"Out of the Night" (1941) by Jan Valtin - BOOK THREE

(actualisé le ) by Jan Valtin

The third and final part of Jan Valtin’s vivid account of his activities, adventures and experiences with the German Communist Party, the Comintern and the Gestapo during the 1920s and 1930s, of which the first two sections can be seen above.

The full text is available in e-book format below.





Chapter Twenty-six - STORM SIGNALS

THROUGH the day the storm-troopers marched, their eyes blazing with elation. They marched through the night with the flickering light of torches shining on fluttering swastika flags. The troopers sang:

"Let Hitler banners fly from German towers,
"This is the dawn of German liberty . . ."

We in the upper ranks of the Party had no illusions as to the terror that would soon be unleashed against us by the Hitler move­ment. We had no illusions about the overwhelming virility of the Nazi Party’s military organization, and about the relative weakness of our own. A frontal assault would be nothing but mass suicide; we all knew that. The German workers were divided into antag­onistic camps, their leaders unable to agree on united action. Our Party, taken by surprise, floundered in a cul de sac. We were strong. But Hitler was stronger. We knew that an armed insurrection at this point would result in the annihilation of our leadership corps. At this point our standing extremist slogan of World Revolution had become sheer nonsense. Ernst Thälmann, bluster­ing with emotion, refused to give the signal for an offensive that was doomed to failure in advance. He quoted Lenin’s famous words: "A general who leads his army to certain defeat deserves to be shot."
But Moscow apparently shared none of our hesitations. The Western Secretariat of the Comintern received its orders promptly. Dimitrov relayed them to the German Party Executive. I participated in two stormy meetings, one in Hamburg, the other in Berlin, where the elite of the sub-leaders received instructions on how to translate the Moscow command into action. Moscow demanded a general offensive along the whole line, and precipitation of a general strike against the Hitler government. In the Hamburg conference a man named Westerman rose and shouted: "For what purpose?" The delegate of the Comintern, a Hungarian, answered sharply:
"To sweep away Hitler. We have broken the Putschist Kapp and the Monarchist Cuno by mass strikes. Mass strikes will also break Hitler."
"This is lunacy," challenged Westerman. "The comrade from the Comintern knows as well as I that the Party is not strong enough to carry out a general strike, much less a revolution. The Party will be wiped out!"
"Comrade Westerman must understand that when Hitler is allowed to consolidate his power, he will march against the Soviet Union," the Hungarian retorted. "Hitlerism means war! I speak in bloody earnest when I say that it is now more than ever our duty to protect our Socialist Fatherland. Without the Soviet Union, we will never have a Soviet Germany."
There was a short roar of assent.
Westerman’s ruddy face turned an ashen gray. "I think of the fate of our German Party workers," he said in a low, vibrating voice. "Their influence over the masses is insufficient to make a general strike a success. They will fight alone. They will be exterminated. The rank and file will not fight if you tell them they must die to protect the Soviet Union. To make them fight you must lie to them, you must make them believe that there is hope of sweeping the Hitler government away. My conscience forbids me to lead my comrades, whose trust I enjoy, to certain destruction."
Westerman sagged into his chair. The assembly was silent. Mute contempt marked most faces. The delegate of the Comintern re­plied, virulently:
"Must we regard Comrade Westerman as an agent of the class enemy in our midst? Westerman is a conciliator."
There were cries: "Raus mit Westerman! Away with the traitor!"
Voluntarily Westerman left the conference. He was not per­mitted to leave the building before the meeting had broken up. A day later he was expelled from the Party. Two years later, arrested by the Gestapo in the spring of 1935, he committed suicide in a cell of Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp.
We accepted the Parteibefehl. In the first days and nights of February, 1933, we organized the distribution of millions of leaflets. They bore the headline: "Workers of Germany! Down with Hitler! General Strike is the Call of the Hour!"
Once more, ironically enough, the Comintern had furnished Hitler the last and immediate pretext for the impending National Socialist Revolution. Those among us who were in favor of quietly preparing for a long spell of "underground" opposition were overridden by the Comintern’s command: "No retreat—but general offensive!" Our wild general strike call was a God-send to Hitler. It enabled him to proceed to the crushing even of liberal anti-Nazi forces under the cry, "Save Germany from Bolshevism and Civil War!" Hermann Göring, now a member of the government, concluded a speech to the Nazi formations with the cry, "We cannot finish our job without a Massacre of St. Bartholomew. National Socialists! No sentimentalities!"
The trade unions did not move, and the communist elements within them were unable to prod them into motion at such short notice. Hitler had dissolved the Reichstag and Germany was again in the throes of an election war.
The strikes petered out. Demoralization invaded the fringes of the Communist Party. Already the Party’s prestige had been irremediably damaged. In flying meetings at the shipping offices and the gates of the shipyards I heard the workers say, "Was willst du? [1]—We won’t strike for Moscow!"
In the hour of decision the apathy of the majority of Germans was appalling. They succumbed to the Brown terror with barely a whimper. It was as if the leaders of liberalism and the socialist chiefs did not understand at all the nature of the tidal wave that was engulfing the land. Their policy was one of "wait and see." The Comintern went to the other extreme. The more apparent the failure, the madder became the slogans. Couriers with secret instructions followed each other in rapid succession. On some days I received three and four instruction sheets from headquarters, one countermanding or confusing the other, and all of them were headed by the sentence: "Take note and return to bearer, or destroy."
In the vast harbor of Hamburg we held our own. Never since 1930 had the docks been so free of Nazi uniforms. It was death for storm-troopers to be met alone or in small groups on the waterfront. During one night I sent my whole force into the harbor in launches and boats; next morning our war-cry, "Jagt den Hitler fort!—Chase Hitler out!" and "Werft Nazi Spitzel in den Hafen!—Heave Nazi spies into the harbor!" blazed in painted letters from every ship and quayside. The police and customs guards stationed at the harbor entrances were soon reinforced to such an extent that it became increasingly difficult for us to smuggle large amounts of propaganda material into the harbor. Firelei proposed that we should install a secret printing press aboard one of the marooned steamers in the huge ships’ graveyard of Waltershof, to enable us to produce our anti-Hitler publications inside the port zone. The plan was accepted. Among the watchmen who guarded the million tons of laid-up shipping in Waltershof were numerous communists. After an early morning reconnoitering trip, I chose the Bochum, a medium-sized old freighter of the Hamburg-America Line.
The transport of a new hand-press and two mimeographing machines through the cordon of harbor police was accomplished the same night. A Party member operating a harbor barge owned by a wrecking yard smuggled the machines into Waltershof. Three of my aides hoisted them aboard the Bochum. A large quantity of paper and several hundred tubes of ink followed in a later transport. We established the printing paraphernalia in the ’tweendeck under number three hatch.
I exercised utmost care in the selection of operators for our new "underground" plant. Two men were needed to operate the presses. A third was to serve as courier between myself and the Bochum, conveying the manuscripts scheduled for printing. A fourth comrade, also a courier, was required to relay the finished propaganda material from the Bochum to five "district couriers," who in turn delivered it to the thirty detachment messengers awaiting him at certain hours and certain spots within the shipping area. The detachment leaders would then divide the material into smaller batches for distribution by the "activists" of their respective groups. This was the system of conspirative organization which all units inside the Party were advised to adopt. In this manner all that a weakling apprehended by the police could give away under pres­sure were the four other comrades belonging to his group.
I chose Firelei to act as courier between headquarters and the Bochum. She was also made responsible for the effective artistic make-up of our propaganda matter. As the courier between the Bochum and the lower units I appointed a man named Julius Emmerich, a marine engineer with a long Party record. No one among us suspected at the time that Comrade Emmerich had been for months an agent for the intelligence service of Heinrich Himmler’s Elite Guards. The technicians of our workshop aboard the Bochum consisted of a little silent Rumanian, an expert in secret work, and of a jobless tugboat captain—Willem—serving as his assistant. The Rumanian’s name was Alexander Popovics.
Comrade Popovics was an extraordinary type. A man approaching forty, dark, with a strong, friendly face, and slow-moving, he had once been a member of the luckless Bandura’s crew. The Comintern had sent him to its Leningrad school, and had subsequently employed him as organizer and political contrabandist in Bessarabia. As the head of a communist frontier column he had for many years directed the practical end of the smuggling of printed matter, arms, letters and funds across the Dniester River from Russia to Rumania. Popovics knew rivers. He had begun life as a riverman on the Danube. His chief helper in his frontier function had been a girl he had married in the Soviet Union.
Popovics’s mind had been affected. In intervals between Party work he was wont to give himself up to gloomy meditation. One day I found him in such a mood.
"Comrade Alex," I said, "what is bothering you?"
From an inner pocket he pulled out a clipping from a Rumanian newspaper. The clipping was pasted on a thin piece of steel, the size of half a postcard.
"Listen," he said. He read, translating each sentence:

"January 11, 1932. The frontier guards surprised six persons who secretly crossed the Dniester River. After challenging them several times, the frontier guards opened fire. All six persons were killed. Among them was a girl. Five of them were active members of the Communist Youth organization; the sixth was a smuggler. This happened last night in Soroca, in northern Bessarabia."

"The girl was your wife?" I asked.
Popovics nodded.
"And I was the ’smuggler,’ " he said bitterly. "They thought I was dead, so I escaped. All the other comrades were really dead, the good young comrades. But the report is untrue. The guards killed them, after we had been arrested, to appropriate the money we carried."
That was what had cracked Popovics’s mind. He had become unfit for complicated assignments. But he remained as reliable as granite. In the summer of 1932, he had turned up in Hamburg, after being pushed across the Belgian border by gendarmes, and had become an "activist" in the division which carried communism on ships under the flags of Balkan countries. During the day Popovics slept on a cot in the lower hold of the Bochum. At night he made the clandestine presses thump. He was calm, without fear. Duty was the breath of his life. He belonged to the type who would rather hang himself or cut his veins than betray a trust.
The first material which flew off the presses under Popovics’s expert hands was a fiery manifesto the text of which had been for­warded to all organizations by the Berlin Central Committee. It had been written in a language of which Ernst Wollweber was master, and ended with the call:

"Disarm the Storm Troops—Arms into the Hands of the Workers!"

Communists on ships entering Hamburg from Dutch and Belgian ports brought with them consignments of firearms for the Red Front Fighters’ League. To my Apparat fell the task of carrying the guns safely ashore, to be handed over to the couriers of Edgar André, the chief of the Party’s military formations. I saw much of the Red Front Fighters in these days. Payroll robberies to obtain money for arms, raids on arms stores, organized plundering of food shops, ambushes with intent to kill, and terrorization of policemen in outlying districts formed the bulk of their current tasks. The sounds of shooting from tenement roofs were heard in the city every night. As yet, not many of the snipers were apprehended.
Coming home late one night I found Edgar André in my apartment. André liked Firelei. She had at times designed new insignia for his armed columns, and had often painstakingly copied plans of police stations, Reichswehr barracks, railway yards and the like at his request. This time I beheld a strange scene: Edgar André lay back in a corner of a chaise longue, his powerful frame relaxed, sipping coffee with the usual vaguely humorous expression on his bold dusky features. In front of him Firelei paraded. She wore a bathing suit. Above her knees, strapped with strong rubber bands, were several small automatic pistols of a Belgian make.
I laughed.
"What’s this?" I said.
"Not a seduction," André chuckled. "I am experimenting. Since our boys have started to relieve careless Brownshirts of their guns, the Nazis have started something new. The storm-troopers promenade around trying to look love-sick, and close by walk the Nazi girls with guns strapped to their thighs. It’s easy to search a Fascist. Not everyone of the comrades has the nerve to dig his paws under the skirts of a strange woman. Clever!"
"And now?"
"For the first time Comrade Edgar steals an idea from the Nazis," Firelei said. "Why shouldn’t our girls learn the technique? Policemen, too, hesitate to search women on the open street."
"Truth is," said Edgar André, "I came here for a peaceful cup of coffee."
A few days later the "new technique" was used by André’s guards in an assault on a storm-trooper stronghold, the Adler Hotel near the Central Station. The troopers, finding the unknown men who lounged in nearby doorways, unarmed, feared nothing. The girls, who came later, were not molested. At the shrill of a whistle, they handed the pistols they carried to the Red Front guards. An instant later a deadly fusillade was under way. The Adler Hotel was wrecked. Seven Brownshirts were shot. Two innocent passers-by, one a woman with four small children, fell dead in the hail of bullets.

In the third week of February Albert Walter, the Comintern’s maritime chief, summoned me to his camouflaged offices on the Baumwall. The bronzed old sailor was in a towering rage. He pounded through the room, shouting at his typists. When he saw me, he stopped short.
"Excuse me, comrade," he grumbled. "But this miserable va banque [2] play of the Thälmann crowd makes one want to make Kleinholz [3] (smash things up). Every man who’s any good disappears from the scene for a cursed variety of ’special work.’ As if we were a club of spies and bomb-throwers instead of an association of revolutionists."
"You’re nervous, Comrade Walter," I said.
"I’m not nervous. I’m mad!" the old warrior thundered.
“What’s my assignment?"
"Oh, yes," he said sarcastically. " ’Special work.’ " Then, calmly: "Berlin sent money for you. Pick out a dozen of our friends, fellows who know how to handle boats, and go to Berlin. No delay. Report to the Karl Liebknecht House. Ask there for Kippenberger."
"What is it about?"
Albert Walter clasped both hands to the massive mahogany dome of his forehead. "Hell and damnation," he whispered angrily. "Did you ever hear of rats running off a doomed ship the night before she leaves her last anchorage?"
"Sure, but . . ."
"Well, here’s your money. Pick your men and go to Berlin. The Western Secretariat is going to move to Copenhagen."
Nine hours later I was in Berlin. While my comrades waited in the homes of communists in the Wedding and Moabit districts, I proceeded to Party Headquarters on Bülowplatz.
I came too late to meet Kippenberger, the Party’s expert on military affairs, industrial espionage and Central European com­munications. Workers milled on the large square like so many bewildered sheep. The windows in nearby communist bookshops were smashed. The Karl Liebknecht House itself, the central fortress of Bolshevism in Europe, was full of policemen. Police trucks lined the front of the building. Policemen came out of the building in a steady stream, all of them carrying bundles, stacks of books and papers, typewriters, mimeograph machines or parts taken from the powerful rotary presses to render them useless for future use. Pell-mell everything was dumped into trucks, which then pulled out toward police headquarters. Empty trucks rolled on to join the end of the line. I stood at the curb, dazed. The realization that hostile police were sacking the symbol of communist strength in Western Europe was overpowering.
A worker tapped me on the shoulder.
"Better step back in the crowd," he mumbled. "They might arrest you."
I stepped back.
"They are closing the Karl Liebknecht House," the worker said. There was no resistance. The whole area around the Bülowplatz bristled with police, carbines, machine guns, armored cars. No Nazi uniform was in sight. Storm troopers on the Bülowplatz would have been torn to pieces by the workers who eddied about glumly, helplessly.
I jumped into a taxi. At the Hallesche Tor I paid off the driver and got out. I walked along the Wilhelmstrasse toward the drab palaces where Adolf Hitler and his aides were now in power. Number 48. Neuer Deutscher Verlag [4] Ostensibly a publishing house. In reality it was one of the former branch offices of the Western Secretariat of the Comintern. The place was silent and deserted, except for a pretty young girl who had been left behind to direct callers at loose ends to other, safer contact addresses. The girl munched chocolates.
She gave me an address in the Gesundbunnen district, in the North East of Berlin.
"Go there," she said, "and wait."
I waited in the home of a crippled war veteran and his wife while the hidden Party control stations checked up on the authenticity of my errand. In the evening, a girl courier arrived.
"I am looking for a sailor comrade from Hamburg," she said.
The war cripple indicated me.
"Please come with me, comrade," she said.
We agreed on what we should say if we should be accosted by police. When two suspects, questioned separately, gave the same innocent explanation for their being together, the police usually lost interest in harassing them further.
The girl took me to a modern apartment block in the Wilmersdorf suburb. "Is Comrade Kippenberger here?" I asked her. "No," she replied. "You will meet another comrade, one whom you know well."
She pressed a bell. Three short rings, and one long. From inside a man squinted through the spy-hole. He opened the door and let us pass.
"Is our friend in?" the girl asked.
The man nodded.
I passed a room in which a group of well-dressed young men and women of various ages lounged idly. I took them for either bodyguards or couriers. Further on, in a large room which had been equipped as an office, I met Ernst Wollweber.
He stood in the middle of the room, barely over five feet tall, a chunky, saturnine figure in worn-out blue. A cigarette dangled from his lips. His thick face remained immobile, but his little black eyes glinted through narrow slits, digging, searching, alert. With him was a tall, elegant girl, working over what seemed to be a draft of a new code I knew her. She was Cilly, who had worked with me in England. She glanced at me, not giving a sign of recognition.
Wollweber spoke through cigarette smoke, his voice barely audible: "How many comrades have you brought from Ham­burg?"
"With myself—thirteen."
"Thirteen!" The Silesian showed his small tobacco-stained teeth in a ghost of a grin. "And sailors, too!" Suddenly, with a forward thrust of his shoulders, he added: "What do you think of the situation?"
"If we don’t come to real mass actions before March, it’ll be too late," I said.
"Too late for what?"
"For an offensive."
Wollweber growled, "It is not too late. Too early, rather. We shall leave the initiative to Hitler. He will blunder and the masses will wake up. Nothing is stronger than the masses. The character of our slogans is offensive. Naturally. What we need are waves of small skirmishes to cover a tactical retreat. A retreat is not a defeat. Or is it?"
A devilish gleam was in his eyes.
"No," I said.
"A leader must sense what is in the masses," Wollweber went on. "Just now the masses won’t fight. The best we can do in the circumstances is to whip fight into the masses. And to keep Hitler on his toes. By disruption. By sabotage. By shooting out of the dark. In the long run, that’ll unnerve the cut-throats. We must inspire ourselves and all the comrades with a will to self-sacrifice. If not, we can’t survive."
"No fear," I said. "Our cadres [5] show their mettle."
"The cadres are good," Wollweber said sullenly. "How our Grand Moguls will stand punishment—that’s another question. The fellows who hang on for the legendary money from Moscow will never be willing to sacrifice their lives. They are going to get the bum’s rush."
Ernst Wollweber was a thorough German. He despised all internationalists who did not bring with them the background and the traditions of the Russian Bolsheviks. In Wollweber’s mind, I sus­pected, the world consisted only of two worthwhile countries. One was the Soviet Union. The other was Germany. And the rest was rubbish.
"I was told to see Kippenberger," I said.
"You don’t need him. He had to disappear. Count Helldorf wants him for murder." Count Helldorf was the chief of the Ber­lin storm-troops. The murder referred to was the assassination of two officers, Schenck and Anlauf, civil-war experts in the Berlin Police Department. Both were shot to death in front of the Karl Liebknecht House by agents of the Communist Espionage De­fense. Count Helldorf later became police president of Berlin. Hans Kippenberger, who was a Reichstag deputy, was arrested by the G.P.U. in Moscow in 1936, and has disappeared like so many of his comrades.
Wollweber then came down to my immediate tasks. I was to go to an address in Charlottenburg, to Kuschinsky, on Lützower­strasse, where a large number of suitcases and traveling bags packed with confidential documents of the Central Committee and the Western Secretariat were ready for transportation to Copenhagen. The route of transport led over the German port of Flensburg to the Danish town of Sonderburg, across an arm of the Baltic Sea. The job was a simple smuggling enterprise, but of utmost importance.
Wollweber arranged for couriers to inform my scattered crew to assemble inconspicuously in the waiting room of the Charlotten­burg railroad station. There I issued the necessary instructions, never to more than one man at a time. One by one we proceeded to the address on Lützowerstrasse. There each man received two heavy suitcases, a sum of money, and a second class ticket to Flens­burg. We traveled at night, all aboard the same train, but each man in a different compartment. As the train rumbled northward through the night, I could not help thinking that, should the police swoop down on us at the next station, they would make the greatest haul of incriminating material since the day the Comintern was born. Heaven knew what those suitcases contained! Patrolling the corridors of the coaches were several stocky individuals in ill-fitting clothes. In passing they peered into the compartments. At stations they jumped at once to the platform from where all doors of the train could be observed. When we changed trains in Hamburg, these men also changed trains. At first I took them for detectives or Nazi Party spies. But the fact that they passed each other in the train corridor without exchanging a word soon convinced me that they were members of our own Espionage Defense Apparat, assigned to look after the safety (or check on the reliability) of this extraordinary expedition of couriers.
We all arrived in Flensburg without mishap. Still each man for himself, we proceeded to a liaison address near the waterfront. It was a saloon with placards on the walls which said: "Drink till you burst, but don’t talk politics." Our illegal cargo was deposited among the beer barrels in the cellar. A special liaison agent, a blue-eyed, pleasant-looking chap with credentials from Richard Jensen in Copenhagen, awaited me here. His name was Julius Vanman. I learned months later that he was on the payroll of the G.P.U. Vanman had a boat in readiness. While my fellow couriers slept through the rest of the day, I accompanied Vanman to the waterfront. The boat was a heavy ship’s lifeboat, equipped with six oars. It belonged to the International Club in Flensburg; but local com­munist sailors, known to the Nazis of this frontier district, were ruled out from manning the craft for this particular transport.
The night was icy. Between eleven and midnight I roused my assistants. In great haste we carried our contraband into the boat, shoved off a rickety wharf, and manned the oars. Vanman squatted in the bows; he knew the waters of Flensburg Fjord. I had the helm. We showed no light and we forced ourselves not to smoke. We pulled through perfect darkness, through a short choppy sea, with a chill wind blowing in over the starboard bows. The shore lights were bright. Red and green, the running lights of small steamers passed through the night. Strips of burlap wrapped around the oars, where they toiled in the oarlocks, muffled the sounds of rowing. The thumping noises were then not louder than the hiss and wash of the sea and the rhythmic grunting of the rowers. The night was starry. A jumble of overcoats lay atop the layer of suitcases in the bottom of the boat. Only Vanman and I, not engaged in hard labor, remained swathed up to the ears.
In six hours my comrades rowed fifty miles. As we approached close to the Danish shore, we proceeded with caution. Only half of the men rowed now. The chugging sounds of fishermen’s motors were about us. Toward dawn the sky became overcast, and the sea among the promontories had the smoothness and color of a sheet of steel. The shore was low, and rocky in places. A sprinkling of houses hove into sight. There were rows of trees lining a highway. It was still too early for the houses to show light. Vanman scanned the shore through night-glasses. There was a bright light high above the half-hidden roof, and another one, less bright below.
"Easy now," Vanman murmured. "There—pull inshore."
Only four men rowed now. The others crouched low behind the gunwales to keep themselves out of sight of possible watchers. Ahead was a landing, barely above the level of the water. As our boat drew alongside, two men stepped out from cover ashore. I breathed freer. The gray tension which assails men in the quieter hours of a perilous undertaking slipped away. Vanman was happy. He whistled a dance-hall tune: "Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen . . .” [6] The Germans lit cigarettes and relaxed. They left it to the com­rades ashore to unload the mysterious cargo.
In the house behind the landing was Georg Hegener, Jensen’s chief lieutenant, burly, cheerful, tough. He punched my ribs. "Now our boresome Denmark is getting a taste of Kultur," he laughed, indicating the array of luggage.
Comrade Hegener had already prepared for the transport of the load to Copenhagen. The smuggling station at the edge of Sonderburg had only recently been established. Ours had been the third transport of Comintern documents from Berlin which had passed this backdoor to Denmark inside a week. It was only the beginning. Here, and on hidden spots along the frontier, the or­ganization got ready for the great exodus of the army of Comintern officials who had pitched camp in Germany for nearly a decade and a half.
My band dispersed. Alone and in pairs we returned to German soil, some using the autobus line which followed the coast, others going by train. My comrades had a chance here to escape to safety, if they had wished to, instead of returning to the German powder barrel, but none of them deserted. Their loyalty was their honor.
The German election battle was in full swing. The usual com­munist mass rallies and demonstrations had long been outlawed. Thousands of smaller meetings were carried through instead. Many illegal demonstrations, staged behind an armed vanguard of the Red Front Guards, took place simultaneously in six or seven different parts of the city. In utmost secrecy numerous Party members were detailed to join the Nazi formations. All official Party bureaus were abandoned. Secret offices and courier centers sprang up in the tenements and the backrooms of retail stores, arms depots were moved to safer places, secret printing plants were established in attics and basements in ever-increasing numbers. The Foreign Division of the G.P.U. in Hamburg re-established itself behind the shield of a shoemaker’s shop. And the Party’s military organization headquarters took on the facade of the Prometheus Publishing Company.
There were spies and traitors in our midst. One of them was Joseph Bleser, who was a chauffeur in the central courier service. Agents of the Communist S-Apparat, working at the Berlin police headquarters, found that Bleser was a storm-trooper in the pay of Dr. Diels, head of the political police in Prussia. But the spy was warned and vanished. There was a rumor that he had come to Hamburg. From Michel Avatin I received a photograph and description of the man together with orders to watch the Nazi shipping centers, for Bleser had once been a navy man. In the last days of February I received a note to stop the search. Bleser had been assassinated. By keeping his wife under surveillance, the German G.P.U. operatives had traced the spy to a room in the Hoechst district of Frankfurt-on-the-Main. At night they had followed him and shot him to death in the Kasinostrasse. He was only one of many who ended in this fashion.
In the waterfront districts of Hamburg, and in the industrial suburbs no uniformed Nazi showed his face. Red flags, with hammer and sickle, flew from hundreds of windows, often in a single street. Red banners crossed the streets from house to house. The inscriptions on the banners and countless posters on the house walls shouted: "Kommunisten in den Reichstag! Tod dem Faschismus! [7] Vote for Thälmann, Pieck, Clara Zetkin, Wollweber, Heckert!" The National Socialist press carried in every headline a curse on Communism. "Death, death, death," was the eternal refrain. In Berlin, Captain Göring had been commissioned to set up a new type of secret police—the Geheime Staatspolizei—the Gestapo. What did it mean? I discussed it with Edgar André, who had called on Firelei to design for him the head of a new paper for the Reichswehr soldiers. André smiled grimly. "The devils are trying to imitate our own G.P.U.," he said.
The anti-Nazi masses ducked down like frightened dogs, heedless of our cries for action, waiting, waiting for the blow. One day after the announcement that the Gestapo had been formed, the government proclaimed that storm-troopers, Elite Guards and the Steel Helmets had been given the status of auxiliary police. Our men in the Nazi Party reported that select bands of ruffians were being organized and armed under the designation "Kommandos zur besonderen Verwendung"—Squads for Special Purposes.
Yes, what did it mean? There followed two strangely quiet days. The atmosphere was heavy and menacing.
Then, two o’clock in the morning, I came out of the harbor after a busy night aboard the derelict Bochum, where the faithful Popovics was grinding out another flaming call to the masses. I strode toward the Bunte Kuh café in St. Pauli, to see one Lewandowsky who specialized in the distribution of counterfeit five-mark pieces for the Party. The many cabarets and dance-halls along the Reeper­bahn were full of life and noise. Sailors cruised for pleasure. The prostitutes patrolled the pavements or stood bargaining on corners. Someone accosted me. It was a courier.
"What’s new, comrade?" I inquired.
"Parteibefehl—all functionaries must change their quarters at once. Don’t go home."
"The Reichstag is burning. Mass arrests all over Prussia."
I was not surprised.
"So, that’s it," I said.
"Yes." The courier nodded. "The night of long knives is here."
I hastened away to find Firelei, and to contact someone from headquarters. On the Holstenwall, a detachment of storm-troopers marched toward the center of the city. Their boots clanked on the asphalt. One-two, one-two. The troopers were singing the Horst Wessel hymn.

"Die Strasse frei,
"Dem braunen Battaillonen . . ."

Chapter Twenty-seven - IN THE HURRICANE

MORE THAN 4,600 COMMUNIST AND SOCIALIST LEADERS were arrested in the night of the Reichstag Fire. Nazi raiding parties occupied all Communist Party buildings in Prussia. At dawn, our couriers sped out in all directions spreading the order to print and distribute large editions of leaflets headlined, "Nazi Göring Set Fire to the Reichstag." The Hitler ver­sion was that a half-naked Dutchman, Marinus van der Lubbe, had been seized in the burning building. He was branded a communist. We, of the inner circle of the Comintern and the Communist Party of Germany, had never heard of this man.
Communists were hunted down like mad dogs. Weaklings in our ranks capitulated. Spies stepped from obscurity. The majority of the Party’s top-rank leaders had saved their own hides by bolting across the frontiers to neutral countries. But some were captured. Ernst Thälmann, betrayed by one of his own couriers, was arrested in his secret abode. Edgar André was betrayed by Eiche Redzinsky, a graduate of the Lenin School, and was seized by the Gestapo aboard a train. In Berlin, Georgi Dimitrov, denounced by a waiter, was apprehended and carried off to jail. Torgler, the head of the Communist Caucus in the Reichstag, surrendered voluntarily to the Gestapo. Albert Walter rushed home in the gray of dawn to save his mother from the raiders, only to find them waiting for him in the old woman’s bedroom.
Overnight the Communist Party had taken on the appearance of an ant-heap smashed by a sudden hail of sledge-hammer blows. On March 2, the new terror laws against the Communist Party were decreed. Hitler’s technique of victory was simple: concentration of the whole ferocity of the National Socialist movement against one enemy at a time, while maneuvering the others into a false sense of security.
Each morning brought intelligence of new disaster. Still, under the hammering blows, the cells of our rank and file, the "activist" units and the Red Front Fighters’ brigades continued to function. One Thursday night, in March, a concentration of storm troopers in the working-class quarters of Hamburg was ambushed by one of Edgar André’s detachments. The invaders were driven out. Nine Brownshirts fell under communist bullets. On the same day the waterfront organization under my command distributed within one hour a hundred thousand leaflets urging the workers to drive the newly-appointed Nazi port commissars out of the harbor. On the morning of the next day a communist sabotage squad opened all valves in the refineries of the Hannover Canal harbor, and 200,000 liters of gasoline flooded the surrounding grounds.
Of the old leadership, only one man remained at his post—Ernst Wollweber, the head of the Party’s organization bureau. He moved through the general confusion with a stony indifference to danger. He was in Berlin today, in Hamburg tomorrow, and a day later on the Rhine, appointing new leaders in the districts and jabbing his fingers into organizational wounds. He was curt, almost haughty now, and seething with a merciless contempt for all who shied from doing his bidding.
In the night of March 5 the Brown terror struck Hamburg. Here, as in Berlin and other large cities, the elections had left the National Socialists still in a minority. But the rabid enmity between the two great camps of labor, the socialists and communists, was too deep; having been fostered too zealously through the years, particularly from the communist side, to be bridged in this last hour of decision for the history of the world. I was that night at the International Club in Hamburg, speaking to an assembly of delegates from the ship and harbor action committees. In another hall of the building, Firelei was in charge of a cinema performance where a Soviet film—Storm over Asia—was shown to a packed auditorium. On the waterfront, the red flags still flew from many windows. Outside, in the streets, our armed detachments were on guard, and reconnoitering parties cruised through the city on their routine surveillance of Nazi headquarters, police stations and public buildings.
Not long before midnight a headquarters courier brought the news that storm troopers had arrived in masses at all railway stations. An hour later came the message that the Nazi formations had seized the City Hall and Police Headquarters in a lightning coup. At two in the morning a comrade in the anti-Nazi Apparat telephoned me that several storm trooper brigades were on the march against the International Club. At once I contacted a call station of the secret headquarters of the Communist Party. A tired voice answered.
"They are coming," I said. "Has an agreement been reached for united action with the socialists?"
"No, we stand alone," the voice answered.
I returned to the International Club and informed the restless crowd of seamen of the situation. They wanted to stay and defend the building. Many of them had guns, others knives. Quietly Firelei stepped up to me. She was pale. Her eyes flashed.
"Why provoke useless bloodshed?" she said. "Tell the comrades to go home."
Hundreds of expectant faces stared at me out of the half-darkened hall.
"Go back to your ships," I told them. "We will wage our struggle not with a mass that can be trapped, but from a thousand corners. Let every action committee and every unit be an anti-Fascist spearhead in itself. Let each group know that it does not fight alone, that thousands of other groups are in the fight, even though they cannot readily be seen. Comrades, do your duty! Long live the Communist Party!"
The crowd dispersed. Shortly after three o’clock in the morning the storm troopers closed in. They carried rifles, machine guns and gas-grenades. The few of our men who had refused to leave the building were beaten half to death and dragged away to jail.
The list of anti-Nazis scheduled for arrest had been prepared long in advance by Heinrich Himmler’s, machine. This became clear to me when our few operatives in the Elite Guards had reported that even the names of men who had died shortly before Hitler became Chancellor were still on these lists. In this respect, also, Himmler had imitated the methods of the G.P.U. We, too, had prepared lists of persons who were to be seized and shot, or kept as hostages, in the event of a communist insurrection. Like the G.P.U., the Nazi raiders came in the night. They took away prisoners, without informing their relatives whether the captured men were dead or still alive. They grabbed the wives and mothers and children of fugitives as hostages. Out of the overcrowded pisons filtered gruesome tales. Comrades whom I knew, and valued as friends, had leaped from windows to escape torture, or were found in parks with their throats cut, or fished out of the river—their smashed heads wrapped in burlap.
The terror tightened the ranks of the best among us. I saw it on Firelei. "We must fight on," she said. "We have no time to weep."
At first, the Gestapo was raw. Its new personnel was largely recruited from the Elite Guards. There were some trained men among them, former officers, but the majority began with no other assets than a cruel fanaticism and a fierce will to triumph. The former Political Police, which had contained many socialists and a few secret members of the Communist Party, had efficiently jumbled the records before they finally abandoned their posts at the Police Department.
The first phase of the Gestapo raids consisted in the apprehension of all militants—as far as they could be found—whose names appeared on the "blood" lists. Many of the intended victims escaped capture by changing their quarters every night. But this became increasingly difficult. The number of available cover addresses decreased rapidly. The families in whose households the Gestapo found an active communist in hiding were doomed. Neighbors distrusted each other, and parents feared their children. After the first wave of arrests there was a lull. The "blood" lists were exhausted. We used the two-day lull to reorganize our shaken units, to re-establish several contacts, to discard unstable partisans, and to supply the Party’s Espionage Defense with the names of known traitors.
Then the Gestapo sprang anew, and in a different manner. Every member of the Nazi Party was ordered to collaborate with the Secret Police. Informers were appointed to ferret out the secrets of every factory, every block, and every house. An avalanche of denunciations poured in. Nazi spies who had operated in the communist ranks for years came out into the open. They were put into motor-cars, together with a Gestapo squad. From dawn to dark, and all through the night, these cars criss-crossed the city. Whenever the spy saw a communist of his acquaintance on the street, he gave a signal, the car stopped, and the comrade was arrested. In a city like Hamburg, which harbored more than one hundred thousand communist followers, such tactics had devastating results. One spy alone—Kaiser, who had been the chief of the Communist Unemployed Organization—accounted for nearly eight hundred seizures of communists and members of their families. And there were many more like him.
The communist S-Apparat, one of whose chiefs was Michel Avatin, dressed certain sections of its operatives in stolen storm trooper uniforms, and the comrades so disguised became a veritable terror to the above-mentioned category of Nazi spies. It was the activity of these groups that gave rise in the early stages of the National Socialist Revolution to the strange rumors that Nazi murdered Nazi in desolate sections of Hamburg and Berlin. I remember cases where agents of the Communist Espionage Defense, working inside the Hitler movement, cast suspicion on communist traitors with such success that these informers for the Gestapo ended up themselves in the torture chambers after they had become useless to Hitler’s Secret Police.
There was a third phase in the Gestapo raiding technique, against which there was no adequate defense. The method was as crude as it was effective. Without warning, several hundred Gestapo agents, aided by thousands of Elite Guards and storm troopers, swooped down on a certain section of the city. The storm troopers formed a dense cordon around many city blocks. No one was permitted to enter or to leave the surrounded area. A trooper was posted at the entrance of every house. No inhabitant was permitted to leave the house nor was anyone allowed to enter it. The Gestapo agents and Elite Guards then searched each house from roof to cellar. No room, no bed or drawer or upholstery was spared. Walls and floors were tapped for hiding-places. Men, women and children were stripped and searched. All who could not identify themselves satisfactorily were herded into waiting caravans of trucks. The hauls were huge. Secret printing presses, stores of arms and explosives, depots of illegal literature, codes, documents, and hungry-looking fugitives without identification papers were brought to light in almost every block.

I knew that my name was known to the Gestapo. I had taken the usual precautions demanded by our rules of conspiracy. Since the night of the Reichstag Fire, I had not visited the apartment which I had shared with Firelei and which was the home of our son, who was then five months old. I slept in the quarters of obscure communist friends. I used cover addresses for my mail, and three separate courier stations for messages and liaison purposes. The clandestine meetings and conferences in which I participated never took place twice at the same place. Parks, monarchist restaurants, abandoned ships, crowded dance-halls, barges and boats were the places in which I met my comrades to make plans, to give and receive reports and instructions. We seldom used private houses; as the days passed and the intensity of terror grew, every house was liable to be a trap.
Before going to a meeting place, I would send an aide—usually a young boy or a very young girl—ahead to investigate whether the rendezvous was free from suspicious loiterers. I made myself as inconspicuous in appearance and behavior as I possibly could. In my pockets I carried a Belgian passport and a few harmless letters in Flemish, bearing post-marks of Ostend. Never did I carry confidential material on my person. I had learned to memorize long lists of names and addresses and a conglomeration of code words. Written material has ever been the most dangerous snag in conspirative organization. When notes had to be carried, a girl courier in possession of a Nazi Party card carried them for me in a secret pocket on the inside of her girdle. Necessary consultations with one or the other of my superiors were invariably made while walking leisurely through some suburban street. I never used empty or half-empty autobuses or tramcars; crowded means of transportation were always good hiding-places. I avoided all superfluous personal relations with my former friends; only Party relations counted. All inquisitive people had to be treated as suspect. It was a Party order that members who asked questions of other Party members, outside of their limited sphere of activities, must immediately be reported to the local G.P.U. Apparat. I used a different name for each different district in which I was active. More, in my dealings with comrades whom I did not know intimately, I never used the name given in my identification papers, nor the name under which I occasionally had registered in hotels, nor the names under which I had previously been arrested, nor any other name I had ever used before.
A man engaged in political underground work learns punc­tuality, no matter how small the importance of the undertaking at hand. Waiting people were apt to attract the attention of passers-by or of unseen watchers. A few minutes of waiting for someone often caused the questioning and arrest of those who waited. We never waited longer than one minute; when the expected comrade did not arrive at the end of that time, an often painfully maintained contact was disrupted. Comrades kept their residences secret from each other; only the all-important liaison men and couriers were in possession of the vital addresses. In my various secret quarters, I never received visitors. I took care not to attract the attention of neighbors by burning a light until late at night. I moved quietly, entering and leaving my quarters only after the street and all nearby windows had been scanned for watchers.
With the friends with whom I lived I agreed on signals and signs to indicate safety or the presence of danger. A flowerpot on the window sill meant: "You may come in; all is in good order." A disarranged curtain warned: "Keep away. Danger." When walking along the street, I always kept far to the right, thus making it more difficult for raiders speeding by in automobiles to discern my face. Before turning a corner or entering a house, I made sure that no shadowers dogged me. Schoolboys and young girls were used especially by the Gestapo for small-time spying. The wives and sweethearts of arrested men or of fugitives were completely isolated by the Party, for they were the favorite objects of Gestapo surveillance. I never accosted another comrade in the presence of strangers; unless we had arranged in advance to meet each other, we gave no sign of mutual recognition. Of the highest importance became the so-called "conspirative minute": two or more underground workers meeting clandestinely spent the first minute of their meeting on agreeing as to what was to be said to the police in case of a sudden raid. The drinking of alcoholic beverages became a strict taboo. A communist caught in a love affair with a girl who was not a Party member was inevitably expelled from our ranks. More than one mistress of Party officials had been unmasked as collaborators of the Gestapo.
Such were the fundamental rules of our underground existence. Recklessness, flightiness had no chance for survival. Bravery alone was not enough, neither was loyalty. Only crafty dissimulation, aggressive cunning and steady nerves could keep our staffs afloat, and in condition to strike out of the dark. The Gestapo attacked with wild, smashing blows. There was little cleverness in their initial methods. It took many months before this instrument of terror developed the patience and skill and deadly routine which made later underground assignments in Germany a ticket to certain annihilation.

