in the back of a closet when a teenager and read it several times since It s a huge 700 pages book which was a best seller in 1941 It describes the experience of a German Communist revolutionary from 1918 onwards his training in the Soviet Union his imprisonment in America his capture by the Nazis and placement in a concentration camp his release after convincing the Gestapo that he would work with them against the Communists following a meeting with Himmler his return to the Communist fold but breaking with them because of their refusal to help him free his wife and toddler son who were being held hostage by the Nazis, and the ongoing Communist political turmoil it was the time of the Moscow trials and Valtin was ordered to go to the Soviet Union for likely execution and his flight to America He later became a decorated American soldier, dying in the early 1950s of pneumonia in a Maryland hospital while rambling about the Nazis, he then being a PTA president What a life I referred to this this book in one of my novels, Lies In Progress, and was contacted by one of Valtin s American relatives who wrote that Valtin s son, who had been placed with his mother by the Nazis in a concentration camp, had wound up eventually in America This was like a blast from the past, the same feeling which I had when, at a literary cocktail party at the Finnish consulate in Manhattan a few years ago, I spoke with a woman who described her experiences as a child during the Finnish Russian war in 1940 It s a tragedy that this book isn t available in an E book edition It s widely available used for a few dollars.

  5. Human Neglect says:

    now that you know this book exists, you have absolutely no excuse not to read it.

  6. Julian says:

    Sitting by the river in Machias, Maine, about as close to New Brunswick as you can get while still being in the U.S., I was reading Out of the Night and overcome with the sense that I needed to make it to Montreal post haste and write a song about Jan Valtin to perform at the second Band Off in Saint Henri I had only read the first 200 or so pages of this almost 700 page tomb at that point, but the episode involving the failed Hamburg uprising left its mark on my forever Screaming words written quickly in a tattered notebook as my friends danced in a sweaty basement like idiots was one of the highlights of the last years of my life This book exposes the horror of the Communist International in a way only one deeply enmeshed in its apparatus could do It also details the life of a underground communist agitator in Nazi Germany with incredible insight, and the images of torture and confinement at the hands of the Gestapo are something I can never forget Nearly at tears as I read the last page of this book, I was overcome not with the certainty that anarchists have some solutions or answers to offer the proponents of authoritarian organizations, but that their is a real and profound tragedy in the world for which our ideals offer little comfort Oh Jan, why didn t they stop the train in time Neither fear nor hesitation on your mind Not believing you could win Rather die than give in Death to hangmen, kings and traitors We ll be free or we ll be dead You trusted the party you trusted leaders now there s no one on your side No one on your side Ca hville, 2009

  7. Micah says:

    A young sailor and participant in the German revolution of 1918 1919 and the lesser known Hamburg uprising of October 1923 becomes an agent of the Comintern, rising to high level positions in the Maritime Division The sordidness of international communism is made painfully clear already in the 1920s it meant nothing but the foreign policy of a totalitarian Russian state Driven by belief in world revolution, Valtin crisscrosses the globe and takes part in endless adventures and conspiracies, his faith challenged only by his love for his companion Firelei The Bolsheviks find themselves rivalled by their own children, the Nazis who copy Bolshevik methods of terror and discipline and whose Gestapo mirrors the GPU Both parties work together against democracy and socialism before contending with each other.Valtin learns that The Party knows no friends Deceit and thuggery run rampant At the same time, one has to respect how seriously the communist militants took themselves, and feel nostalgic for a time when inciting strikes, sabotage, mutiny and even bloody insurrection was considered the natural and constant tool of the anti capitalist There s nothing about blogging, pop culture criticism, art installations or teaching at bourgeois universities There is only a twisted commitment, and endless tragedy as the Nazis devour rank and file communists and Valtin, who survives long, hellish months of torture in Gestapo prisons, comes into conflict with the head of the Western Secretariat over its cynical methods and disdain for human life and love It is fruitless to dream of peace as long as one is alive.

  8. Ananda says:

    This is probably the most moving and fascinating book I have ever read Before even reaching the age of 34, Jan Valtin seems to to have lived 9 lives In his whirlwind accounts of stealthy international communist activism, the level of detail can sometimes feel tedious, but when it comes to describing horrific events witnessed and experienced, his understated tone is exactly right There were times I reacted out loud with an unbelieving Oh my God and times that I wept for him and his fellow prisoners By the end, you will feel like you ve parted ways with a close friend I would advise new readers to be prepared for graphic descriptions, especially in Book III And for me, it was useful to keep handy 3 reference books a dictionary, an atlas, and a history of the Third Reich.

  9. Rex Hurst says:

    A very detailed and interesting autobiography of Richard Kreb a well traveled man who had in his life worked for the communist, fascist, and capitalist causes the International Comitern the GPU, the Gestapo, and the American Army His life begins in in post World War I Germany during the 1920 s where there is political chaos, runaway inflation a loaf of bread costs 1,000,000 marks and massive unemployment The young Kreb follows in his father s footsteps becoming both a sailor and a communist agitator Enthused by the idealism of the communist cause he participates in much picketing, strike organizing, outright sabotage, mutiny, and open rebellion ie the doomed Hamburg uprising of 1923 As time goes on he feels the crunch of the soviet boot on his neck He views with disgust the upper levels of the communist leadership in the free counties with their fine living and hypocrisy He describes how the leftist influence, under the direction of the Soviet Union, spent as much time undermining organizations with similar goals, but were not under their control, as fighting the systems they were supposedly against He demonstrates again and again where the communist agitators would be ordered to cause a strike only to have their superiors subvert said strike by ordering Soviet ships in the striking port to be the only ones loaded and unloaded, improving the finical stability of Russia, but cutting the throats of those striking Hitler rises to power and he is captured, tortured, and imprisoned by the Gestapo Eventually he is ordered by the GPU the pre KGB to attempt to infiltrate the organization He convinces Hitler s henchmen that he has renounced his former faith and is welcomed aboard as a new Gestapo agent As time goes on his beliefs are eroded away, especially during the Stalinist purges of the early 30s, where many of his friends were recalled to Moscow and shot for petty reasons He describes the atmosphere as one of constant suspicion where all of his former close knit comrades not denounced and gathered information on each other He is especially savage in his descriptions of Ernst Wollweber who he saw turn from a passionate revolutionary into a corrupt bureaucrat But the author had by then spent so much of his life, even sacrificing his wife and child, in the Comitern s employ he does not know where else to go He presents here the revolutionary s dilemma where ideals and rhetoric give way to practicality and inevitable corruption For every populist movement eventually gives birth to a demagogue and the requisite cult of personality Which always leads to the destruction of its most faithful followers, prison camps, and firing squads We have seen this again and again Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Franco, etc And all of them have succeeded on the backs of men like the author, who gave up everything only to then be betrayed His story doesn t end here though Krebs followed up with a further book after he defected to the US and was drafted into the army, fighting with the 24th infantry in the Phillipines for World War Two The second memoir is called Children Of Yesterday The 24th Infantry Division in the Philippines, which I plan to read and review at a later date The author died in 1951 of an undefined illness, which may have been in part psychosomatic.

  10. Human Being says:

    I have read this a couple of times because it is absolutly riviting There s been controversy over it s truthfulness Who can ever know for sure but the author But it is an outstanding telling of events and places of historical people of WW2 as the author claims to have experienced them So if you love to read first person writing from people who lived through World War 2 then this book is for you It will keep you on the edge of your seat I have the 1sr edition hardback copy first published in 1941 I think it is a little different then this latter paperback bookclub edition.