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Out of the Night: The Memoir of Richard Julius Herman Krebs alias Jan Valtin (NABAT) Paperback – May 1, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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About the Author

The son of a merchant marine, Richard Julius Herman Krebs a.ka. Jan Valtin came of age in during a maritime rebellion and soon joined the German Communist Party working as a professional revolutionary. His life intimately tied with the dramatic events of 1920's and 30's Germany where he rose in ranks in the Communist party and on the Gestapo hit list. After tricking the Nazi's to gain release from prison and fleeing his own former comrades attempts to have him killed, Krebs spent his final years in the United States were he published his amazing autobiography.

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Product Details

  • Series: NABAT
  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press; 1st Nabat Ed edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902593863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902593869
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I finished reading this book a few years ago I could only say that it was indeed the most amazing, exciting life story I had ever read! So fascinated was I with the man and his life that I searched far and wide for more info on him, only to be somewhat disappointed on reading the book 'Der Spion, der aus Deutschland Kam. Das geheime Leben des Seemans Richard Krebs' (The spy who came from Germany. The secret life of the sailor Richard Krebs) by Ernst von Waldenfels, unfortunately still only available in German. In this book, the author makes use of documents in Soviet and (East German) Gestapo archives only available since 1990 to show that Kreb's story is partly fictionalized. Jan Valtin is a fantasy character, one whose role in the Communist Party was far greater than the real Richard Krebs' actual role. Much of the book is true though, including his early world wandering as a young sailor, jail time in San Quentin, travelling to some exotic locations as a Comintern courier, etc. It's generally his importance in the Communist Party hierarchy which is exaggerated, and other information which must have been purposely withheld as its publication would have put lives in jeopardy. It seems that he really was a double agent in the Gestapo, and had always planned to leave when the time was right. Many, especially in Germany, had previously believed that he really did 'turn' after his severe torture in the Gestapo cells, but various letters recently found prove that he had planned to jump ship as soon as possible, and merely joined the Gestapo to stop the torture, save his life, and help the Communist Party.

Some criticize him for confusing Stalinism with Communism.
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Format: Paperback
A very exciting book. It shows how the idealism of youth, with all its energy and intensity, can be twisted by unscrupulous people. Over time Valtin comes to realize that idealism alone is not sufficient to triumph over the powerful organizations that will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. This book really shows the power of propaganda and the battle between the Communists and the Nazis to use their propaganda machines to take over Germany. It shows what happens when people without any morals come into power. It doesn't matter what system it is, immoral people can corrupt any system of government. A must read for anybody the least bit interested in politics. You'll love it if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist or Nazi.
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Format: Paperback
This story is not nearly as black and white as some suggest. While it is undeniably true that Stalinism is the opposite of communism, this was a realization that came slowly to those revolutionists who worked for the Comintern (Communist International). I'm not sure that every reviewer even actually read this book. Mr. Valtin could never be characterized as a "murderer." In fact, Valtin spends 3 years in San Quentin for intentionally botching a murder he was ordered to carry out. Later, at great personal risk, Valtin refuses direct orders to organize the murder of Nazis. Valtin does not carry out every order he was given.

Valtin comes to notice the stark chasm between Marxism and Stalinism. A major motif of the story is Valtin's slow and sure awakening that the Soviet Union's imperial interests do not equal the interests of the world's workers. From Valtin's first unchaperoned visit to the "Revolutionary Fatherland" he realizes that working for the Soviet Union is not really protecting the world revolution. Time and time again he experiences the aristocratic behavior of the Comintern's leadership, and the self-destructive witch hunts used for personal gain by rising revolutionists. All this time, he notes the discrepancies between theory and practice.

But what is remarkable, and what makes this book a valuable lesson, is how Valtin pulls the wool over his own eyes time and time again. His initial motives and values were honest, inherited from his family and his class of historically rebellious German seamen, borne out of poverty and the capitalist crises between world wars.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book almost twenty years ago and I have never forgotten the tremendous emotional and intellectual impact it had upon me. This autobiography exposes the darkest and most misguided motivations of its author, and explains the influences which acted upon him as a naive young man... and how his idealistic dedication to the tenets of communism nearly destroyed his life. We learn that his son and his beloved wife were both lost because of the author's eventual disillusionment with and rejection of communism and its international web of espionage. We learn how swift and unforgiving is the retribution brought to bear against anyone who attempts to leave that fold.

The last few sentences of this book ring down upon the stage of this man's life like the curtain of the last judgment: "In July,1938, I received the intelligence that Firelei (his wife)had been seized and thrown into the Horror Camp Fuhlsbuettel. In December, 1938, I received a message which told me that Firelei had died in prison. Did she, herself, put an end to her life? Was she murdered in cold blood? "The Gestapo never jokes!" Neither does it give explanations. Our son, Jan, became a ward of the third Reich. I have not heard of him again. END"

If you want an eye-opening account of the inner workings of the communist political machine from the point of view of one who was originally dedicated to bringing about its aims, read this book. The process of the author's realization that the best years of his young life had been dedicated to the aspirations of an evil political machine That simply used him as a dispensible pawn will leave you forever changed.
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