Three days after the big man-hunt began in Hamburg, Julius Emmerich, who acted as courier between our secret press aboard the Bochum and the "activist" units in the harbor, did his Judas work. It happened shortly before dawn. The ship’s watchman lay asleep in his cabin amidships. Willem, the tugboat captain, and Popovics, the steadfast Rumanian revolutionist, had just finished their night’s work of printing an underground paper, the Searchlight. They were waiting for Julius Emmerich to take the printed matter to the waiting group leaders for distribution. Emmerich did not appear. Instead, Popovics, who had come on deck to look for the courier, saw five or six men crawling over the deck of a steamer which was moored alongside the Bochum. Popovics ran to rouse the watchman. The watchman came forward and challenged the intruders who had already leaped aboard the Bochum.
"Raise your hands," was the answer he received. "Stand still or we shoot."
Guns in hand, the raiders spread out over the decks. Popovics yelled through a ventilator into the hold.
"Flee! Gestapo!"
It was too late for Willem to escape. He made a pathetic attempt to heave overboard the packages containing the treasonous Search­light. The invaders caught him. Popovics jumped into the harbor, with guns cracking behind him. While swimming, he stripped off his clothes. He got out of the reach of the guns by swimming behind a ship which was anchored in the middle of Waltershof Basin. He finally reached a Greek freighter, shouted for help, and someone lowered a bowline. The Greek sailors supplied Popovics with clothes and helped him ashore. The Rumanian repaired immediately to my apartment, where Firelei, who had never been arrested by the police, still lived with our baby. Firelei knew where to find me.
The Gestapo worked swiftly. Before noon, seventy-eight members of our "activist" brigades were rounded up. The watchman of the Bochum refused to answer the questions of the Gestapo; he escaped by jumping to his death from a fifth floor window of the Police Headquarters. Willem, after two hours of beating with chains, told the Nazis all he knew. By nightfall I had received detailed reports on these events, and ordered all comrades whose names and addresses were known by the captured men to change their quarters without delay—if they could. For most of the militants of the rank and file were already homeless and penniless.
During the night, with the help of Firelei and several couriers, I strove to rebuild the remnants of my organization. That was a difficult task, because the arrests continued all through the night, and there was the constant danger of blundering into a house at a time when it was being ransacked by the Gestapo. Every unknown face, and be it ever so friendly, gave rise to the question: "Who are you? Friend? Foe? Can I trust you or will you betray me?" By morning we were dead-tired. Physical exhaustion and nervous strain defied all stimulants.
"I feel like a walking corpse," Firelei told me, attempting a brave smile. "Where can we sleep?"
"I don’t know," I said.
"Jan, what a shabby life we are leading. Sometimes I think that all our efforts have no purpose," Firelei said bitterly.
"You are tired."
"Yes, tired."
"I shall find a place where you can sleep," I promised.
"First I have to go and rescue our son," she said.
"Be careful."
"I will."
We agreed to meet in a small restaurant in the Barmbeck dis­trict. I arrived there at the fixed time. Firelei did not come. I waited hour after hour, half mad with anxiety. Firelei did not appear. I borrowed a bicycle and rode to the Schaarmarkt, where the apartment in which we had lived through so many happy hours was located. From the street I saw that the windows were open. Books and papers were being thrown through the windows. They were my books and my papers. Storm troopers in the street collected them and stowed them into the back-seat of a car. At a respectable distance from the house, groups of men and women and a few children stood gaping in silence. To them a house raid was already a familiar sight. It was seven o’clock in the morning.
From behind, a hand tapped me on the shoulder. I saw a familiar face. It belonged to a functionary of our street unit. He motioned me to follow him. We slipped away.
"Comrade Firelei is safe," the comrade said.
"Where is she? She came here to get the baby."
"Be calm. You’ll see her."
He led me through several dingy streets and finally into a well-kept tenement house. I found Firelei in a small apartment where children romped noisily. She was sitting on a chair in the kitchen, holding a handkerchief against her lips. A robust, red-armed woman tried to comfort her.
"What happened?" I demanded. "Where is the child?" Haltingly, Firelei told me what had occurred. She told it in a tone of unbelief, almost of self-accusation.
She had gone to our apartment where she had found Jan, the child, peacefully sleeping in his cradle. For some time she had stood still and watched the little face, careful not to disturb him. She had been tired, dead-tired. She had put some milk on the range to warm, had taken a hot shower, and had lain down on the bed with the intention of resting for a few short minutes. Then, against her will, she had fallen asleep.
A sudden ring at the front door had awakened her. She had lain still and held her breath, fearful that the baby should wake up and cry.
"Open up!" a voice had barked outside.
Then the door crashed under a powerful blow. Someone moved cautiously through the vestibule. An instant later a thick-set young man in a gray overcoat and a gray hat stood in her bedroom. The man had a Mauser in his hand. He did not take off his hat.
"Good morning," he said. "My name is Teege. I wish to have a chat with your husband."
"He’s not here. Who are you?"
"Geheime Staatspolizei."
"I am alone," Firelei said. "My husband has gone away." "Where to?"
"I don’t know. To France, perhaps."
The Gestapo man looked around the room. Then he said: "I don’t believe you. Get dressed."
"You are coming with me."
"You’ll see. Now dress yourself."
Firelei thought quickly. "I have nothing on," she said to the invader. "I cannot dress when you’re in the room. You must step into the next room until I’m ready."
Gestapo Agent Herrmann Teege hesitated. He was confronted with the choice of waiting in the adjoining living-room or of having to drag a naked young woman out of bed.
"Wie Sie wollen [9]," he said. He lifted the child out of the cradle. With the still sleeping baby in his arms, he stepped into the living-room. "I better take care of the little one till you are ready," he announced.
Firelei now acted in wild violation of her own nature. She leaped out of bed, slipped on shoes and a coat and tiptoed to the second bedroom door, which led into the vestibule. In the other room, the Gestapo man was telephoning a nearby storm trooper station, requesting the assistance of a house-searching detachment. Firelei reached the front door and bolted down the staircase. The streets were still empty, except for occasional dockers on their way to work. She reached a small tobacco shop, the owner of which was a friend. The shopkeeper led her to the apartment in which I found her. There Firelei had collapsed. There, under the care of a robust mother of many children, she was consoled with maternal persistence.
"Don’t worry, don’t worry," the woman murmured. "They wouldn’t harm a baby. Just wait. You just wait till they’ve finished searching the house, the dreckigen Hunde [10]. And when they’ve gone away, why—I’ll go there myself and get your baby back. I’d like to see who’d dare to stop me! Nobody’d stop a woman like me. I’d show them. Now, my girl, you just be still and wait."
The scene was typical, I felt, of what was happening that very instant all over the German land. We waited. A feeble sun was crawling over the grimy tenement walls. Toward eleven I sent a youngster from the street unit to investigate. He pinned a swastika badge to his coat-lapel and sauntered away. After many endless minutes he returned.
"They’re now searching the whole house," he reported, "and the houses on both sides of it. There’s one Gestapo Schwein and nine storm troopers who do the snooping, and a car full of Gestapo men around the corner, waiting for trouble."
I detailed the youngster and two others to keep the house and the raiders under observation. Then I hurried to a house on a dismal alley which bore the strange name Herrlichkeit [11]. Here was the secret district headquarters of the Red Front Fighters’ League. But for an elderly liaison-man and three couriers—a girl of perhaps seventeen and two boys of fourteen and fifteen—the house was empty.
I wanted ten men with guns to create a diversion, to lure the Gestapo away from the Schaarmarkt into one of the old side-streets, so that one of my friends could dash upstairs and take away the child. The young couriers were eager to help. But the grizzled liaison-man shook his head.
"Comrade, you know that we cannot take orders from any­body," he said stolidly. "Our orders come from the Gauleitung. [12] Those are the only orders we follow."
"Where can I contact Fiete Schulz?" I demanded. Schulz was the military chief of the Gauleitung, the successor to Edgar André.
The liaison-man smiled. "That I cannot tell you. You don’t be­long to Comrade Fiete’s Apparat."
All my further arguments proved futile. The Red Front League squads were busy elsewhere. They would not imperil one of their men to salvage a baby. In the underground, I found, small children were dangerous ballast.
It was afternoon before I returned to the apartment of the robust woman. Firelei was not there. The woman said she had found some odd clothes for Firelei, who had then disguised herself by wearing her hair high under an old-fashioned hat, and by putting on eye-glasses and rubbing her face with fine ashes, which made her look older. She had gone away with the young comrade from the street unit.
"You better hurry," the woman told me.
I cast caution to the winds. I rushed to Schaarmarkt. In the center of the cobbled square, a flight of stairs led down to a public lavatory. I descended several steps until my eyes were level with the ground. So hidden, I scanned the sidewalk. I saw Firelei. She was walking slowly past the house which held our apartment. The house was silent now. No Brownshirts were in sight. Swastika flags hung limply on scores of poles protruding from windows.
As Firelei walked past the house, her eyes were directed upward to the windows of our apartment. She continued to the next corner, paused restlessly, and then retraced her steps, again passing the house, again scanning the apparently silent windows. She walked fifty yards past the house and then suddenly entered a hallway. I strode up the steps and toward the same hallway, forcing myself to walk leisurely. At the bottom of a semi-dark staircase I saw Firelei speaking to my young helper.
"Go away from here," I said nervously. "This is madness."
"I have to get my child," Firelei said firmly. "He’s lying on the window sill. He is crying."
"And who else is there?"
"I don’t know. Everything else is so quiet."
"Where are our watchers? Did you see the Nazis leave?" I asked the young communist.
"Two troopers went away with the car. They had it packed high with things they took."
"And the others? The Gestapo man?"
"I don’t know."
"Don’t go into the house," I said. "They’ve set a trap. They’re probably hiding in the rooms, waiting for us to come for the baby."
"They put him on the window sill. He’s hungry. He cries!" Firelei muttered. She clenched her fists. "The beasts, oh, the beasts!"
She wanted to go into the house.
"Don’t go," I pleaded. "They’ll arrest you."
"They wouldn’t allow you to have your baby in jail with you," the young comrade said.
We stood in the hallway, not knowing what to do. A man passed on his way upstairs. His clothes smelled of stale beer.
"He looked at us," the youngster whispered. "We can’t stay here longer."
Firelei said through clenched teeth, "If I ever get my Jan back, I shall teach him how to hate."
These were terrible words to come from the tender lips of Firelei.
"The man looked at us," the young communist repeated. "I tell you, we can’t stay here any longer."
"I stay," Firelei said. "He was only a workman."
I could not budge her. There were pressing matters to which I had to attend. Already I had lost the greater part of the day. I felt that nothing could be done about our child. If the Gestapo agents got tired of lurking behind the curtains, they would take our son with them. I had an appointment with a Party member, who was a photographer, about the installation of a new printing plant in his atelier.
"I must go," I said painfully.
"Well, then go."
"You promise me to do nothing foolish?"
"I promise," Firelei said.
"This neighborhood is dangerous. Never forget that too many people know you here."
"I know. I shall do nothing foolish."
I gave Firelei most of the money I carried in my pockets. We agreed on a place where we could contact one another—the reading room of the City Museum, any day between two and three. We parted, not knowing whether we should ever see each other again.
I resolved to organize the new printing establishment of our harbor units on a basis of utmost decentralization, as the best safeguard against catastrophes-to-come. Each phase in the production of propaganda material had to be worked out in a separate place. There was one for the writing of copy, another for paper storage, a third for the typewriters, a fourth for the printing paraphernalia, and a fifth as a depot for printed material awaiting distribution. No comrade working in one shop was to know the location of the other stations, and each two stations required a separate courier service. I forced my thoughts away from my personal troubles. Even so small a task as the purchase of a hundred thousand sheets of paper was fraught with danger and claimed total attention. All paper stores were under Gestapo surveillance, and the merchants had been instructed to report the names and addresses of all quantity purchasers of paper. It was exceptionally hard to find a man inconspicuous and courageous enough to go to a dealer to buy paper. But after much diligent and cautious searching I found Jan Templin, a foreman in the stevedoring firm Einheit—Unity—which handled the discharging and loading of Soviet ships.
Templin was a fine figure of a man, gray-eyed, blond-haired, and as sound as a full grown oak. Together we walked down a lonely street, a courier preceding us, and another following to warn us in time against the sudden appearance of a raiding squad. Jan Templin rumbled with discontent.
"By the grave of Karl Liebknecht," he swore, "I’ve three apart­ments crowded with big Comintern uncles, and I don’t know what to do with them. They came scuttling from Berlin and now they want me to smuggle them out on Russian ships. The lot of ’em is so scared they’ll dirty their pants when they see a brown shirt fluttering from a line."
I laughed. His wrath was funny, I thought.
"Who are they?" I could not help asking. Templin growled:
"Never mind the names. If I only could put the whole lot in a sack and drown them. What do the bastards think? Can I shake Soviet steamers out of my sleeves?"
"That’s your problem," I said. "My problem is paper."
"Yes. Where can I buy it without being grabbed on the spot?"
"Buy it?"
"What else? Have you paper to give away?"
"Any amount," Jan Templin said.
"A hundred thousand sheets?"
He had forgotten his own problem. His eyes shone. His eyes shone because his imagination told him that the paper he could give me would be used to print appeals of resistance and sabotage and would soon find its way into cargo sheds, forecastles and hiring-halls. The Einheit was more than a stevedoring firm; it was a pillar of revolutionary conspiracy disguised as a commercial enterprise. Longshoremen who were not communists could find no employment in the Einheit. The firm’s work gangs had long been organized along military lines. Often they were employed in all manner of perilous work as the price they had to pay for the privilege of earning their pay on Soviet ships. From Jan Templin I learned that the Einheit crew had successfully plundered a paper warehouse in the free-port zone. He spoke the truth when he said that he had "any amount" of paper at hand. The paper had been smuggled ashore past the customs after Templin’s men had hidden it in the coal bunkers of tugboats manned by communists.
I received the needed consignment of paper, and found a store­room for it in a basement under a baker’s shop. I hired a pushcart to transport the paper. The contraband, once aboard the vehicle, was covered with three hundred pounds of potatoes, and two of my assistants pushed it to its destination. The same potatoes I used the following day to camouflage the transport of an electrically-driven multigraph machine. The machine had previously been the property of a Party unit of white-collar workers, all of whom had been arrested. I mounted the machine in a dark room, adjoining a photographer’s atelier on the top floor of a building on the Reeperbahn. This seemed an ideal spot for a secret printing plant. The atelier had two entrances. The front stairs led to the Reeperbahn, the back stairs into a courtyard opening on a side-street. I saw to it that an electric button was installed in the photographer’s apart­ment, connecting it to a buzzer in the dark room. The men engaged in printing could thus be warned by the photographer should raiders enter the latter’s apartment. I again appointed Alex­ander Popovics as head printer. He caressed the almost new machine as if it were his own child.
"Now we are ready again," he said happily. "You write—I print."
Of Firelei and the child I heard and saw nothing for two days. The reorganization of my propaganda Apparat had been accomplished without further arrests. All the old addresses, as far as they were known by the captured comrades, had been abandoned. New contact stations had been established, new meeting-places and pass­words fixed, new cover addresses found for communication with the hundreds of communist ship units—strongholds which had remained practically untouched by the Gestapo drives. The first large edition of a new leaflet, entitled "The Hooked Cross is a Hunger Cross," was being launched under Popovics’s tireless hands. And still there was no word from Firelei.
I met her again on the fourth day after the invasion of our former home by the Gestapo. I saw her sitting at a reading-room table in the City Museum, turning the pages of a large book containing reproductions of Albrecht Dürer’s paintings. Her face looked drawn, but her hands were steady and her eyes serene. That she was there, safe for the moment, was like a miracle. That instant I pledged myself never to leave her alone again.
"You see," she smiled, "I can take care. I have done nothing foolish."
"Tell me."
She had roused a dozen people, who were not members of the Party, a grocer, a seamstress, a truck driver, a tailor’s daughter, and others who had learned to like Firelei from previous association and were willing to do her a favor. Every few hours she had found someone else, and her request had always been the same: "My child is up there in the house. Please go and take him to your home until I call for him." One after another those friendly people had tramped up to the second floor, where our little Jan had last been seen squirming on the window sill. And none of the merciful rescuers returned.
"Our apartment was like a hungry maw," Firelei said. "Many people went in—none came out. The Gestapo just kept them there, and hoped that one of us would come in the end."
After three days of waiting the man hunters had tired. They had slashed the beds, broken the furniture, torn pictures off the walls. All my books, photographs and manuscripts they had carried away with them, together with a radio and other objects of value. They had found nothing. I had taken good care to clear my rooms of all incriminating matter. The people Firelei had sent into the house were then set free after each had submitted to a parting kick. The Gestapo crew departed, leaving the wreckage, and announcing that they would send a city nurse for the child.
The seamstress, a plucky girl named Lieschen, had then returned to our apartment and escaped with the baby.
"I gave Lieschen my last money," Firelei said, "to take our son to my relatives in Hannover."
She could not hide how hard it was for her to part from the child. I pretended not to notice her anguish. I spoke of work that was to be done. She listened as if nothing else existed for her.
"You are my comrade," I said.
"Aye," she nodded. "Back to the trenches."

Chapter Twenty-eight - DEAD MEN ON FURLOUGH

I WAS CALLED TO BERLIN. Walter Duddins, the swarthy Rhine­lander who had succeeded the too-well-known Reichstag deputy, Herrmann Schubert, as the political chief of the Hamburg Party organization, conveyed the order to me. I had met him for a seemingly innocent stroll through the dark Stadtpark. He gave me a password, an address in Berlin-Neukölln, and told me where and when a motorcycle courier would be waiting to take me along. Of course, I received no inkling as to the nature of my mission.
"And Firelei?" I wanted to ask. I remembered the promise I had given myself.
The question, to communist ears, had too absurd a sound to be uttered aloud. The Party needed Firelei in Hamburg. If she left her post, she would be regarded as a deserter. And the new Party rule branded desertion as treason.
"All right," I said to Duddins.
"Hand over your Apparat to Comrade Otto. He has guts."
"Very well." Otto K. was my chief aide-de-camp in our mari­time organization. He had won a reputation for engineering mutinies on German ships in American ports during the October strike of 1931.
"I warn you," Duddins concluded. "Not a word to anyone about what you will hear or see in Berlin."
I met the courier at noon. He was a young student who had abandoned the university to become a professional revolutionist. He wore the insignia of the monarchist Steel Helmets on his leather jacket.
"If we’re stopped on the road," I instructed him, "we don’t know a thing about each other. You picked me up at a gas station because I offered you ten marks to take me to Berlin."
"Very well."
Five minutes later we raced through the outskirts of Hamburg. Five hours later, without a stop, we entered Berlin. The student drove to a branch hostelry of the Y.M.C.A., where we dismounted in the courtyard.
"I’ll stop off here for two days," the student said. "If you need me, ask for Herr Gerdes."
I chose crowded street-cars for my journey to Neukölln, an industrial suburb known as the "barricade quarter." The city of Berlin itself was full of Hitler guards; their brown and black uniforms flashed up in every block. But out in the treeless, stone desert of Neukölln, Nazi uniforms were rare. Here no storm trooper dared to walk alone. They marched in closed groups of six or more, keeping well in the middle of the street. Even policemen patrolled their beats in pairs, armed to the teeth and ready for instant action.
I entered a three-story house. Apartment 4, Meyerhoff. I was aware of a familiar tenseness. My heartbeat became quick and short. One never knew when one rang a bell whether a friend still lived behind the door, or whether the Gestapo lay in ambush there. I rang the bell. A little boy opened the door. Seeing a stranger, he slammed it immediately.
"Papa!" I heard him cry.
Heavier footsteps approached. I saw a short man with an unshaven chin. The man was in shirtsleeves. From a door, at the end of the corridor, a woman’s face peered at me. The man switched on a bulb which left me standing in a brilliant light, while he himself remained in the half-dark.
"What do you want?"
I gave him the password, which ran: "I’ve read your ad. I’d like to look at the stamps you have for sale."
"You’re a dealer?"
"No, an amateur."
"Come in!"
The man led me into a neatly furnished room. "Sit down," he said. Out of a locker he drew a folder. It contained a stamp collec­tion. "When you hear the doorbell ring, appear to be studying the stamps," he advised me. "Nowadays you never know. I’m going to shave."
After the man had shaved and dressed, he left the house alone. About an hour later he returned.
"Let’s go," he said. "Don’t walk together with me. Walk ten paces behind. Stop when you see me put my right hand in my pocket. You’ll notice a young woman. When I put both hands in my pockets, don’t wait—beat it!"
"All right."
We strode through many streets, turning many corners. Each time, before my guide rounded a corner, he pretended to be looking at a street-sign to make sure that no shadowers followed us. Finally he walked into a small Konditorei. A few seconds later he reappeared, continuing for ten paces. He halted to look at a shop window. Slowly his right hand went into his coat pocket. I stopped. I was standing in front of the little Konditorei. A tall girl, a complete stranger, stepped out of the cafe. She greeted me cheerfully. "Hallo, I’ve been waiting for you." She hooked her arm into mine. Together we crossed the street like old acquaintances. I glanced back over my shoulder. The man who had led me here had disappeared. His part in the devious mechanism of conspirative communication had ended.
Again we walked in circles. The girl was chatting animatedly about Marlene Dietrich. Abruptly she piloted me into a restaurant, where a bevy of street-car conductors was at supper. After she had finished her coffee, she shook hands with me.
"Linger until someone you know gives you a sign," she said in parting, and vanished.
I was alone for a while. People came and went, and I briefly scanned each new face for a sign of recognition. Outside, the street lamps were switched on, a radio played, and from the kitchen came the clatter of dishes. Then a slender young woman in black stepped in. She moved with poise. Her face was cool and well chiseled, and she had shapely legs. She sat down at a table near the entrance and ordered salad and tea. I knew her. She was Cilly. The mission on which I had been called to Berlin became clear to me: I was to meet Ernst Wollweber.
Cilly ate leisurely. After she had lit a cigarette, she occupied herself with playfully building a tiny tower of the spice-containers on her table. A motion of her knee jarred the table, the tower collapsed. I watched every one of her motions. She made an apparently inadvertent gesture of mock despair in my direction. It was the signal. Soon she departed. I paid the waiter, got up and followed her.
It was quite dark now. We boarded a taxi, and changed to another one in the clangor of the Friedrichstrasse.
"You may sleep, if you wish to," Cilly said slowly. "We have a long ride."
Nothing more was said. The tenseness had left me. I lay back, watching the dim shape of the driver in front. At times my eyes wandered sideways to where Cilly relaxed, serene as if she were returning home from the theater. Streets rushed past. Trees and houses spun by. We were traveling south-west, toward Zehlendorf. At the edge of Zehlendorf, in front of a modem apartment house, the driver stopped.
Cilly paid the chauffeur and stepped through the portal. Again I followed her. She ushered me into a ground floor apartment. The furniture was simple, but new. The papered walls were bare and the kitchen was empty. There was nothing to indicate that anyone lived there.
"Please wait," Cilly said. "I must inform Comrade Ernst that you are here."
Again I was alone. After a while the front door clicked. An agile, powerfully-built man entered noiselessly. I had seen him before. He was one of the Berlin-Moscow couriers of the Western Secretariat, and his name was Max. In bygone years he had been an instructor in jiu-jitsu for the Berlin police. He saluted me vigorously.
"Our friend is downstairs," he said. "He doesn’t like to talk between four walls. Remember this house; when you’re done, come back here."
A burly figure was waiting in front of the house. Only the glow of a cigarette showed that it was alive. So I met Wollweber in the shadows of Berlin under Hitler. He grunted with pleasure. Side by side we walked toward Zehlendorf Forest and the Grunewald.
"Sometimes,"Wollweber said in a low steady voice, "the best plans are wrecked by unexpected happenings. But that’s no reason for becoming panicky. In the end, we’re going to win. ’Nobody ever killed his successor.’ Machiavelli said that, and he knew what he was talking about." And in a growl, he added: "Tell me what you know about Hamburg."
I told him all I knew. Wollweber listened, his eyes staring ahead into the blackness against which were silhouetted the naked trees. After I had given my report, he asked questions. His questions were precise, and they demanded precise answers. His grasp of detail always astonished me anew. His interest in a new printing device or a new technique of propaganda distribution was as intense as his interest in the central action committees and the newly created net of sabotage units. It was characteristic of Wollweber that he showed no anxiety at all about the fate of the frightened Comintern emissaries, who had evacuated Berlin post-haste to wait for Soviet ships in Jan Templin’s relay stations in Hamburg.
"They were a nuisance anyway," Wollweber commented. "To­day one good little comrade in Germany is worth ten big ones abroad." And he went on:
"Things are not as bad as they might have been. Anyone who knows the Nazis can’t be surprised by their methods. 30,000 comrades are now in thirty-two concentration camps. Last week, 247 comrades were murdered in Berlin. That is terrible, but not bad—considering the size of our organization. There will be more. Certainly. The cost is always high when a mass party changes from a legal status to an illegal existence. On the other hand, the Gestapo could have shot or hanged the whole 30,000. We must never forget that! The greatest danger for the movement is not the Gestapo. The greatest danger is panic."
Ernst Wollweber had the calmness of a rock.
"And the greatest mistake we can make today," he continued, "is to imitate the illegal methods the Bolsheviki used before the Soviet victory. The Gestapo is not the Ochrana. The Czarist Black Hundreds were laggards in comparison to the Elite Guards we’ve got to deal with. As compared with the Gestapo terror, the Ochrana terror was a holiday. We must shake off imitation in our practical working methods. We must fight Hitler with modern methods, and, if necessary, we must change our methods from day to day. That is why I called you to Berlin. The comrades must be prepared until they reach the point where no sudden change of policy or method will surprise them. Stubborn heads will have to be broken."
Wollweber talked on. After each sentence he paused for my assent. It was long before I realized that he was sounding me out about my attitude toward Party discipline in general, and my subservience to the dictatorship of Wollweber in particular. I did not question his motives. But I understood that he was possessed by an implacable distrust of all who had been part and parcel of the old leadership of the German Communist Party. Many of the old leaders had been arrested, most of those still at large had escaped from Germany, and overnight Ernst Wollweber had become the responsible commander and the leading organizer of the new underground movement. He was a man determined to refuse to co-operate with anyone in the Party who did not unconditionally do his bidding. More than ever he resembled a chunky, formidable caricature of Stalin. It was impossible to tell where political motives ended and the personal ones began in him. It was almost impossible to predict his plans until the very last moment before their realization. One thing was certain, a ship captained by Ernst Wollweber must be manned, from chief mate to cabin boy, by Wollweber’s trusted creatures.
He wanted a change of leadership in the Hamburg Party organization, which was next in importance only to that of Berlin. Walter Duddins, he intimated, had to go; a man named John Scheer was to be his successor. The task for which Wollweber had singled me out was to contact Comrade Scheer with the key functionaries of the Hamburg Apparat, without the knowledge of their chief—Walter Duddins. Thus, after thorough preparation, Duddins could be isolated by one quick coup. Duddins, who had been a Reichstag member, had had an international education. He was respected for his fearlessness and his ability. But he regarded Wollweber as "a peasant." And the only explanation which the saturnine ex-mutineer ever gave for his antagonism to Duddins was a growled, "Comrade Walter is a reckless opportunist." Wollweber would go to Hamburg himself to install John Scheer at the head of a reshuffled leadership.
The grim conversation ended. My chief stood leaned against the trunk of a big tree, and his slit-eyes peered up at my face from behind the glow of his cigarette. For a moment we stood in silence.
Then Wollweber said raucously: "Have you heard the latest German joke?"
"Who is the most desirable woman in the Third Reich?"
"I don’t know."
"The ’Aryan’ grandmother," he guffawed.
We parted at the edge of the Grunewald. The woods were de­serted, the night warm and pitch-black. As I strode away, Ernst Wollweber’s mirthless guffaw still ringing in my ears, I was glad to be alone.
Very late I returned to the house in Zehlendorf. Max and two other men were there, all in pajamas, playing cards in a back room. "You look glum," Max told me. "Anybody bite you?"
"I want to sleep," I answered. "I never thought the chief could walk for hours at a stretch."
"The chief can do many things." Max laughed. "The comrades who come here to have a talk with the chief go out into the woods like matadors, and back they come like pallbearers. Come on, I’ll show you your bed."
He led me to a spacious bedroom. Like the other rooms I had seen, it showed no trace of having been inhabited, except for a faint scent which reminded me of wild roses.
"Take off your shoes," Max cautioned me. "The folks below us will think we’re counterfeiters, tramping around like that in the night."
"What’s this perfume?" I asked. "I’ve smelled it before." "Cilly sleeps here sometimes when the chief is out of town," Max replied matter-of-factly.

We were on the train to Hamburg: Wollweber, John Scheer, Cilly and I. It was not the express I had used so often in safer times. Prudence forbade hunted men to show their faces at any central railway station. We traveled from Berlin to Spandau on the inter­urban railway, and in Spandau we had boarded a local train which would permit us to get off at Bergedorf, a suburb of Hamburg, and thus avoid the Gestapo blockade of the Hamburg terminal station. Wollweber and I were in different compartments of the same coach, while John Scheer and Cilly were in another coach at the rear end of the train. Wollweber and Cilly traveled on Danish passports, I posed as a Belgian, and Comrade Scheer carried the credentials of a merchant from Minneapolis. John Scheer was a distinguished-looking man of thirty-six, with sharply-cut features and clear eyes. Dressed in Nelson blue, he had the appearance of a naval officer in mufti.
The journey was tedious. The train was fairly crowded with local travelers, among them a number of storm troopers from the country districts, and every few miles it stopped at obscure Elb-country stations. In Berlin I had bought one of the Parisian metro­politan dailies. At every station, I used its comfortable size to shut myself from the view of passengers and officials on the platforms, Neither I nor, I am sure, any of my fellow voyagers, suspected that the Gestapo had just evolved a new wrinkle in raiding technique.
The train was approaching Ludwigslust, a small town eighty miles from Hamburg, and not far from Bismarck’s tomb. The en­gine shrieked, slowed down, and the train stopped as it had done at all the other stations on the line. As before, I spread out my paper and raised it until its center was on a level with my eyes and waited, pretending to read, for the train to move on.
The train did not move. I was shocked by a petty-officer’s voice barking in from the platform:
"Alles aussteigen! All passengers leave the train!"
There was a stir and a scraping of feet and excited whispers. I looked up.
The train was surrounded by Brownshirts. They wore around their sleeves the white band of Göring’s auxiliary police. Their pistols half protruded from their holsters, and the storm bands of their caps were strapped tight under their chins. I saw my fellow travelers scramble out of the coaches. Some joked, others asked nervous questions, a few looked frankly aghast at the raiders. I shuddered inwardly. "What now?" I thought. "Das Spiel ist aus!" [13]
I thought of a sad and beautiful song which Firelei liked to sing. "Farewell, green earth." That was its first line.
Once more came the strident command: "Passengers must leave the train!"
Ten feet away, Ernst Wollweber stood on the platform, black eyes blinking in the sunlight. He held a match to his cigarette, and his eyes followed a cloud of tobacco smoke as it dissolved in the clear morning.
I jumped out of the compartment. I jostled past Wollweber, and in doing so I stepped on his toes. I raised my hat. "Verzeihung," I said. "I beg your pardon."
"Keep your nerve," the chief muttered. "These fellows know nothing."
Then we drifted apart. I fell toward the rear of the train, hoping to discover a loophole. The ring of storm troopers was closed. Anyone foolish enough to break through it would go down under their bullets. Storm troopers stamped through the coaches, looked into the tool-rooms and the lavatories. At the far end of the train, Cilly stood chatting with a Brownshirt. Cilly had thrown her head back to show her long white throat, and the Nazi grinned appreciatively. John Scheer was striding briskly toward the locomotive, looking neither right nor left, putting as much distance between himself and Wollweber as he possibly could.
For no reason I followed John Scheer. I patted my chest where the good Belgian passport rested. It was as important to me now as a flimsy raft is to a castaway in mid-ocean. Suddenly I knew why I was following John Scheer. The crazy idea had seized me that Comrade Scheer was a locomotive engineer, and that he was about to board the locomotive and give her full steam ahead. Of course, he did not do it. He planted himself beside the engineer’s cab, crossed his hands behind his back, and stared haughtily over the heads of the Brownshirts. I turned. Ernst Wollweber’s face was a sullen mask. He was lighting another cigarette. I had a curious thought, one which had nothing to do with the immediate danger. "Our aim is in a haze," I thought, "the movement is becoming an aim in itself."
A voice, sounding as if it came through a megaphone, announced: "All passengers line up! Produce identifications!"
A small table stood at the end of the platform. On the table lay what looked like a book of medium size. Sitting on chairs be­hind the table were two young men in civilian clothes—Gestapo agents. Strung out in a single file in front of the table was the line of passengers. Among the first ten was John Scheer. Five or six passengers stood between him and myself. Toward the end of the line stood Wollweber, and behind him, almost a head taller, Cilly. A small distance away from the table, overlooking the whole scene, stood a tall young man with flashing blue eyes and an air of arrogant superiority. He wore no uniform, but in his coat lapel was the officer’s insignia of the Elite Guards. He was the official in charge of operations.
"Step forward!"
To confront the Gestapo in broad daylight is a far different experience than to thwart and combat it out of the dark. I had no urge to see what was happening to Wollweber and Cilly. All my effort was concentrated on appearing unperturbed, and my glance was fixed on the table in front.
The examination began. One by one the passengers stepped up to the table, showing identification papers and giving answers to curt questions. Meanwhile a detachment of storm troopers was going through the baggage which had been left in the compartments. Several travelers in front displayed membership cards of the Nazi Party. They were passed without molestation. Somewhere behind me a man collapsed. He was a Jew. Two troopers bent down to run their hands through his pockets. Then they led him back to the train. The Brownshirts were polite. They brought chairs from the waiting room and offered them to elderly women. The line grew shorter.
Now came John Scheer’s turn. He flipped his American passport on the table and looked disinterestedly into the sky. One of the Gestapo agents scrutinized the passport; the other thumbed through the book which contained lists of names and occasional photographs.
"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
John Scheer shook his head. "I speak English," he said.
The Gestapo man asked in bad English: "Why are you traveling in Germany?"
"Tourist," said John Scheer.
"You travel alone?"
"What is your business in America?"
"I have a steam laundry."
"What do you intend to do in Hamburg?"
"Take ship for New York," John Scheer said.
"How much money have you?"
"Ninety marks."
"Oh, you have bought your steamer ticket?"
"Please show it," the Gestapo man demanded.
"I do not have it here, a friend has it in Hamburg," Comrade Scheer explained.
"Give the name and address of your friend."
Scheer gave a name at random, and the name of a street which did not exist. The Gestapo agent who had been thumbing through the suspect list made a pencil note.
"Thank you," said John Scheer.
He stalked away. He had not progressed six steps toward the train when one of the Gestapo men called after him: "Aber Sie haben etwas vergessen!" (But you have forgotten something.) Comrade Scheer had left his American passport on the table. He whirled and came back, his arm outstretched. The Gestapo agent grabbed the passport.
"I thought you couldn’t understand German?" he rasped.
John Scheer looked at his fingernails. "A little I understand," he said.
The Gestapo officer who had so far kept aloof from the proceedings intervened. "Ist hier ein Nationalsozialist der Amerikanish sprechen kann?" (Is there a National Socialist present who speaks "American"?) he called into the line of waiting travelers. There were two Nazis who could speak "American." John Scheer’s body sagged visibly. His face grew stark. The Nazi travelers talked to him in English. He tried to answer.
"Dieser Herr ist bestimmt kein Amerikaner" (This gentleman is surely no American), one of the Nazis announced. John Scheer’s English was bad, and without an American accent.
"Sorry, we must detain you. Any baggage?"
Two storm troopers escorted Comrade Scheer into the waiting-room. Again he walked erect. It was the last I saw of him. Months later came the news that he had been murdered. No one except his killers knew how he died.

The examination continued. Except for a dull ache in my eyes I had already forgotten John Scheer. It was my turn now. Two men and a woman were now the only people between myself and the table. My passport, I knew, had a flaw. If expert hands took the second page of the passport and held it up against the light, expert eyes could easily see a spot where the paper was thinner, where the old photograph had been washed off and the new, my own, had been fastened in its stead. The man in front of me was being questioned. Mechanically I listened to his answers. He was Austrian, on the way to visit his married sister in the old town of Lauenburg. Throughout the inquisition he shifted from one foot to the other.
"Schön, you may go back to the train."
The Austrian departed with alacrity.
I stepped forward and handed my passport to the Gestapo man. The other, after a quick glance at my face, was again thumbing through the list of wanted men. A little way off their superior stood like a statue.
"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
"Jawohl! I was calm now. The clammy fear had gone.
"Are you traveling alone?"
"Yes, sir."
"For what purpose are you in Germany?"
"I am a seaman. I left my ship in Danzig. I am on my way back to Belgium to find myself another ship."
The Gestapo agent looked up. "What was the name of your ship?"
"Yser, of Antwerp," I said. "A Belgian ship."
"Why is there no Polish transit visa in your passport?" His finger stabbed at a blank page of my document.
"The Belgian consul in Danzig sent me by ship to Stettin. There I took a train."
"Show your ticket!"
Luckily, on Wollweber’s advice, I had bought a through ticket from Berlin to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.
"Why are you going to Hamburg?"
"My consul in Hamburg will ship me to Antwerp. It is cheaper than going by train."
"Have you been in Germany before this?"
"Only aboard ships."
The Gestapo man seemed satisfied. He looked at his colleague who had closed the book and shook his head slightly. He had found nothing.
A question, shot at me all of a sudden, almost took me off guard. "Why are you using the local train to ride from Berlin to Hamburg?"
"It’s cheaper," I said. "My consul would not pay the express-train tax."
"How much money have you?"
"Forty-three marks."
"Where did you learn to speak German?"
"My mother was from Eupen. I lived there many years. The district was German before Versailles was signed."
"Ah, then you are almost a Volksgenosse (comrade) ?"
"Yes, sir."
"Thank you, you may go back to the train."
It was over. I was afraid that I was walking too fast toward my compartment. I was afraid I would break into a run. I forced myself to walk slowly, in a manner I thought would look casual to sharp-eyed observers. Back on the train I thought of Ernst Wollweber. He would never pass. If anyone’s photograph was in the suspect list on that table, it must be Wollweber’s. I lowered the window of my compartment and glued my eyes to the chief. I held on to the sides of the window. The compressed excitement which filled me like liquid stone imparted to me the sensation of being in danger of floating off the floor of the coach.
Ernst Wollweber was smoking steadily. He gave no sign of agitation. His short, thick-set shape appeared harmless and insignificant between Cilly’s tall elegance in the rear of him, and the large man in front of him, whose coarse face and heavy watch-chain conveyed the impression of a butter-and-egg man, or a horse-trader.
The line grew shorter. Two men who had no identification papers were led off to the waiting-room. An hour, perhaps, had passed since the train had been stopped. The Gestapo officer grew impatient. He marched down the length of the still waiting line of passengers, motioning the women and a few children to go back to the train. Among those who went was Cilly. She walked to her compartment gracefully, leisurely. A score of male travelers remained in the line. The last of them was Ernst Wollweber. His head had become restless on his chunky shoulders. His small feet fidgeted on the concrete. Death, to him, was fifty feet away.
The drab station and the blue sky, the trees and the houses and the locomotive—they all seemed to ask, "Comrade Ernst . . . What now?"
Then something astonishing happened. Ernst Wollweber limped out of line. His face was screwed into an apologetic grin. He limped straight toward the tall young Gestapo officer, bowed clumsily, handed him the light-gray Danish passport. An instant, the two were engaged in conversation. The Gestapo agents at the table, seeing the squat little passenger talking to their superior, did not bother to call him back into the line—nor did they dare to question him. I could not hear what was said. They talked animatedly, Wollweber with a strange show of respect, the Gestapo officer in a jovially patronizing manner. His gloved hand patted Wollweber’s shoulder after it had handed the Danish passport back to him.
The examination of the remaining passengers was almost completed. The Gestapo officer escorted Wollweber to his compartment, chatting all the while. Moving over to the next window, I heard fragments of their talk.
"Grüssen Sie unsere Blutsbrüder (greetings to our blood-brothers) in Nord-Schleswig," he was saying. "The New Ger­many does not forget its sons beyond the frontier line. Gute Reise! Gute Reise! (happy journey.)"
A sergeant’s voice barked: "Alles fertig! (all’s ready.)"
The train began to move slowly. The Gestapo officer stood at attention. His right arm flew up in a straight line.
"Auf Wiedersehen! Heil Hitler!"
"Heil Hitler," Wollweber answered, without stirring a finger.

