Book Review – OUT OF THE NIGHT – Jan Valtin (1941)

Janvaltin2A Hellish Account of the Battle Between Lenin/Stalin’s Communists and Hitler for Control of Post WWI Germany

Out of the Night: The Memoir of Richard Julius Herman Krebs alias Jan Valtin (NABAT) (Paperback)

Now available in Kindle Edition.

I received the hardback version of this 747 page shocker as a gift from a friend. Given that it was a highly acclaimed American best-seller in 1941, I can only speculate as to why it’s not in print today. Out Of The Night is more than worthy of current Best-Seller status – and inclusion on the bibliographical menus of America’s major university political science/history curricula.

But, alas, forces unknown have apparently, by and through some Orwellian motivation, driven it from the presses into obscurity, and out of America’s consciousness.

A well-written autobiographical account of growing up in the abject destitution of post-World War I Germany, Out of the Night is a harrowing tale. Author Jan Valtin, whose real name was Richard Krebs, lived only 46 years. Considering the relentless stress under which he struggled during his brief lifetime, I can fully understand why he died at such a young age. Chronic malnutrition that is unimaginable to modern-day Americans, economic deprivations, deadly political street fighting between Nazis and Marxists, and the author’s astonishing journey upward through the machinery of the Lenin/Stalin-controlled German Communist Party, make this an enlightening, if terribly disturbing, read.

Valtin’s graphic revelations of the conniving machinations within Lenin’s German organization, the bloody violence of Germany’s communists versus Hitler’s Brown Shirts, the evolution of a newly born Gestapo into the world’s most feared police agency, and the effects of Stalin’s brutal, merciless, far-reaching purges during the 1930s give the reader a horrifying look into what was the epic battle for control of Germany – all of which was but the prelude to the earth-shaking events that eventually took the lives of some 55 million people in World War II.

Valtin’s description of his imprisonment and brutal torture by the Gestapo is not for the faint of heart. This is horrifying material, related by a man who survived through ordeals most Americans cannot imagine enduring.

We are living today with the terrible after-effects of this era. The reader’s takeaway is a certain realization that all of this could happen again – right here in the USA. To believe it’s not possible here is a foolish denial of history, a denial of human nature, and denial of the eternal existence of particular men obsessed with the insatiable quest for absolute power over others.

Think it can’t happen here? It can happen here. It is happening here.

Karl Marx’s legacy did not die when the Berlin Wall crashed down and the USSR collapsed. Get your hands on this book and read it. Then give it to someone else.


About John L. Work

John Lloyd Work has taken the detective thriller genre and woven an occasional political thread throughout his books, morphing what was once considered an arena reserved for pure fiction into believable, terrifying, futuristic, true-to-life “faction”. He traveled the uniformed patrolman’s path, answering brutal domestic violence calls, high speed chases, homicides, suicides, armed robberies, breaking up bar fights, and the accompanying sporadic unpredictable moments of terror - which eventually come to all police officers, sometimes when least expected. He gradually absorbed the hard fact that the greatest danger a cop faces comes in the form of day-to-day encounters with emotionally disturbed, highly intoxicated people. Those experiences can wear a cop down, grinding on his own emotions and psyche. Prolonged exposure to the worst of people and people at their worst can soon make him believe that the world is a sewer. That police officer’s reality is a common thread throughout Work’s crime fiction books. Following his graduation from high school, Work studied music and became a professional performer, conductor and teacher. Life made a sudden, unexpected turn when, one afternoon in 1976, his cousin, who eventually became the Chief of the Ontario, California, Police Department, talked him into riding along during a patrol shift. The musician was hooked into becoming a police officer. After working for two years as a reserve officer in Southern California and in Boulder, Colorado, he joined the Longmont, Colorado Police Department. Work served there for seven years, investigating crimes as a patrolman, detective and patrol sergeant. In 1989 he joined the Adams County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office, where he soon learned that locking a criminal up inside a jail or prison does not put him out of business. As a sheriff’s detective he investigated hundreds of crimes, including eleven contract murder conspiracies which originated “inside the walls”. While serving on the Adams County North Metro Gang Task Force and as a member of the Colorado Security Threat Intelligence Network Group (STING), Work designed a seminar on how a criminal’s mind formulates his victim selection strategy. Over a period of six years he taught that class in sheriff’s academies and colleges throughout Colorado. He saw the world of crime both inside the walls and out on the streets. His final experiences in the criminal law field were with the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office, where for nearly two years he investigated felonies from the defense side of the Courtroom. Twenty-two years of observing human nature at its worst, combined with watching some profound changes in America’s culture and political institutions, provided plenty of material for his first three books. A self-published author, he just finished writing his tenth thriller.
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