Read The League of Night and Fog Online
Authors: David Morrell
“Splendid, state-of-the-art in the action/adventure genre.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Morrell writes terrific action scenes.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An ambitious, violent, and enthralling novel that has everything from hermits to killer priests, revenge to compassion, and innocent victims to psychopathic crminals. Recommended.”
“Morrell … has here concocted a wildly Ludlumesque thriller … An exciting and entertaining adventure.”
ALSO BY DAVID MORRELL
The Brotherhood of the Rose
The Fraternity of the Stone
Rambo (First Blood Part II)
The League of Night and Fog
The Fifth Profession
The Covenant of the Flame
Desperate Measures (1994)
The Totem (Complete and Unaltered)
The Spy Who Came for Christmas
The Hundred-Year Christmas
Captain America: The Chosen
John Barth: An Introduction
Fireflies: A Father’s Tale of Love and Loss
American Fiction, American Myth (Essays by Philip Young)
Edited by David Morrell and Sandra Spanier (2000)
The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about
Writing and Publishing
To Paul Seydor
a friend for all seasons
New evils require new remedies … new sanctions to defend and vindicate the eternal principles of right and wrong.
ON THE NUREMBERG TRIALS
FOUR SHADES OF NIGHT
phrase invented by the Nazis, the Night of the Long Knives, refers to the events on the night of June 30, 1934, in Austria and Germany. Hitler, having achieved the titles of chancellor and dictator, still needed to gain the remaining position that would give him absolute power over Germany—the presidency. Determined to remove all obstacles, he flew secretly to Munich where, accompanied by his personal bodyguards, he arrested his main rival and former friend, Ernst Röhm.
Röhm, the chief of the so-called Brownshirts—a terrorist paramilitary unit of the Nazi party, officially known as
or Storm Troopers, SA for short—had sought to merge his four-hundred-thousand-member force with the German army and (so Hitler alleged) take over Germany. Hitler, anxious not to lose the support of the army, even more anxious to rid himself of competitors, executed Röhm and several ambitious Brownshirt officers.
Not satisfied with half-measures, the Führer decided to eliminate other threats as well. While Röhm and his staff were being shot in Munich, Hitler’s close associates Himmler and Göring conducted a similar purge in Berlin. Among those executed were the former chancellor of Germany, unfriendly police and state officials, and dissident executives of the Nazi party. Hitler later
claimed that seventy-seven traitors had been killed in order to prevent an overthrow of the German government. Survivors of the purge insisted that the actual number was over four hundred. A postwar trial in Munich raised the total even higher—beyond one thousand.
The significance of the Night of the Long Knives is twofold. As a consequence of the terror that Hitler created, he did gain the final crucial title of president and, as absolute ruler of Germany, steered his nation toward the obscenities of the Second World War. Beyond that, his use of bodyguards in executing his rivals raised the group to a stature that equaled and eventually surpassed the power of Röhm’s paramilitary terrorists. In time, the guards numbered more than a million. Just as Röhm’s Brownshirts,
or Storm Troopers, were known as SA, so Hitler’s Blackshirts,
or elite guard, were known by their unit’s initials. But unlike SA, initials remembered today by few, the initials of the Blackshirts remain synonymous with depravity. The hiss of a snake. The rasp of evil.
lso known as
or Crystal Night, the Night of Broken Glass refers to events on November 9, 1938, throughout Germany. Two days earlier, Herschel Grynszpan, a Polish Jew, assassinated Ernst von Rath, a minor diplomat at the German embassy in Paris, in retaliation for the deportation of Grynszpan’s family and 23,000 other Jews from Germany to Poland. Grynszpan’s intended target had been the German ambassador to Paris, but von Rath attempted to intervene and was shot instead. Ironically, von Rath had openly criticized Nazi anti-Semitic attitudes and was scheduled for disciplinary action by the Gestapo. No matter—a Jew had killed a German official, and Hitler took advantage of the incident. Publicly claiming that the assassination had prompted anti-Semitic riots throughout Germany, he privately gave orders for the as yet nonexistent riots to occur.
These “spontaneous demonstrations” were organized by Reinhard Heydrich, second in command of the SS. After Nazi mobs enthusiastically completed their work on the night of November 9, Heydrich was able to give a preliminary report to Hitler that 815 Jewish shops, 171 Jewish homes, and 119 synagogues had been set on fire or otherwise destroyed; twenty thousand Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps; thirty-six were
killed, another thirty-six critically injured. These figures turned out to be drastically underestimated. So widespread was the destruction that everywhere streets were littered with fragments from shattered windows, hence the expression “the Night of Broken Glass.”
Concluding his report, Heydrich recommended that