In a vegetarian restaurant in Bergerdorf the chief ordered Cilly to return to Berlin immediately. Cover addresses, depots, illegal residences, liaison stations—all such cogs of the underground machine, as far as they were known to John Scheer, had to be changed without delay, before Comrade Scheer’s resistance could be broken by the Gestapo.
Later, in Hamburg, I asked Wollweber: "How did you do it?"
"Do what?"
"On the train—in Ludwigslust?"
The Silesian gave one of his sardonic grins.
"I let him know I had gout," he said, "found it hard to stand so long in line. I told him I was a German Dane come south to con­vince myself that the atrocity tales in the foreign press were Jewish propaganda. The fellow was flattered. He swallowed it. He had pride, a pride as big as a house."
"If Comrade Scheer had had that idea," I observed, "they would have taken you."
Half in scorn, half mockingly, Ernst Wollweber muttered: "Why should they take me? . . . You know, most fellows have a hidden crack in their head. You don’t see it till it’s too late. In one wrong moment they do the one wrong thing, and that ends the infernal Mummenschanz (masquerade)."
For the rest of the day he dismissed from his mind all the under­ground problems. He locked himself into the room I had procured for him in a worker’s dwelling near the Hamburg airport. There, in solitude, he drank many bottles of Patzenhofer beer.
But Wollweber’s presence in Hamburg soon electrified the Party and the Gestapo. The survivors of the old bureaucratic Party Apparat, trembling for their chance of honorable retirement in the Soviet Union, developed a sudden suicidal bravado in an effort to prove to their chief that Hamburg was still the Reddest town out­side of Russia. The younger, and often hardier communists in the lower Party committees, who saw themselves as the heirs and the shock-brigadiers of the newly-formed underground movement, set out with élan to show Ernst Wollweber that the old leadership had been irretrievably outdistanced by events. Anyone outside of the Bolshevik movement would have regarded such rivalry for control of a doomed cause as a weird race for the privilege of dying painfully. To the cynic, it was nothing but evidence, written in blood, that even among the living dead the fight for meager rations is far fiercer than the battle for pots that are well filled.
The city of Hamburg echoed with communist demonstrations, and clouds of crimson leaflets descended from the housetops at hours when the streets below were most crowded. The Gestapo struck with lightning speed. From Police Headquarters reports filtered through that the masses of prisoners were made to suffer under the persistent accompaniment of the question: "Well, du Kommunistenschwein, are you ready to tell us now where Ernst Wollweber is?"
Hugo Marx, and Fritz Luchs, the heads of the Hamburg G.P.U. Apparat, were arrested. Walter Duddins was seized, and a thousand others. Marx hanged himself in his cell. Fritz Luchs was beaten to death. Duddins went to prison, convicted of treason. Wollweber survived. No one, except perhaps his superiors in the Comintern, and Max, the leader of his bodyguard, knew the sum total of his comings and goings. In the course of a single day, Ernst Wollweber conferred with a special "transport commission" of the Comintern press service, with a Russian who had come to Ham­burg as a radio operator aboard a Soviet ship, and with a disagree­able ruffian named Rudolf Heitman, who was a Gestapo agent on the payroll of the G.P.U. Circulating among Party members was a new manifesto, issued by Wollweber, which began:

"Comrades! Our retreat has ended. Another offensive be­gins. A military command begins a war with an army ready at hand; the Party must create its army in the course of the struggle itself ."

The new offensive, however, ended in Hitler’s prison camps. To close one’s eyes to the fact of defeat became the criterion of loyalty. It was not permitted to ask, "Why?" It was treason to inti­mate that there had been mistakes in the general policy of the past. We were, I suspect, more afraid of facing the truth and the doubts in our own hearts than of facing the might of the Hitler guards and the Gestapo.
Early one morning, toward the end of March, my secret printing plant in the photographer’s dark room was raided. The story of this raid is a tribute to the devoted heroism of Alexander Popovics. I had given the Rumanian a batch of instructions but a few short hours before the raid took place. He had the aspect of a man who had lived for weeks without a bath or decent food. But he was indomitable.
"We are all dead men on furlough," he had told Firelei. "But we can’t quit, we’d die of shame. We’d lie awake at night and see the faces of all those who have disappeared stare at us from behind barred windows."
In that conspirative dark room atop a gloomy apartment house Firelei cut a most incongruous figure. Black paint covered the panes of the one window in the room. Blankets had been spread over all the walls to stifle the sounds of the thumping machine. And there was an electric bulb around which Firelei had tied a handkerchief to soften the glare. Firelei was twenty-six. She was slender and desirable, and she still adored the bright colors of summer. She seemed an utter stranger in the bleakness of a life of constant menace. Not her enthusiasm for the cause, but her love for me, had compelled her to take the irrevocable step. She had fought hard to conquer the fine rebellious strain in her nature. She won. She had become one of us, and she had never lost the sincere intensity of her emotions. The machine thumped, and clean printed sheets leaped out like so many eager animals. When a hundred were ready to be tied into a harmless-looking package, Popovics would raise his shaggy head and say with pride: "Ho! Comrade Firelei, look! Now say, ’Travel far, you good little papers.’ "
And Firelei, to please him, would say softly: "Yes, travel far, you good little papers," and the Rumanian would grunt with pleasure and bend over his machine with renewed ferocity.
So I had left them, not long before midnight, Firelei, Comrade Alexander, and a young courier.
The story of the raid, which was one of thousands, came to me in fragments, partly from Firelei, partly from later fellow-prisoners who had talked with Popovics before he went to his death, and partly from the testimony given in a high treason trial in which I was one of the accused.
Between three and four o’clock in the morning, the house-watcher of a tenement building on the Reeperbahn dialed Number 0-0001—the number of the Gestapo. He reported a suspicious noise in the building assigned to his supervision. An old woman tenant had complained that the noise, which seemed to come through the ceiling of her bedroom, disturbed her sleep.
It was a faintly thumping noise, the house-watcher reported. It sounded as if someone was beating an orange against the floor.
Half an hour later a car from Gestapo Headquarters halted in front of the tenement building. Two men leaped from the car. They spoke to the house-watcher, and then they all went in and mounted the stairs.
Popovics was the first to hear the footfalls of the raiders. Instantly he stopped the machine.
"What is it, Alexander?" Firelei asked.
The buzzer signal from the adjoining photographer’s apartment sounded a warning simultaneously with a battering against the door of the rambling atelier. Firelei stood bewildered. Popovics grasped her wrist and drew her toward the hidden backdoor on the far side of the atelier. The lock had been oiled; it yielded at once.
It was as if Popovics did exactly what he had planned to do in such an emergency. He pushed Firelei out on the dark landing, and said, "Run."
"But you?" Firelei gasped.
"I have business," Popovics replied.
The young courier had already darted down the backstairs. Firelei slipped out into the darkness. Behind her, Popovics locked the door. Firelei had taken off her shoes. As she was running down toward the yard, she heard the front door being splintered. Popovics drew the key out of the back door, opened the window, and threw the key into the night.
The Rumanian then snatched a list of coded distribution addresses from its hiding-place behind the rafter. He tore it into little pieces and put them into his mouth. Then he hoisted himself out through the window onto a ledge, which ran along the base of the roof. He closed the window behind him and crept away on the ledge. Was he inviting capture to detract the Gestapo from Firelei? Or was he thinking of his own words, "We can’t quit, we’d die of shame"?
The Gestapo was ransacking the atelier and the dark room. The photographer and his family were placed under arrest. Popovics continued to crawl along the edge of the roof. The stone was smooth and made the crawling slow. A drain pipe ran down at the end of the ledge. If he could only—
A man leaned far out of the window. Popovics was caught in the beam of a flashlight. He flattened himself against the ledge and lay still.
"Come back!" the man shouted.
Popovics did not move.
"Come back—or I shoot!"
So Popovics became a prisoner of the Gestapo. One of many thousands.

For many weeks I did not see Firelei again. We were torn apart, as many lovers in the movement had been torn asunder before our turn came. The Party sent her to Berlin. She was forbidden to tell me where she lived or what her assignment was. There was not even a farewell.
A day or two later, the steamer Beira entered Hamburg harbor. She was a Danish freighter trading regularly from Copenhagen. A member of the strong communist unit in the crew of this ship was a courier between the Western Secretariat and the Central Committee of the German Party. He brought me the order to transport the confidential shipping-files of the Seamen’s International—ISH —safely from Hamburg to Copenhagen. The files had been in the possession of Albert Walter, the imprisoned chief of the Comintern’s Maritime Section.
Through a girl courier I contacted the old sailor’s mother. She was a frail old woman, but her militant spirit was intact. Of course, she declared, I could have the files, which contained information accumulated in years of persistent work by the harbor brigades of many ports. The files were in a camphor chest. The chest was hidden in the basement of a trawlerman’s home in Altona. Beyond that old Frau Walter talked of nothing but her son, Albert, who had been her only child.
I found the camphor chest, and I guarded it as if it were the apple of my eye. With the assistance of a shipchandler’s runner, I smuggled it aboard the Beira. I endeavored to inform Ernst Wollweber that I was escorting the consignment to Copenhagen. Wollweber could not be found on such short notice; each week he shifted his headquarters, and contact with it could only be established through a complicated system of relay stations.
The passage to Copenhagen was quiet. The sudden relief from the nightmare of Germany left in doubt, at times, whether I was awake or dreaming. The enormous bulk of Richard Jensen awaiting me on the quay in Copenhagen jolted me: I was really awake.

Chapter Twenty-nine - IN THE LANDS OF TWILIGHT

RICHARD JENSEN rolled his celebrated corpulence into the driver’s seat of his new Renault. He chuckled with satisfaction.
"Now that the lights have gone out in Berlin," he said, "Copenhagen will be the first capital after Moscow."
Copenhagen bubbled with light and the joy of springtime. The crowds who drank and danced and ate with gusto in the many pleasure palaces around Tivoli Park had no inkling of the dark forces that invaded their cheerful little Kingdom since the flames had burst through the dome of the German Reichstag. They were, like the citizens of their brother countries in the North, and of the great democracies of the West, quaintly unprepared to cope with the onslaught of forces which spoke of the emancipation of mankind, but meant seizure of power. The broad undertow running from Moscow had been diverted from its main course—Germany—and for the first time struck with full force the countries north of the Baltic and west of the Rhine.
Jensen laughed, "My wife complains: ’All day long they ring our door bell. Tovarish here, tovarish there. They come from Moscow, from Leningrad, from Berlin and Hamburg. They don’t speak one word of Danish. Comrade Jensen, they say, fix us up with Danish passports.’ So it goes!"
"And the police?"
"The police are harmless," Jensen assured me.
We were driving to the provisional offices, which the West-bureau of the Comintern, routed from Berlin, had established in Copenhagen at 42, Vimmelskaftet, under the camouflage of a firm of lawyers headed by Otto Melchior. It was easy to see why Copenhagen had been chosen as the pivotal point of the Comin­tern executive center abroad. The old road over Berlin was blocked by the Gestapo. Paris was too distant from Moscow, and the routes of communication around Germany too circuitous to commute to France in comfort and safety. The journey Moscow-Leningrad­Helsinki-Copenhagen led through relatively harmless countries. By train and boat, it could be made in forty-eight hours. The communist positions in the Scandinavian merchant fleets were strong, particularly in Denmark, and this made Copenhagen a suitable center for a world-wide network of conspirative marine communication. Moreover, the Danes were one of the most hospitable and liberal peoples on earth, and the amiable laissez-faire spirit of the Danish police had long been proverbial among Comintern men.
In the pseudo-law firm on Vimmelskaftet I met Georgi Dimit­rov’s temporary successor. Of Czech nationality, he was known in the Comintern as Walter Ulrich, alias Ulbricht, Leo, Urvich and Sorensen. In 1923, in Germany, he had been the chief of staff in the organization bureau of the Red Hundreds. He had now with him a smart young Pole, an emissary of Kommissarenko in Mos­cow, entrusted with the reorganization of the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers, which had been deprived of its most able head through the capture of Albert Walter by the Gestapo. Comrade Ulrich was a short man, with broad shoulders and a broad yet ascetic face, slow-moving and dark-skinned. He had deep-set intelligent brown eyes.
"I don’t think you will go back to Germany," Ulrich told me. "We need you elsewhere. We are moving toward a new policy, directed against the bourgeois democracies. Our investment of energy there is bound to bring us ten times greater results than in Germany. Hitler’s coming has radically changed the world-political situation. The so-called democracies are rotting alive. They offer us opportunities of bold expansion that will more than make up for the losses in the German retreat. We’ll lay a Red ring around Germany, and—in good time—strangle Nazi power to death."
"The German Party expects me to return," I said. "The Central Committee gave me no leave of absence."
Jensen yawned resoundingly. "That’s all right. Copenhagen is now tops. We will send Wollweber a German comrade from the Lenin School to take your place."
"You’re going to Sweden," Ulrich said.
A great shipping strike had broken out in Sweden, the greatest in the class-war history of that country. The strike was led by the socialist-controlled Seamen’s Union, whose leaders made every effort to keep the struggle within the limits of an economic dispute between the sailors and the shipowners. The Comintern, Ulrich explained, was not content with such a course. "We must convert this strike into an upheaval," he said. "We must give it the character of violent political conflict. We must create conditions which will result in collisions between workers and the govern­ment. The Swedish proletariat must learn that it is not enough to fight a wage-cut, but that Soviet power alone can achieve salvation from chronic distress. This is important. Remember that Sweden is only one step away from the gates of the Soviet Union."
There were some fine points in my assignment which Ulrich and Jensen took pains to make clear. One of these was an ingenious plan for the wrecking of the Swedish Seamen’s Union. The agreement between this union and the Association of Shipowners contained a clause by which the seamen were bound to give seven days’ notice before leaving their ships. it was part of my job to induce the ships’ crews to disregard the legal clause and to abandon their vessels immediately upon their arrival in Swedish ports. Such action, the Comintern hoped, and the hopes were later substantiated, would result in scores of damage suits against the Seamen’s Union for violations of contracts, and thus drain it of its financial resources.
Comrade Ulrich twisted his hands as if he were wringing somebody’s neck. The growth of communist influence in Sweden, he explained, depended on the extent to which Swedish commerce could be disorganized, and Swedish state power weakened.
"When do I leave?" I asked.
"At once," said Ulrich.
Two Danish couriers were appointed to act as my liaison men between Sweden and Copenhagen. An action budget of $1,800 weekly was put at my disposal for the duration of the strike. Jensen supplied me with a Danish passport.
"A good passport," Jensen said. "The stamps are genuine. Right from my friends in the Fredriksberg police."
Richard Jensen drove to the Soviet Trade Mission to draw the necessary money. He brought it to a back room of Restaurant Helmerhus, where the currency was counted. Here a grotesque episode occurred. The money was spread out on a table. There were five-, ten- and twenty-dollar bills. Around the table, over glasses of beer, sat Ulrich, Jensen, the Pole and I. Suddenly there was a knock on the door, which had not been locked. Like birds of prey swooping down on their quarry, our eight fists shot out for the Comintern money. With monkey-like speed, Ulrich, the Pole and I stuffed bills into our pockets. Jensen unhooked his belt, opened his trousers, and with one sweep of his enormous arms he shoved the money which remained on the table inside his trousers. The man who knocked was the waiter.
"Telephone for Mr. Jensen," the waiter said.
Jensen got up and walked to the telephone, which was off the main dining-room. While walking, he held both paws pressed against his abdomen. The waiter watched the giant obliquely. The Pole pushed back his chair and followed Jensen like a suspicious tomcat. Sure enough, every two or three steps American banknotes slipped out from the bottom of Jensen’s trouser legs. The Pole picked them up. The manager of Helmerhus came running, a puzzled expression on his face. Jensen proceeded on his course like a battleship, not paying the slightest attention to the others. Returning from the telephone, he waved away all suspicions with a laugh.
"Good God," he rumbled. "Now all Copenhagen will know that I have a lazy wife."
I took the express via Malmo to Göteborg, the headquarters of the striking seamen. Harold Svensson, the Swedish customs officer in the G.P.U. service, received me cordially. Less than an hour after my arrival in Göteborg, I was in conference with Gustav Holmberg, of the Swedish Central Committee. With him were two other men. One of them was Georg Hegener, Jensen’s chief of staff. His thick body was no impediment to his mobility. He possessed a disarming smile, a liking for practical jokes, and years of experience in the Comintern service. The other was Bertil Berg, a native of Malmo, and the chief liaison man between the G.P.U. operatives and the Communist Party on the coast of South Sweden. He was young, and he was audacious. Cold, almost colorless eyes gave his handsome boyish features an appearance of disquieting cruelty. Both had been sent to Göteborg two weeks earlier to execute a coup against the recalcitrant communist management of the thriving restaurant of the Göteborg Workers’ Club which occupied two floors of the Rialto Building, the largest edifice in town.
With helpers recruited from the military organization of the Swedish Party, the two emissaries had engineered an exploit which had thoroughly aroused the press in all the Scandinavian countries. The seamen’s strike was under way, and Hegener and Berg seized the opportunity to combine a terrorist enterprise with a cunning incrimination of the Workers’ Club. A steamer, the Kjell, had been manned by strikebreakers. The ship lay anchored in the outer harbor. One night Bertil Berg hired a motor launch, loaded it with Party guerrillas, and drew alongside the Kjell. The G.P.U. raiders boarded the ship and overpowered the crew. They selected five of their victims, tied them hand and foot, and flung them into the waiting launch. Once ashore, the kidnaped men were loaded into a motor-car and driven to the Rialto Building. Here, before a crowd of customers in the restaurant, they were brutally manhandled, quickly dumped into a small truck, and whisked away.
The Swedish authorities gave a general alarm. The police turned out in full force to scour the country for the missing quintet, without results. The Workers’ Club was promptly raided and nearly two hundred persons who had had nothing to do with the affair were arrested. From Trondheim to Copenhagen, from Esbjerg to Stockholm, the front pages of the press described the kidnaping as the most sensational crime committed in Scandinavia for many years. Day after day, they screamed the question: "Where are the men from the Kjell?"
They were found five days after they had been abducted. Stripped of their clothing, bleeding and bruised, they came limping out of the woods far in the interior of Sweden. Not long afterward the Göteborg Workers’ Club was closed by the police. The G.P.U. had achieved its aim.
"Why?" the manager asked the Göteborg chief of police.
"Because of the crimes committed here," the official replied.
Bertil Berg was arrested. He denied everything, and openly de­fied the court. He was convicted, not of kidnaping, but of sedition and sabotage. At a later stage of the strike, Richard Jensen, arriving in Sweden to speak at a national conference of strike committees, was arrested on the train by agents of the State Police. He was locked into the Göteborg jail and charged with having been the originator of the "Kjell affair." Jensen flatly denied that he had ever been connected with the Comintern; he was a trade-union man, pure and simple. A number of Danish intellectuals from the organizational fringe of the Friends of the Soviet Union signed a petition corroborating Richard Jensen’s declaration of innocence. The Swedish government released him with apologies.
The Swedish strike developed, from the communist point of view, into a grand success. For the first time in my career I became the virtual dictator of a violent mass movement. The orders I issued in the secret meetings of the communist caucus in the central strike committees were accepted as decrees against which there was no appeal. Communists acting as a disciplined bloc in the strike committees translated my commands into "majority decisions" of the rank and file. This method, copied from the Soviets, went under the flag of "proletarian democracy." It was also employed with success in the trade union conferences and in open mass meetings called to arouse public sympathy with the strikers.
I learned to understand the power which co-ordinated and centrally directed propaganda could exert on an excited mass of human beings. I learned with what ease a mass, once it was in motion, could be incited to concerted acts of violence. At an earlier period in Berlin, Georgi Dimitrov had once told me: "When you feel that you have a solid grip on the minds of the masses, never let go, never let the mass shift for itself; tell the masses what they must do morning and night; let them feel that there is a force behind them which knows the right way, and points it out untiringly." Proof of the correctness of this advice loomed high around me in the Swedish strike.
I smashed the Seamen’s Union of Sweden, hitherto one of the best organized in Europe. Special strong-arm squads boarded the ships coming in from abroad and forced their crews to abandon their berths without regard for the seven-day notice agreement of their union. The shipowners responded with court actions, demanding seizure of the union’s treasury. Attempts of the union leaders to counteract this turn of events gave me the opportunity to brand them, in daily manifestoes printed on blood-red paper, as betrayers of the strike and lackeys of the shipowners. I dispatched the best comrades on hand to Stockholm and Lulea, to Karlskrona, Malmo and Helsingborg. In all ports, strike committees under communist control were created, and by ceaseless agitation they soon took the direction of the strike out of the hands of the accredited union representatives. Every official union meeting was captured by the communist storm brigades. In Göteborg and Malmo, the strikers ousted the union leaders. The union organization in Stockholm was expelled for wholesale violations of the union constitution. The union was breaking up. A letter of instruction which I received from Ulrich ended with the remark:
"Das hast du gut gemacht"—Well done, comrade!
The union executive issued an appeal to its members: "Save your union from foreign criminals and wreckers!"
Three hours later I answered with a crimson poster, under the jeering headline: "Away with the traitors! Rotten wood will not float, neither can it be carved!" Democracy in the Swedish labor movement was losing a major battle.
Our terror campaign against strikebreakers and active anti-communists in the ranks of the strikers progressed concurrently with the assaults against the trade unions. In the harbor of Göteborg lay anchored the Lumplena, a ship which served as a floating home for strikebreakers. Our picket lines made it impossible for the Lumplena’s denizens to go ashore. They were brought to Göteborg in government launches, and they remained aboard the Lumplena until they were transferred to steamers tied up by strikes. At first I tried to frustrate the strikebreaking activities by smuggling a score of reliable comrades aboard the Lumplena, who shipped out with blackleg crews of non-seamen. At sea our men practiced the art of starting fires in the coalbunkers, of treating the bearings of the propeller shafts with fine sand and ground glass, or, this failing, of denouncing their shipmates as strikebreakers to the communist brigades in foreign ports of call. But the Western Secretariat demanded more. Richard Jensen sent a courier, a cer­tain Longfors, with orders that the Lumplena and her complement of scabs should be sunk in the Göteborg harbor.
"New situations require new methods of combat," he explained.
"Comrade Ulrich is nervous," Longfors reported to me. "The papers are full of rumors that Soviet agents are leading this strike. They say that Swedes could not invent such methods. We want you to be careful not to be caught. Ulrich is afraid there will be a terrible scandal if the police get hold of you."
I was not worried. I was flushed with triumph. My personal contacts in Göteborg and Stockholm were limited to less than a dozen couriers and key men of the Swedish Party. The rank and file who executed my orders did not even know of my existence. When the fronts clashed and things happened, I took pains to remain far in the background.
I conferred with Gustav Holmberg on ways of doing away with the Lumplena. A sudden act of sabotage, particularly if lives were lost, would antagonize the general public, I felt. A preparatory campaign was imperative. Public opinion must be stirred up against the Lumplena before the ship could be sunk, so as to make the sinking appear as an act of spontaneous desperation. Comrade Holmberg agreed. A group of five men from the Red Front League was detailed to be in readiness to proceed against the ship when the psychological moment for the coup arrived. An opening of the sea-cocks or a fire in the hold, or both, would do the job. Meanwhile Holmberg mobilized the Young Communist League to prepare public opinion for the event.
Overnight the house walls, the sidewalks and quaysides of Göteborg were plastered with painted slogans: "Away with the Lumplena!" . "Down with the pest-ship Lumplena!" . . . "What is a scab?—A man who steals your children’s bread!"
Newspaper cameramen photographed the slogans. The pictures appeared on the front pages of the Swedish press. "What does this mean?" asked the captions. "Where is our police?" The ship­owners’ association demanded police reinforcements to guard the harbor and the Lumplena. The plan to sink the strikebreaker ship was overshadowed by another event. The Gripsholm, the flagship of the Swedish merchant fleet, arrived in Göteborg from New York. After landing passengers and mails, the liner was ordered to leave port at once. I sent my storm brigades into the harbor. The Gripsholm was detained by main force and stripped of her crew of hundreds. She was the hundredth ship paralyzed by the strike.
One night I wrote a leaflet: "Sailors, form storm brigades!"
The storm brigades were formed. The next night I wrote another leaflet: "Sailors and Firemen! Storm the harbors! Yank the strikebreakers off the ships!"
The leaflets were printed at night on the Party presses. Motorcycle couriers carried them to the most distant ports of Sweden almost before the print had had time to dry. The results made Bolshevist hearts leap with joy. The seafaring masses were in motion, and, for lack of any other energetic leadership, they did exactly what the hidden communist command bade them do. Any attempts of the trade unions to apply the traditional and tedious democratic procedure of proposal, discussion and vote-taking were simply torn asunder by surprise actions of the iron-clad communist minority. It all showed me how ineffective democratic tactics are when pitted against a centrally-led conspiracy at the helm of a frothing mob. The men stormed the harbors and ransacked the blackleg ships. The mass of attackers did not consist of seamen only. The Communist Party was there, men, women and children, most of whom had never before been aboard a ship. This happened in Stockholm, in Malmo and in Göteborg. Aboard the Swedish Lloyd steamer Gwalia, the storm brigades were not content with demolishing whatever came under their hands, but they also set fire to the vessel in several places. The assaults in the harbors took place at night. In Göteborg, mounted policemen were dragged from their horses and disarmed. The police used tear gas, but being inexperienced, they released their bombs too early, and the strikers hurled the gas-containers back at the attackers.

News arrived from Hamburg that several shiploads of Nazi storm troopers had put to sea, bound for Stockholm to man and sail Swedish ships. This,—though no one outside of the Nazi Foreign Division realized at the time,—was the beginning of a systematic penetration of the merchant marines of the Scandinavian countries, and Holland and Belgium, by trained members of the Hitler movement. Once more, the Comintern had unwittingly opened the gates to the Fascists. But when the news came, it was water on the communist mill. It offered us the opportunity to accuse the Swedish Shipowners’ Association of having entered into an alliance with the well-hated National Socialists.
Of the two shiploads of Brownshirts expected at Stockholm that week, only one arrived. The other had unloaded its passengers in Oscarshamn, Norrkoping and other small ports en route. I found the International Club crammed with mariners of various nationalities. They had armed themselves with hammers and axes, clubs, bottles full of sand, sandbags, knives, marlinespikes, brass knuckles and screw drivers. They formed themselves into squads, and their talk was bloodthirsty. Wild plans were afoot. They wanted to duplicate the Kjell abduction on a mass scale, with storm troopers as the victims. Loud arguments about methods of torture, one more fiendish than the other, were in progress. The minds of the female hangers-on were more inventive in this respect than the minds of the sailors. I marveled at the monumental hatred displayed by the normally placid Swedes.
The climax came like a chilling shower. The German steamer Alster entered port in the small hours. The larger portion of the Stockholm storm brigades lay asleep on the benches and floors of the International Club. The rest were in nearby apartments, waiting for the alarm. As soon as one of the harbor vigilantes had informed me that the Nazi ship was in, I hastened to the International Club. Couriers roused the sleepers in the apartments.
"The Brown cut-throats are in," was their cry.
Had I been roused a minute earlier, I should have fallen into the hands of the Stockholm police. They had surrounded the Inter-club. One after one, like dazed sheep, the members of the storm brigades emerged from the building to be disarmed. I stood in the shelter of a doorway not far off, watching the scene, gnashing my teeth. Our plan had been betrayed.
I telephoned the private home of Silien, the Communist Party. leader.
"We must at once issue a manifesto," I shouted into the mouth­piece, explaining the happenings of the night. "Run this headline: `The Stockholm Chief of Police Is Servant of Hitler.’ "
Silien’s voice answered like the creaking of a door: "What? In the middle of the night?"
"Don’t you know there’s a strike going on?"
"Who is that? Why do you ask such silly questions?"
"Well, get moving! My couriers will be at headquarters at nine."
I hung up. The leaflet was printed and distributed in the harbor before noon. I still wanted to provoke an assault against the Alster. But the leaders of the harbor brigades had been arrested. Our forces had been scattered by the police raids. Only one recourse remained: guerrilla warfare. Party couriers mobilized all available able-bodied communists. They gathered on street corners along the wide harbor front. I sent them in small units into the harbor, with instructions to trounce and push off the quays anyone who had come ashore from the Alster. One or two of the German refugees were detailed to each unit. They were assisted by the striking sea­men of Stockholm.
The arrested comrades, after having spent the day in jail, were released in the evening. Despite the frustration of the planned mass raid, it had been a day of terror for the Nazis. It also was a day of surprise. A score or so of the storm troopers, on learning that they were to be used as strikebreakers, refused to budge from their ship. Moreover, eleven of the supposed Brownshirts marched to the International Club after dark, and reported themselves as anti-Nazis who had seized this chance of manning Swedish ships to escape from Germany. We welcomed them as brothers; the girls who the night before had reveled in mapping out torture devices now were frantic in their efforts to please the comrades from Hamburg.
Meanwhile the leaders of the Swedish Seamen’s Union made every effort to salvage the battered remnants of their organization by making peace with the shipowners. They accepted the demanded decrease of the seamen’s wages, and advised their followers to return to the ships. A telegram from Richard Jensen informed me of these secret negotiations to end the strike. The nature of my assignment was suddenly reversed. Instead of drawing more ships’ crews into the strike, I had to endeavor to induce the communist sailors and their sympathizers to make a rush for the available berths! Gripped by the fever of the struggle, the comrades wanted to carry on at any price.
Another telegram arrived from Jensen:
"No nonsense. Our friends must re-embark."
If they did not, I knew, our socialist trade union rivals would take the jobs, and the communists would be left on the beach.
Party discipline carried the day. In mass meetings in all major ports the communist caucuses bludgeoned the seamen into an acceptance of the wage-cut. So, for the Swedish mariners the strike ended in defeat. But the Communist Party returned to the ships, more solidly entrenched than ever before. The Western Secretariat, the Comintern in Moscow, and the whole Comintern press characterized the strike as an important political victory.
I dispatched a courier to Copenhagen to submit a report and to ask for further instructions. Then I returned to Göteborg, exhausted. My thoughts were in Germany. Where was Firelei? Where was my son? I had heard no more of them.
Harold Svensson had a letter of instruction for me. His uniform coat unbuttoned, he was letting his little son ride on his knees. He made neighing sounds, and the child squeaked with pleasure. I was reading my instructions.
Svensson stopped his play. "Well, comrade, where to?" he asked.
"Norway," I said. "Narvik."

Richard Jensen, who had advanced to the position of finance chief of the Westbureau, failed to send me funds. He had indicated that large sums were needed in America, where a drive for the official recognition of the Soviet government was in the making. So, because of the Comintern’s abruptly mounting interest in the United States, I was compelled to travel beyond the Arctic Circle third-class, and on a daily budget of two dollars.
In Oslo, I went straight to Dr. Halvorsen’s abode. I found him fortified behind a quart of whiskey, working over a massive report on the Norwegian State Railways. The material comprised many hundreds of pages, maps, photographs of tunnels and bridges, particularly of the line connecting the mountain-town of Honefoss with Bergen.
"Quite a piece of surgery, Comrade Arne," I commented.
"A hobby of mine," he countered, "a delightful hobby."
I dropped the subject. I had come to get from Dr. Halvorsen my credentials for the Narvik unit.
"I have a very good man up there," he said, "Martin Hjelmen. He’s got a very active group among the fishermen all along the Northland coast, but the contacts with the Kiruna railway are bad. You see, he feels isolated up there. It will stimulate him to see that the International takes an interest in his work."
I was intrigued to discover that Dr. Halvorsen had his con­fidential organization files camouflaged under the medical designa­tions. Correspondence and records concerning Narvik he produced from a locked metal box labeled, "Epidemic Encephalitis—the Sleeping Sickness." He selected a handful of papers.
"Study that to get your bearings."
Dr. Halvorsen telephoned Kitty Andresen, his girl courier. The tough-faced Amazon bounced into the room a bare half-hour later. Her superb physique rippled with anticipation.
"Hi, sailor!" she cried. "You are going north, I hear. Take me with you. I am bored to death."
"No money," I replied. "I’ll have to go alone."
Kitty Andresen grimaced. Nothing, however, could quench her spirits.
“I must tell you," she bubbled. "I had a long chat with King Haakon of Norway."
"The King?"
"Certainly. It was in February. I was skiing in Nordmarken. All of a sudden a fellow who looked like an overgrown scarecrow was skiing behind me. He passed me downhill, so I got angry and shouted, ’Hey, stop!’ He stopped and apologized for passing me. We sat in the snow and ate sandwiches, and he called me a ’brimming daughter of Norway.’ I laughed and said, ’Friend, you’re old enough to have a daughter of my age yourself. I’ve seen you somewhere before.’ And Presto! ’Sure,’ he said, ’I’m Haakon, the King.’ Soon we talked politics. You know what he said? ’Our ships, they are our life and our might.’ "
Dr. Halvorsen showed his most pleasant satanic grin. I guessed his thoughts. He was thinking of Karin, his wife, and the sleuthing she did in the offices of the shipping magnate Wilhelmsen.
I took the night train to Trondheim. No railway runs north from there as the country is too rocky and too wild. Save for the Kiruna railroad from Sweden, all travel to the Northland is car­ried on by ship along a rock-bound shore of pagan beauty. The steamer was small, but sturdy. As a third-class voyager, I was obliged to make the journey on deck. Peasants, fishermen’s wives, a weatherbeaten clergymen and a handful of railway workers and lighthouse guards were my travel companions. They were hardy, friendly people, who loved the clean sternness of their coast. They cursed the ships which in ever-increasing numbers hugged the shore on their course to Murmansk, Archangelsk and Kara Sea. These steamers spread oil on the sea, and the oil killed the fish.
Not far from the entrance to Saltjorden and the harbor of Bodoe, I saw what oil could do to seabirds: some passing tankship had pumped the dregs of her tanks and bilges into the sea, and the layer of oil on the water had clogged the feathers of swimming gulls. For miles a dismal sight insulted the eye—countless birds, encrusted in oil, dead or dying on the North Atlantic waters. It would be futile, I reflected, to tell the simple Norsemen of the wonders of the Five-Year-Plan, which spread oil on their doorsteps and killed the fish and the birds. On the third day, under a dull sky, the ship nosed into Ofot Fjord. Long-sloped black-brown mountains shut out the horizon, and the huge iron-ore pier, which made the steamers moored alongside it look like toys, towered on the starboard bow.
Were it not for the iron ore, Narvik would have remained a sleepy fishing village. Iron was the life of Narvik; the railway lead­ing down from Kiruna to the ice-free coast had transformed the town into one of the foremost ore ports in the world. First in Narvik shipping were the flags of Great Britain and Germany, but the German flag was rapidly superseding the Union Jack. Narvik, like Murmansk, was a frontier town, full of virility and the clangor of toil, but without a trace of the crowded cheerless squalor of Murmansk.
My assignment in Narvik was closely linked to the policy of the Hitler government. The reports we had received about the acceleration of secret rearmament in Germany, the recent appointments of military attaches to all major German embassies, and the increase of German orders for iron by way of Narvik all pointed in one direction—long-view preparation for war. War against the Soviet Union, we believed. The iron ore without which Germany could not make war came chiefly from the Kiruna mines. There was no doubt in my mind that, when war came, the Red Army would not hesitate to push an iron wedge between the Norwegian ore ports and German shipping. To us, of the Comintern, fell the task of preparing the ground. My instructions from the Westbureau demanded that I should divert the communist forces of the Narvik area from their preoccupation with the fisheries and ship­ping toward the dockers of Narvik and the workers of the Kiruna railroad. In case of war, a general strike and revolt of the dockers and railwaymen would offer a fine pretext, especially if the Norwegian government intervened against the strikers, for the occupation of the Northland province by the Red Army and the Soviet Navy. Had not Stalin himself publicly declared that the Red Army was the army of world revolution?
The Communist Party organization of the Narvik area counted close to nine hundred dues-paying members. Party headquarters had been established in the building of the International Club, created by the luckless Arthur Samsing in the spring of 1931, and it existed since that date on a monthly subsidy of $400 from the Comintern treasury. A month before my arrival in Narvik, Knut Bjoerk, whom I had met in Sweden—and who was later killed in Spain—had been appointed the official leader of the Narvik district. But holding the threads behind the scenes was Dr. Halvorsen’s man, Martin Hjelmen.
Hjelmen hailed from Oslo. He had had military training, and was a capable organizer. A man of medium size, with lively dark eyes, bold features and a mop of unruly brown hair, he was one of the rare Norwegian communists who were not drunk and useless for at least one day each week. He spoke English expertly and had toured America in earlier years. Collaboration with a man of Hjelmen’s caliber was for me a high pleasure. He was honest to the core. As a Bolshevik, he saw Norway’s only salvation in a close alliance with Soviet Russia. For that he worked.
In numerous conferences I primed the Party workers on the necessity of turning the harbor of Narvik and the Kiruna railway into a Stalinist stronghold. Together with Hjelmen and Bjoerk, I worked out a detailed plan covering the next six months of Party activities. We decided to publish a weekly paper for the Narvik dock workers, and another for the railwaymen. We also decided to establish permanent observation posts in the homes of comrades who lived along the Kiruna railroad. After five intensive days of reorganization, I felt that the future course of our Narvik units had been shaped. They were now able to continue alone. I made ready to leave. In a town like Narvik, a stranger who associated with known local communists could not for long escape observation by the Northland police.
Martin Hjelmen was excellently informed on Nazi activities in the Scandinavian countries. The first Nazi Party groups had been established more than a year before the Reichstag Fire. Already toward the end of March, 1933, the Gestapo had begun to branch out across the German frontiers, its agents masked as journalists, business men, or as anti-Hitler refugees. A nameless cruiser had been spooking around the Lofot Islands. An organization of local Germans, calling itself Kulturverband [14], had made its appearance in the North. Another organization, the Deutsch-Schwedische Reichsvereinigung [15], had bobbed up from nowhere on nearby Swed­ish soil. A certain Herr Haupt from Berlin had established himself as a freight-agent in Narvik, using his business connections osten­sibly to suggest the expulsion of "non-Aryans" from Norwegian firms dealing with Germany. A burglary of Haupt’s office by two of Comrade Hjelmen’s aides had netted a number of Schulungsbriefe—Letters of Instruction—for members of the National Socialist Party. They had also obtained leaflets printed in the Norwegian language and issued by the Fichtebund in Hamburg, a camouflaged subsidiary of the Nazi Foreign Division. In these leaflets, the Hitler movement was praised as the protector of Nor­way from Bolshevist invasion. In the late spring of 1933, all this was startling information.
What Martin Hjelmen did not know was that Herr Haupt had his spies also in our International Club. Herr Haupt was a Gestapo official, and his couriers served as sailors on ore ships from Ham­burg. Pretending to be rabid enemies of Hitler, they did not hesi­tate to participate in communist meetings in Narvik. One morning Knut Bjoerk was questioned by detectives on the whereabouts of a Comintern agent from Hamburg. The detectives mentioned a name. It was my name. It was clear that one of the Nazi spy-couriers had recognized me, and reported my presence in Narvik to Haupt who, in turn, had denounced me to the Norwegian police.

A wild chase began. The police were watching all steamers leaving Narvik harbor. Hjelmen conscripted the services of a fisherman to smuggle me out of Narvik. The fisherman’s boat was thirty-two feet long, built of oak, and nearly ninety years old. It had a coughing motor of World War vintage. We slipped out of Ofot Fjord in the dead of night, the fisherman, his ten-year-old son, and I. A stiff nor’wester blew, and the surf roared menacingly against the pitch-black battlements of the shore. That night, on the cliff-infested wastes of Vestfjorden, we were close to losing our lives. I thought of the fisherman’s wife. How she would curse me if her man and her son perished!
The fisherman, a squat, titanic figure on the heaving and pitching stern, steered. He chewed tobacco as if it were chocolate. About once each hour he roared for his son to bring him tea with rum. The boy nursed the refractory motor. I pumped, drenched to the skin, salt water burning in my eyes. We reached Bodoe, on the northwestern reach of Saltfjorden, the evening of the following day.
"I am sorry I cannot pay you now for your troubles," I told the fisherman. "But give me your address. And good wishes to you for the trip back to Narvik."
"I would not take your money," the fisherman said. "It’s you who is most in need of good wishes!"
A steamer was due to sail for Trondheim in the morning. In a restaurant, I sold my new Continental portable typewriter to a lawyer’s clerk. He gave me eighty kroner. Sixty hours later I was in Trondheim. I went to the International Club.
Comrade Birkland, the secretary, was surprised to see me.
"The police were here," he said in great agitation. "They were asking for you."
The poor fellow was anxious that I should leave. He was afraid the Comintern would hold him responsible if I were seized by police.
"Advance me fifty kroner," I said. "I’m going on to Oslo."
Emerging from the Oslo station, I became aware that I was followed by plainclothesmen. I turned several corners in quick succession and then darted into the City Hotel. The detectives had broken into a run. They overtook me in the lobby. One put his hand on my shoulder. The other guarded the entrance.
"We are from the Alien Squad. Please come with us to headquarters."
They called a taxicab. Wedged in between my captors, I rode to police headquarters. In a spacious office, a calm-faced, broad, shouldered man sized me up minutely. He was the chief of the Alien Squad.
"Sit down," he said.
I sat, bracing myself for a defense of silence.
"Why do you violate Norwegian hospitality?" the man asked.
"I don’t know what you mean," I replied.
"You know! Do you know Samsing?"
"Arthur Samsing."
From a folder the official drew a photograph of Comrade Samsing.
"What did you have to do with the disappearance of this man?" he demanded. "Where is he?"
"I don’t know the man," I said.
"What were you doing in Narvik?"
"I’ve never been in Narvik. I came from Trondheim."
"For what purpose did you come to Norway?"
"I came as a tourist. Norway is a beautiful country."
My questioner grew angry.
"I see it is of no use talking to you," he said irately. "However, let me tell you something. We know who you are. We know that you are wanted by the German State Police. You have come to Norway for unlawful purposes. We will have to deport you. If you talk frankly to us, we will send you to a country of your choice. If you persist in leading us around by the nose, then . . ."
"Then we’ll deport you to Germany," the commissioner concluded. "What that means—you know better than I."
"Let’s talk," I said.
"Good. Tell me why you came to Norway, tell me whom you have met here."
"I came here to see the country," I said. "But chiefly to see a girl I am in love with."
"Which girl?"
"Miss Kitty Andresen."
"26 St. Hallvard."
My examiner scoffed: "Oh, you didn’t come here just for the sake of a girl. Who is this Miss Andresen?"
"A lady. I cannot give you more information. If she wishes, she will talk for herself."
"We’ll see . . . By the way, are you the instructor of the Com­munist International for the Scandinavian lands?"
The inquisition dragged on for an hour, leading nowhere. In the end the chief of the Alien Police said in a quiet fury:
"Enough! With you we must speak in another language!"
He summoned a detective. I was handcuffed and led into a gloomy corridor in the basement of the building. Ponderous iron doors led off to both sides. A door was opened.
"In here," the detective said.
A heavy lock snapped shut behind me. Except for a small aper­ture for air and a thin shaft of light, there was only the iron door, the stone around me, above me and below. I began to pace up and down, trying to piece together the mosaic of events that had led to my capture. It was the thirteenth time in my life that I had blundered into the hands of the hated police. The thought that the Norwegians would surrender me to the Gestapo was like the gnawing of a rat in my head. I began to search the cell for a razor blade left behind by a former inmate. "I’ll never go to Germany," I thought, "not as a prisoner. Never!"
I was thinking of a way out, of the Gestapo, of death, of Firelei, of ships meandering over the oceans, thinking how different, how easy and joyous life could have been.

At seven in the evening, the key grated in the lock and a warder entered my cell. He was followed by a prisoner. The prisoner carried a large tray. The tray was covered by a snow-white napkin. He put the tray on the table, and looked at it with greedy eyes.
"Sir," the warder said respectfully. "A friend sent this dinner from the restaurant across the street."
Now I knew that Kitty Andresen had been questioned by the police, and that Kitty told Dr. Halvorsen of my arrest. I carefully probed each dish for a hidden note, and found it under the pud­ding. A typewritten message from Dr. Halvorsen. "Dear Friend," the note read, "eat everything. Kitty, the angel, will see you soon. A."
I ate everything. Toward nine I was gripped by a violent fever. I realized that Dr. Halvorsen had "treated" my food. My head reeled, my eyes burned, and a painful lassitude invaded every muscle. I lay down on the low iron cot, waiting for the spell to pass. I tried to sleep, but sleep would not come. The darkness around me was in a slow gyration, and the sensation that, my head was sagging downward in spite of anything I could do persisted.
Suddenly the light was switched on. The night warder appeared. Someone coming up behind pushed the warder aside. Dr. Halvorsen, carrying a small bather bag, barged into the cell. He was followed by Kitty. Dr. Halvorsen blustered abuse at the guard.
"What sort of cattle-brained administration runs this jail," he blurted out. "I told them this man was sick. The scandal will have consequences. Lock up a sick man, will you? Let a sick man die in a rheumatic hole like this, will you?"
His left eye closed, and with a diabolic grin on his ravaged face, Dr. Halvorsen bent over me. He tested my pulse. He inserted a thermometer in my mouth. He opened my shirt and applied a stethoscope.
"Take it easy," he murmured, "take it easy, old boy. I’ll pull you through or my name isn’t Arne Halvorsen." Turning to the guard he shouted: "Get me some water—ice cold!"
The guard hastened away.
Dr. Halvorsen pushed an ordinary matchbox under my blanket. "Can you understand what I say?" he whispered.
I merely nodded. My physical lethargy was genuine.
"Don’t worry," the doctor was saying. "Don’t be afraid. The stuff in the box . . . take it tomorrow about six. You’ll feel weak, you’ll sweat. Pretend you’re choking, can’t get air, pain under the ribs."
The warder came back with the water. Dr. Halvorsen poured a powder, and then water into the glass.
"Drink. Drink slowly. It’ll make you feel better."
I drank. Kitty, kneeling by the cot, held the glass to my lips. From her lips came endearing words, loud enough for the guard to hear. In the end, she kissed me. She left the cell, apparently weeping and blowing her nose.
"Leave this man quite alone," Dr. Halvorsen told the guard. "Alone do you hear? I’ll talk to the jail physician before he makes his round tomorrow. Leave him alone. Alone, I said."
"Yes, sir," the warder muttered, looking at me as if he was seeing a ghost.
Next morning I felt curiously light, but fit. Nevertheless I stayed up to my ears under the blankets and refused to take a breakfast of coffee, black bread and butter. Shortly before noon, the warder again entered my cell.
"Can you walk?" he asked.
"I think so."
"Gentlemen upstairs want to see you."
I slipped into my pants and the warder supported my arm on the way down the gloomy corridor, through several steel doors, and up two flights of stairs. I feigned dizziness and pain. Several times I leaned against the wall, hunched my shoulders, pressed my hand to my chest, breathed with furious irregularity and emitted groans. The warder helped me into an office. I entered the room, a fair imitation of a man who stands with one foot in the grave, and sagged limply into a chair.
The chief of the Oslo Alien Squad confronted me.
"How do you feel?"
"Not too well," I said.
He shrugged, mumbling about the infirmary. With him was another man, young, athletic, with wide-awake gray eyes in a smooth boyish face.
The police commissioner said, "This gentleman has just come over from Stockholm to interview you. He is a representative of the Swedish State Police."
"But this is Norway," I vaguely protested.
"The police authorities of Norway, Sweden and Denmark operate in a close official alliance," the Norwegian explained. "My Swedish colleague has a proper right to question you, even though you are in Norway."
The Swede smiled. He offered me a cigarette. I declined. He settled himself at one end of the desk and drew a notebook.
"My government," he began, "is interested in having your opinion on certain recent occurrences in Sweden. Among other things, I have in mind the acts of vandalism in the harbors of Göteborg and Stockholm. And also the abduction of Swedish citizens from the S.S. Kjell."
"I know nothing of Sweden," I grumbled.
"Perhaps not much. I know Sweden myself very well. I am now concerned with the activities in Sweden of certain agencies connected with the Soviet government. I have instructions to pay you liberally for any information of value to my superiors."
I had to force myself not to burst into laughter. Most Scandi­navians were too honest, too fair-minded and devoid of trickery to make efficient policemen. I could not help reflecting how handi­capped a man like this Swedish secret service operative was against such antagonists as Dr. Halvorsen, or Comrade Ulrich, or Richard Jensen.
"I am no seller of information," I said.
"But you have been in Sweden?"
"I have crossed Sweden on my trip to Norway, that’s all."
“You have not lived secretly in Göteborg?"
"No. Why should I live secretly?"
"Are you not an employee of the Communist International?"
The head of the Alien Squad intervened. "Of course you are," he shouted. "We have proof! In Germany you are wanted for high treason."
I had my answer ready:
"The public of free Norway will not be enthusiastic when it hears that its own police force co-operates with the Gestapo of the incendiary dope-fiend Goering."
The faces of my questioners did not change. "It is of no use to waste time with this man," the Norwegian said to his Swedish colleague. "We cannot use G.P.U. methods to make him talk, unfor­tunately not."
After another round of questioning the door was opened abruptly and Kitty Andresen entered. Her splendid body leaped forward; her homely face was screwed into a mask of compassion. Paying no attention at all to the officials, she whipped a chair alongside of mine, put her arms around my neck. "My poor boy . . . Can’t they see how you are suffering? . . . Here, let me have your hand . . . So . . ." In her eyes were tears. I was much amazed at the detectives.
The chief of the Alien Squad said to Kitty: "My dear young lady, I must warn you. This is a dangerous man. He will dis­appoint you. He will make you unhappy, and desert you cyni­cally." He spoke in the Norwegian tongue, and in a stern fatherly manner.
Kitty produced a delightful peal of laughter. "Oh, sir, how comical you are!" Her words came like a waterfall. "I’ve known this boy for years. Dangerous! Indeed! He’s sweeter than any boy I’ve set eyes on in Denmark, or Norway, or anywhere else. Only he’s ill! Can’t you see he’s ill? Please let me telephone. I’m going to telephone the King. The King will tell you to go after the burglars and the murderers, and to leave alone the beloved of a Norwegian girl."
The officials were plainly embarrassed. They called the warder, ordering him to take me back to my cell. Kitty followed me down the stairs to the entrance of the gloomy basement corridor, bub­bling words, and stroking my arms and face. I feigned exhaustion.
Kitty yelled at the warder: "Dare to keep this boy one day longer here! I shall make a horrible noise. I shall go to the news­papers. I shall—"
Silently the warder led me to my cell.

There was no infirmary in this police jail.
I undressed and buried myself under the blankets. After the guard had departed, I reached under the mattress where I had hidden the matchbox Dr. Halvorsen had given me surreptitiously. It contained a light grayish powder. I crept from my cot and filled a tin cup with water. I poured the drug into my mouth and gulped it down with the aid of water.
The effects were not tardy in coming. My head became clouded, I vomited cold slime, and squirmed and cursed in the most authen­tic misery. After a time sweat began to pour from all my pores and my breath came in rasping sounds. My feelings toward Dr. Halvorsen were most unfriendly.
However, he appeared punctually. I heard him clamoring outside in the corridor, demanding to be admitted. The door was opened. Dr. Halvorsen, after a rapid glance at me, peremptorily commanded the warder to telephone the prison physician. Until the latter arrived, Dr. Halvorsen stomped up and down the dun­geon corridor, treating the officials on night duty as if he were the owner of the Oslo jail. At last the prison doctor arrived.
The examination of the patient began. It was conducted by Dr. Halvorsen who referred to me as his "valued client." The young prison doctor gave the older man a free hand. I moaned and writhed, let my breath come like the fitful gusts of the Doldrums, clutched my chest, doubled up and groaned, and showed symp­toms of choking.
Dr. Halvorsen spoke earnestly and rapidly to his colleague.
"Immediate removal," he boomed. And then: "The man must have special care. I give my pledge to be responsible for him."
Both rushed out. The prison doctor soon returned to administer a sedative, and left again. I waited, alone in my cell, producing unearthly noises for the benefit of the night warder outside.
Presently Dr. Halvorsen, the prison physician and two other men arrived. They helped me into my clothes, and with Dr. Hal­vorsen’s assistance I crawled through the corridor, passed two gates, crossed a sidewalk and tottered into my rescuer’s car. We drove to the outskirts of Oslo, to a small house occupied by Leif Foss, a taciturn bulldog of a man and a veteran of many inter­national trade union congresses in Moscow. Dr. Halvorsen acted as if he had unexpectedly inherited a fortune.
"This accursed medicine," I asked. "What was it?"
"Ipecac," he said. "Useful stuff. The Spaniards got it from the South American lndios."
"And the sickness?"
"Angina pectoris. Maybe food poisoning. Maybe a touch of pleurisy. The mess was not quite clear."
"And now?"
Dr. Halvorsen laughed, "Norway, my friend, this is Norway! I am responsible for your safe delivery. That means you’re going to clear out by sunrise. If you every marry, catch a woman who’s got a detective as a brother, like our good Karin. Take my advice. Take a stiff drink!"
"You’re going to have trouble!"
"Leave it to me."
In the house of Leif Foss, Kitty Andresen was waiting. She had prepared a supper of roast duck. We ate and drank Tokay, and talked till far into the night. I could not keep the food; my stomach was still rebellious. Kitty was exuberant. Dr. Halvorsen, who had heard that I had at one time spent a few days in Hollywood, in­sisted that I talk of my experiences as a movie pirate. He confessed that he had had for years a consuming ambition to become a per­manent denizen of the motion picture capital. Leif Foss alone was serious; he wanted to discuss the second Five-Year-Plan. His attempts came to naught.
In the early morning hours, Dr. Halvorsen drove me to a com­rade who was a photographer. Here my picture was taken. I went back to Leif Foss’s house alone. At dawn Dr. Halvorsen reappeared. Out of one pocket he drew a weatherbeaten Danish passport, from another he pulled a metal box containing certain chemicals in small glass bottles. It took Kitty Andresen barely twenty minutes to make some changes in the passport, to exchange the old photograph for one of myself, and to transfer the rubber stamp of the Danish police with the aid of a hard-boiled egg. She peeled the egg while hot and rolled it gently over the original imprint of the stamp until the latter had been transferred to the white of the egg. After she had affixed my photograph to the passport, she carefully rolled the cooling egg over its edge. As if by magic, the stamp was transferred back to the passport, a little paler than the original, but true to form.
At nine o’clock Dr. Halvorsen departed to buy a steamer passage to Antwerp. I took the passport and the steamer ticket—it was first class. Kitty escorted me to the harbor. We boarded a ship, the Brabant. Before Kitty Andresen went ashore, she demanded a kiss. This time it was a real kiss. The siren roared.
The S.S. Brabant steamed out through Oslo Fjord at eleven. Two days later I arrived in Antwerp. The local liaison agent, Comrade Anton, tall, cool and conservative, met me on the quay. Dr. Halvorsen had advised him of my coming.
"I have wired Copenhagen," said Anton. "Comrade Avatin is here. He might need you. Antwerp is infested with Gestapo spies." It was May.

Chapter Thirty - WEST OF THE RHINE

I HAD SUPPER WITH MICHEL AVATIN; he had slipped out of Germany but a few days before my arrest in Oslo. What he had seen and heard of the fate of many of our common friends was enough to chill anyone’s blood. I asked him about Firelei.
"She is lucky," he said. "She is a courier for Comrade Kippenberger."
I could not suppress a shudder. Hans Kippenberger was the director of the Party’s military intelligence Apparat. I knew Hermann Göring’s new laws. For collaboration in the betrayal of military or industrial secrets, there was but one sentence in Germany: death.
We talked about the Gestapo. Avatin had been watching the growth, the methods and the habits of that force as an animal fancier might study the doings of his pet tiger. The Foreign Divi­sion of the Gestapo was branching out. Its corps of operatives abroad was composed of two distinct categories—the spies and the man-hunters. The spies usually arrived in the guise of political fugitives, brimful of fervor and anxious to win for themselves a place in organizations combating the Hitler movement. The man­hunters, however, were trained kidnapers and killers; they came in groups of three or five, commissioned to carry out abductions or assassinations of political antagonists after the latter had been spotted, identified and pointed out to them by the spies. In every large city in countries adjoining Germany, the director-in-chief of the Gestapo espionage and strong-arm units was in constant communication—by mail, telegraph, couriers, and through diplomatic channels—with the headquarters of the Secret Police in Berlin, and its Foreign Division in Hamburg. It was he who ordered and directed the coups de main, and who forwarded to Germany the information gathered by his spy brigades. A chance discovery by a Nazi spy in Paris or Basle or London often spelled sudden disaster for courageous conspirators at work within the German frontiers. Michel Avatin reported that there was a Gestapo observer aboard every German ship trading with foreign ports. But it was not a one-sided game; spies and counter-spies were active on both sides. And if one was caught, he was killed like a poisonous snake, without trial or mercy.
The chief organizer of Gestapo espionage in Flanders was a former Czarist officer, Ilia Raikoff, who, because of his enormous physical strength, was dubbed "The Ox" by those who knew him. The Ox had been betrayed to us by Rudolf Heitman, a G.P.U. operative in the Hamburg Gestapo, and Avatin had received the assignment to execute the Russian.
"The Ox is hard to catch," Avatin commented. More he would not say.
Before another month had gone by, our militants in the harbor of Antwerp were shocked by a sample of Ilia Raikoff’s efficiency. The Hamburg-America liner Caribia, returning from the West Indies, had entered Antwerp. A crew member, Hans Lisser, who had served the Comintern as a courier to the West Indies since 1932, came ashore in Antwerp and requested that the Party send a trained comrade aboard to speak at a meeting of the liner’s action committee. None of us knew at that time that Comrade Lisser had become a Gestapo spy and a cog in The Ox’s machine.
An organizer was sent aboard. He was Ignace Aussinger, an experienced and fearless comrade who had not many days before escaped from the Gestapo in Cologne. Together with his girl, Paula, he had come downriver to Antwerp, hidden in the hold of a barge loaded with rails. Aussinger boarded the Caribia at eight in the evening, carrying with him a good quantity of anti-Hitler pamphlets. Several hours after midnight his girl, Paula, hammered against the doors of the Antwerp International Club. She roused the guards. The girl was so agitated that the guards found difficulty in understanding her incoherent babbling. But soon the truth dawned on them. Comrade Aussinger had not returned from the Caribia.
Paula shouted hysterically, "They’ve taken him. They’ve locked him up. You’ve got to help him . . ."
Three of the guards raced to the quay where the Caribia lay moored. Except for the gangway lights, they found the ship dark and quiet. Four youthful gangway watchmen, Elite Guards, barred the three nocturnal visitors from boarding the ship. The three Ger­man communists could not give the alarm themselves; they were illegally in Belgium, and liable to immediate arrest and deportation. They hastened to the headquarters of the Belgian Party and roused the male concierge. The concierge summoned two policemen. The policemen boarded the Caribia.
The Nazi guards stopped them at the head of the gangway. They spread the German national flag across the gangway.
"Now trample over our flag, if you dare," they told the policemen. "This is German territory."
The policemen hesitated.
"We have been told that you have a man in irons on your ship," one of them said. "We have come to investigate."
"He is a crew member. He struck the chief officer. That is why he was put in irons."
The Belgians demanded to speak to the captain. The captain was called. He corroborated the story of the Nazi guards: the man had been put in irons because of mutiny. The Belgian policemen did not suspect that the real master of a German ship was not its skipper, but the chief of the Nazi ship Stützpunkt.
At dawn came high tide. The Caribia steamed seaward, and Ignace Aussinger was a prisoner aboard her. By the time responsi­ble Party leaders could be informed of the abduction, it was too late to save the comrade from Cologne. The legal methods of the Belgian authorities were singularly ineffective against the ruthlessly illegal methods of the Gestapo. In January, 1934, Ignace Aussinger was beheaded in Cologne. His girl, Paula, acted as if she had lost her reason. The Party could not use her. For a while she roamed Antwerp’s sailortown like a vengeful specter. She took to drink. The Belgian police arrested her, and because she had no passport, they pushed her clandestinely across the frontier to Holland. The leader of the International Club in Rotterdam proposed to send her to the Soviet Union. But Paula was classed as mentally deficient. The Russian consul refused her a visa. She became a prostitute in The Ton, a music hall on Rotterdam’s Schiedamsche Dyke.

At last my instructions arrived. They were conveyed to me from Denmark by a man named Dietlevsen, a courier who served as boatswain aboard the Danish steamship P.A. Bernstorff. Save for the air-line Copenhagen-Amsterdam-Paris, this ship, trading between Esbjerg, Antwerp and Dunkerque, had become the main bridge for conspirative communications between Copenhagen and the capitals of Western Europe. Railways had become taboo, since they crossed forbidden German soil. Dietlevsen also brought me funds. Among the money consignments was a thick envelope which I was ordered to forward to Roy Hudson, George Mink’s successor on the American waterfront. A courier aboard the liner Ilsenstein, of the Bernstein Line, carried the consignment to New York, for delivery at 140 Broad Street, Comrade Hudson’s head­quarters.
My instructions demanded, as most Comintern instructions do, more than a common mortal could hope to fulfill in his allotted time. A man who is given a crowbar and the order to use it to shift the Matterhorn must have much the same emotions as a Comintern agent has when perusing a freshly arrived set of instructions.
"Where shall I start?" I asked Comrade Anton, who controlled the financial end of these schemes.
"Begin with what is nearest to your heart," he calmly replied. Now, under Comintern instructions, I launched a general offensive against the swastika flag. For three consecutive days the harbors of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Ghent and Dunkerque were flooded with manifestoes, all of which had as their central tenor: "Down with the murder flag! Refuse to load or discharge ships that fly the ensign of Assassin Hitler! The Hooked Cross is a Hunger Cross." The dockers rallied. Action Committees were formed. Nazi seamen encountered wearing the swastika badge on Dutch and Belgian waterfronts were beaten within an inch of their lives. Clinging precariously to the back seat of a very old motorcycle, I was whisked from Antwerp to Rotterdam, back to Antwerp, and on to Ghent and Dunkerque. Emotions ran high. The response of the workers was swift, for they had been well prepared by the intensive publicity which the Gestapo and storm trooper atrocities had received in the foreign press.
My propaganda squads in the harbor of Antwerp scored the first success. Dunkerque followed, and then Rotterdam and Ghent. Five days after the campaign began, twenty-odd German ships lay paralyzed, besieged by a hostile mob in these ports alone. The dockers of other harbors, from Sydney to Seville, soon followed the example of the vanguard in Antwerp. As soon .as a German steamer was moored, I sent a delegation of dockers aboard to ask for the captain. The dockers demanded that the swastika flag should be hauled down. The captain, of course, refused: arrest by the Gestapo would be his lot if he complied with the delegation’s demand.
The answer of the dockers was: "As long as you fly the murder flag, we won’t work your ship."
A cordon of pickets was thrown around the stricken ships. No German was allowed to go ashore. More action resulted when the officers aboard the steamers attempted to compel the German crews to work, the cargoes. Communist and socialist crew members refused to obey this order. The ships’ captains sounded the siren signals, "Mutiny aboard!" A sorry chapter in the police annals of the democratic nations began. Belgian and Dutch policemen seized the German seamen as mutineers. The mayor of Antwerp, M. Huysmans, arrived on the docks to induce the stevedores to labor while the swastika fluttered high above their heads. That happened at night, at about eleven. From the shadows of a cargo shed I watched the progress of the action.
"Who is that fat man talking to the action committee?" I asked one of the couriers on the scene of battle.
"Mayor Huysmans," he replied.
The Mayor was a socialist. I summoned a group of young "activists"—Letts, Germans, an Estonian and an Irishman—and sent them forward to push the interloper off the quay. He was, however, too far from the water’s edge, and my comrades were content with giving the Mayor of Antwerp a trouncing.
"Serious trouble in the Harbor of Antwerp," reported the headlines of the following morning.
In Ghent and Dunkerque, the boycott of the swastika flag was so complete that German shipping companies canceled them from their list of ports of call.
The campaign, after two violent weeks, was abruptly throttled by an ingenious maneuver which probably emanated from the headquarters of Dr. Joseph Göbbels in Berlin. Manifestoes ap­peared on the docks of Antwerp and elsewhere, signed by the "Communist Opposition," and asking the dockers why the swastika flag was not boycotted by Soviet stevedores in Russian harbors. The bottom of the leaflet showed photographs of Leninport, the harbor of Leningrad. There was a ship which flew the swastika banner, and not far off another which showed the hammer and sickle in red. The hatches of the German ships were open, and the figures of men at work could be discerned. "Stalin wishes you to strike against German ships," the leaflets concluded. "Now ask Stalin why he does not strike against the German ships in Russia."
The question caught on. In the next rally of the strikers the dockers asked: "Why?"
The answer which I and my colleagues could give them was feeble. "German ships that sail to Russia," we explained, "carry goods which are necessary for the victorious construction of socialism. To strike against German ships in Soviet ports means to strike against the second Five-Year-Plan."
In one of these meetings, which I supervised, a man rose yelling, his arms outstretched in a gesture of accusation.
"Only lawyers talk that way," he yelled. "The Soviet Union has betrayed us!"
I had the sensation that this man’s shout knocked the bottom out of our effort to drive Nazi shipping off the seas. I looked at his face. It was a pale, half-cynical, half-reckless face of a man of forty. He had blond hair, bold eyes and a stubborn chin. Who was he? His features seemed familiar to me. After the meeting ended I fol­lowed the man out on the street. And suddenly I recognized him. His name was Herrmann Knüffgen. I had first seen him in Hamburg, in the bleak spring of 1919. He stood in the middle of a band of mutinous longshoremen and had shouted: "The rich must die so that the poor may live." He was the man who had captured a trawler on the North Sea with which to carry the German delegation to the first congress of the Comintern in war-torn Russia, and who had later gone to prison for it, convicted of piracy on the high seas.
I overtook him near the Steen.
"Hello, bandit," he said. "You here?"
"Let’s have a beer," I suggested.
"Oh, sure."
It was a strange meeting. Here was the man who had done much, indirectly, to push me into the tide of the communist movement; and here was I, a corpuscle in the bloodstream of the Comintern. And the man whose path I had decided to follow in my youth now sat three feet away, a bitter enemy of the cause. There was no hostility between us. We talked, I guardedly, he with frank cyni­cism. After years spent in German prisons, Herrmann Knüffgen has been amnestied by President von Hindenburg. For a time he had been detailed to the Scandinavian Bureau of the Comintern, and then been transferred to Leningrad to serve Sovtorgflot—as an organizing expert.
"I soon saw how things stood in Holy Russia," Knüffgen told me. "That was not socialism. That was not what I had fought for. What I saw was the carcass of a great nation; and who was in the bowels of the poor beast, gnawing lustily?—The lovely Bolshevist bureaucracy. That castrated my little dream. I was sorry I stole that trawler for them in 1919. I did some figuring: The trawler was worth half a million rubles; seven years in jail were worth seven million rubles. So I thought I’d better get my money back. Seven-and-a-half million rubles was just about what Mr. Stalin owed me. Well, I got my hands on a lot of rubles and started sell­ing them wherever I could, two hundred rubles for one English pound. Until, one day, my friends from the G.P.U.—"
I knew the rest. Knüffgen had been seized as a speculator. There was a scandal that rocked Sovtorgflot. Knüffgen was condemned to death. Because of his record as a collaborator of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Soviet government commuted the death sentence to ten years of hard labor. After less than two years of toil in a Karelian prison camp, Herrmann Knüffgen escaped.
"Maybe a thousand poor devils tried it, and I’m the one in a thousand who got away alive," Knüffgen grinned.
"And now?"
"Now I’m here," he said.
"Doing the dirty counter-revolutionary work," I concluded. Knüffgen leaned back. His eyes followed the smoke of his cigar.
"I never lived better than I do now," he said contentedly. "I believe it."
"You are a God-damned fool. You fellows think you’re wolves, but you’re only puppies chasing the butterflies. Don’t you realize that Joe Stalin and his tovarishchi have nothing but contempt for you foreign lickspittles?"
"Who are you working for? The Gestapo?" I asked in deadly earnest.
"Nonsense! The Gestapo pays too little."
"Who pays more?"
"Scotland Yard. You see, I’ve become a realist."
"Why did you oppose the boycott of German ships?"
Knüffgen laughed coldly. "I enjoy throwing clubs between the Comintern legs," he said, adding seriously: "All brands of politics are frauds. You know that as well as I do. Why not draw the consequences?"
"What consequences?"
"Keep alive and fit, paddle your own canoe, and have some fun."
"I am sorry for you."
"Ah, you still hold that ’right’ and ’wrong’ are two different things," Knüffgen said. "You are diseased with a conscience."
"Call it conscience."
"Enthrone conscience and you’ll starve to death. You might also find a rope around your neck, some day."
We got nowhere. Before I left him, I warned the renegade: "Keep out of our campaigns, in future. Take some good advice."
"Nur kaltes Blut, mein Junge," [16] Knüffgen drawled. "I am an old hand in the business. Tell my friends of the G.P.U. that Comrade Stalin owes me just about ten million rubles—in gold. You can’t expect a man to let such an investment go, can you?"
We parted. Through Comrade Anton, I contacted Michel Avatin. I gave the Lett a report on Knüffgen. Avatin merely nodded. A fortnight later Willy Zcympanski, who had been my comrade in the Hamburg jail ten years earlier, arrived in Antwerp. Zcympanski had become an operative of the Soviet military intelli­gence, but the G.P.U. borrowed him at times from the military Apparat to use him for special assignments. Brusque and tight-lipped, he questioned me about Herrmann Knüffgen. I knew then that he had been sent to Antwerp to do away with the former "Captain Kidd" of the Comintern. He failed. Knüffgen is still alive. Zcympanski died by suicide, in the summer of 1937, after his capture by the Gestapo during an espionage mission in Germany.

The sporadic strikes against the Nazi flag had left many German seamen stranded in Antwerp. They were the militants who had struck, and who were subject to immediate arrest if they returned to German ports. To me, and to the Comintern, they were welcome reinforcements. Five of the most talented I gathered into a "press committee" for the publication of our new weekly newspaper, which I named Scheinwerfer—"The Searchlight." The first edition of twelve thousand was topped with the challenge, "We live, and we shall stay alive!" Two days after its appearance the bulk of the edition was already on the underground railway to Germany, concealed in the coalbunkers of ships to Bremen, Hamburg and Stettin, and in the bellies of barges going up the Rhine.
Other stranded German militants I organized into sabotage groups. I established schooling circles where comrades from the German ships were instructed in the simple technique of doing great damage to ships and cargoes with the fewest possible means. A list of suggestions of maritime sabotage technique had been worked out by some expert in the Western Secretariat. It had been forwarded to me by Jensen’s courier aboard the P.A. Bernstorff. A number of points in this training program for saboteurs follow:
The oldest and most effective method was that of commixing fine sand with the lubricants used in a steamer’s engines, prefer­ably for the bearings of the long and heavy propeller shafts. A handful of sand, judiciously applied, would be enough to cripple for days the largest craft afloat. Sand or grit could also be used on the cargo winches and the anchor windlass. Other methods were: Outright destruction of compasses and sextants; the disabling of compasses by removing or confusing the controlling magnets; bunker fires by pouring kerosene and water over coal, particularly in warm weather; the sawing through of rudder chains at sea; the lowering of temperatures in the holds of ships carrying tropical fruits, particularly bananas; the application of kerosene on cargoes of meat and other perishable foodstuffs; the sprinkling of cement and water over new machinery, motors, electric drills, pumps, presses and typewriters which Germany exported in great quantities to South America. Aimed directly at the wrecking and sinking of ships were the instructions which called for the soaking of grain and soya bean cargoes with water, either by drilling small holes into the side of the underwater portion of the vessel, or by fastening the nozzle of a firehose in the opening of an airshaft, or simply by turning the airshafts into the wind during rain or heavy weather, and under cover of darkness. Grain or soya beans, once wet, would expand to three times their normal size and burst the steel decks and flanks even of the best-built ship. Proposed as the culmination of the sabotage drive was the seizure of German ships by their crew in the event of war. Destruction of the wireless apparatus, imprisonment of officers as hostages, and a dash into a neutral or a Soviet port were the salient directions in this program.
The Comintern held the theory that German economy was weak, and that sabotage in industry and transport, lashed into a mass movement, would hasten the economic and therefore the political breakdown of Nazi power. The theory proved a fallacy. But the fact remained that no ponderous, and therefore highly vulnerable, organization was required for acts of sabotage. One trained man, working alone, was enough to disrupt the smooth functioning of a ship. That the sabotage units were not formed quite in vain was demonstrated by events in subsequent years. In Puerto Colombia, the North German Lloyd freighter Helgoland was set afire by members of her crew, and a mutiny followed. The stokers of the Bahia Blanca, a vessel of the Hamburg-South Amer­ica Line, disabled their ship in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. Near Pernambuco, an act of sabotage caused a fire in the bunkers of the Sao Paulo, of Hamburg. The fire raked the ship for five days. The Chinese seamen aboard the German wheat ships Nienburg and Anatolia mutinied off Buenos Aires. Aboard the Hamburg-America liner Leuna, where stokers and coalheavers were communists, the leader of the Nazi ship group vanished without a trace in the Indian Ocean.

In the first days of June, I was ordered to Paris to attend the World Congress against Fascism as "delegate of the workers of Hamburg" and as representative of the Seamen’s International.
The train to Paris was crowded with delegates from many lands. They all had the same destination, but all of them pretended not to know each other until the express arrived in Lille, the first safe station after the crossing of the Franco-Belgian frontier. The Gare du Nord of Paris swarmed with the runners of Roger Walter Ginsburg, our central liaison agent in the Seine city. One of them escorted me to my quarters, 221 Rue Etienne Marcel in Montreuil, an eastern suburb. It was the home of Comrade Beaugrand, a mem­ber of the Chamber of Deputies and the chief of the communist military Apparat in France. He was a lean-bodied giant, and his trade had been that of a butcher in a municipal abattoir. His apartment was cluttered with the souvenirs of many journeys to Russia, Red Army mementoes and photographs of Soviet leaders. His wife, a chunky, lively woman, held a position in the administration of the Les Halles, the pivotal point in the distribution of the Paris food supply.
One of my jobs now was to organize surveillance over all seamen, dockers, river workers and fishermen among the foreign delegates. Another was to act as interpreter in conferences between Comintern executives and the heads of the various deputations. These meetings took place either in the "architect’s studio" of Walter Ginsburg, on the Rue de Seine, or in the rambling offices which the Western Secretariat had established at 288 Rue Lafayette. The cream of the Comintern had come to town.
My chief, Ulrich, flew over from Copenhagen, together with Richard Jens and a full score of their lieutenants. But the majority of the delegates were not communists. Workers and intel­lectuals, teachers, writers and professional men belonging to the liberal camp arrived in droves, anxious to give a hand in building a world movement against Hitler and what he stood for. Few of these guileless pilgrims, it seemed, had the faintest notion that the force which had organized and financed the World Congress, written all the resolutions and made all decisions in advance of its formal opening, was the Comintern. The hundreds of guards and interpreters, typists, stenographers, guides and couriers were all members of the Communist Party. The Congress convened in the Salle Pleyel, the famous concert hall not far from l’Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe. Outwardly it was one of the grandest international assemblies the world had ever witnessed. But the real convention took place, as usual, behind the scenes. The Congress elected a "World Committee against War and Fascism," and agreed unanimously to the communist proposal that corresponding "Leagues against War and Fascism" should be set up in every democratic country on earth.
On the third day of the Congress I spoke in the densely packed Salle Pleyel. Like other speakers who had come from "totalitarian" countries, I wore a mask, for the danger that Gestapo agents were among us was ever present. I exhorted the international delegates to make use of the thousands of ships of all flags which entered German harbors and rivers as battering rams to cleave a way for anti-Hitler propaganda and organization across the marine frontiers of the Third Reich. There was thunderous applause. My speech was translated into seven languages.
One of the personages who had been expected to turn up at the Congress was Ernst Wollweber. But the ex-mutineer had stuck to his post in Germany. Cilly, his secretary, arrived in his stead. Tall, lissome, smartly attired, she had lost none of her admirable poise.
But her face betrayed the strain of months of perilous underground work at Wollweber’s side.
"I am glad I came out alive," she told me. "It is not simple death that shakes one; it’s the horror, the feeling that all around you are teeth, murderous teeth, ready to snap at you and mangle you."
At a special conference of German communist leaders in Walter Ginsburg’s atelier the name of Ernst Wollweber became the center of a dismal squabble. A diminutive but fierce-eyed Russian from the Comintern Secretariat in Moscow was present. The remnants of the old German leadership—Pieck, Könen, Remmele and their satellites—were plainly afraid of Wollweber’s rivalry. All of them were for leaving him in charge of our organization in Germany, a function which they hoped would, sooner or later, plunge him into the cellars of the Gestapo. Against this attitude the Russian emissary flared up in anger. He lashed out savagely. Ernst Wollweber, as the organizer of the new subterranean Comintern machine in Germany, had won a formidable reputation with the Soviet leaders. They were unwilling to sacrifice the most able of their German crew. The German leaders finally succumbed to the Russian’s demand that a courier should be sent to Berlin to spirit Wollweber safely out of the country. They succumbed like men hearing the announcement of their own death sentence. They offered to send one of their own aides to Berlin. The Russian refused. Mutual distrust and dull hatred were in the air.
"Go and find Comrade Jensen," the Russian told me. "Tell him to be at Metro Vavin, eight o’clock sharp."
Jensen suggested that his aide-de-camp, Georg Hegener, should go to Germany to rescue Wollweber.
On the eve of Hegener’s expedition to Germany I had a rendezvous with Cilly in a cafe near the Odéon. She was in a state of great agitation. Her habitual sang-froid had given way to chagrin, and gnashing helplessness. Over a glass of Pernod, she clutched my arm, talking rapidly.
"This Wilhelm Pieck! He’s so anxious to wear Ernst Thälmann’s boots that he considers everyone who comes out alive from Germany as a personal affront. He is afraid of having me work in the Central Committee. He thinks I’m a spy for Ernst (Wollweber). He’s afraid I’ll collect material against him for the day Ernst comes out of Germany."
Cilly loved Ernst Wollweber. Her mind was essentially unpolitical, but she was a communist, unquestioning and unflinching in the execution of her duties. Now I saw the woman in her break through the armor of discipline. Her dark eyes, her whole chic slimness was in a mutinous uproar. Like many other Comintern operatives, she had a vague but deep-rooted fear of a sudden call to Moscow; no one was ever sure whether such a call did not mean a final farewell to the stormy, yet pleasant, life abroad.
"I will speak to Comrade Jensen," I told her. "He can inform Moscow that he needs you for a temporary assignment."
"Do, please. I shall be grateful."
Jensen conferred with Ulrich. The S-Apparat—the Comintern’s Espionage Defense department—was in need of capable female assistants. Cilly was detailed to the unit of Michel Avatin.

Among the delegates who had come from Germany was Bror Nystroem, a Swede by birth, but a citizen of the Soviet Union. He had worked in the industrial espionage Apparat of Hans Kippen­berger, as a specialist for the Siemens Trust, the electrical and steel combine. From Nystroem I learned the whereabouts of Firelei. Once more she had become a fugitive from the Gestapo. From Berlin she had been transferred to Dresden, in Saxony, and from there, after a raid, she had fled to Stettin. Bror Nystroem gave me an address in Stettin.
"You may write her," he said. "It is a good address, as addresses go nowadays."
I wrote a few harmless lines on a postcard, giving the address of a French worker in Montreuil, and mailed the card. Four days I waited. They were days of cruel torture. Then the answer came, in the handwriting that was so familiar. It was a pitiful cry for help. I telegraphed Firelei all the money I had in my possession.
From the telegraph office I rushed to the branch headquarters of the Western Secretariat in the Rue Lafayette. An imperturbable secretary received me. I demanded to be contacted with one of our executives.
"Wait," she said.
I waited an hour, and another hour. Couriers came and went, bent on business of their own. Finally the secretary directed me to go to a foot-bridge which crossed the Seine in front of the Louvre. On the bridge stood a middle-aged man, immaculately dressed in gray. He was René, the Pole, leader of the newly-formed Comité Mondial—the general staff for the Leagues against War and Fascism the world over.
Immediately he began to talk to me about my next assignment. "You must go to Strasbourg and Basle," he said. "We must arrange facilities for a large-scale transportation of the Rundschau across the Rhine to Germany." The Rundschau, published in Basle, was the journal of the Comintern press service. I hardly listened. Rene talked on! "We are bringing out a Brown Book about the Reichs­tag Fire. It is highly important. A hundred thousand copies of a miniature edition must go to Germany. And Strasbourg—"
"Listen," I interposed, "I am troubled by another matter. My wife, Comrade Firelei, is in a desperate situation."
I spoke. Rene was a good listener. I requested that the Party should help me get Firelei out of Germany. The look of curiosity on the Pole’s face changed into a frozen little smile.
"Dear comrade," he said patiently, "I respect your sensibility. But the situation is too serious to allow us to jeopardize our Apparat in the solution of our comrades’ private difficulties. Later, perhaps. We need you to build up a working bridgehead in Strasbourg. It is very pressing."
We parted, hostility between us. In that instant Firelei meant more to me than the sum of all political schemes and conspiracies. I went in search of Richard Jensen. But Jensen had left Paris. He had flown back to Copenhagen. I went to Ginsburg, the liaison man. I needed money and a reliable courier who was not known to the Gestapo. Ginsburg was sympathetic, but afraid. He would do nothing without exact instructions from his superiors. I was determined not to engage in any further assignments as long as Firelei was hunted and homeless in Germany.
I decided to return to the waterfront. The sailors would not hesitate to help me. Most of those who had been in Hamburg in bygone days knew Firelei and considered her as their pal. I wrote Firelei to hold herself ready to travel at a moment’s notice. It was a reckless thing to do. If the letter fell into Gestapo hands all would be lost. I borrowed a hundred francs from Comrade Beaugrand. It was enough to pay my fare to Antwerp.
In the office of Comrade Anton in Antwerp I found a letter from the Western Secretariat, ordering me to proceed to Strasbourg without delay. I paid no heed. In the back room of Café Belgenland, I gathered about myself the hard-bitten elite of the Antwerp waterfront brigades. "Help me to rescue Firelei," was my appeal to them. They gave a subdued cheer. Their loyalty and enthusiasm brought tears to my eyes. Among them was Birzinsch, a young Lett. Under the latter’s leadership, the "activists" went out next morning to raise the required money by collections aboard the ships. By nightfall nearly four hundred Belgas were in my hands.
"I need one volunteer to go with me to Germany," I said.
Birzinsch volunteered. We left Antwerp the same night, arriving in Verviers, a Belgian town facing the German frontier, at four in the morning. A guide from the local communist unit led us along smugglers’ paths to the outskirts of Aachen, a five-hour march through dense woods. We reached German soil without encounter­ing a single frontier guard.
In Aachen we parted. Birzinsch took the larger part of the col­lected money and entrained for Cologne and Berlin. From Berlin he would go to Stettin. I waited in Aachen. All day I wandered through the quiet, clean streets, avoiding the center of the town, turning into doorways at the approach of storm troopers, and dur­ing the night I lay hidden in the woods. I neither ate nor slept. The minutes crawled like malevolent and infinitely slow animals. The day went by, and the night, and another day and another night. I was tormented by many gnawing questions: "What had happened to Birzinsch? Would he find Firelei? Where were they? When would they come?" Countless times I asked myself these questions.
Each time a train arrived from Cologne, I hovered in the vicinity of a teamsters’ restaurant where we had agreed to meet. And finally they came, Birzinsch with a look of immeasurable triumph on his stoic Baltic face, and walking at his side was Firelei, in a red-and-white summer dress and a gay handbag dangling from her wrist. I wanted to rush at them with a shout of joy, but I held still and let them pass. And then I followed them slowly until we had reached the edge of the woods.
Birzinsch wandered a little way off, pretending to look for mush­rooms. We were alone in the dim twilight under the beeches. I looked into Firelei’s eyes. They shone like stars.
"Now we are together again," she said softly. "I am so glad, so glad! I shall never let you go away alone again . . ."
All night we moved eastward through the black woods. Birzinsch took the lead. Toward morning he halted until we were abreast of him.
"Now you can have the good embrace," he said happily. "We are in Belgium."
Again life promised to be like a song. We reached Antwerp, and for a week we lived in a garret above a foundry, oblivious of the outside world. The insistent clamor made by the Western Secretariat ended our clandestine vacation.
"We are going to Paris," I announced.
"I have always wanted to see Paris again," Firelei said.
We journeyed to Paris, crossing the border afoot, for Firelei was still without a passport. In Paris, Walter Ginsburg procured for her a passport in the name of Jeanette Languinier, a native of St. Nazaire. Thus equipped, we traveled on to Strasbourg and Basle.

We were in Strasbourg when the news reached me that the chief of the Gestapo espionage in Flanders, Ilia Raikoff—The Ox—had at last been executed by Michel Avatin and his aides. I learned the details of this execution later, partly from Avatin himself, partly from Cilly who had helped him, but mainly from Comrade Anton, the Antwerp liaison-man, who had collected the reports.
Four had been assigned to do the job—Avatin, a Belgian named Rose, a tubby little Greek from Thessalonike, and then Cilly. They found that The Ox was hard to catch. He knocked about town in taxis and made his conferences in cafes flooded with light. Avatin and Rose kept on his heels. The tubby Greek prowled around the waterfront to watch those who walked in and out of The Ox’s quarters. And Cilly, dressed in gowns that were like silk in the rain, sipped drinks in the cafes, doing her utmost to induce The Ox to ask her for a favor. After a week of this, Avatin became impatient.
He wanted Cilly to get The Ox drunk, then to take him for a nocturnal promenade along the river. But The Ox did not drink enough, and he never walked out of the reach of bright lights and policemen. So, when he took Cilly one night to a hotel, Avatin decided to change his plan.
Because Cilly disliked using a knife, the Greek went to a library to study up on poisons. He returned to report that a few drops of undiluted nicotine would be all right. All Cilly had to do was to mix the nicotine into The Ox’s tea before he went to bed, and after at she could take a plane to Paris, and Comrade Ginsburg would arrange for a passport to prove that she’d been in Paris for a long time.
It was a promising scheme. During the next week, The Ox took Cilly to three different hotels. Nothing happened. Each following morning she came to report that The Ox was still alive. It seemed that Cilly was nursing scruples. On the third morning her face was so pale that her lips looked almost blood-red. When she said The Ox was a very unhappy man, Avatin gave her a ferocious sample of his mind. He sent a message to Copenhagen, proposing that Cilly be relegated to less serious work.
Then, all of a sudden, it happened.
Cilly did not poison the spy. Just before midnight she telephoned from a hotel on the Meir that The Ox was drunk and unbearable. She promised that she would take him out in a taxi, and dump him among the trees near the old fortress by the river.
Three hours Avatin, Rose, and the Greek, waited on the bench beneath the trees. Nothing was said. They listened to the charivari [17] of voices that went up like steam from a club of beachcombers camping on a patch of grass.
Around half past two a taxi nosed in among the trees. They saw Cilly get out. Quickly she walked to the quay, pretending to look at a passing steamer. The Ox staggered out of the taxi half a minute later. He shouted for her to wait. Cilly turned. Just as he was reaching for her, she shoved him over a bench. Then she ran back to the taxi and told the driver to step on the gas. By the time The Ox had his bearings, the taxi was gone. The beachcombers brayed and guffawed. They had surrounded The Ox, showering mockery and consolations.
"Let’s go," Avatin said quietly.
The clouds hung low over the towers of Antwerp. The lights on the other side of the river were bleary in the rain. One after another the beachcombers trudged away. Their obscure shapes moved over the wet pavement toward sheltering doorways.
Avatin stood in front of the Russian. He was calm, as always in the face of imminent action. The waterfront was deserted. The rain fell heavily now.
"Ox," said Avatin, "when one man puts a gun against another man’s spine, what happens?"
"Nothing," The Ox said with contempt.
"And when he pulls the trigger?"
The Ox looked up. "One man is dead, one alive," he muttered.
They acted swiftly now. The Greek pressed the muzzle of a pistol against The Ox’s spine.
"Stand up."
The Ox rose to his feet. He towered in the rain, bewildered.
"March," said the Greek.
The Ox marched. He marched toward the edge of the quay, Avatin on his right, Rose on his left, and behind him the tubby Greek with the gun.
"We’re going to kill you," Avatin said.
The Ox seemed suddenly astonished.
"What ails you fellows?" he quavered.
"The Gestapo will be sorry to lose you," Avatin said.
Beneath their feet the black water of the river gurgled against the stones. The Ox stood on the edge of the quay as if he were thinking, and abruptly he whirled and struck at the Greek’s face. In the same instant Avatin plunged his dagger into the spy’s groin and ripped it sideways. Then he kicked him. The Ox grunted. Then he pitched into the river, and the current carried him away.

Chapter Thirty-one - "DEATH IS EASY"

FOR SIXTY DAYS we journeyed through France, Belgium and Holland. From Strasbourg, Firelei and I proceeded to Basle, crossing the border at the rim of a village called St. Louis. From Basle we returned to Paris, and from Paris we went to Rouen, Le Havre, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkerque, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam and back to Antwerp, in that order. In all these ports it was my task to establish "underground" bases for the shipment of illegal printed matter to Germany, a task which I combined with the overhauling of the communist marine units along the rivers and coasts. In the second half of August it was my lot to play the role of one of the chief tacticians in the great strike of the rivermen and canal workers of the Paris area and Northern France.
We were in Le Havre, in the home of the liaison-agent, M. Cance and his gracious wife, when the news of the first official execution of communists in Germany was flashed around the world. On August 1, 1933, the heads of the workers Hermann Lütgens, Bruno Tesch, Wolff and Möller fell under the executioner’s ax in Hamburg-Altona. I had known them, and so had Firelei. Other death sentences had been pronounced by the Special Tribunals in Chemnitz and Breslau, in Berlin and Cologne. The effect of this butchery on our minds could not have been greater had we been told that our son had been murdered. First there was abysmal sorrow, then hatred, and a cry for revenge. In a fit of passion, Firelei drew a caricature of Hitler in the role of a headsman, the ax in his right hand, the lopped-off head of Comrade Lütgens raised high in his left hand, and the headless body sprawling between the victor’s legs. Across this drawing she wrote the three familiar lines:

"Verflucht, verflucht
Wer diesen Tag vergessen will,
Wer dieses Blut nicht rächen will.”

(Accursed, accursed be he,
Who will forget this day,
Who will not avenge this blood)

"Once I loved to draw beautiful things," Firelei said darkly. "But that is past and gone now."
I wrote an appeal for revenge, a violent emotional outcry in words, and had it printed on the Party presses against the back­ground of Hitler the Headsman in an edition of twenty-five thou­sand. I had it shipped immediately to all ports where our units spe­cialized in the smuggling of printed contraband to Germany. Firelei took about a hundred of these broadsides and left Cance’s house, running down the hill as fast as her legs could carry her.
"Better look after her," Cance advised me. "She is terribly upset."
I dropped my work to find out where Firelei was going. I could not see her. I rushed downhill and cruised aimlessly through the streets of Le Havre, without finding a sign of her. The truth dawned on me suddenly. There were two German ships in port, the Gerolstein and the Bellona. Firelei had gone into the harbor to distribute the leaflets among the German crews.
Nothing could be more dangerous. There was no German merchant ship afloat which did not have a Gestapo spy among her crew. A group of three or four Nazis a ship were powerful enough to terrorize a crew of fifty.
I raced to the Gerolstein, which had a communist unit.
"Yes," the gangway watchman told me, "there was a chit here who distributed some sort of wild papers."
"Did she leave?"
"Oh, a good hour ago."
"Where’s this ship bound for from here?"
"New York."
I hastened away. I rushed to the Bellona, which lay in another part of the harbor. The Bellona’s home port was Bremen. She had come from Spain, homeward bound, and was one of the few ships which was manned by a majority of organized Nazis. The gang­way of the Bellona was guarded by two sailors who wore the storm troopers’ insignia. I could not get aboard. A little distance away from the ship the quayside was littered with crumpled copies of our appeal for vengeance. Firelei had been here.
I asked a tallyman who was checking slings at the door of the cargo shed: "Have you seen a girl here, a young girl in a red and white dress, a blonde girl?"
"Une fille? . . . Ah, la garçonne! Mais oui!"
"In yonder freight-office."
It was the freight-office of the German Neptun Line, at the end of the shed. I hailed a group of longshoremen while I approached it.
"What is the matter?"
"Au secours," I cried excitedly. "Brigandage. Les Nazis."
Four or five followed. The dockers of Le Havre were anarchists. They had not participated in the strikes against the swastika flag, which they considered as a meaningless rag, as they did all other national ensigns; but they hated the Hitler movement just the same. Without preliminaries, I burst into the German freight-office. The dockers followed. The office consisted of two rooms, a large front room and a smaller office in the rear. In the front room an officer from the Bellona was talking to two German clerks.
"Here," the officer shouted, "where are you going?"
We shouldered past him and through the door of the rear office. Firelei was there. She sat at a table, confronted by a young man. The young man, who was no sailor, stepped back against the wall. Firelei gave a cry of surprise.
"What are you doing here?" I demanded.
She was out of her senses. She rose and advanced toward the young man, her fists clenched. "This little murderer," she muttered, "he wanted me to go to the ship with him. This interesting—"
Men gathered in the outside office. The dockers stood awkwardly, not knowing what to do.
"Let’s get out of here!"
I seized Firelei’s arm and dragged her away. The Germans made room for us in silence. The dockers wanted to demolish the office.
"No, no," I told them. "It was a mistake."
Firelei and I were illegally in France, unregistered, and with false passports. We could not risk questioning by police. Firelei chattered crazily. I helped her into a taxi and climbed in behind her.
"Where to?"
"A bath-house."
I rented a shower room and forced Firelei to stand for ten consecutive minutes under the cold water.
"Are you recovered now?"
"Yes," she said timidly. "I don’t know. I went mad."
"Now dress. We are going to Cance’s. You’ll stay in bed for a day, and read and see nothing."
She followed me like a tired child. In her sleep, she screamed. She screamed the names of the men who had been beheaded in Hamburg-Altona, and she called them her "little brothers."
I did not ask her what had happened on the quay in front of the Bellona. She told me of it herself, weeks afterward. She had dis­tributed the leaflets, throwing them in little rolls over the steamer’s rail, so that they landed on deck. Then she had entered the freight-office to distribute some more. There two men refused to let her go out again.
"They wanted me to go with them aboard the Bellona," Firelei said. "But they waited, because I threatened to scream. And then you came."

On August 15 we were in Dunkerque. The strategic position of this port had long attracted the special attention of the Comintern. Communist trade unions monopolized the harbor and the connect­ing railroads. We knew that in the event of a war the country be­tween Dunkerque and Lille would be the most vulnerable in France. The stationary agent of the G.P.U. in Dunkerque was Marcel Wegscheider, an engineer; and his chief aide was Gustave Huyge, the leader of the Dockers’ Union. Both had their offices in one of the finest buildings in town, the Salle d’Avenir, 9 Rue l’Ecluse-de-Bergues.
With Wegscheider and Huyge I discussed the possibilities of a strike movement on the rivers and canals in Northern France. The campaign plan had been drawn up by the Western Secretariat. It aimed at nothing less than the throttling of the industries of the area by cutting off the raw-materials which they received over the river and canal systems linking Paris with Lorraine and the Channel coast. Already the C.G.T.U., the communist-controlled Confederation of Trade Unions, had prepared the ground in weeks of strike agitation. The outbreak of the bataille des bateliers was merely a matter of days. To the Dunkerque leadership of the Com­munist Party fell the task of supplying a staff of experts who could transform the impending strike into a real battle by blocking the waterways to Paris with—ship barricades.
It was an hitherto untried form of large-scale transport sabotage. Wegscheider, I and our band of assistants journeyed separately to Paris. We came together again in the C.G.T.U. headquarters, on the Rue des Granges aux Belles, for a conference with Rene and the French Party leaders.
Benoit Frachon, the strategist of Bolshevist enterprise in France, spread out a general staff map of the Paris area. Military garrisons and stations of the Garde Mobile were marked in blue. Marked in red were places of confluence and strategic canal junctions. Frachon, his voice meticulous and cold, pointed them out as the spots where ship barricades would be most effective, and where squads of Parisian militants already lay ready for action. Two motorcycle couriers were attached to each squad to maintain a steady contact with the central strike headquarters which, to give an appearance of independence, was established in St. Denis, far from the official buildings of the Communist Party. Appointed to act as "advisers" to the central strike committee were Jean Rigal, Emile Ramette, and one Mauvais, all veterans in the Comintern service, and I as representative of the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers, the Comintern’s Maritime Section.
The strike began on August 19. As yet the French government did not suspect the scope of the plot. But at dawn, on August 20, our sabotage brigades swung into action.
The French river workers—the bateliers—followed the leader­ship of our units. On the Aisne River ten barges were tied side to side until they obstructed the river from one bank to the other. We stiffened this ship barricade by instructing the bateliers to bring out all available anchors. The barges on both flanks of the river blockade were then manned by squads of Red Front Fighters, whose task was to defend them against attacks from shore. The river was blocked. When daylight came, ship transports on their way from the region of Rheims to Paris were unable to proceed. Where the Aisne flows into the Oise, the tangle of held-up river shipping waxed worse from hour to hour.
Next we proceeded to block the Oise. The Oise was broader than the Aisne, and fourteen barges were needed to build a floating barricade. On the canals branching off toward the north and to Belgium three or four ships anchored and moored in a cluster at the entrance of the lock-gates formed efficient obstructions. By noon a total of twenty-two barricades had been constructed. Traffic on the rivers and waterways below Paris had come to a halt.
The French authorities were too surprised to act at once. In Lille and Amiens, at Dunkerque and Rouen, the bateliers followed suit. Shipping between France and Belgium and Holland ceased. The North closed, we threw all our forces toward the South and East. New ship barricades sprang up. The Seine was blocked, and then the Marne. On August 22, the Paris government threatened to intervene. It issued an ultimatum, demanding that the barricades be cleared away.
To gain time, we sent delegations of striking bateliers to negotiate with the government. Ramette and Jean Rigal sped north to draw the workers of the mining and textile industries into the strike. I issued a manifesto: "Rivermen, defend your ship block­ades!"
I was in a session with the strike committee at Conflans Ste. Honorine on the morning of August 23 when a sweating courier ran into the meeting.
"Take care," he shouted. "The Garde Mobile is coming, and police, and the Paris fire department."
The conference broke up. Arrachard, a leading Parisian communist, rushed to the nearby ship barricades to take charge of the defense. Detachments of Garde Mobiles marched toward the river. I was hastening toward the courier center when a detachment leader stopped me.
"Halt! Where from? Where to?"
Doris Ginsburg, who acted as my interpreter, was with me. She produced a bewitching smile. I produced my Danish passport.
"He is a tourist," she explained. "I am his guide. We came to see the exciting ship blockades."
The Garde Mobile officer apologized. "Pass," he said. "You should know, Mademoiselle, that there are better things to see in France than this."
On the floating barricades the bateliers stood off attempts of the attackers to board the barges. They used clubs and boat hooks and streams of cold water from canvas hoses to keep the police boats at a distance. A flanking assault from ashore was also repelled. The government forces retired. Three hours later they renewed their attack, spurting high pressure jets of water from hoses of the Paris fire engines. Defenders were toppled over by the impact of the water. The Garde Mobile boarded the barges and cut the moorings. Turning slowly around themselves, the ships drifted downstream, some alone, others still clinging together. As soon as the Garde Mobile reassembled to tackle the next line of obstruction, Mauvais and I sent out the couriers with orders to re-establish the smashed barricade. This time we were not content with one blockade. Over a stretch of one mile we built three barricades with over forty ships.
The combined forces of the government now assaulted our barricades at all points at once, using the darkness of night to approach unobserved. We had received orders from the Comintern not to advocate the use of firearms, since the action had more the character of a dress rehearsal than of a decisive combat. To avoid an outright insurrection, the police and the Garde Mobile, the latter in steel helmets, also abstained from using their pistols. Bruises, broken heads and countless drenchings in river and canal water were the lot of both sides.
The general melee lasted four days and nights. It was the most adventurous strike play ever enacted on French soil. On the night of August 26, all key organizers were called to a consultation in St. Denis. Frachon informed us that the order had come to call off the strike at daybreak. Comrade Arrachard flew up in a rage. "Why," he protested, "the affair is going wonderfully. Why stop?"
"The comrades from the Comintern are satisfied," Frachon relayed. "We must not play all our cards. It has been an experiment, a successful experiment. We may now draw from it lessons of value for the greater battles of the future."
Several hundred bateliers had been arrested in the course of the "experiment." Thirty imported militants from Dunkerque were charged with rebellion. Not one of the real leaders of the strike was among them.

On a sultry day at the end of August, seemingly appearing from nowhere, Ernst Wollweber arrived in Paris.
Firelei met him in Comrade Ginsburg’s atelier on the Rue de Seine. Wollweber was crouching over a map of Paris, and another one of Europe.
"Comrade Ernst," Firelei cried. "Welcome to Paris. We feared you had been taken."
"Feared?" The Silesian grinned. "Even the best can be replaced, though it happens at times that the dead come back to life."
The arrival of Wollweber in Paris was like the appearance of a hungry hawk over the chicken ranch. The numerous German communists who had installed themselves in comfortable offices since their flight from Germany feared for their positions and their budgets. They did everything in their power to isolate the dangerous newcomer, to head him off to Brussels or Moscow. For a week the Silesian quietly took his bearings. He recruited a train of devoted assistants from the rank and file of refugees. He dispatched private couriers to Copenhagen and the Soviet Union, and soon these dispatch-bearers returned with favorable answers. Conferences with delegates of the Western Secretariat followed. Ernst Wollweber’s reputation as the organizer of the German "underground" was immense.
Wollweber’s greatest asset was the fact that he was hardly known outside the German frontiers. He was a man of mystery, and he knew how to exploit that role. He moved through the streets of Paris, thick-set, silent, his iron forehead almost hidden under a too-large fedora hat, his saturnine eyes glinting into the hot Paris summer air.
He used a great number of names. At the Comité Mondial, they called him Schulz. In the refugee committees, he was known as Anderson. In the conferences of Party functionaries, he was introduced as Kurt Schmidt. Ernst Wollweber seemed to take a sinister delight in using the names of men who had died in Gestapo dungeons. Firelei called him "The Cannibal," a name which he seemed to like, especially when it came from the lips of a likable girl. He would stop in his tracks then, and his black Mongol eyes would peer upward, as if they were studying a hidden code in the pattern of the kalsomine on the ceiling, and a grin would come to his tobacco-smeared lips, a grin to which Firelei’s only answer was a rather comical "Ugh!"
One evening Firelei and I were with Wollweber in a café on the Champs Elysées. Wollweber drank soda water. We talked about Germany, about Paris, and the future. And suddenly he said:
"I’ve been looking around. This Paris is a treasure-chest. I’ve learned more here in one week, I tell you, than in three years in Germany. In Germany, our comrades either starve to death or are beaten to death. And here? The boulevard cafés are lousy with deserters!" At this point he broke into an ugly snarl. "I’m going to round them up," he growled, "one and all. I’m going to send them back to Germany where they belong."
Our café conference continued. Wollweber spoke of the West­ern Secretariat, the highest body of Comintern plenipotentiaries outside of the Moscow offices of Molotov and Piatnitzky. Ulrich he called a "lawyer scoundrel." Of the Pole René, the chief of the World League against Fascism, he spoke as a Schlappschwanz—a "dish rag." "If I had Rene’s powers," he growled, "I could make the world turn around the other way." We came to Henri Barbusse. Wollweber had never heard of him. "Who is this Barbusse fellow?" he queried.
"He wrote the book Under Fire," Firelei explained.
"He wouldn’t last long under fire," Wollweber commented sar­donically. "He’s too tall and thin. Any fool of a detective could pick him out among a million others."
Firelei laughed. "Comrade Ernst, how about this fellow Goethe?"
"Goethe is dead," Wollweber said. "Goethe wrote Faust."
Wollweber told me that he would shortly leave for Moscow. From Moscow he would go to Copenhagen. He aspired to create for himself an Apparat on which he could rely utterly. The names of prominent rivals—like Wilhelm Pieck and Münzenberg—were anathema to him. He would not have them as collaborators. He would choose his own collaborators from the unspoiled rank and file. And abruptly he said to Firelei:
"You’re going to Copenhagen with me."
Firelei recoiled. She would stay with me, she answered.
"Your man will follow shortly," Wollweber commented. "There are a lot of things I’m going to do in Copenhagen. The air is cleaner there than in Paris."
Three days later Firelei received her sailing orders from the Western Secretariat. She was needed in Copenhagen, and to Copenhagen she had to go. Expulsion from the Party for violation of Bolshevist discipline was the alternative. Wollweber went to Copenhagen by airplane. Firelei traveled aboard the P.A. Bern­storff from Dunkerque.
In Roger Walter Ginsburg’s atelier I found a letter from the Western Secretariat, assigning me to direct a special conference of the Anglo-American delegations to the World Youth Congress against War, which convened in Paris in September. The object of the special conference was the co-ordination of the work of com­munist organizations in the armament and shipping industries for purposes of military intelligence and the obstruction of arms shipments not approved by the Soviet government.
At the end of the World Youth Congress, in the offices of the Comintern Bureau for Railroads Internationales Kommittee der Eisenbahner on the Place de la République in Paris, I met the former Polish army officer whom the Kremlin had appointed, after the arrest of Albert Walter, to act as commissar for the Maritime Section of the Third International. This comrade informed me that he was about to be recalled to fill an administrative post in the Soviet Union, and that he had proposed to Molotov that I should be considered for the function of secretary-general of the Maritime Section.
"Nobody knows the international waterfront better than you," he said.
I was filled with a riotous elation. It was the highest office I could ever hope to attain in the service of the Communist International. Tonie, a girl of forty, husky and youngish, the chief of the Comintern Railroad Bureau, threw her arms around my neck and hugged me for no plausible reason.
"I want to go to bed with the chief of all the sailors," she crowed.
The Pole snickered, "Tonie, you’ll have plenty of competition, but there’s no hope for you girls to cut in on this comrade’s budget."
Since the arrest of Albert Walter, the monthly subsidy which the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers (ISH) received from Moscow varied between twenty to forty-five thousand dollars, depending on the scope and importance of current actions and campaigns.
I repaired to the Comintern hotel, the Hotel d’Alsace, and packed my few belongings. I was to go to Copenhagen to receive a new set of passports from Richard Jensen, and to proceed then to Moscow for a conference with Ossip Piatnitzky, the organizational chief of the Comintern.

I bade farewell to my Paris friends and boarded the North Express to Amsterdam. One of the agents of the G.P.U. in Holland met me at the airport. His name was de Groot, and he had the appearance and the credentials of a coffee merchant. He handed me a package containing several dozen blank Netherlands pass­ports for delivery to Richard Jensen in Copenhagen. The customs examination of air travelers was less stringent than the examination of voyagers arriving by train or boat. Soon the motors began to roar, dust flew astern, and my plane left the ground. The Frisian Islands slipped by below, the North Sea spread out in a panorama of green and white, with the hostile German coast to starboard, and the friendly coast of Jutland straight ahead.
Immediately on my arrival in Copenhagen I went to Richard Jensen’s home on Vesterbrogade. There a girl secretary directed me to a secret office, 18 Toldbodgade, in the disreputable Nyhavn dis­trict. It was the home of the new passport forging center of the Comintern’s Westbureau. I delivered the Dutch passports to Jensen, and requested him to arrange with the Soviet consul for the documents necessary for my journey to Moscow.
"You are not going to Moscow," Jensen told me. "Comrade Wollweber wants to see you."
"I have instructions to report to Piatnitzky," I countered.
"Never mind Piatnitzky. Comrades Kuusinen and Bela Kun are in Copenhagen now. Everything can be arranged here," Jensen advised me.
Three days passed before the Western Secretariat found time to attend to my future work. Meanwhile I saw Firelei. She had her quarters on Oeresundsvej, in a modern room overlooking a beauti­ful beach and the reaches of the Baltic Sea.
"Wollweber works day and night," she said. "He is like a steam-shovel in breeches, digging his way into the Westbureau."
Firelei suffered under the reports of unabating horrors in Germany. But she was happy in her work. Wollweber had put her in charge of the transport of communist literature from Denmark and South Sweden to Germany by maritime couriers. In addition to this function, it was her duty to remain each morning from five to eleven near the telephone in her room to note down the exact wording of each of numerous incoming messages. The texts of these messages were then transmitted by courier to the Western Secretariat. The bulk of the telephone messages were in code. Firelei neither knew their meaning, nor the identities of the callers. It did not matter. The dreams of her youth were gone. Her child was lost. She was resigned to serve the cause which had taken so much, and from which a return to a former manner of life—now so remote and strange—had become impossible.
On the morning of my fourth day in Copenhagen Jensen’s son, Martin, who was a G.P.U. man handling the management of communist activities in the water, gas and electrical works of Copenhagen, called on me. It was a Sunday.
"We’re going to the Westbureau," he said. "There’s a fight on about you."
"What sort of fight?" I asked, somewhat startled.
While we journeyed by tramcar to the suburb of Charlottenlund, where Otto Wilhelm Kuusinen, the unofficial secretary of the Comintern maintained an office in the apartment of a woman G.P.U. operative, Martin Jensen gossiped in whispers. He was anxious to please me, for I knew of some of his indiscretions with Party belles, and Comrade Martin was afraid that his pretty wife, Inge, who loved him fanatically, would learn of his erotic escapades.
"It is a jurisdictional fight," he exclaimed. "The internationalists want you to boss the waterfront groups, and then Wollweber came and said, ’Nothing doing, I need this comrade in Germany."
"Has there been a decision?"
"No, they’re still fighting."
"Who is stronger?"
"The German, I believe,—Wollweber. He has the big patience. He sits and argues until the others are tired of the argument and go home."
We halted near the home of Kuusinen’s hostess. Charlottenlund was a fashionable residential district. Old trees and comfortable benches lined the avenues. Martin Jensen entered a house, 173 Ordrupvej, and returned presently with a tall, rather bony woman of about forty. She had an intelligent face, and she walked with a lanky, peculiar gait which seemed to denote that she was unable to bend her left leg at the knee. The woman was Petra Petersen, a secret agent, and a veteran operator in the central telegraph exchange of the Danish capital. I came to know her better in later years when, for several weeks, I made my quarters in her apartment, sleeping in the same bed in which Kuusinen had slept during the early fall of 1933.
Martin Jensen departed. Petra Petersen put her arm into mine.
"A beautiful day," she casually observed. "Let’s promenade."
We walked through Charlottenlund Park until we came upon a beach. The sun glittered on the waters of Oeresund, and peaceful islands rose in the distant blue. At the south end of the beach lay an old fortress, now converted into a park, with a boat landing at its foot. Petra Petersen led me to a small trim motor launch. We boarded the craft. Aboard it were Kuusinen, the Finn; a small colorless man with a tautly angular face and sharp mouse-like eyes; and Ernst Wollweber, who appeared more dumpy than ever in light flannel trousers and a blue jacket. The launch was operated by Julius Vanman, who had become a member of the Espionage Defense.
While the boat cruised at low speed along the friendly shore, we conferred. When Kuusinen spoke, his voice rose barely above a rapid mutter. From his thin lips the sentences leaped jerkily. The decision, as far as I was concerned, had already been made. I was not going to Moscow. I was going to Germany. Wollweber watched me like a lynx. I took the news silently.
"For the present Comrade Ernst will take over the leadership of the Maritime Section himself," Kuusinen informed me.
Into my mind flashed the realization of the game that had been played behind the scenes, a game in which I was a pawn—one of many pawns. Ernst Wollweber had come to the conclusion that I would never be his obedient creature. My horizon was international. Wollweber saw only Germany. His one ambition—that of directing all available forces into the German struggle—not only embraced men, but also money. I was being sent to Germany because Ernst Wollweber was determined not to leave the Kremlin’s subsidy for the Maritime Division in the hands of a man whom he could not control at will. "After all," Wollweber growled, "you are a member of the German Party, and therefore subject to the dispositions of the German executive."
"We have come to the conclusion that you are indispensable in Germany," Kuusinen seconded. "For a Bolshevik it is the greatest honor to do his revolutionary duty at the most dangerous post."
"Why, Comrade Kuusinen," I wanted to ask, "did you not re­turn to Finland after the revolution there was drowned in blood?" Instead I nodded. Hitler was the most dangerous enemy of workers’ rights, and of the Soviet Union. "Very well," I said, "I will go to Germany."
"Are you nervous?" Wollweber asked.
"We’ll give you a week’s vacation. And when you come back in six months or so, we’ll celebrate the grand Auf Wiedersehen."
"Don’t try to fool me," I answered sullenly. "No illegal worker in Germany can hope to last six months. Not one in ten of our friends there ever comes back."
"In the Party we have no friends. In the Party we know only comrades," the Silesian observed. And in a slow growl he added: "We’ve all faced death. What of it? Das Sterben ist nicht so schwer. (Death is easy.) The difficult art is to keep alive."
"Death is easy!" There was a long silence.
"Let’s get down to concrete tasks," Kuusinen suggested drily.

My week’s "vacation" passed like a gust of wind. The days were brimful with work. From Losovsky, in Moscow, came words of praise for my share in the great river and canal strike in the Paris area. "The sailor from Hamburg," he wrote, "der hat seine Sache ganz gut gemacht. [18] It added much to the reputation I had won in the Swedish strike. Losovsky requested that I write a short history of the latter campaign, and I spent two of my "vacation" nights on the report. It was published under the title, The Lessons of the Swedish Shipping Strike.
I also translated much confidential material dealing with the arrest of Georgi Dimitrov in Berlin and with the preparations for the Reichstag Fire Trial, which already then promised to develop into an international sensation. The heroism with which the world press has credited the former chief of the Western Secretariat and the present nominal leader of the Comintern in Moscow, because of his bold and clever sallies against the government’s "witnesses," Hermann Göring and Joseph Göbbels, was only the result of a carefully and cunningly organized play. The confidential material which passed through my hands in the Vimmelskaftet offices of the Westbureau in Copenhagen contained data as far out of the reach of the ordinary newshawk as the complicated codes devised by Piatnitzky’s nameless chiffre experts.
Months before the famous Berlin trial began, secret negotiations were already under way between Moscow and Berlin to exchange Dimitrov and his two Bulgarian aides for three German officers who had been caught by the G.P.U. as spies on Soviet soil. Dimitrov had to be saved from being broken down by Gestapo torture, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Soviet Secret Service and the Comintern, whose inside workings he knew too well.
Under duress, Dimitrov had proved himself less steadfast than many of the comrades under his command. He surrendered to the Gestapo the address of a couple who sheltered him; both man and wife sought escape in suicide when the Gestapo came for them. They cut their own veins, but were rushed in time to a hospital by the Nazi jailers. Dimitrov also surrendered to the Gestapo the name and address of his mistress, Annie Krueger. His wife died suddenly, under circumstances which remain a mystery to this day, in May, 1933, while Dimitrov was in prison, awaiting trial.
It was at this time that the G.P.U. stepped in with this threat to the Gestapo: "Leave Dimitrov alone. Whatever you do to him, we shall do to your spies in Moscow." Negotiations for an exchange of prisoners began through the medium of the Soviet consulate in Copenhagen, and through Georgi Dimitrov’s sister, to whom the Gestapo, strangely enough, granted free passage in and out of Germany. The deal between Moscow and Berlin was concluded on the eve of the trial. But Dimitrov, for face-saving reasons, was kept in Germany until the end of the great Leipzig show. He, the star prisoner of the Gestapo, enjoyed jail privileges unattainable to the mass of more obscure captives. He was supplied with newspapers, allowed to smoke cigars in his cell, and to receive mail. The "little" comrades, meanwhile, received only beatings, and often bullets. In later years, I heard them speak bitterly in the concentration camps about Dimitrov and his rescue by Stalin. They felt themselves betrayed and abandoned by the cause they had served. Had they insulted General Göring in open court, as Dimitrov did so dramatically at Leipzig, they would have paid hideously, and paid with their lives for such an "heroic" gesture.

I was preparing to take the road to the land where "death is easy." The map of Germany was in my head—its cities, rivers, rail­road schedules. I memorized a long string of names and cover names, addresses and cover addresses. Whenever Ernst Wollweber mentioned the name of one of my prospective collaborators, he would add: "Maybe the comrade is still at large or maybe he’s caught or dead. You’ll have to find that out."
I was to organize the distribution of large quantities of propaganda to the various district headquarters. The printed matter was smuggled into the port of Hamburg by maritime couriers, but the organization which had been created to relay the literary contra­band from its depots in the harbor of Hamburg to the Party staff in the inland had broken down. My task was to rebuild it. Besides, there were other assignments, of a more limited nature, but no less important: the forwarding by ship couriers of confidential reports from Germany to Copenhagen. Some of these reports would come from Rudolf Heitman, the G.P.U. man in the Hamburg Gestapo; others would come from our spies in various Nazi organizations, among which the German Labor Front and the Auslandsabteilung —the Foreign Division of the Nazi Party—were the most im­portant. Two of the best courier ships were reserved to carry such reports, the steamers Beira and Jolantha, Danish vessels trading between Copenhagen and Hamburg, and manned exclusively by Richard Jensen’s men. All preparations for my illegal entry to Germany were surrounded with the utmost secrecy. From Jensen I received two carefully forged passports. One was of Danish origin; the other was British, issued in the name of Robert Williams, a journalist, and signed by Sir John Simon. From Jensen I also received the sum of $12,000, half of which was to be conveyed to the Berlin organization, while the other half was to cover my expenses for the first three months of "underground" activities. And finally Ernst Wollweber informed me that he had detailed a reliable girl comrade to act as my personal secretary and courier.
"Who is she?" I demanded.
Since Wollweber’s arrival in Paris, Cilly had married—pro forma—an elderly and obscure member of the Danish Communist Party. Such procedure was common with our female agents. Through her marriage Cilly had legally changed her name and had lawfully acquired Danish citizenship. The Dane, after he had played the role of husband as a Party duty, had been shipped to Russia and taken out of harm’s way.
Came the day of leave-taking from Firelei.
A tear trickled over her cheek. "You’ll never come back to me now," she said. "From Germany nobody ever returns." A little later she was brave again. We had a quiet supper, and then we went to Firelei’s room which she had decorated with many flowers. She clung to me fiercely, tenderly, possessed by a gigantic determination to give me everything, the best she could give, the most any woman can give in a last embrace.
At ten o’clock Julius Vanman, the G.P.U. man from Jensen’s cortege, arrived. For a time he waited quietly. Then he said: "Time to go, comrade."
I tore myself free and followed the G.P.U. guide to the street. Firelei must stay. She was forbidden to know at what point I crossed the German border. She began to sing a folksong she loved. "Fahre wohl, du grüne Erde . . ." Farewell, green earth! After the first line her voice broke.
Julius Vanman led me to a back room of Café Helmerhus on the Raadhus Place. Ernst Wollweber was there. He was drunk. He had his arm around the neck of a young brunette, Lola, the wife of Walter Duddins, the former Hamburg Party leader whom Wollweber had wanted to replace with the luckless John Scheer. Duddins had been arrested in Germany and was awaiting trial on charges of high treason. Lola was but one of the growing army of "Party widows" who populated Copenhagen and Paris after their men had been sent to Germany and their doom.
Wollweber shook my hand vigorously. His thick face was full of wrinkles produced by a mirthless grin, and his eyes gleamed black.
"Hals und Beinbruch, [19]" he growled. "Do your job well. The Party won’t forget its children."
Vanman had arranged for every detail of my passage. By train and ferry we crossed to Fredericia on the east coast of Jutland, and from there a train bore us south to Sonderburg. On the way I asked Vanman about Michel Avatin, whom I had not met in Co­penhagen, although he was there.
"He was busy catching Nazi spies," Vanman said.
"Did he catch any?"
Vanman grinned, "Yes, if that’ll cheer you up. The day you arrived from Paris he caught a fellow named Milenzer. This Gestapo rat had rented a room opposite Jensen’s home. He had a film camera and was making pictures of all who went in and out of Jensen’s house. Heitman in Hamburg tipped us off."
"What happened to Milenzer?"
"Our friends took him out on the Sound in a boat. They strangled him and sank him with a shackle fastened to each foot,"
From Sonderburg a highway skirts the shores of Flensburg Fjord. We took the autobus until we were less than mile from the German frontier. Then we struck inland over the grounds of a huge estate, across fields and through woods, until we reached a cottage situated on a country road. The trek had been so compli­cated that I had lost all sense of direction.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"In Germany," Vanman said. "Three miles from Flensburg."
In the cottage a frontier courier was waiting, a squat young man with an imperturbable temperament. Julius Vanman bade me good-by. "Keep the flag flying," he said simply. The frontier courier, whistling cheerfully, drew two bicycles out of a nearby shed.
"Nothing like a morning ride to whet the appetite for break­fast," he drawled.
He led the way. I followed. Through the cold morning mists we rode into the town of Flensburg. At a tavern near the station we stopped for coffee. After he had emptied his cup, the courier gave me a nod, and sauntered off. I waited until he had disappeared down the street. Then I also left the tavern. I walked into the sta­tion, inwardly tense as I passed the storm troopers on guard, and bought a ticket to Ahrensburg, a suburb of Hamburg. It was the tenth of October.

Chapter Thirty-two - CAPTURED

ON NOVEMBER 30, 1933, the Gestapo seized me.
The seven weeks that followed my arrival in Germany were one continuous nightmare, filled with darkness and treacherous swamps, with crouching shapes ready to spring and tear, with cautious advances, reckless leaps, a wide-awake fatalism, fatuous fervor, with comedians of invincibility and the death-cries of the lost. No longer did the Gestapo strike with wild, haphazard blows. It had learned the deadly value of subtlety and patience. The mass raids of the great man hunt of the preceding spring had given way to methods of precision. The man hunt had slowed down, but it had become more cruel, less noisy, and hence more nerve-racking and destructive than ever.
From Hamburg, the central gateway for contraband from abroad, I made trips to Berlin and Bremen, to Lübeck, Emden, and Duisburg on the Rhine. Most of the names and addresses of sub-leaders in the propaganda distribution Apparat, which Wollweber had designated as my collaborators, had gone out of existence. The bearers of those names were either in dungeons or already in their graves, or they had simply disappeared; and their former homes had become traps for those who would come to pick up the broken threads and build the secret network anew. With the liaison Ap­parat between the lower Party units and the leadership all but wiped out, I was compelled to feel my way toward the unknown comrades at the bottom of the battered "underground" machine to re-establish disrupted contacts and to select new staffs from the rank and file. This was a most perilous undertaking: to find a man or a woman of whom I had not heard for months in the depths of a large city, to maneuver with infinite caution for an interview in the night, while wondering during each of scores of such approaches whether the man or the girl was still loyal, or had turned traitor to the cause and former friends.
My nerves had become so mutinous that I felt I would burst if I did not force myself to be on the move. Each week of conspirative work had been like a minute and a century. At times I thought a man was lucky if he had the privilege of dying before a firing squad. To die in such a quick and gentle manner seemed better, by far, than to slink through interminable days pregnant with hate and fear, with a hectic courage, with disquieting schemes and con­vulsive action,—and with a constant promise of disaster which made one marvel at each new dawn that one was still alive.
I prided myself on having no illusions. I fought because I hated. Beyond that nothing seemed to bear importance. I was miserable in contemplation. It was action that made me quietly and fanatically happy. I knew I was a member of a suicide brigade attacking in the face of insurmountable odds. I knew that a captured communist—particularly if the Gestapo considered him a communist leader—was treated with greater ferocity than any murderer for material gain. I had seen the crimson posters blaze the news that the heads of comrades, found guilty of high treason, had fallen under the executioner’s ax.
There was, for instance, the problem of finding a place where a man could sleep. Most of my assistants had themselves been driven from their abodes. Each house had its watcher, every stranger was reported to the police. It was a stark invitation to disaster to rent a private room or to register at a hotel. Fear and distrust leered from every doorway. It had become high treason to give an enemy of the state a place to sleep. Informers infested the streets, the railway stations and cafes, the factories, the docks and the ships. They formed an army of volunteer spies, whose existence and activities alone accounted for the phenomenal successes of the Gestapo. The raiders were most active between midnight and dawn. The rush of traffic through the seven portals of Gestapo headquarters reached its height in hours when the normal traffic of the city was at its lowest.
During these seven weeks I hardly ever slept twice in the same bed. The hours of daylight were the hours of rest. My workday began late in the afternoon, when dusk began to settle, and rarely ended before five or six in the morning. The all-important contacts were established at night. There were conferences with Party instructors and couriers, with comrades in charge of propaganda consignments to inland destinations, with tugboat men, barge skippers and shipschandlers’ runners, who smuggled newly-arrived batches of printed matter from the ships to the depots ashore, past harbor police and the cordon of customs guards. Nothing is static in "underground" work. The scenes shift constantly, and so do the faces, and only the distant consciousness of danger is ever-present. Toward morning I scouted for a place in which to rest. Sometimes it was the home of an unknown Party member, sometimes a cellar or the dusty floor of a storeroom, sometimes a room in a fly-by-night hostelry rented by the hour to surreptitious lovers, and occasionally it was a church. The safest places, however, were the lairs of prostitutes. They hated the Nazi troopers, who came most often and paid the lowest prices.
Once each week I met Rudolf Heitman, our operative in the Gestapo. Heitman was a broad-shouldered man of medium height. He had a heavy, but inconspicuous face, almost expressionless blue eyes, and a reserved manner. His hair, cut in Prussian fashion, was graying at the temples. He had been a member of the Political Police in the times of the Weimar Republic, and when Hitler became Chancellor, Rudolf Heitman had joined the National Socialist Party on instructions from the G.P.U. He was no real revolutionist. He sold information for money. The Gestapo had taken him over and assigned him to a minor desk in the railroad-control department. From this obscure observation post he collected data on persons wanted by the Gestapo, on the behavior and fate of comrades who had been arrested, on local spies who had been promoted to specialized work in the Gestapo’s Foreign Division. His data which, at best, covered but a tiny fraction of the Gestapo’s doings, then came into the hands of the Western Secretariat. Communist operatives inside the Gestapo were worth to us their weight in gold. There were not many, not more than a dozen in all of Germany. Among other material, Richard Jensen’s weekly courier aboard the Beira brought me each week an envelope containing money for Rudolf Heitman, whom I met the same night, in a basement cabaret in the St. Georg district. We sat at separate tables, pretending not to notice one another until I gave Heitman a signal to follow me to the lavatory. Here I exchanged my money envelope for the information he had gathered. He was ingenious in finding methods of camouflage. One week his report would be concealed in the text of a penny-dreadful novel, the next it was typewritten on sheets of thin paper which had then been baked into a raisin bun, and on a third occasion it was pasted into the lining of a cheap wallet crammed with postcard pictures of horses, movie stars and Nazi leaders.
My chief aide was Karl Burmeister. He was a native of the North Sea coast, tall, angular, fair-haired and blue-eyed, a graduate of Moscow’s University of the West. He was a cautious and reliable worker, capable of exercising great patience, of long periods of watchful waiting, but when he clearly saw his course, he could act with swift and ruthless efficiency. He was in charge of our courier network among the rivermen of the Elbe, the lower Rhine and the middle German canals which connect the Rhine and Elbe with the Berlin area. Upon his loyalty and his memory rested the safety of several hundred ship couriers and other comrades engaged in the secret transport Apparat. Karl Burmeister’s young wife had been arrested as a hostage. The Gestapo had announced that they would hold her until her man was in their hands. It was he who had succeeded in maneuvering a number of young communists into the Foreign Division of the Nazi Party. Burmeister’s unit there did excellent work. It furnished us—and we relayed the information to Copenhagen and the G.P.U.—the names of most Gestapo operatives on German merchant vessels, of Gestapo liaison-men in foreign ports, and complete lists of Nazi seamen who had been trained in photography and equipped with cameras to photograph strategic strips of coastline and every foreign harbor entered by German ships. The last was a routine form of mass espionage which the Gestapo had copied from the G.P.U.
Burmeister was curiously sensitive, but fearless. He had a high sense of duty. He was like a good officer who is always ready to strike out alone behind the enemy lines to recruit his followers in enemy country. Once, laughing, he compared himself with one of those Jesuit emissaries who carried out secret missions in Elizabethan England. "Only I wish we had as easy a time as the Jesuits," he remarked. He was a master in the art of bolstering the morale of the shaken by imparting to them the conviction that our "underground" organization was much stronger and better organized than it could possibly be in reality.
Contacts, often lost by unexpected enemy interference, were at times recovered by a quirk of circumstance. For a fortnight I had been hunting for Otto K., the central liaison-man for our units aboard the Hamburg-America liners, whom I had lost after a Gestapo raid in the harbor. I searched doggedly for him, without results. He had not slept at his home for more than half a year. His wife, a flaxen-haired peasant girl, had given birth to a son whom Otto had never seen. About four o’clock one morning, after a hard night’s work, I sat brooding over a glass of beer in an outlying waterfront tavern. The last customers were staggering out and the waiters were counting their night’s tips. I was weary, pondering where I should go to snatch a few hours of sleep, when a broad-faced, thick-hipped girl accosted me.
"What’s the matter," she said brusquely. "You sit all alone so long behind one small glass of beer."
"I like it," I answered. "Besides, it’s none of your business."
"I know you," said the girl.
"Know me?"
At once I was alert, ready to strike or escape. The girl sat down beside me, clasping her hands and leaning them on my shoulder.
"You are a sailor," she said. "You came in with an English ship, oh—maybe nine years ago. You came to Café Rheingold and drank cherry brandy with me. Plenty of cherry brandy, so funny, that’s why I remember you. Three nights you loved me. Then your ship went out. Remember?"
"Your name is Berta," I said. "You were a salesgirl."
"Now my name is Marie."
"Yes. What ship are you on?"
"I have no ship. It’s tough to find a ship nowadays."
"Let’s celebrate our meeting again," she said.
"No, I’m tired."
"Are you tired?"
"Yes, let me sleep with you," I asked.
"Oh, you have no place to sleep?"
"No, and no money to pay you."
"But listen," she whispered, "I’m sick."
"I won’t touch you."
I went with her to a house populated by prostitutes, unemployed dockers and waterfront scavengers. She was kind, and she had a good bed. On a worn-out divan sat a teddy-bear with green slue eyes. He had his right paw raised in the fascist salute. Above Marie’s bed, flanked by obscene photographs, hung a litho of Adolf Hitler. On a small table beneath the portrait lay a weather-beaten briefcase. The cracked brown leather caught my attention. A piece of rope took the place of the leather hand-strap. I recognized it immediately. It was Otto’s.
"Where is Otto?" I asked, pointing to the briefcase.
"Who?" Marie faltered. "I don’t know what you are talking about. It’s mine."
I grasped her arm and shook her, and repeated the question. The girl was frightened.
"He is with Emmie," she blubbered, "a girl three doors down the corridor."
So I found the comrade whom I had lost, for whom I had feared the worst.

In a far different manner ended my quest for Jan Templin, the harbor foreman for Soviet shipping in Hamburg, who, a half-year earlier, had so generously supplied me with a store of paper for the illegal printing plant under my command. Templin was a man of innumerable connections of long standing. But shortly before the November "election" of the new Nazi Reichstag, when storm troopers patrolled the streets with posters showing a man hanging from a gallows over the inscription, "He has voted against the New Germany," Jan Templin mysteriously disappeared from his old haunts. His former home was occupied by an Elite Guard officer. My search was fraught with danger; when one seeks a man who has gone, one has to ask questions. In all such cases, the first assumption is that the man is in hiding, the second that he has fled abroad, the third that he has been arrested. My search ended when a frightened wisp of a girl in the Neustadt district told Cilly that Jan Templin had been seized by the Gestapo.
Jan Templin knew much about our contacts aboard Russian ships. I prepared a note of warning, which I intended to dispatch by the Beira courier. However, by the time the Beira arrived from Copenhagen events had overtaken the contents of my note. Jan Templin was dead. With him he had taken the secrets of the Soviet ships. My tenseness relaxed. He hanged himself in his cell, the Gestapo press bureau reported.
Olga Templin, his wife, received a note from the police inform­ing her of the time and place of her husband’s burial. Observers of the Party Apparat attended the ceremony. The corpse of Jan Templin was carted to the grave under a Gestapo escort. The coffin was sealed. Olga Templin was not permitted to take a last glance at her dead mate’s face. The coffin was covered with seven feet of earth, and when the ground above the grave was level, the Gestapo agents departed.
My comrade, Karl Burmeister, had certain suspicions. "Suppose," he reasoned, "Jan Templin is not dead at all, but alive. Suppose the Gestapo has buried an empty coffin, or another dead man, to make our comrades believe that Templin is dead. What will other arrested men be likely to do to save themselves? They will think that a dead Jan Templin can’t suffer more, and so they will incriminate him to lighten the lot of others who are still alive. Suppose now that is just what the Gestapo wants. Jan Templin is alive and incriminated by his own comrades, and the Gestapo can stage an open trial and have him condemned for high treason."
What Burmeister said had happened before. Tony Taube, of the Hamburg Party Committee, decided to ascertain that Templin was really dead. That night a silent group of communists marched to Jan Templin’s grave. They carried shovels. While some stood guard, others opened the grave and pried the lid off the coffin. They found a corpse. They put the corpse into a canvas sailor’s bag and carried it to the home of a Party member not far from the edge of the cemetery. Then they called Burmeister.
The dead man was Jan Templin. But he had not died by hanging. His face was crushed, as if it had been struck by heavy boots. His right wrist and a number of ribs had been broken. The body was covered with welts. The legs were bruised. The sexual organs showed signs of having been burned with the ends of cigarettes. The corpse was photographed. The comrades, some weeping openly, stood around Jan Templin and hummed the funeral march of the revolution.
Burmeister reported to me in the morning.
"If ever I get caught," he said stonily, "I won’t give them time to do this—do such things to me. I’ll find a way out. A quick one, and a sure one."
To shake off the bad spell, we had coffee in a tavern. After that we walked along peaceful streets, talking of the work that lay ahead.

Cilly’s versatility and her quick grasp of vital detail had made her indispensable to me in my clandestine crusade against Nazi power. She had an agile mind, and a genius for picking up appar­ently lost contacts and for making total strangers feel sympathetic and at ease. Intuitively, it seemed, she could sense whether a man or woman was sincere, or wavering, or capable of treachery. She was as yet unknown to the Nazi police and had little to fear. She lived in fashionable hotels and wore smart clothes, and in duty and pleasure alike she retained a nonchalance as if she still had a hun­dred years to live. A hundred years of youth. She lacked the hatred and the bitterness so prevalent in our ranks. She was eager to please me, eager to show her mettle. Her beautiful face, the straight sim­plicity with which she attended to her tasks, and her tall, cool body reminded me always anew of a Diana I had seen in the Louvre in Paris. Often I wondered why Cilly, who was Ernst Wollweber’s mate, had been sent to Germany. Once, talking to me about herself, she gave me the answer.
"I have been banished," she said.
"When Comrade Ernst was in Paris, he had a love affair with a Polish girl. Later, when we were together again in Copenhagen, Ernst received letters. The letters were perfumed and the writing was feminine. They were written in Polish, which I could not read. I was mad with jealousy. Ernst laughed. He told me the perfume was merely camouflage for organization letters. I knew he lied, and I was hurt. I stole the letters and had them translated. They were the love letters of a half-crazy girl. I was foolish enough to make a scene."
"And so Wollweber sent you to Germany?"
"He sent me to Germany," Cilly said defiantly. "He expected me to refuse, to cringe, to beg him to let me stay with him in Copenhagen. He was mistaken. I went to Germany."
"The end is bound to be unpleasant," I said.
"Pleasant things can happen, too," she answered.
"Don’t fool yourself, Cil."
It was evening. We sat in a corner of the Vaterland Bar. Cilly leaned forward over the table, an unwonted liquid warmth in her eyes. Vehemently she said:
"I don’t fool myself. I know where I stand. We are prisoners, intellectually and bodily. Our minds and our bodies are confined in a narrow alley with high windowless walls on both sides. The alley has a name. The name is ’Party Discipline,’ the most beastly thing that’s ever been invented."
"It’s necessary. Without it, the Party could not live."
Cilly raised her glass. "Long live the Party," she whispered, tears in her eyes. "I also want to live. Any animal wants to live. And here, as—Tote auf Urlaub [20]—we should live as if each day on earth would be our last."
"All right," I said, "I must go now. I have a meeting at ten."
“Will you see me tonight?" Cilly asked quietly.
"Not before twelve."
"Be sure to come. Hotel Mau, room sixteen."
It would be rank folly for me to enter any large hotel. "What is the matter with Cilly?" I asked myself, departing. "Is she crack­ing up?"
The man I sought that night was Martin Holstein, a militant whom Wollweber had recommended to me as one of the best. For weeks already I had striven to establish contact with this man. I knew Martin Holstein as one of the most reckless fighters in the movement. He was a man of twenty-nine or thirty, with thin lips, pale green eyes and a cadaverous face. He was no organizer, but he had proved himself useful in assignments which required personal courage and the ability to strike with lightning speed.
No one in our ranks suspected Martin Holstein. Many of my collaborators had been delivered to the Gestapo by some unknown traitor. Hugo Gill, the head of our units on the overseas quays and the oil docks, had disappeared one night with thirty-two of his assistants. Alfred Feddersen had been betrayed and was beaten to death in the central prison of Hamburg. Two weeks later Karl Rattai and Matthias Thesen had been seized by the Gestapo; Rattai went mad under torture, and Comrade Thesen opened his veins with glass from a broken window. There were many more who had gone the same way. Burmeister and I and Cilly, assisted by a special unit of the Espionage Defense, had considered every member of our organization in order to determine who could be the hidden traitor among us. Certain comrades were put under G.P.U. surveillance. But no one suspected Martin Holstein, who had served the Party for years in Germany, in America and the Soviet Union. I remembered Wollweber’s words: "Comrade Holstein is there somewhere. Use him for liaison work, or in the smuggling units or the sabotage groups. Holstein is good!" Diligently I had searched for Holstein. Cilly contacted him through a courier on November 29, and arranged with him to meet me the following night in the Botanical Gardens.
The night of November 30 was dark. A cold northwester blew in from the North Sea. Cilly was with me. At three minutes to eight we entered the Botanical Gardens. A conference with Bur­meister and Otto was scheduled for eight o’clock. The steamer Jolantha had come in that morning from Copenhagen with fresh instructions from the Western Secretariat. At half past eight I was to meet Martin Holstein.
The paths were muddy. The cold struck into our faces. Our eyes were wide in the darkness. Overhead the wind screeched through the tops of naked trees. Cilly, wrapped in a long fur coat, stepped gingerly over the puddles. We skirted the shore of a little lake, counting the benches as we went along: "One, two, three, four. On the fifth they must be waiting."
Someone huddled on the bench, shoulders hunched and head stuck forward, shielding with cupped hands the tiny glow of a cigarette. We stopped. Cilly whistled the first notes of a Nazi battle song. The man rose from the bench and approached us with slow steps. Inside the pocket of my trenchcoat my fist lay tightly around Firelei’s little gun. I was determined to shoot it out if things looked wrong.
In front towered the shape of Karl Burmeister. He grunted as we shook hands.
"Where’s Otto?" I demanded.
Such news is like an oaken truncheon coming down on the top of your head. For a second it makes you stop in your tracks. You stare like a man who is caught in a dense fog. Then your lips tighten and it is as if you toss your head. Burmeister spoke in a low, solid voice:
"They took him this morning."
"At his home."
"He went to see his Anja?"
Anja was Otto’s wife.
Karl Burmeister nodded. "Maybe he wanted to see his son, too. He was so damned hungry and felt ill and thought he would have just one good night’s sleep. The Gestapo had his house watched all the time." Mournfully Burmeister added: "A revolutionist has no business having a family."
"Where’s Anja?"
"We must shift all addresses and depots that were known to Otto," I said.
"I’ve seen to that," Burmeister replied. "I’ve had Otto’s paraphernalia brought to a girl in a flower shop until we can fix up other places."
"A girl?"
"Some girls are all right."
"I hope so."
"Damned handy sometimes," Burmeister muttered.
We walked to and fro under the trees, scanning the road in front and behind us. Ghostly patches of gray sailed over the black sky. "How is your wife?" I asked Burmeister.
"I wish I knew."
Then we talked of our work, of ships, propaganda consignments, relay stations, methods and plans and the maze of technical details inherent in conspirative organization. Suddenly Karl Burmeister squared his shoulders.
"Somebody is following us," he said calmly.
Twenty paces behind us a man was smoking a cigarette. "Probably Holstein."
"Damn him."
The man behind us sauntered leisurely from tree to tree. He was Martin Holstein. He wore neither hat nor overcoat.
"Hello, Martin."
"I got cold sitting on the bench," Holstein drawled. "Let me in on the devil dance."
Our conversation lasted another hour. I was glad that I had found Holstein. His enthusiasm was contagious. After the latest reports had been discussed and analyzed, and an outline for the next day’s campaign laid down, we parted, walking away from one another in different directions.
I left the gardens and strode along a street which followed the old City Moat. I thought of going to the rooms Burmeister had obtained for me but two days earlier to decode a message a courier had brought that afternoon from Berlin, and to draft notes for the relay stations to pick up the packages of printed matter which our harbor couriers had deposited in the baggage rooms of railway stations around Hamburg. I thought of Cilly and her pathetic hunger for other than political companionship. I also thought of Firelei and her loneliness, her kindness and courage and her shattered dreams.
The sky was covered with sullen clouds. Under the yellow light of lanterns, patches of pavement swam like circular islands in the dark. Ahead of me a couple, arms linked together, swayed around a corner. A broad-hipped woman scuttled through the cold and disappeared in a doorway. Empty sidewalks are likely to make any hunted man feel apprehensive. Jammed in a crowd a man feels safer. I saw the headlights of a car flash their beams along the street. I wondered why the car slowed down as it came up behind me. I thought of turning quickly into a doorway to let the car pass by. But then I thought, "Oh, nerves!" And I took care not to quicken my stride.
It was not a trick of my imagination. The car slowed down. I heard the sudden scream of brakes.
"Raus!" snapped a voice. "Auf ihn!" [21]

I jerked around and dived toward the entrance of a house. In the pocket of my overcoat the little automatic pistol which Firelei, my wife, had given me when I had said farewell to her in Copenhagen, was tangled with a glove. In this moment of emergency I knew exactly what I wanted to do, what I had been instructed to do when overtaken in the street. I wanted to run into the house, race to the top floor, escape over the roofs, shooting to cover my retreat. More than once this technique had been tested.
The door was locked. The pursuers were around me in a second. They were three young men who had jumped from the car. They had guns in their hands. They jabbed their guns into my face and against my body, and snarled:
"Up with your hands!"
"One move and we plug you!"
I raised my arms and stood still. One Gestapo agent pressed the barrel of his pistol against my teeth. His eyes were curiously bright, and he growled like a dog. The hands of the other ran over my shoulders and down my arms and legs, feeling over every inch of my body and sweeping into pockets. All they found they stuffed into their overcoats.
I heard their panting breath. After they had snapped handcuffs around my wrists the tenseness in their faces gave way to expressions of boyish triumph. I felt like a man who sees the ground under his feet burst wide open and rush up high on all sides.
They brought me to a police station in St. Pauli, Hamburg’s Coney Island. As they led me through the streets, shackled, people assembled from nowhere and stared. A grunted command from a Gestapo man sufficed to disperse them.
At the station they pushed me into a chair. Two prostitutes who had been brought in before me were hustled into a backroom. Several uniformed policemen regarded me silently from behind their desks. Their faces were mask-like, noncommittal. The three Gestapo agents joked and beamed. They took off their overcoats. They took their guns from their overcoat pockets and shoved them into their hip pockets. Then all three lounged on desks and lit cigarettes. Their clothes were shabby; the lines in their faces signaled lack of sleep.
A strange numbness had taken hold of my mind. I noticed every detail, but I could not think. I knew what was going to happen in the next hours. Somehow, it was not I to whom this was happening. It was someone else. In the circle of my colleagues in the international Comintern service we had often discussed what a comrade was up against when he fell into the hands of the Gestapo. Shoulder shrugs could only feebly disguise the mute horror most of us felt deep inside when headquarters received the intelligence that one of our friends had become the prey of Heinrich Himmler’s guards.
Friends? Crouched on a chair under the glaring lights of St. Pauli police station I remembered Ernst Wollweber’s scowling face as he had growled, "The Party knows no friends—the Party knows only comrades," and had added with a derisive grin: "Keep calm. Death is easy."
One of my captors was a powerful man with a dark skin and jutting cheek-bones. The others were slender and blond. All three completely ignored the uniformed policemen in the room.
"Ha, got you after all," said one who caught my glance.
Another chuckled as he slowly drew his forefinger across his throat. "Your beard is bound to come off," he drawled.
The dark-skinned man, after a minute scrutiny of my passport, said with an air of immense self-satisfaction, "If you hadn’t come back to Germany, we’d have brought you back from Copenhagen
or Paris dead or alive. Had you gone to China, we’d have trapped you, too."
One of the other agents had picked up my passport.
"Nice passport you had," he said. "Where’d you get it?" I gave him no answer.
"Have it your way," the other said lazily. "We’ll find out—pretty soon."
I tried hard to think. I tried hard to think of what they might know about me and what I’d have to say. In the democratic countries the communist rule for arrested comrades is to say nothing. If you say nothing here, I thought, they’ll beat you to death. In the long run, you’ll break or die. Even the strongest are broken if they do not die. Flesh and blood can be broken. Spirits can be broken. If they took care to give a man no opportunity for suicide, that man could be broken. They knew I had been in Copenhagen and Paris. They knew I had used a false passport. They knew I had carried an automatic pistol of Belgian make for which I had no official license. They knew more; much more. No prisoner knows upon arrest how much his captors know about the deeds he committed in violation of the law of the land.
My brain was capable only of a single conclusion: "Tell them nothing! A coolie in a den full of hungry tigers would probably fare better; he would at least die quickly. I must look for a chance to destroy myself. Until then, I must tell them nothing. Nothing! There is not a trace of hope. But there is still a purpose. Every day, in all the world, men fall for the cause. But the cause survives. The cause is invincible. Tell them nothing! Cut away your limbs, one by one, rather than do a thing that could harm the cause."
"Want a smoke?"
I nodded.
The dark-skinned man put a cigarette between my lips. My lips were dry, without feeling. I could not feel that I had a cigarette between my lips. The Gestapo man then struck a match and lit the cigarette. Greedily I drew the smoke into my lungs. I felt the bite of smoke in my eyes, and impulsively I tugged at the shackles around my wrists to take the cigarette out of my mouth. The dark-skinned man saw that. He took the cigarette from my mouth and laid it on the edge of a desk. And a few seconds later he shoved it back between my lips.
"You see," he said, "we treat you fair and square."
The other two grinned. The policemen stared stupidly.
I wondered what could have happened to Karl Burmeister, Cilly, Comrade Holstein. My arrest had been no haphazard affair. When they pounced on me, the Gestapo knew who I was. I could not explain it. We had been careful in the extreme. We had adhered to all the complicated rules of conspirative work. We were too alert, too well trained not to recognize at once when we were trailed. We were no tyros in illegal work. What if Karl Burmeister had been taken? Or Cilly? Or Holstein? I refused to believe it. Cilly would come to my quarters at midnight, and find me gone. She’d guess the truth. She knew that I had hidden a list of courier addresses in my bedroom. She would find them and take them away and warn the others.
All this was absurd.
The formulation at which my brain rebelled was this: "Among your aides is a spy. All big Gestapo coups are brought about through spies. Were it not for spies, Gestapo work would be limited to a sterile bureaucratic routine."
I fought against the realization. It made me violently ill. Who was the spy? What did he know? I groped in vain.
"You’re a fool," the dark-skinned Gestapo man said. "I’d have recognized your face in a thousand. Don’t you remember me?"
"Haven’t you seen me ride beside you in the subway in Berlin?"
"I don’t remember."
"Didn’t you see me in the meeting in Antwerp where you told the docker delegates to boycott all German ships that came to Belgian ports? Do you remember that?"
"I never talked in such a meeting," I said.
"We’re going to thaw up your memory, my boy." The big man laughed. "Where’s your home, boy?"
"I was born in the Rhineland."
"Ah, I know it well. Is it not beautiful, your home?"
"Yes, it’s beautiful," I said.
The Gestapo agent thrust his fist within an inch of my eyes. "And you sell out your beautiful home to Moscow!" he snarled. "What do you suppose should be done with a scoundrel who betrays his country to the Muscovites, hey?"
I said nothing. One of the big man’s colleagues, leaning back on the desk, spat into my face.
"Soon you’ll lose your beard," he said, without moving his lips. "Shooting is too good for anyone who works against his own country."
"I didn’t work against my country," I protested.
"Shut your mouth! Anyone who wants to destroy Hitler wants to destroy Germany. Hitler is Germany and Germany is Hitler." I was silent.
The dark-skinned man eyed me with cold hostility. "One thing I’m sorry for," he said. "I’m sorry you can’t see your own head roll off your carcass."
The telephone rang. A policeman took the receiver.
"Herr Magnus," he addressed the dark-skinned agent. "A message for you. St. Georg station speaking."
Magnus stamped over to the telephone.
I strained to catch every word he said.
"Herr Magnus . . . Oh, yes, a perfect evening . . . You have the lady? Good. Very good. Excellent! Call Stadthaus [22]. for instructions. . . . Yes, yes . . . Heil Hitler!"
Immediately he dialed another number. I watched his forefinger move. 0-0001, that was the number of Gestapo headquarters. I knew it because I had called that number many times to give the Gestapo misleading information.
Then Magnus’s rumbling voice: "Inspector Kraus? . . . Sure, we got him. He walked away pretty fast, but we got him . . . No . . . no, he acted quite civilized. Had a shooting iron, though. One of the little ones from Belgium. Didn’t give him a chance to use it . . . Yes, quite civilized. . . . Bring him up right away? Very good. Wird gemacht [23]. Heil Hitler!"
The other two leaped from their desks. The chair was kicked from under me. The uniformed officers leaped to attention.
"Off we go."
At the curb a car waited, a burly chauffeur at the wheel. The chauffeur had a gray muffler wrapped around his neck and a greasy cap pulled down to his eyebrows. As we boarded the car, passers-by gazed at us with vacant faces, and hastened on their way.
I was pushed into the back of the car, wedged between two Gestapo men.
"Don’t move and don’t talk!"
Each of the men held the muzzle of his gun against my ribs. Magnus, in front beside the chauffeur, turned his head.
"Did you ever have a bloody behind?" he asked.
"No, sir."
"Well, you’ll have it damn soon."
The chauffeur yawned. Then the car began to move ahead.
We sped through dismal streets toward police headquarters. Shadows flew by, and lights. People moved along the houserows. In a doorway, a boy strained to draw a laughing girl into the house. At another spot, the sounds of an electric piano pounded through a dimly-lit window.
The car slowed down because a dog was leisurely crossing the street. Magnus roared wildly at a truckdriver who did not keep far enough to the right. The truckdriver waved his arm with disdain, but then he recognized the police car and pulled quietly out of the way. The deep droning of a ship’s siren came in from the river. The man on my left prodded me with his gun.
"Hear the steamer calling?"
"Yes, sir."
"You’ll never hear another steamer calling," he muttered. "You’ll never have another girl. You’ll never have another glass of beer. How do you like that?"
They knew I’d had to do with shipping, I realized.
"I don’t think I’ll like it," I said.
"I don’t blame you," he growled. "It’s nice to make a steamer trip and have a beer with a girl." He tapped my head with his fist. "Next time I have one, I’ll think of you," he chuckled.
My own calmness astonished me. Things were so simple, after all.
Now we were in the center of the city. The car lunged across a short bridge, and then the towering bulk of police headquarters dominated the street.
Sentries in the uniforms of the Black Corps threw up their arms in the Hitler salute as the car veered through an arched gateway and clashed to a halt in a gloomy yard. The yard was cluttered with motor cars. Massive walls towered in the dark. Light flooded from high windows. I heard the clanging of the great bell from the St. Michael Cathedral. It was eleven.
The Gestapo men jumped from the car. The chauffeur stretched his arms and yawned.
"The devil," he grumbled, "a man needs sleep."
"All right—get out."
One of my captors brought his lips close to my ear.
"Now your beard will come off," he growled menacingly.
"Tell them nothing," I thought. "Whatever happens, tell them nothing. The Comintern recognizes but a single crime: Betrayal of the Party. All else is merely a matter of expediency. Thousands have already gone the way I am about to go."
"Smart now! Get going!"
One led the way. The others followed closely on my heels.
We marched down a murky hall. Our steps echoed from dust-covered walls. An Elite Guard passed with a ringing stride. His hand held the end of a chain which was twisted around the wrist of a bedraggled prisoner. They passed without giving us a glance.
At a rapid pace we traversed a labyrinth of corridors, up broad stairways, past armed guards and large rooms full of clattering noise. Doors were unlocked at a signal from Magnus, and locked again after we had passed. In leaps and bounds two manacled men came down the stairs. They were chained together. Behind them was a young trooper. The trooper swung a rubber truncheon.
"Faster," he yelled. "Run faster!"
On the next landing a score of men stood facing the wall. Guards shouted names. One guard, a youngster, had seized the scraggy neck of an elderly worker and amused himself with banging the worker’s head against the wall. Where the file of male prisoners ended, two Elite Guards stood over a plump girl. The girl’s face was white as death. She threw herself to the stone floor and scrambled back on her feet. A trooper swung his arms and barked commands:
"Up—down! Up—down! Up—down! We’ll make you eat dirt, you bitch. Up—down! Up—down . . ."
Hideous shouting came from the end of the corridor. A well-dressed man was down on hands and knees. Astride him sat a grinning trooper. The man was screaming at the top of his voice: "I’m a Jew, a stinking Jew! I’m a Jew, a stinking Jew!"
We were on the sixth floor. The hallway was silent as a graveyard. Carpets covered the floor. The walls were clean and the smell of paint was in the air. On a bench sat a dejected-looking woman. She clasped a cardboard box on her knees, and her head hung forward.
I stood in front of a heavy door. It was guarded by two armed troopers who wore black uniforms and the silver skull and crossbones on their peaked caps. The sign on the door said: Inspektion 6—Zutritt Verboten. [24]
The troopers grinned broadly.
"Hallo, who is that?"
"A traitor," Magnus said curtly.
He pressed an electric button. The door opened. I was pushed into the room with such violence that I pitched headlong to the floor.
A roar went up. It was a large, bare room. At first I was stunned by the blinding glare of cluster lights. Then I saw knots of plainclothesmen around me, and all of them looked at me and roared. Maps and posters covered the walls. Clouds of tobacco smoke swirled under the ceiling.
A whiplike voice cut through the bedlam. "Up on your feet!" Slowly I rose from the floor.

Chapter Thirty-three - THE GESTAPO QUESTIONS ME

ABOUT ME HOSTILE FACES and threatening voices whirled thickly. A swimmer at sea attacked by a shark cannot be more alone than is an enemy of Nazi power in a stronghold of the Gestapo. Yet, it was just what I had been told to expect. I was not a victim of persecution. I was not an innocent man jerked out of his bed before dawn because of an anonymous denunciation. I had fought the Hitler regime with all the means and wiles at my disposal. I had fought for a proletarian revolution in which I still believed somehow.
A fist crashed into my face. Kicks from the rear sent me sprawling. Hands tore me up from the floor and pushed me against a wall. A bald-headed man butted his knee into my abdomen. Another hit me on the head with handcuffs. I was strong, but I fell. It was Magnus who dragged me back into the middle of the room and told me to stand upright. He motioned the others to stand aside.
"Leave him alone," he ordered.
A short, broad-shouldered man entered the room through the door of an adjoining office. He had dark, deep-set eyes and his face was strongly lined. He wore a well-pressed suit and had rings on his hands. An aroma of pine needles came from his glistening hair.
"Good evening," he said.
The men stood back. They were silent. Someone brought a chair. The short man sat down two yards in front of me and eyed me placidly. At his side stood an Elite Guard with a six-foot leather whip in his hand, and a girl holding a stenographer’s pad. Both had followed the short man from the adjoining room.
"We are going to cut belts out of your skin," the short man said.
The girl smiled. She had fine teeth. She was large, with wide blue eyes and a thick flaxen mane. Her arms were folded beneath her heavy breasts. I recognized the girl. Her name was Hertha Jens. She was the daughter of a wealthy peasant in the marshlands. She smiled at me and said, "My, you look fine."
Less than a year before Hertha Jens had still been the confidante of Herrmann Schubert, a Reichstag member, and one of the leaders of the Communist Party. She had had access to confidential files and had taken part in conspirative meetings. Because of her, printing plants had been raided and hundreds of comrades had gone into the dungeons. Many of us had liked Hertha Jens; she had seemed so reliable and so generous. And then we learned of her treason, and the S-Apparat had for some time regarded her as overdue for execution. Some maintained that she had been Hitler’s spy for years. Others thought that she became a traitress to the cause when Herrmann Schubert abandoned her and fled to Paris. In the end, that did not matter. Since May already, Hertha’s name had been on the G.P.U. list of traitors scheduled for "liquidation."
Hertha Jens saw my stare. Her smile became a jeer.
The sunken eyes of the short man in front of me lit up as if he had switched on an electric bulb inside his head. He spoke quietly.
"I know of many things I can do with you," he said. "It is not often that we catch a fish like you. Berlin will be delighted."
A snicker rose in the circle of the man hunters about me. Their faces were taut with expectancy. The smoke from their cigarettes curled upward in many sinuous columns. The Elite Guard with the whip went to a table by the window. He raised the whip until its tip touched the ceiling. Then he crashed it down on the table. The impact sounded like a rifle shot. I winced.
"I am Inspector Kraus," the short man said languidly. Again the trooper smashed his whip on the table.
"This is Inspection 6," Inspector Kraus continued, "the anti-Comintern division of the Geheime Staatspolizei. Among your friends in Moscow this Inspection has a rather bad reputation."
A Gestapo man guffawed. The others nodded vigorously. Hertha Jens thrust her lips forward until they looked broad and soft. Inspector Kraus regarded me steadily.
"Will you be sensible?"
"Remember this—if you lie, you won’t live. Is that clear to you?"
"That is clear to me."
"Whom did you meet tonight at the Botanical Gardens?
"I met no one," I said. "I took a walk."
"Who sent you to Germany?"
"I came on my own initiative."
"Where are your living quarters?"
"I arrived in Hamburg this afternoon, and I was about to take a room in a hotel."
"Three questions," the Inspector said, "and three answers. All your three answers were lies."
I was silent. My knees were trembling. I wanted to stop the trembling, but I found it impossible to do so. Inspector Kraus demanded:
"Who taught you to lie?"
"Did your mother teach you how to lie?"
"No, sir."
"Do you lie because you think that’ll save your hide?"
"I don’t lie," I said thickly.
"You lie to save your organization from being blown sky-high?"
"Tell me, my friend, where is Ernst Wollweber?"
"I don’t know."
"You do not know Ernst Wollweber?"
"I know him by name, but I never met him personally."
"Who gave you the Danish passport we found in your pockets?"
"The consul in Antwerp refused to give me a German passport," I explained. "I had no papers. So I bought the passport from a stranded Dane."
"Who are your fellow-conspirators? What are their addresses?"
"I have no fellow-conspirators."
"Where are Hans Kippenberger, Heinz Neumann, Bela Kun? Where are Herrmann Schubert, Adolf Deter, Max Ulrich, Kommissarenko and the whole lot of other international scoundrels who infested this country? Where are they? Where do they live? Under which names?"
"I don’t know."
"Where is Kuusinen? Where is Remmele? Where is Willy Münzenberg?"
"I don’t know."
Sullenly Inspector Kraus said, "I can make you wish you were dead. However, I shall first ask you a few things I hope you do know."
He sent Hertha Jens into the adjoining office to get some papers. A young man who had come into the room spoke to Inspector Kraus in whispers. Kraus nodded. The young man hastened away. My interlocutor took the sheaf of papers which were handed to him by Hertha Jens.
"Now then," he said, "you are a member of the Communist Party?"
"No, sir."
"You were a member?"
"Yes, sir."
"How long?"
"From 1923 until the National Revolution—until the Reichstag Fire."
"And you dropped out after Hitler came to power?"
"Yes, I dropped out."
"Were you such a weakling that you deserted your Party after the situation became dangerous?"
"I dropped out," I said. "I went abroad to find a berth on some foreign ship."
Inspector Kraus curved his lips in contempt. "Oh, you’re such a harmless, such a lovable creature. But so are we, to be sure. Now listen: I have here some excerpts from your dossier. Let’s see if you’re the gentle Iamb you’d like to be in the present situation. You have been a ship’s officer?"
"I have a ship’s officer’s ticket."
"At one time you engaged in building up a communist ship officers’ organization, and edited a weekly sheet called The Bridge. Is that correct?"
"That’s correct."
"In 1923 you took an active part in an armed insurrection against the government of the German republic. You were then a detachment leader in the second proletarian hundred of the Red Marines. You were arrested, but you escaped. Is that right?"
"Yes," I admitted.
Inspector Kraus went on: "There’s a gap of a few years. But now we come to 1926. In 1926 you murdered a man in California."
"I have never murdered a man," I interrupted vehemently
"Oh, no? . . . I have here," Inspector Kraus said, "an official report, checked by the German consul in New York. This report states that you were sentenced by a superior court in Los Angeles to ten years of penal servitude for a crime which involved the use of a deadly weapon."
Waves of ice and fire shot through my body. Out of the ring of watchers sounded a low whistling sound. The room seemed to reel about me and the shapes of men were blurred.
Inspector Kraus purred sardonically, Ja, mein Freund, the ghosts of the past can be damned disagreeable at times, nicht wahr?"
There was nothing I could answer. An animal caught in a trap and seeing the hunter approach must feel as I felt then. In a dead-calm tone Inspector Kraus inquired:
"Have you ever been in the employ of the Russian OGPU?"
"No, sir. Never."
"You probably have. I shall find out later. We now come to 1929. In December, 1929, you were in charge of the French alien police, yes? You broke jail in Le Havre and escaped. The French authorities sent a report about you to the German embassy in Paris. So I take this jailbreak as a fact."
I nodded. My mouth was dry. I wanted to ask for water, but I could not formulate the words.
Inspector Kraus smiled. "In the next four years the ghosts come thick as thunder," he continued. "In 1931 you were wanted by the German police for incitement to mutiny, but you vanished. Here is also a report from England. The British government protested against the smuggling of treasonable propaganda to British colonies —as culprits in this affair were named one Losovsky in Moscow, a certain James Ford from New York, another negro, and you. In the summer of 1932, you were arrested and deported from London by Scotland Yard. In the spring of 1933, you were wanted in Sweden for the riots and kidnappings you engineered in the course of a seamen’s strike. A month later you were arrested and held for deportation in Norway, but again you escaped. Two months later the French Süreté was looking for you in Paris and Strasbourg. So were the police departments of Holland and Belgium. In all these places you used false passports. You took your orders and your money from the Communist International in Moscow. And now we have you here. This time you won’t escape. The charge against you is high treason."
Inspector Kraus leaned back. In a rapid succession of blows, the Elite Guard slammed his whip on the table by the window.
I wanted to speak. My voice came as a hoarse croak.
"Shut up!" a Gestapo man snapped.
"You could tell us volumes," the inspector muttered. "So why not be sensible? Life can be so smooth, my friend. I implore you: are you going to be sensible?"
"Yes," I said.
Inspector Kraus jerked to an upright position. "Now we come to brass tacks," he said. "Do you think you can fool me?"
"No," I answered.
"Who is the young woman you ran around town with?"
“Which young woman?"
"You know—a tall girl, brunette, very chic."
"I don’t know such a girl," I said.
"Are you sure?"
The inspector turned toward Hertha Jens.
"Bring the lady in," he commanded.
Hertha Jens left the room, whistling a tune, and half a minute later she returned with Cilly. Cilly’s face was pale and set, and her eyes were wide, and she looked as if she had not slept for three nights. Inspector Kraus grinned quietly.
"She’s a trim specimen," he said. "I must acknowledge your good taste."
Cilly stared at me with unbelieving eyes. The red from her lips was gone and they twitched at their corners. Behind her, Hertha Jens smiled brightly.
Cilly stood so close to me that I could have touched her. We stared at one another without a sign of recognition.
"Do you know her now?" Inspector Kraus demanded harshly. "No, sir," I said.
"Look well," he snarled. "She’ll be a rotten old hag before we’re through with her."
Cilly’s lips had become a thin, straight line. Her dark blue dress was rumpled. Her amber bracelets were gone. Her youthful slenderness contrasted strangely with her weary face. She pressed her lips together until they were white. Her lips were eloquent. "Tell them nothing," they said.
Inspector Kraus got up and grasped her arm.
"Do you know this man?"
Cilly replied steadily, "I’ve never seen him before."
Inspector Kraus reached out. Five, six times his hands struck viciously at Cilly’s face. She gave a little shrieking gasp. "Do you know this man now?" the Inspector snarled. "No," she said dully. "I do not know him."
"That’ll do. Take her away."
Hertha Jens clutched Cilly’s wrist and escorted her into an ad­joining room. When Hertha Jens returned, I saw through the open door that a lanky Gestapo man pushed Cilly into a chair. A look of unforgettable utter desolation was on her face.
All fireside talk of heroism is rot. If it were possible for a man to creep into himself and hide, hide physically, I should have done it. In front of me stood Inspector Kraus, a short dog-whip in his hand. The whip had been soaked in water. Wet leather cuts deeper. A drop of water glistened at the end of the whip. I watched it fall to the floor.
"Who is the girl?" asked the inspector.
Dismally, I looked away. I did not answer.
Then the whip slashed across my face like liquid fire.
It was followed by a peal of melodious laughter.
"That’s nice," Hertha Jens said.
"Who is the girl?" said the inspector.
Again the whip ripped at me. It ripped from ear to ear. At first a whining sound, as it cut the air, and then a sudden burst of pain that blinded the eyes and pierced the brain with slow-moving daggers. I know that I moaned and staggered backward.
"Will you tell us now what the name of that girl is?"
"I can’t . . . I don’t know . . ."
The inspector’s face froze in a cold fury. The whip cut into my face. It bit across my throat, was torn free, and bit again with be­wildering speed. I tugged at my shackles to clasp protecting hands in front of my face. I tugged at my shackles and screamed.
"Will you please tell us now who this woman is?"
I was crazed with pain. I lunged toward the wall. Hands grasped me and pushed me back into the circle.
"Who is the girl? What’s her name?"
"She . . . she . . .
"Well? Out with it!"
I hesitated. A moment of blind, unthinking hesitation.
A Gestapo man seized my arm at the elbow and wrist. I shrieked. I thought the arm would snap.
"Who is this woman?" growled Inspector Kraus close by. "We’ll break your bones if you don’t talk."
"I met her on the train," I gasped.
"Which train?"
"The train from Copenhagen."
The Gestapo man let go of my arm.
"Now we’re going places," Inspector Kraus said. "So you came from Copenhagen?"
"Yes," I admitted, "from Copenhagen."
"And she was on the same train? The Comintern assigned her to help you?"
"She was on the train. She had nothing to do with the Comintern."
"But you had?"
"No, sir."
"Take down the fellow’s pants," someone burst out impatiently.
"Now tell us how you met her," Kraus demanded.
"On the train. She sat opposite me in the compartment. She asked me for a cigarette and we got acquainted. After that I thought we could be friends."
"When was that?"
"What’s her name?"
"I don’t know. I did not ask her."
"What did you do with her in the Botanical Gardens?"
"We took a walk."
"All this is a fairy tale you two have prearranged," Inspector Kraus said calmly. "You did not come yesterday. You arrived in Germany months ago. You’ve been under surveillance in Berlin and Hamburg for the last two weeks. There was a third person with you in the Botanical Gardens. There was a whole bunch of you scheming and slinking to sabotage the New Germany, to fabricate discontent, to plant your spies, to disseminate high treason. We have reports about you. Sufficient reports to bury you for life."
I said nothing

"Is Ernst Wollweber in Copenhagen?"
"I don’t know. I don’t know Wollweber."
"What orders did Wollweber give you in Copenhagen? What was your mission in Germany?"
"Wollweber gave me no orders. I don’t know Wollweber." "Would you like to smoke a cigarette?"
"Yes, sir."
Inspector Kraus gave me a cigarette. While I smoked, he laid his hand on my shoulder. His face changed abruptly into a friendly mask.
"Listen," he said, "we two can make a bargain. You’re finished, absolutely finished, you know that. All right. There’re two ways in which a man can grow old once we’ve got our hands on him—a peaceful way, and a painful way. The painful way is gratis. The price for the peaceful way is to tell us all you know about your organization. All the names, all the addresses, all the crimes you know of and who committed them.
"You are one. Your love in the next room makes two. We also have the third man. But who was the fourth? Who were the dozens of others who made up your conspirative Apparat? Where are the print-shops? What are the codes? Which points are used for cross­ing the frontiers? Who brings the money? Who fakes the passports? We know you’ve been in Comintern service. We know you came to Germany on Comintern business. Tell us what part of the Stalin machine you handled here and who your helpers were. You’ll never be sorry if you do. You’ll suffer if you don’t."
I was glad of the cigarette. It gave me time to think. The shifting glint in the deep-set eyes of Inspector Kraus told me he realized that he had made a mistake when he allowed me to smoke. I was too much a part of the Comintern to think of myself. The individual was nothing. The Party was all! If I held out through this night, the comrades outside would have time to change their residences, meeting-places and depots. They would change their lines of communication, change their codes and even change their names. The "underground" organization had learned to maneuver fast, to abandon quickly all points endangered by the arrest of some of its members, to occupy new points and use new routes of which the comrades who had been seized knew nothing. The Gestapo men watched me like wolves. They knew: if they could make me talk that night, a series of raids and mass arrests would be the result.
They’d make a big haul. They’d be praised by Göring end Himmler. I was resolved to tell them nothing. I’d rather die horribly than betray the Party. I was a soldier of the Comintern. No pain could be greater than a comrade’s accusation—"He allowed himself to be broken; he betrayed the cause to escape destruction."
Hertha Jens raised her skirt and scratched her thick white thigh. "What are we waiting for?" she grimaced.
Inspector Kraus said to me, "Have you thought it over?"
"I cannot give you information on matters I know nothing about," I explained. "I left Party work after Hitler came to power."
Instantly the dog-whip slashed across my face.
"Who sent you to Germany? Who gave you the money? What were you instructed to do?"
"No one sent me."
"And still you came. You knew you were wanted for high treason and still you entered Germany with a doctored passport. Why?"
"I came to find my son. He disappeared after my wife’s apartment in Hamburg was raided by the secret police. I came to Germany to find his whereabouts."
"Ah! A Bolshevik developing an interest in his family, what? When was the apartment raided?"
"This year in March," I said.
"What for?"
"My wife was to be arrested."
"She escaped, I believe?"
"Yes. She returned later to look for the baby. Our son was just six months old. When she returned, the baby had disappeared. I wanted to find him. That is why I came to Germany."
Hertha Jens laughed.
"Your son is in good care," she said. "Your wife will never see the baby again unless she comes to give herself up."
"Hold your tongue," Inspector Kraus cautioned her. Then, turning to me, "So you wanted to smuggle your child out of Germany?"
"Yes, sir."
"I don’t believe it. Who sent you to Germany? What were your instructions?"
"I came to find my son."
"Nonsense," he barked. "What role did Karl Burmeister play?"
The question struck me like a hammer blow.
"Yes, Burmeister. What was Burmeister’s function in your high treason outfit? Don’t be a fool—heroism is a farce."
I did not believe it when they told me that Karl Burmeister had been captured. He was the coolest, most reliable militant in the "underground."
Inspector Kraus said, "Burmeister has told us everything."
"I have not seen Burmeister for six months," I said.
"No? Your comrade Burmeister says that he’s received money and instructions from you a few hours ago in the Botanical Gardens."
"That’s impossible."
"Nothing is impossible." Inspector Kraus walked out into the corridor. A minute passed. The Gestapo men showered me with taunts and curses. Hertha Jens sat on the chair and showed me her teeth. "Times have changed," she said. "I’m really glad to see you again."
The door from the corridor banged open. Karl Burmeister was hurled into the room. He stumbled to his feet. His massive chest heaved up and down, and rasping noises came from his throat. Behind him Inspector Kraus and two Gestapo agents in shirtsleeves stamped in. They pushed Karl Burmeister against the wall.
"Now, Karl, don’t say one single word," Inspector Kraus said precisely. "I shall ask you a question, All you do is nod your head or shake it."
Burmeister was stripped to the waist. His face was bruised. His body was covered with livid streaks; his sides and back showed patches of blood. Blood was on his trousers and shoes.
"Tell me," Inspector Kraus, pointing at me, demanded, "is this the man who gave you the directions in the Botanical Gardens?" Burmeister was silent.
"I only want to confirm what you’ve already told the gentlemen who questioned you."
All of a sudden, with an inhuman roar, Karl Burmeister threw himself on the nearest Gestapo man.
"You dogs," he roared. "You goddamn lousy dogs."
One of the men in shirt-sleeves sprang forward.
He shouted wildly: "Hold him! The son-of-a-bitch!" Then they were on top of him.
"Take him out," the inspector ordered. "Make him sing."
Karl Burmeister fought like a lion. He fought with his head, his knees, his teeth, his feet, his shackled arms. He fought and cursed and his breath came like the breath of a strong woman in childbirth. One of the police agents leveled his pistol. Inspector Kraus waved him off. Burmeister was still struggling after four men pinned him to the floor. Only when one of them crushed his shoe against Karl Burmeister’s throat, did he become quiet. The eternal smile had gone from Hertha Jens’s face. With a catlike alertness Inspector Kraus watched the struggle. In the clutch of a Gestapo man, I stood there like a helpless, fascinated idiot.
They raised Karl Burmeister from the floor and dragged him toward the door. Halfway to the door, he opened his eyes and with one tremendous effort he tore himself free. He ran across the room and threw the whole weight of his body against the window. The glass splintered. Karl Burmeister pitched out into the night.
Several Gestapo men walked over to the window and looked into the court-yard six stories below. The man in shirt-sleeves, who had drawn his pistol, raged.
"Dieser dreckige Höllenhund!" (The dirty bastard.)
Inspector Kraus was calm. "Two of you go down and clear away the hash," he directed. "Hertha, please telephone the canteen for coffee and sandwiches."
Hertha Jens telephoned.
A young storm trooper brought up a steaming jug of coffee and a huge tray loaded with cups and sandwiches. Soon every Gestapo man had a cup of coffee in one hand and a sandwich in the other.
Someone grumbled: "Confound these irregular hours; nowadays a man loses all conception of time . . . Can’t even get a decent night’s sleep!"
The telephone rang.
Hertha Jens listened. While she listened, her body stiffened, and her face assumed an aspect of intense concentration. All eyes glued themselves to her Junoesque shape.
She turned. "Blockwart (house-watcher) Number I----- is call­ing. Reports a detachment of civilians distributing propaganda stuff in the Grossneumarkt District." Her words came like the burst of a machine gun.
Half a dozen Gestapo men reached for their overcoats. They took their guns from their hip pockets and put them into their overcoats. The clock on the wall beneath the giant portrait of Adolf Hitler showed half past one.
"Mobilize Special Detachment Number Eight," Inspector Kraus snapped. "Surround the district. Should the streets be empty, conduct a house-to-house search."
Again Hertha Jens telephoned. She rapped out instructions to someone of the Special Detachment of the Grossneumarkt Dis­trict. The Gestapo men rushed out. I heard them pounding along the hallway and down the stairs. Besides myself, only Hertha Jens, the Elite Guard, Inspector Kraus and two of his aides remained in the room. From the adjoining room, where Cilly was being questioned, came the sound of muffled voices.
The Inspector munched a sandwich. "Let’s proceed," he said coolly. "Don’t get the idea now to blame Burmeister for the things you’re guilty of. You fellows usually wait till somebody is dead to shove all responsibility on a corpse. Either on corpses or on com­rades who’re safe in Moscow. Am I right?"
I thought of Karl Burmeister. Not long ago we had talked of the spirit of self-abnegation, the will of a revolutionist to persevere through all suffering; the Leninist attitude of mind which we had defined as one of selflessness and determination; of a revolutionist’s duty to save his life for the cause if he could do so without betray­ing the movement. Karl Burmeister had agreed that we should not endeavor to die for the revolution, but to live for it. Still, he had anticipated his fate. I remembered his words: "When I feel I can hold out no longer, I shall find a way to get killed, or to kill myself before you can spell the word Traitor."
"Traitor—it is the ugliest word in the world," I thought.
"Where is your wife?" Inspector Kraus shot at me. "Did she come to Germany with you?"
"No, sir, she’s in Paris," I replied.
"She is not in Copenhagen?"
"No, she’s in Paris."
"You’re mistaken. Our agents have photographed her in Copenhagen. We’ve a picture of her walking on the street. We’ve another one showing her on a station platform. Both were taken in Copenhagen."
"She’s in Copenhagen," I admitted.
"Her name is Firelei, that right?"
"Yes, sir."
"Russian girl?"
"But she has been trained in Russia? Attended a school where they teach treason and murder?"
"No, sir."
"What does Firelei do in Copenhagen?"
"She lives as a refugee. She is not engaged in any sort of political work."
"Oh, no? She’s an artist? Attended art schools?"
"Yes, sir."
"Then wouldn’t it be a pity for the Comintern not to use her in one of the passport faking bureaus?"
"She’s through with the Communist Party. When I quit, she quit as well."
"Stop lying!" Inspector Kraus’ eyes glinted dangerously. "Tell me exactly what Firelei has been doing since she escaped when we raided her rooms."
"I was in Sweden when the raid took place," I said. "Firelei went to Berlin. From Berlin she went to Munich. She was alone and she had no place to live and no money. So she made her way to Cologne."
"By train?"
"No, along the highways."
"Who gave her shelter in Berlin, Munich, Cologne? What were her Party connections in these cities?"
"I don’t know. I had arranged an address in Paris. She wrote me to Paris, and I answered her poste restante."
"Which address in Paris?"
I invented an address. Hertha Jens noted it down, together with some of my other answers.
"How did your wife get out of Germany?"
"I was in Strasbourg when Firelei was in Cologne. I wrote her to come to Kehl, opposite Strasbourg, on the Rhine. I crossed the Rhine in a boat and brought Firelei to France."
"At night?"
"Yes, at night."
"Yes, she had no passport."
"You knew that Firelei was wanted for political crimes. In spite of that, you smuggled her out of Germany?"
"She belonged to me," I said. "She was my wife."
"Bolsheviks and wives! That seditious prostitute! She was guilty of treason. You admit having smuggled a fugitive from justice out of Germany?"
"I admit that."
"How many other traitors did you smuggle out of Germany?"
"What did you do in Strasbourg?"
"I was looking for a job on some Rhineship."
"Just looked for a job, eh? And as a sideline you organized strikes and smuggled Muscovite pamphlets into Germany, is that it?"
"No, sir. All I wanted was to find a job and a home for Firelei."
"She’s got a knack for painting?"
"She could draw caricatures and posters?"
"She had the ability," I admitted.
"Caricatures ridiculing the leaders of the Third Reich?"
"She never did that."
"Posters calling upon the workers to fight us tooth and claw?"
"I’ll show you some, perhaps?"
"There are none."
"No?" There was pride and contempt in the inspector’s smile. "Our agents photographed them. In Antwerp, in Paris, in Copen­hagen, in New York."
"Firelei did nothing of the sort."
"She did, I assure you. . . . The trouble is she can’t hide her style. It’s got distinction. I could recognize it if I saw one of her posters in China.—What happened to Firelei after you smuggled her to Strasbourg?"
"She went to Paris."
"What did she do in Paris?"
"She tried to earn her livelihood by drawing."
"And after that?"
"She traveled through France with a side-show."
"And you with her?"
"No, I went back to Antwerp,"I said.
"On subversive business?"
"To look for a ship. I wanted to go back to sea."
"Firelei came to Le Havre with her circus?"
"What happened to her in Le Havre?" demanded the inspector. I saw the Mona Lisa smile on the full red lips of Hertha Jens, and I knew its significance.
"She was seized for abduction to Germany," I answered.
"Firelei was seized for abduction?"
"Who seized her?"
"Unknown men."
"Men from the Gestapo?"
"From the Gestapo."
"Not some of your own friends?"
"They tried to spirit her aboard a ship going to Germany."
"Which ship?"
"The Bellona."
"Now please tell us how she managed to escape. Who were the men who helped her? How was it done?"
"I don’t know," I replied.
"She did not tell you."
"She only told me that she got away."
"She joined you in Antwerp after that?"
"Joined me in Antwerp."
"What did Firelei do in Antwerp?"
"She did not work against the New Germany?"
"Did not commit high treason?"
"Did not edit the Searchlight?"
"You lie like a newspaper!" Inspector Kraus snarled.
"Did not your friend Ernst Wollweber come to Antwerp to send Firelei to Copenhagen to take charge of the stuff smuggled from Scandinavian countries?"
"No. I don’t know Ernst Wollweber."
"Who sent Firelei to Copenhagen?"
"I did."
"And why?"
"To live there with a friend. She had no other means of existence."
"What’s the name of that friend?"
"I don’t remember."
"Was Ernst Wollweber that friend?"
"No, I don’t know him at all."
"You don’t know your boss?"
"He was not my boss."
"Who, then, was your boss?"
"No one. I was unemployed. I had no boss."
"How did Firelei get into Denmark without a passport?"
"She went as a stowaway."
"On which ship?"
"On the Brabant to Oslo."
"And from Oslo to Copenhagen?"
"On the highway to south Sweden."
"And from Sweden to Denmark?"
"She crossed the Sound in a boat."
"She stole a boat and crossed the Sound?"
"No, a fisherman took her across."
"At night?"
"At night."
"So she was smuggled into Denmark. Where does Firelei live in Copenhagen?"
"I don’t know."
"What! You’ve lived with her before you came back to Germany, slept with her, and you can’t tell us her address?"
"She was about to change her address when I saw her last," I explained.
"She changes her address often," said the inspector, "because she fears that the Gestapo will bring her to justice?"
I did not answer.
"What does Firelei do in Copenhagen?"
"She was trying to find work when I left her," I said. "Since then I don’t know what she’s doing."
"I’ll tell you what she does," Inspector Kraus said drily: "She’s got a crew of cut-throats under her command. She sends these cut­throats aboard German ships as they come into Scandinavian ports. The cut-throats invite the German seamen to have fun ashore, and then Firelei meets them in some cafe and tries to seduce them into smuggling subversive propaganda into Germany. Our agents have watched her and brought us some of this material. She’s not the innocent angel you say she is."
"Firelei is no revolutionist," I persisted.
"Then why doesn’t she return to Germany? Nothing will hap­pen to her here. What kind of a mother is she to desert her baby? The lowest sort of animal demonstrates more decent loyalty than that."
"That’s why I came to Germany," I said. "I came to find the child."
"Rot! Where does your wife live in Copenhagen?"
"I don’t know."
The whip came into my face like the swift stroke of a red-hot knife.
"Tell us Firelei’s address in Copenhagen!"
"No . . . I don’t know."
Again the whip. There is a pain that is worse than death. I sagged to my knees, groaning, and then my head was on the floor. I heard the whip sing and bite around the back of my neck.
"Get up."
I remained on the floor, eyes closed, refusing to believe that I was still alive.
A man grasped the thumb of my left hand, bending it backward. I felt the bone of my thumb snap . . . I jumped straight up. The man who had broken my thumb, leaped back; he seemed startled by my unearthly howl. In the same second, the whip came slashing once more into my face. My lips were devoid of feeling. The front of my shirt and coat were full of blood. I know I swayed to and fro like a drunken man, wondering why I did not fall.
"Go easy," Inspector Kraus commanded. "I don’t want this specimen to lose consciousness."
"All right," a voice muttered.
"Will you tell us now what Firelei’s address was?"
I mentioned a street in Copenhagen. "Venedigvej," I said.
"What number?" snapped the inspector.
"Number eighty-three," I answered.
"We’ll check up on that . . . Now repeat this: Firelei is a whore."
"Firelei . . . is . . . a . . . whore."
"She stinks to the heavens."
"She . . . stinks to the heavens."
"My wife is a whore who stinks to high heaven."
"My wife is a whore who stinks to high heaven."
"He’s learning nicely," Hertha Jens smiled. "Only his wife should be here to listen to him."
Inspector Kraus was pacing up and down the room. A Gestapo man sat on the window-sill, smoking. He sat there to prevent me from taking the same road that Karl Burmeister had chosen. The Elite Guard had brought a pail of water from the lavatory and was soaking his long whip in the water. After that, he took a jar of vaseline from a shelf and began greasing his whip. Rapid talk came from the room where Cilly was being pressed for information. A young man came from that room, and whispered into the ear of Inspector Kraus. I could not understand the words, but I knew that they were comparing notes. Hertha Jens flopped down on the table, her back against the wall, yawning and puffing smoke toward the ceiling. As I stood there, much more resembling a tortured beast than a human being, a thought crawling through my brains kept telling me how pleasant it would be to burn gaping wounds into Hertha’s insolent flesh and to see her writhe in unspeakable agony.
I was in a fever. The stocky figure of Kraus and the voluptuous figure of the traitress assumed the outlines of unreal monstrosities. On the wall the portrait of Adolf Hitler seemed to break into a gleeful chuckle. Nothing was left for me to hold on to except my hatred. A hatred which fills the veins and lungs and the head, a hatred which is stronger even than unconditional devotion to the cause. In Gestapo headquarters at night, a man’s strength depends upon the measure of black hatred he is capable of raising in himself.
It was as if Inspector Kraus had read my mind.
"Tell me," he said, "what would you have done with us if Bolshevism had come to power in Germany?"
I gave him no answer.
"You’d have murdered the whole lot of us," he concluded.
"Communists are not sadists," I muttered.
"Neither are we," said the inspector. "We don’t like to hurt any man. But when a man is in possession of information we need, and refuses to give it—all means are justified to make him talk. We find that a high plane of sustained horror is often convenient for reasons of state. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, sir."
"I’m glad you do. Where did you live? What were your hide­outs in Berlin and Hamburg?"
"I had no steady place," I said. "I went to hotels. I went to a different hotel each night."
"Give the names of the hotels."
"They were small hotels in side-streets on the Alster and in Barmbeck."
"Their names!"
"I don’t remember their names."
"No? Where did you sleep last night?"
"I picked up a prostitute. She took me to a small hotel."
"What was her name?"
"I don’t know. I did not ask."
"Do you want to have all your fingers broken? One at a time? One for each lie you tell us?"
"No, sir."
"What did you do in Antwerp?"
"I tried to find a berth aboard a ship. It was difficult because I had no papers."
Inspector Kraus stepped up to me. His voice became ominous, barely audible.
"Antwerp, you say? Many crimes were committed in Antwerp around that time. For example: Who organized the gangs who came aboard German ships to tear down the Hitler flags?"
"I don’t know."
"Who printed the newspaper Searchlight and had it smuggled to Germany from Antwerp?"
"I don’t know."
"What do you know? Do you know Ilia Raikoff?"
"No, sir,"
"You look as if that name made you very uncomfortable. Maybe you know him as The Ox?"
"No, sir."
"What happened to Ilia Raikoff? Was he abducted to Russia? Was he murdered by the G.P.U.?"
"I don’t know. I don’t know who Ilia Raikoff is."
Inspector Kraus drew back his lips. "I am famed for my patience," he said. "But my patience is limited. I am a mortal. I know of several hundred gentlemen in this building whose fingers itch to make you howl till you scramble up sheer walls. It’s their way of turning stubborn customers into pliable customers. Do you know Edgar André?"
"I have heard of him."
"Edgar André was a hard man," Inspector Kraus said with a grim smile. "He was one of the hardest men alive. He’s responsible for the murder of dozens of storm troopers, yes?"
"I don’t know."
"We know! He thought he was made of granite," the inspector went on sardonically, "but after my young men got through with him he was like butter in the sun. Until his head comes off, he’s glad to eat out of our hands."
"Please give me a glass of water," I begged.
Hertha Jens flashed a smile. "Certainly," she drawled. "You can have wine."
The Gestapo agents guffawed. From the corridor sounded angry voices and the tramping of feet.
"Water?" Inspector Kraus growled. "We’ll put pepper into your carcass when it bursts open." His thin lips curled and tight­ened. "Will you tell us now on what business the Comintern sent you to Germany?"
"No one sent me. I came to find my son."
Inspector Kraus said quietly: "That’ll do. Give him Kaschumbo. Thirty to start with."
Hands in his pockets, he walked out of the room. Hertha Jens followed him. She smiled over her shoulder and swayed her hips. In my mind stood a single weary thought.
"In a few minutes you will be a cripple," I thought. "They are going to smash your kidneys. Pray that you fall unconscious before you tell them what they should not know."
I was not nervous. I was calm. The inevitable had come.
A tall young man with sandy hair took command. He took the shackles off my wrists. He ordered me to push the table from the window to the center of the room. Then he ordered me to take off my clothes.
"Take your time," he said. "Don’t hurry."
Two Gestapo men took my clothes and proceeded to inspect them closely. They ripped open the seams, and they ripped the lining out of my coat and overcoat and out of my hat. The Death Head guard slapped his whip tentatively across my back.
I was naked. They grabbed me and threw me across the table, face down. They pulled more handcuffs out of their overcoat pockets and shackled my wrists to the table legs. With leather straps they tied my ankles to the other table legs. Then they spread a wet towel over my back.
"Give us the names and addresses of five of your accomplices," one of the agents demanded.
I said nothing.
"Just five names and addresses between you and hell," he continued. "Think it over. I give you ten seconds to think it over."
"Refuse to think!" I thought. "Switch off every accursed nerve inside of you and refuse to think!"
The tall young man with the sandy hair gave a signal. My head hanging sideways over the edge of the table, I saw the Elite Guard raise the whip high over his head. I heard the whip whistle through the air and I closed my eyes.
The spurt of pain made me groan and jerk upward.
"Shut up," growled the trooper.
"One," counted the man with the sandy hair.
I opened my eyes and pressed my head downward. Through the space, between the table legs, I saw the black-booted legs of the Elite Guard spread out wide, feet firmly on the grimy floor. The whip sang through the air and struck, and with each blow the world was blotted out. The strokes did not come fast enough to make the blackness last. My senses crawled back into place just in time to be aware that the next stroke was ripping down from the height of the ceiling. The measured ferocity of that flogging filled me at first with a murderous and impotent rage, and then with screaming despair. The screaming gave way to a moan. I heard myself moan in a dull, continuous whine and I heard the crashing impacts of the whip and I felt its stab and bite, and the pain was so great that I thought my brains were oozing out through nose and eyes.
A voice, sonorous and lazy, was counting in the distance. "Six­teen . . . seventeen . . . eighteen . . ."
Was this the end?
The whip came in a rhythm. Back. Buttock. Thighs. Then the back again. Unbearable was the agony when the whip cut twice into the same strip of flesh. I could not see. The legs of the trooper, the table, the floor and my arms and hands dissolved into red and black spots, flowing and ebbing, sinuous, dancing and whirling, widening and shrinking and milling about.
"Twenty-two . . . twenty-three . . ."
I was sinking away into a bottomless hole and I struggled because I did not want to die.
I was floating in a dusk. Something that stung in my nostrils made me open my eyes. There were voices and the tramping of feet and a blinding light. Cold water was poured over my head. I tried to raise my head because the blood hammered hard into my brain. A door was opened and Inspector Kraus returned. Hertha Jens followed him, carrying a typewriter pressed against her body. Inspector Kraus walked slowly around the table.
"Your spread-eagled carcass is no object of beauty," he said mildly. "How do you feel?"
"All right," I said after a while.
"I hope you’ve taken this preliminary caress to heart. If you haven’t there’s more to come, much more, I assure you. For the time being, we’ll leave you hugging that table."
A man brought a small collapsible table. Hertha Jens put the typewriter on this table and sat down behind it.
"I’m ready," she said.
Inspector Kraus dictated. The typewriter began to clatter. Name, date and place of birth, family history, youth, arrests and other details already known to the Gestapo went down on the paper.
Paul Kraus continued to dictate: "The accused, arrested on the night of November 30, 1933, in the vicinity of the Botanical Gardens under suspicion of high treason committed while he was in the employ of the Communist International in Moscow, states of his own free will—"
"Now what?" the inspector snapped. "Will you talk?"
"Yes, sir."
Hertha Jens, sitting less than two feet in front of me, smiled. Her fingers ran nimbly over the keys of her typewriter.
"When did the Comintern send you to Germany and what was your mission?"
Inspector Kraus had taken the whip out of the hands of the trooper. With every word he said he tapped my back with the butt of the whip.
I said, "The Comintern did not send me. I came to . . ."
"The accused," Paul Kraus dictated, "stubbornly denies the well-known fact that he has been an active agent of the Comintern, sent to Germany to prepare the violent overthrow of the Hitler government. His attitude is typical of that of a confirmed and hardened enemy of the New Germany." The inspector paused. "The court will like that," he added.
The whip sang in the air. Then it bit viciously.
"Where are your illegal quarters in Hamburg?"
"I changed quarters every night. I lived in hotels."
"You lying hound!"
Again the whip slashed down on me.
"Where was your hide-out?"
After every evasive answer I gave, Paul Kraus struck me mercilessly. And after each stroke, he repeated the one question: "Where were your illegal quarters?"
I had heard that men could end their lives by sheer force of will. Just close their eyes and wish hard: "Death come!" It was a futile thing. Each time Inspector Kraus waited long enough to be sure that my eyes were open and that my body was able to squirm—before he swung the whip back over his shoulder to strike again.
"You’re a fool," he said. "Do you imagine that one of your chiefs—Kuusinen or Piatnitzky or Wollweber or any one of the other blackguards—that if one of your chiefs were strapped to this table instead of you,—do you imagine that they’d hesitate a minute before they’d sell you out and a thousand others with you if they thought that’d help them?"
I said nothing. I was more dead than alive. Beneath me blood and sweat were sticky on the table. My left hand had swollen to twice its normal size.
Inspector Kraus’ voice came calmly: "We have a high respect for heroism. We have a big contempt for traitors. Our experience has shown us that the biggest bosses in your movement are the most cringing cowards once they’re in our hands. Whenever we catch a big shot, we roll up his whole organization. All you have to do is follow this precedent and you’ll be perfectly comfortable. Are you going to tell us something real now?"
"Yes, sir."
"You know damn well I can have you shredded to pieces inch by inch, and the most mangy cock on earth wouldn’t crow in sympathy with you. You know that. If you decide to stop leading us around by the nose, we might come to terms. Suppose you tell us all you know, suppose you help us pull off a big scoop, catch a lot of subversive fish—then we could recommend you to the judge. You might get away with a life sentence."
"Yes, sir."
"There’re several thousand questions I want to ask you. Thousands of questions to which you know the interesting answers. What I want you to know is that we have no time to fight with you an hour or two for each answer. Should you persist in wasting our time in such fashion, we’ll be compelled to consider you guilty of sabotaging the necessary work of the Gestapo. You know what that means, don’t you?"
"Yes, sir."
"Very well, tell us now where you had your illegal quarters."
I gave no answer.
"Give him Kaschumbo," said the inspector. "Fifteen on the legs to limber up his memory."
Fifteen strokes across the thighs eat up the skin. Under the whip, raw flesh burns like fire. Each stroke jolts through every inch of body and brain like a fiery hammer. A man groans until every cell in him groans, and then it is as if he loses his mind.
"Shoot me," I groaned. "Shoot me."
"Why should we shoot you?" a derisive voice sounded. "Who do you think we are?"
"Shoot me."
I do not know how many times I said it.
"Where did you have your illegal quarters?"
Now the whip came down in the small of my back.
Paul Kraus growled: "By-and-by you’ll piss blood." Then, "Will you answer my question now?"
I could not answer. A stabbing pain was in my right ear. Some­one had kicked the side of my head.
"His ear is bleeding," said Hertha Jens.
"Where did you have your illegal quarters? Will you tell us that now?"
Somebody poured water over me.
"This is your last chance," growled Paul Kraus. "We’ll put a hose in your behind and fill it with boiling water if you don’t answer. Before we do that, we’ll put salt all over you. Will make you feel fine. Salt is a noble stuff."
The whip came whistling through the air.
"Where did you have your illegal quarters?"
There was a long silence and the smell of freshly-lit cigarettes. "Give him Kaschumbo," Paul Kraus ordered. "Twelve on the kidneys."
Did you ever have the feeling of having your insides filled with pointed rocks which grow bigger and bigger and move into your lungs and your throat and take your breath away? A flogging on the kidneys, with half an eternity between each stroke of the whip, are preparation for a thousand nights of agony to come.
In the end I told them the address. "Martin Holstein is still free," I thought. "He’ll tell the couriers to strike the address from their lists."
"Venusberg," I said.
"Speak louder!"
"What number?"
Each question was followed by the bite of the lash.
"Number seventeen."
"The names of the people?"
"A couple? Do they have children?"
Inspector Kraus telephoned. "Fahndungskommando? [25] . . . Good! Send a car down to Venusberg number seventeen. The name is Baumgarten. Search the apartment. Arrest and run in whoever lives there. Leave two men in the place for the next three days. Seize and run in all visitors for Baumgarten. Thank you. Heil Hitler!" The inspector turned back to me.
"Are you going to be sensible now?"
"Yes, sir.
He ordered his helpers to take me off the table. They brought a chair and I sagged into the chair, and then I sagged to the floor and lay on my stomach because I was too wounded to sit. Hertha Jens gave me a glass of water. I raised myself to the elbows and drank the water. Inspector Kraus gave me a cigarette. While I smoked, the side of my face on the floor, he dictated and the typewriter clattered.
"The accused," the inspector dictated, "after having been confronted with irrefutable evidence, admits that he took illegal residence with one Baumgarten at Venusberg 17 in Hamburg after his secret arrival in this city to engage in unlawful communist activities."
"Mrs. Baumgarten is pregnant," I said.
"A pregnant woman?"
"Yes, sir.
Inspector Kraus made a grimace.
"Oh, well," Hertha Jens assured him. "We can bring her in anyway."
"Are the Baumgartens communists?" demanded the inspector. "Did you give them instructions?"
"No, sir," I said.
"How did you get their address?"
"By chance. I heard they had a room for rent."
"Now you are lying again. You got their address in Copenhagen. You got their address from the Comintern."
"No, sir. They were not communists."
"We’ll see Baumgarten about that. We’ll put Baumgarten on the table and make him give you the lie. You see, my friend, the plot thickens."
I did not answer. The Baumgartens were simple comrades. They knew little that could harm the movement. And I had arranged with them that they should say, when questioned, that they had taken me to be a foreign journalist.
"You have said A," Paul Kraus observed. "Now let us come to B, and proceed down the alphabet. What was your business in Germany?"
"I came to find my son."
"I ask once more: What did Comintern headquarters instruct you to do in Germany?"
"I was not sent by the Comintern."
"You were sent by the G.P.U.?"
"No, sir."
Inspector Kraus bent down and struck the cigarette out of my face.
"Get some salt," he said curtly. He walked into the next room. The Elite Guard prodded my ribs with his boots. Inspector Kraus returned and showed me a photograph. It was the photograph of a stocky man, taken as that man was getting off a street car. Hertha Jens went down on her knees and held a magnifying glass over the face of the photograph. I blinked my eyes and wanted to look sharply. I could not. My vision was blurred. It was as if the pain shooting from my right ear had somehow paralyzed my ability to see clearly.
"Who is this man?"
"I don’t know. I can’t see."
"Is this Michel Avatin?"
"I can’t see."
"Do you know Avatin?"
"No, sir."
"In Copenhagen you were seen together with Avatin. Avatin was in Antwerp the week Ilia Raikoff was murdered. So were you. Did Avatin send you to Germany?"
"No, sir. I don’t . ."
"Is Avatin in Germany?"
"I don’t know."
"What was your business with Avatin in Antwerp and Copenhagen?"
"I don’t know Avatin."
Who was Avatin’s lady-love in Hamburg?"
"I don’t know."
"Did you get her address when you were in Copenhagen?"
"No, sir."
"What were your lines of communication from Hamburg to Copenhagen? How did you send your reports? How did you get your money?"
"I came to find my child."
"On what mission did the Comintern send you to Germany ?”
"I did not work for the Comintern."
"What assignment did the G.P.U. give you?"
"I never worked for the G.P.U."
"What was your illegal business in Germany?"
"I wanted to bring my son out of Germany."
"Why did you carry a gun?"
I was silent.
Inspector Kraus said, "Give him Kaschumbo. Take care he won’t fall asleep."
I was not dragged back across the table. They left me lying on the floor and the Death Head guard snapped the whip in his hands, and after that he struck savagely and I crumpled up and tried in vain to bite the floor with my teeth. After the third stroke he stepped aside.
"Are you going to tell us now what your job in Germany was?" Inspector Kraus shouted.
Even had I wanted to tell him, I was unable to bring forth the words.
"Give him Kaschumbo," the inspector ordered.
The night dragged on, an endless crawling through a hellish morass. There came a moment when the brain could still register the impacts of the whip, but the nerves ceased to respond to pain. There was another moment when the room was suddenly filled with people—returning Gestapo men who shouted and cursed and threatened—and young workers and frightened girls who stumbled about and were pushed face foremost against the walls and were roared at to tell who gave them the leaflets they had distributed that night. At times the telephone rang. And once Hertha Jens’ melodious laughter burst into the reeling blackness.
Later I was aware of daylight, and of a smell of something somebody had smeared over my back and face. I was aware that I lay on a narrow cot and that light came through a small barred window high in the wall. I was also aware that I was naked, that I lay on my stomach, that my wrists and my ankles were chained to the iron sides of the cot, and that waves of heat steamed up from under the cot. I could feel nothing. I could hear nothing. My left hand lay in a stiff bandage. I did not know whether this was death, or whether I was still alive. I tried to raise my head, and all of a sudden it was as if I was falling through space. And then I knew nothing more.

Chapter Thirty-four - HELL

ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DAYS the inquisition continued. All these weeks and months I fought like a wounded beast in a trap. They were one hundred and one days of blood-stained blackness teeming with merciless fiends. Except for one week, I was alone all this time when not in the company of my torturers. For two months I lay in chains, in solitary confinement. For three months I did not see a piece of soap, nor was I given a chance to bathe and shave. I wrote no letters and received none. The outside world had ceased to exist. And all around me was despair and death and madness, and manifestations of a mute and futile courage, ghostly faces and others full of harsh insolence, and the enemy’s will to break me or to kill me.
The hope and expectation of a swift death were as pleasant as the prospects of a bridal night. When I was led to the bleak top floors of Gestapo headquarters for questioning and more questioning, my eyes searched for an unguarded window and my brain yearned for the opportunity of an unguarded moment in which I could hurl myself through the glass and out into space. But invariably on such excursions my wrists were chained and the end of the chain was in the grip of a Death Head Guard. Only two other, slower and less certain, means of suicide remained: a man could bite open his veins, or slash his wrists with a piece of glass broken from the cell window; or he could hang himself, if anything could be found to take the place of a rope. Many attempted to escape in this manner, but hardly one out of ten succeeded in winning the coveted death. Most prisoners were chained to their cots at night, and during the day their arms were shackled together on their backs.
On two occasions, despite this impediment, I tried to hang myself with strips torn from my reeking blanket. I strove for hours to adjust their ends to a water pipe above the battered toilet, and finally I succeeded. In my mind was only the dull determinations "Finish it! Finish it!" The urge to die was like a thirsty man’s urge for water. I stood on the seat of the toilet, and with circular motions of my head I wrapped the lower portion of my improvised rope around my neck, and clamped the end between my teeth. "God-damned, finish it before they come again," I muttered to myself, and without a thought for anyone I let my feet slip sideways. I hung. There was no pain. The sensations were pleasant. I had expected that I should struggle painfully for air; instead I was aware that the clutch of the blanket strips around my neck cut off blood circulation from my head. I had a feeling of dizziness, and then the walls reeled about me, and my legs and arms were jerking spasmodically as if a recalcitrant motor inside of them had suddenly and inexplicably sputtered into action. The blanket strips parted. Regaining my senses I found myself on the floor, on hands and knees, and shaking my head like a dazed dog. I tried again two nights later, when the escape of a fellow-prisoner in another part of the concentration camp had caused so much excitement that the night guard had forgotten to chain me to my cot. Again I failed. In a sullen fury I lunged through the length of my cell and smashed my head against the wall. But I only lost consciousness, and my head throbbed for days afterward.
Spells of fitful sleep brought on maddening dreams. The dreams were always the same. A fine new rope hung from the bars of my cell window, with a noose tied expertly; I struggled forward with all my might to reach the rope, and to use it, but it was as if unseen hands reaching out from behind me clutched my ankles and knees, and all my struggles did not bring me one foot ahead.
I was in Concentration Camp Fuhlsbüttel, on the northern out­skirts of Hamburg. Nearby was the airport, and the droning of air­planes could be heard day and night behind the rust-brown walls. Camp Fuhlsbüttel was no "camp," but a cluster of old prisons which the Ministry of Justice had ordered demolished but a few days before the Nazi triumph. For years these prisons had been out of use. But the sudden overcrowding of more modern jails with political prisoners had caused the Gestapo to halt the process of demolishing the condemned buildings. Almost overnight the once-deserted dungeons became populated with thousands of men and women. There were four huge cell blocks, built of brick, thick-walled, and four stories high. They were surrounded by a number of naked yards, and the yards in turn were surrounded by guard posts and high brick walls. Along the inside of the walls ran a tall fence of barbed wire. The wire was charged. In the space between the barbed-wire fence and the outer walls black-uniformed Elite Guards, in steel helmets and armed to the teeth, were on duty. Two of the main buildings contained only solitary cells, while the remaining two were fitted with common halls for those who had "confessed."
The cells were ten feet long and five wide. Beyond a low iron cot and a battered toilet seat, they contained nothing. Heavy steel doors opened on narrow tiers. Each cell had a small barred window, seven feet above the floor, and the glass of most of the window-panes was broken, for the young Elite Guards in the yards amused themselves at all hours of the day and night with shooting at random through the windows into the cells. Rifle shots and the sounds of splintering glass were almost as common as the roar of arriving and departing planes. Most of the guards were young, from eighteen to twenty-three years old. They were the same men who had been our antagonists in the guerrilla warfare of the past years. And now that they found themselves in the position of victors, with their hated adversaries unconditionally at their mercy, they reveled in the role of avengers. Fanatical, trained to cruel ruthlessness, they regarded themselves with pride as the exterminators of the "Marxist" pestilence. Aside from the special treatment which the Gestapo prescribed to break down the resistance of certain prisoners so as to make them surrender names and addresses of comrades, the camp guards devised horror-shows of their own. Such enterprises ranged from the forcing of prisoners to perform exhausting physical "exercises" in the yards to artfully organized murder.
One day, when I marched back to my cell after a round of "exercise" in the yard, I saw the guards bring in a Jew. He was a small man of about forty, with a fat round face and astonished eyes. They made him run along the hallway on hands and knees. Two guards with rubber truncheons in their hands kicked him into cell 27, opposite mine. The troopers were too preoccupied to pay attention to me as I stood in front of my cell door, waiting to be locked in. Since the Jew was a newcomer, still wearing his civilian clothes, I cocked my eyes and ears to find out who he might be. What I saw made my blood run cold.
In cell 27 the guards told the Jew to take off his pants and drawers. He complied, trembling like a leaf. Suddenly one of the troopers put his arm around the Jew’s throat and held him in half-hanging, half-standing position. The other guard, swinging his rubber truncheon, began to strike well-aimed blows at the Jew’s genitals. With a horrible groan, the Jew’s body surged upward, and after the third blow between his legs he sagged limply, as if every bone in his body had been broken. The guard who held the Jew relaxed his grip. The Jew fell to the floor. He had both hands clasped to his genitals and was writhing feebly. Both troopers spat into the Jew’s face, and then they left cell 27, locking the door.
One of the two, a blond, keen-eyed boy of twenty-two locked me into my cell.
"Did you see what happened to the Hebrew?" he asked excitedly.
"Yes, I saw it."
"That slimy swine . . . Can you imagine what he did?"
"No. What’d he do?"
"He wanted to rape a Hitler girl. Lured her into his apartment and tried to make her. The hound! The abominable cur!" Indignation blazed in the guard’s face.
All afternoon I crouched as near to the door as I could get, and half the night as well, almost forgetting the pain in my wounded wrists. Hour after hour men stamped in and out of cell 27. It was as if every guard in Camp Fuhlsbüttel had come to visit the Jew. Curses, blows, cruel laughter and spells of hoarse whimpering came from cell 27. And off and on a voice that sounded like the crack of a whip:
"Ist das Arschloch noch lebendig?” [26]
During the night the victim died.
At nine o’clock next morning I was ordered from my cell.
Out in the yard, in a sickly winter sunshine, the Jewish prisoners of Camp Fuhlsbüttel were digging a deep hole in the ground. Lined up against the wall were about sixty prisoners who were not Jewish. In twos and threes still other prisoners were marched out of the building.
"Stand against the wall," a guard ordered. "Don’t talk and don’t move till you’re told to."
In double-quick I reached the wall and lined up with the other non-Jewish prisoners. All around the yard were guards in steel helmets, their rifles ready to fire. Toussaint, the lanky, martial-looking adjutant of the camp commander looked into the hole the Jews had dug.
"Deep enough," he said. "Stand back!"
The Jews fell back, their heads hanging forward and their faces ashen with fear. Another group of men approached from the prison. They carried a stretcher, and they were escorted by a trooper in a doctor’s garb. All eyes stared. Except for the shouts of cruising gulls the yard was silent.
On the stretcher lay the mangled corpse of the Jew who had been murdered at night. His abdomen was a smear of dried blood and a clump of bloody rubbish was where his genitals had been. His face was convulsed and his eyes, wide open, were twisted upward in a glassy stare. The guard in the doctor’s garb led the stretcher crew past the lined-up prisoners, and all of us stared silently at the dead man. The corpse was naked and the gulls cruised close and screamed. At a command, the stretcher-bearers dumped their burden on the ground close to the rim of the hole.
Several of the Jews who were standing around the hole clasped their hands in front of their faces. Two others collapsed. They were cuffed and beaten until they stood straight again.
"Pants down," commanded Toussaint.
The row of Jews lowered their pants. They were not men any more. They were animals without a will. They were stiff with fear. "Now masturbate," commanded Toussaint.
A few of the Jews reached for their genitals. Guards ran along their file and struck the others in their faces.
"Masturbate, I said," Toussaint roared. "Masturbate, you swine!"
The Jews obeyed. They feebly went through the motions that were demanded of them and many of the guards wore broad grins.
"Faster," Toussaint shouted. "You desert bandits! You lustful reptiles! Show us how you do it in your cells at night!"
The Jews pretended to masturbate faster. They knew they would be beaten if they did not. They knew they could not afford to collapse.
Toussaint turned to us who were lined up against the wall.
"You sing!" he commanded. "Sing the Three Lilies on the Grave!"
We sang, low at first, and then we sang at the top of our voices:

"Drei Lilien, drei Lilien,
"Die pflanzt ich auf ein Grab, jufalleraaa . .. "

"Look at the devils," snarled Toussaint. "They spent all their virility on Aryan virgins, and now they can’t—"
One of the Jewish prisoners, a mere boy, seemed to have gone mad. He danced out of the file and croaked. He croaked like a crow.
"Kra . . . kra . . . kra."
The sound of his voice was enough to make any man weep. It was so pitiful, so utterly desolate. "Kra . . . kra . . ." Our eyes had forgotten how to bring forth tears. The dead Jew on the ground looked ugly. The others kept masturbating, all but the young one. Some of us stopped singing, and then we all stopped.
"Kra . . . kra . . . kra . . ."
The guards had pounced on him and Toussaint said: "Off with him!" And after that Toussaint barked. "Masturbation squad—halt!"
The crazy Jew was led away. Two troopers rolled the dead Jew over the ground with their boots until he flopped into the hole. Each of the other Jews was ordered to step forward and shout three times: "I am a race polluter." After shouting this three times, each Jew in turn was pushed into the hole atop the dead Jew. After he had shouted again, "I am a race polluter," he was allowed to climb out of the hole. Several had to be dragged out of the hole because they had suddenly become too weak. After all the Jews had finished shouting and falling on top of the corpse, the dead Jew was dragged out of the hole, and the others were forced to roll him from one side of the yard to the other, shouting all the time, "We—are—race polluters!"
In the end, the Jews were formed into a column. They had to march around the corpse and sing anti-Semitic songs. The mourn­ful chorus filled the yard like fog:

"Wenn’s Judenblut vom Messer spritzt,
Dann geht’s nochmal so gut . . . dann geht’s nochmal so gut . . ."
(When Jewish blood squirts under the knives,
Then all is well, then all is well . . .)


"Armer Jude Kohn, kleiner Jude Kohn,
Hast ja keine Heimat mehr . . ."
(Poor Jew Kohn, little Jew Kohn,
You have no home any more . . .)

They sang until their voices were hoarse. To satisfy Toussaint and the guards, they sang as loud as they could. They sang despair­ingly, without a trace of that murderous fighting spirit which we others worked hard to keep alive within us. We looked forward to the day when men like Toussaint would fall by the thousand under the machine-gun bullets of the revolutionary workers. That was what kept us struggling and scheming; that was what we looked forward to. But the Jews, they had nothing like that to keep them up.
As the guards grew tired of the game, they, too, fell to singing, and all we other prisoners sang as well.

"Um den Juden auszuroden,
Schneide man ihm ab die Hoden—
Und den weiblichen Semiten,
Solite man das Ding vernieten . . ."

Then we marched back to the cells, and the scavengers carried the corpse to the furnace in the cellar.
A day in Camp Fuhlsbüttel began at six in the morning with the loud clanging of a bell. A minute later I would hear the rattling of keys in ponderous locks, the crashing of doors, the banging of the troopers’ boots, and angry shouts. The Distant the door of my cell swung open, I rose from the cot as far as my chains allowed me to rise, to report my presence to the guard on duty. At the top of my voice I would shout my name, and add: ". . . red pig in chains for high treason!"
"Louder!" the trooper would snarl. "What are you?"
"I am a red pig in chains for high treason!"
"Louder! Shout it fifteen times!"
While I shouted, the trooper stood over me, his rubber truncheon poised, and slamming it down on my chest if I paused too long to catch my breath. Then he unlocked my chains. I leaped from the cot and reached for my pants and an undershirt. I was not permitted to wear other articles of clothing. While I slipped into my rags, the trooper rummaged through my cell and shouted:
"Faster! You move like a sack of flour! Faster, du Lumpenhund!
Then he threw the "night chains" out on the tier, shackled my wrists together with "day irons," and clattered out to repeat the procedure in the adjoining cage. For an hour I was alone. At seven o’clock a hunk of black bread was thrown into my cell. Breakfast.
Ten minutes later began the assembling of prisoners who were scheduled for questioning at Gestapo headquarters. With curses and kicks I was summoned from my cell and herded into the yard. There I stood, face to the wall, until my name was called. I jumped toward the prison truck. At the door of the truck stood two young Elite Guards with chains in their hands. Each prisoner, before he was pushed into the truck, was struck across the back with the chains.
The prison lorry had steel walls and a steel roof. There were no windows. Its interior was divided into a number of steel lockers in which a man could neither stand upright nor sit. It was like being crouched in a short steel coffin. There was such "room" for twenty prisoners in one lorry, and there were four such lorries shuttling every day between the concentration camp and Gestapo headquarters in the heart of Hamburg. About me was utter darkness. The rumbling of wheels and the distant purr of the motor told me that the transport was under way. When the truck stopped about forty minutes later, it was in the gray stone-yard of the Gestapo headquarters.
A man’s thoughts on such a journey to a new torture session are gloomy. If he is determined to fight, his mind is permeated with a dull stoicism, or he is frantically anticipating the questions and answers of the hellish hours ahead. I lost count of the number of journeys I had made between Camp Fuhlsbüttel and the Gestapo; but I made that trip scores of times. Around me were darkness and suffocating emptiness, a desolation accentuated by the knowledge that I was rolling through crowded streets, that only a few yards away men and women were bent on workaday errands, people who still were lucky enough to have a piece of soap for themselves and a place where they could chat and rest. Each day such prison transports rolled through every German town. Eyes stared into the darkness, and minds struggled to meet the horrors to come.
In the court-yard of Gestapo headquarters the prisoners formed a column. Then came a barked command: "Vorwärts, marsch!" Surrounded by Death Head guards, we broke into a run. Those among us who could not keep the pace were beaten mercilessly. We ran through the courtyard, through corridors and up three flights of stairs until we came to a halt in front of a door which bore the sign, Wartezimmer [29]. The door was unlocked and we were herded into a long room.
"Noses and toes against the wall! Absolute silence! He who speaks will be lynched!"
When dealing with political prisoners, the Elite Guards dis­played cold savagery in every word and every gesture of theirs. We lined up against the walls, stood rigid and kept still. Troopers with clubs in their hands patrolled continuously behind our backs. Intermittently a telephone rang. The Elite Guard officer at the desk received the calls. They were calls from the various Gestapo departments—the Passport Division, the Explosives Division, the Bureau of Firearms, the Anti-Communist and Anti-Socialist Division, the Foreign Division, the Bureau of Identification, the Counter-Espionage Department, and others—calls requesting that certain prisoners should be escorted to certain rooms for questioning. Each ring of the telephone brought a terrible tenseness into the mask-like faces of waiting prisoners; the ringing stabbed through heads and hearts and jangled in the marrows of our bones; and there was always the thought: "Now they have called for me!" There were old men among us, motherly women, and girls. Once in a while, someone collapsed,—and was doused with cold water and showered with abuse.
One day, in the waiting room, a thin-faced girl named Martha Helm, who had been a member of the communist organization in Kiel, seized a pen-knife from the Elite Guard officer’s desk. Without saying a word, she slashed her left wrist. Then she sat down on the floor, while her blood sprayed over the white-washed wall in front of her. Two troopers picked her up and carried her hastily out of the room. She cried faintly for help then. The remaining troopers raged like wild beasts. "Eyes to the wall, you Red bas­tards! Don’t move, you curs!" There was a hail of curses and kicks. The mask-like faces of the prisoners hardly changed.
My name was called and an Elite Guard put a chain around my wrist and led me to the offices of the Foreign Division. Inspector Paul Kraus conducted the questioning, assisted by Hertha Jens and a group of assistants. The method was always the same: Questions —threats—beatings; questions and beatings; promises of peace and luxury if I would give them the desired answers; threats and questions, questions and beatings. Maledictions and yells and whimpers floating through the walls from other rooms showed me that I was not alone in the grinding mill. At times Inspector Kraus would repeat the same question thirty times or more, and each evasive answer was followed by a spell of slashing pain. Often the inquisition lasted until I was too battered to understand the meaning of words. But sometimes it was cut short by a wave of new arrests which claimed Inspector Kraus’s attention. The Gestapo was overworked. The agents of the Foreign Division looked as if they had not slept for days. Their irritation made them more vicious. Only Hertha Jens was always the same. She relished the agony of those who had once called her "comrade." She lounged on tables, show­ing her thick white thighs and puffing smoke through her cherry-red lips. I hated her to the point of insanity. Her insolent presence gave me strength to delay the final, inevitable surrender.
"Hello, mein Junge [30]," she once asked me. "Do you know Karl Lesch?"
I knew him. I gave her no answer.
"Our young men whipped him to death yesterday afternoon, unfortunately," she drawled.
Inspector Kraus gave her a snarl: "Diese Weiber! [31]"
After each turn of questioning, two Elite Guards dragged me to a room on the fifth floor, which was known as the "Repair Shop." A young Nazi doctor was in attendance, and two male nurses in the Brownshirt uniform. Their one and only treatment was the smearing of vaseline over the backs and legs of tortured men. The Brownshirt nurses worked silently. The doctor would walk around me, rubbing his hands and beaming, "Remarkable, remarkable."
Toward four in the afternoon we were assembled for the return transport to the concentration camp. By five, we were again locked in the cells. Those who had not had their midday meal were now given a liter of thick soup—of potatoes or peas or cabbage or beans; the rest received again a hunk of dry black bread. Even the manner in which the food was handed out was designed to break the nerves of prisoners who met the Gestapo assaults with stubborn passive resistance. The soup given me was boiling hot. The time allowed me to consume it was one minute. After the minute had passed, I was again handcuffed. The first few times I miserably burned my mouth and throat. But as time passed I developed the technique of gobbling a liter of soup in a minute. As soon as it arrived and my hands were unshackled, I dumped half of the soup into the toilet of my cell. Then I filled the bowl with cold water. The remainder of the soup, thus diluted and cooled, I drank down in fast gulps.
When the prisoners returned from questioning from Gestapo headquarters, they found the concentration camp in an uproar. Driven by guards, prisoners ran in circles around the yards; others were made to race on all fours up and down the grimy stairways; others again stood facing the wall and shouting abuse at themselves. Once I saw Albert Walter. He was naked. The bronze color of his skin had changed to a sodden gray. At the command of two troopers, he was turning somersaults through one of the ground-floor corridors of the cell-block. Whenever his head was poised on the concrete floor, the troopers slammed their rubber clubs on the old sailor’s hams. He also saw me. His eyes were sunken and glassy. Neither of us gave a sign of recognition.
The "lights out" signal came at seven, and then the night. In this winter of 1933-1934, each night in Camp Fuhlsbüttel was a night of horrors. Each night men died. Most died by suicide, some were deliberately murdered on Gestapo orders, and others died "accidentally" under the hands of marauding night guards. Most of those who died were communists. The aim of the Gestapo was to obtain convictions of their prisoners for high treason. Incriminating evidence was required to stage public high treason trials. "Confess, so that we may convict you—or die!" was the order of the day. Nine-tenths of all political prisoners "confessed." The Special Tribunals condemned them to death or prison. Until the end of 1936, there was not a day in Hamburg on which men and women were not condemned for high treason. Often a hundred or more accused were sentenced in a single trial. Once—in the Lemke Prozess in Hamburg—1,200 communists were sent to prison after one common mass-trial before the Special Tribunal. For such trials the nights in Fuhlsbüttel prepared the ground. The horrors were calculated to bring each individual captive to the point where he would "confess" and go to prison gladly—only to get away from the clubs and the boots of the Death Head guards. On Christmas Night of 1933, twenty-four communists died in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. The guards burst into the cells and handed ropes to the doomed.
"If you don’t hang in five minutes, we will hang you," they announced.
There was a great noise each time a corpse was dragged through the corridors. An Elite Guard alone was more or less a human being; but when a crowd of Elite Guards were together they strove to outdo one another in smart cruelty, for the highest am­bition of each of these youngsters was promotion into the Gestapo. On Christmas Night a brewery supplied the Death Head guards with free beer. Pandemonium reigned in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. Each time a corpse was dragged to the prison morgue the troopers sang:

"Ja, sowas das ist herrlich,
Ja, sowas das ist schön,
Ja, sowas hat man lange nicht
In Ko-La-Fu gesehen.
" [32]

"Ko-La-Fu" was the official abbreviation for Konzentrations Lager Fuhlsbüttel. [33]
Uncounted times I was awakened from fitful sleep by my own groaning. Dreams harassed me with persistent malevolence. Inadver­tently I tossed from side to side, a curse on my lips, and the chains brought my motions to a sudden and painful halt. The faint rattling of those chains often roused me to a blazing fury. I jerked and tore at them, and moaned. Then I lay still. My thoughts wandered. The past was a jumble of colors and faces and irremediable mistakes, and the future was a toothless hag grinning out of black fog. Faint noises scurried through the walls. Other chained men lay in the cells to my right and left, above me and below me. Off and on, an insane yell stabbed through the night. Out in the yard the searchlights blazed, fingering over the long window rows of the cell blocks.
I thought of Cilly, of Otto, of many others I had known. What had become of them? I thought of Firelei. "Where are you?" I asked. "What are they doing to you?" And I would hear a whisper, Firelei’s voice drifting close beside me, saying words that were kind and sweet and meaningless, until they were swallowed up by sounds from other sources: a night guard barking commands at a column of newly-arriving prisoners, or the voice of Arthur Ewert growling out of the gloom: "I tell you, we are making a horrible mistake, or the lusty voice of Comrade Cance of Le Havre crackling, "Buvez du vin, et vivez joyeux!", or the cordelia voice of Mariette, the whore with the noble soul, reiterating, "Up the stairs, and down the stairs, oh-lala." And there was always the droning of airplanes.
Toward one o’clock in the morning the Command for Special Purposes arrived in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. They were young Elite Guards, a hand-picked lot of Gestapo apprentices. Invariably they arrived on a sputtering motor lorry. When the lorry arrived in the yard, its driver blew the horn to announce the commencement of the nocturnal horrors. It began with the ringing of boots on the concrete tiers, and the banging of doors. A loud voice read off a list of names. Troopers entered the cells. Hoarse whispers: "Hello, hello, you’ll be shot at sunrise." The door closed. Sometime later it was opened again. The outline of a Death Head guard stood against the corridor lights. "Hey!" he yelled. Then he emptied his revolver into the walls and ceiling of the cell. A period of silence followed, until the banging of doors began anew. Chained men were beaten in the night. I could hear the banging doors, the tramping boots, the wild howls of the beaten. They came nearer, nearer. Then the turning of a key in the lock of my cell door. Three troopers barged in. They stripped away the faded blanket and their rubber truncheons hailed on me indiscriminately. A prisoner who did not yell was beaten until he yelled, to satisfy the guards, and to terrify the comrades in adjoining cells, whose turn would be next. I awaited them, shivering as if under an attack of malaria, and after they had done their work, I lay still, too stupefied to listen to the howling of the others. Three cells away from me lay the Jewish editor of the socialist paper in Lübeck. His name, I believe, was Sollmitz. His voice was high, almost like that of a woman. One night, when the Command for Special Purposes invaded his cell, he yelled: "Protest! Protest!"
A trooper cried triumphantly: "Listen to the Jew! The Jew complains!"
The Death Head guards assembled in this man’s cell. Sollmitz was beaten to death. It lasted until dawn, when a guard banged against the cell doors of other prisoners, shouting: "Extra! Extra! Will jemand einen krepierten Juden sehen?" [34] The days dragged on. The future stared at you with gray, implacable hostility. You lay awake. You stared and stared and searched for a way out. You stared and searched, and pain and fear and hatred were your con­stant companions.
Sometime in the middle of February I was transferred to the infirmary. I prayed and begged for death, but death would not come. The bed was clean, and the food plentiful—white bread, milk, eggs. Elite Guards sat silently between the beds to see to it that no prisoner could speak to another. The grizzled doctor, whose face was disfigured by saber scars, did not permit the Gestapo to enter his wards. On the same corridor, already for weeks in a water bed, lay Edgar André. The Elite Guards made bets from day to day as to whether Comrade André would live or die. They showed an undisguised admiration for his fortitude. The prisoners in the infirmary were men whom the Gestapo considered too valuable to let them die without the propagandistic show of a high treason trial. On the ninth day I was discharged from the infirmary. I still felt a dull pain in the right side of my head. My ear had been smashed; I was half deaf. My kidneys were damaged; my urine came with blood. I had received an abdominal injury that was beyond repair. Before I left the infirmary, the doctor shook my hand.
"Well, my boy, times have changed," he said.
A Gestapo agent escorted me to the railway station. We rode in an open car. The sights and sounds of traffic, the shop-windows, the people in the streets—they all seemed to belong to a far-away world. They sailed over my line of vision like marionettes in a distant and uninteresting show. Only the outstretched arm of a girl wiping the pane of a window fixed itself indelibly into my mind; a small, firm hand, and a half-bared arm moving swiftly over the smooth surface. Long after it had disappeared, I still saw it move in front of my eyes.
"Where are we going to?" I asked the Gestapo man.
"To Berlin."
We had a third-class compartment to ourselves. My guard was a man of twenty-eight, with a long head, a narrow face and a whip-like body. "We have respect for fellows who don’t cringe," he told me, after the train had pulled out of Hamburg Hauptbahnhof [35]. "But it is our duty to break them, make them harmless once and for all, in the interest of the New Germany." In the course of the journey, he told me his life story, and I smoked his cigarettes. He had been the son of a Gymnasium [36] teacher and became a member of the Nazi Party when he studied chemistry at the University of Hamburg. He had to give up his studies for lack of money and became a ditch-digger for the government relief organization—the Wohlfahrt [37]. At the job, he was often manhandled by communists and socialists among the laborers because he insisted on wearing the swastika badge while he swung the pick. After he had received a particularly severe beating, he gave up the job of ditch-digging, and the Wohlfahrt struck him off the relief lists for "refusal to work." He then enrolled with the storm troops, lived in barracks and hardened in continuous street warfare. Twice he was wounded in nightly skirmishes. In December, 1932, he was selected for service in the Elite Guards, and his dash and intelligence won him a Staffelführer’s [38] honors just before Hitler became Chancellor. After the Reichstag Fire, he was detailed to a Command for Special Purposes, and three months later he was recommended for services in the Gestapo. He had a fierce pride, a limitless belief in the mission of Adolf Hitler, and the hard conviction that traitors had forfeited for all time their right to freedom and life. A "traitor," of course, was anyone who actively opposed National Socialist rule.
I saw nothing of Berlin, for my journeys through the capital were made in closed police trucks. Two nights I spent in the deep dungeons beneath Police Headquarters on the Alexanderplatz. The dungeons were overcrowded with all manner of people, and there was a constant coming and going of prisoner transports. Locked into a small, vault-like cubicle, the front of which was open except for steel bars I was given no opportunity to speak or signal to any of my fellow-prisoners. Once during the night a horde of prostitutes, young and old, was marched past my cell and down the corridor. Every few steps they shrieked in unison, "Heil Hitler! Hoch das Bein, der Göring braucht Soldaten!" [39] Troopers bringing up the rear dealt out kicks. "Shut up!" they roared. "Shut up! Shut up!" And the prostitutes would shriek again: "Heil Hitler!"
For two days I was questioned by the Berlin Gestapo. They were less brutal than their colleagues of the Foreign Division in Hamburg, but the officials seemed better trained and more experienced in police work. Here I was subjected to a special form of torture: kneeling for hours at a stretch on a police carbine, and at another time on a shallow box filled with nails. The general atmos­phere, however, was the same as in Hamburg—grimy corridors, offices furnished with Spartan simplicity, threats, kicks, troopers chasing chained men up and down the reaches of the building, shouting, rows of girls and women standing with their noses and toes against the walls, overflowing ashtrays, portraits of Hitler and his aides, the smell of coffee, smartly dressed girls working at high speed behind typewriters—girls seemingly indifferent to all the squalor and agony about them, stacks of confiscated publication, printing machines, books, and pictures, and Gestapo agents asleep on tables. The questioning of me got nowhere. Already I had become so experienced that I could formulate an answer to a question before it was asked. My answers were either evasive, or misleading. Not to answer at all is—in Gestapo headquarters—always a fatal course.
"We give you three days to think it over," I was told.
A police truck whisked me past the Stettiner Bahnhof, across the Havel River and out on a road which leads toward Straslund. There were perhaps thirty prisoners in the truck, a sullen and dejected-looking crew. Elite Guards stood between the rows of prisoners to keep us from communicating with one another. After a couple of hours we arrived at Concentration Camp Oranienburg. I saw factory buildings, long barbed-wire fences, low barracks and a large paved court-yard. Again I was singled out for solitary confinement. A damp little compartment in the basement of an old brewery became my temporary home. Outside was a driving rain. I received no cot and no blankets, but two burlap sacks stuffed full of ill-smelling rags. I shivered dismally. One of the troopers on duty amused himself by poking his head into my cage every two hours or so saying gravely, "Blankets are coming." On the second day, the cold became unbearable. I pounded against the door with both fists. A Death Head guard appeared.
"Du Schwein, why all the noise?"
"I am freezing to death here," I said.
"You’re freezing? All right. Step out. I’ll warm you up!"
In quickstep he chased me out into a yard. "Faster! Faster! You run like an old woman in the seventh month! Faster, I said!" There were other prisoners in the yard, undergoing a perverted form of military drill. The Elite Guard chased me to the edge of a mud hole. The hole was ten feet deep and about twenty-five feet wide. Across it led a narrow plank, which sagged downward in the middle. The plank was worn off by many feet.
"Walk the plank!" the guard commanded, brandishing his club.
I staggered out on the plank. After ten lurching steps, the trooper jumped with both feet on the end of the plank. I lost my balance and toppled into the mud.
"Get out of the hole!"
I scrambled back to the level of the yard.
"Do you feel warm now?"
"Yes, Herr Wachtmeister."
"Comfortably warm?"
"Yes, sir."
"Good! Back to your boudoir! Run, du Sauhund!" [40] Down came the club. "One-two-three-four, one-two-three-four! Faster! Faster!"
On the morning of the fourth day, I was brought back to Ber­lin. Two hours of questioning followed. A Gestapo inspector showed me a map of the western border districts of Germany and demanded that I should draw in the location of Comintern frontier relay stations. Then he showed me a series of photographs for identification. After that followed questions about the names and addresses of communists in countries adjoining Germany. Again, all this led to nothing.
"I see now where we stand," the Gestapo man said coldly. "Wir werden andere Saiten aufziehen. With you we must play a differ­ent tune."
I expected to be strapped over a table. Instead, chained to a dozen other prisoners, I was led to an inner court-yard. I was pushed aboard a police lorry and into a steel box. Soon the lorry was speeding over roads I could not see. Around me was complete darkness. Hour after hour passed. My body grew stiff and numb.
"Where to?" I asked myself.
The journey lasted all through the night. Finally the truck stopped. Outside keys grated in locks. "All out!"
I stood in the dim light of morning. Snow was falling. Death Head guards in steel helmets snapped orders. A little way off stood the lanky shape of Toussaint. The holster on his belt was open and his fist rested on the butt of his Mauser.
"Welcome," he brayed.
Overhead the crows cried bleakly: "Krah—krah—krah!" I was back in Camp Fuhlsbüttel, the murder camp.

All day I watched the wind drive snowflakes through the naked trees at the edge of the yard. Toward evening the wind died down, and night came dark and still, interrupted only by the droning of distant airplanes. I did not feel so well. I had thought much about the black, humiliating defeat of the Communist Party of Germany, and I could not find a satisfying answer. The brain is restless, insatiable in its anguished boring. Had we become so accustomed to fighting for an unattainable ideal that fighting became an end itself? In the best of times the ideal was hardly more than a ghost. Besides, my back still burned from half-healed lacerations, and a leaden pain was in my bones.
They were out to break me and I refused to be broken.
I was a piece of the Party. They could kill me, but they could never, never kill the Party.
The old snarl was in my throat. It leaped to my throat even though I did not call it.
"Do your worst, you bastards! I’ll tell you nothing!"
The lights were out and I lay on the iron network which was my bed, shackled hand and foot. I was about to blow cool air on my right wrist which had been chafed raw by the handcuffs when I heard pounding steps approach along the tier. Were they coming for me? If they came for someone else, I should soon know by the banging of a door, by groans and yells and the muffled cursing of the guards.
No. It was for me. From outside a hand I could not see switched on the light. A key rattled in the lock. The door swung open. I stiffened to attention. Under my wounded nakedness the cot gave little metallic creaks.
Two guards entered the cell. Under the black steel helmets their faces were pale. Young, thin faces with grayish eyes and colorless lips. Each of them carried a rifle, a bayonet, a pistol, a belt with cartridges and a rubber truncheon. They were not guards from the tier. They were sentries from the yard. One of them reached over and unlocked my shackles. Mutely I wondered what deviltry they planned.
I stood under the window now, still naked, and swaying queerly to and fro.
"Do you want to piss?"
"Jawohl, Herr Wachtmeister," I rapped out.
"Here." He handed me a rusty cup. "Piss in that."
I urinated into the cup.
"Now drink it!"
I held the warm cup in both hands and hesitated.
"Verfluchtes Schwein, [41]" the guard snapped. "Drink it! Quick or I’m going to piss in your mouth."
I drank. Urine tastes stale and salty. There are worse things a man can do than drink his own urine. The cup clattered to the floor and I vomited.
The guards laughed.
"Sissy, sissy," said one.
"Get dressed," commanded the other.
At top speed I slipped into my patched blue pants and the shapeless tiger-striped jacket.
A guard growled: "You move like a sack of flour. Hurry up!"
I put on the stinking, hobnailed boots and the little black round cap. For months I had seen neither underwear nor socks. "This guy looks like Gandhi," one of the troopers said. "He looks like an ape after a bridal night," said the other. "What do you look like?"
"Like Gandhi," I said.
"Hell, no, not Gandhi."
"Like an ape."
The trooper kicked me hard. "What sort of an ape, hey?" he yelled.
"Like an ape after a bridal night," I said.
"Like a she-ape after a regimental rape," the trooper said.
I stared straight ahead, wondering what they were up to. Had there been one, a man could have talked. Talked sensibly. But when they came in a pair or more, one was ashamed of the other; each wanted to be the smartest, most ruthless of the crew. A guard jabbed his fist into my stomach.
"Say: I am a dissipated she-ape," he ordered.
"I am a dissipated she-ape," I said.
"I am a dissipated she-ape!"
Ten times I roared, "I am a dissipated she-ape." The troopers watched me, fascinated.
"Step out!"
I stepped out. The tier was empty. Here and there a guard squinted through the spy-hole of a cell. I marched down the stairs through a gloomy hall and toward the yard. I crossed the yard and the snow crunched under my feet. The cold night air sang in my lungs and mounted into my head like wine. Behind me, the trooper counted the steps—
"Links! Links! Links, zwei, drei, vier . . ."
Every twelve steps his rubber club came down on the back of my neck.
The guard at the gate raised his hand in the Hitler salute and let us pass. We marched through the darkness of another yard and on the soft earth the snow made little swishing noises about our boots. At times the beams of searchlights leaped up and down the walls like animals who have lost their way. Along the outer walls I saw the immobile shapes of sentries in black greatcoats and under black steel helmets. Their hands buried, they held their rifles in the hollows of their arms, and when they passed the lantern at the outer gate, I saw that there were hand-grenades in their belts. The outer gates, gray and huge, blocked the way.
I had begun to cultivate the habit of forcing my thought into neutral channels. Just then I was mumbling to myself, "Green birches remind me of young girls . . . The waters of the Rio de la Plata are yellow with floating mud . . ."
"Halt," a trooper ordered.
A whispered conversation took place between the guards at the outer gate and those who had taken me from my cell. From the trooper’s kitchen drifted the aroma of pea soup and fried onions. Heavily a crow flopped overhead. One of the sentries pushed his face close to mine.
"Oh, it’s you," he said softly. "That’s good. Did you ever have a busted spine? No? . . . Well, good-by, darling."
A portion of the heavy gate clanked open. I looked into a dark road lined with trees. The road led away among gardens, patches of empty ground and a few cottages with feeble streaks of light.
The night was immense. The great Outside leaped at me, engulfed me, and the first sensation was one of suffocation. In those distant houses lived men who were free and who did not know the value of freedom. Free to walk down any street they chose; free to walk into a restaurant for coffee; free to crawl into bed and put their arms around their women; free to sing, to open doors, to switch on and off their lights! My head reeled and I heard my heart pound and my senses clamor. And then I asked myself again: What do they want? Why this excursion in the dead of the night?
"Step out."
I stepped through the gate.
"Keep to the middle of the road.—March!"
I marched along the middle of the road, the sweet smell of manure in my nostrils. Somewhere nearby must have been a barn with horses and cows. Far off a locomotive shrieked. It was a fear­ful thing to think of a locomotive speeding through the night. Going to Cologne, to Amsterdam, to Paris or Turin. To the left, silent orchards floated away in impenetrable darkness. The man behind me stopped hitting me every twelve steps. Snow fell. To the right, the prison hulked like a giant geometric shape against the sky.
"Where are you taking me?" I asked.
"We’re going to shoot you," was the curt reply.
"They’re going to shoot me," I thought. "What of it!" When the lead-filled whips come biting into a man’s carcass, he thinks of being shot as a festival. One single slash of a whip is more painful than a slug in the head, he thinks. So death by shooting can become a final, merciful caress.
Beyond the colossal outlines of the prison the searchlights from the flying-field played like avid fingers in the night. I listened to the thunder of a plane which was circling to land. It was a night like any other night. A night full of discord and danger. Gradually I realized that I did not want to die. Death would put an end to the dancing whips, the shivering nights, an end to pain and degradation and hope that had no right to exist. A man is ready to die, but when death is ready to spring, he discovers that the privilege to breathe the good clean air alone is abundant compensation for all the hellish whips can do. Three paces behind me the troopers’ boots crunched on the road. Their rifles, I knew, were pointed at the small of my back.
"Oh, it’s you! . . . Did you ever have a busted spine?"
Somewhere Firelei was still alive. If she knew, I thought, she’d weep. Maybe she wept. Or maybe she was now sleeping with a comrade bound to go to Germany and to his doom. "Firelei, fare­well," I thought.
"Do your worst, you bastards! It hurts to admit that Hitler has won. It is hard, so hard to imagine that Hitler could be defeated without you, yourself, being alive to help in this defeat. Hate! Hate hard!
"What if I ran, took a chance in a thousand? If I ran, I’d be shot. I’d probably be dead on the spot. It would be like a swift sledge-hammer blow against the spine, a sudden piercing gust of pain, a ridiculous attempt to breathe and clutch the air, and then nothing more. Except, perhaps, the butt of a rifle crashing down on the top of my head. Such an end would not be bad. It would be easy."
I did not want to die. I wanted to live.
If I ran, and they did not shoot me, but caught me alive . . . My brain revolted against the thought!
No. Don’t run.
The guards behind me had suddenly stopped marching. The sounds made by their boots had stopped as if the men had frozen or sunken into the earth. Instinctively, after two more paces, I also stopped. We all stood silently in the dark.
I did not dare to turn my head. A rubber club would smash across my face if I looked around. I just stood in the snow and felt the cold gnaw at my skin and did nothing.
"March!" a trooper said angrily.
I did not move.
"March, gottverdammnter Hund!"
I marched two further paces, but then I halted again because I could not hear the boots of the guards march three paces behind me. Snowflakes sailed across my face. Slowly, an inch at a time, I turned my head to the right, straining my eyes. Indistinctly I saw the guards. Pinpoints of light gleamed on their helmets and on the barrels of their guns. I was astonished to find how plainly their sil­houettes stood out against the snow. If I made one more step away from them, they’d shoot me through my back. "Shot while trying to escape."
Five yards behind me the troopers stood in the night. I did not budge.
In a hoarse whisper a guard snarled:
I did not march. I stood rooted to the ground and felt nothing. There is something inside of every man that is much stronger than the will to die. When death looms close, this something is right beside you, inside you, above and around you to prevent you from taking the step that would make death a quick victor.
A trooper came up to me and looked into my face.
"Are you crazy?" he demanded.
"No, sir," I said.
"Then why don’t you march?"
"You’d shoot me down like a dog."
"Damn right we would," said the trooper.
A figure came shambling down the desolate road. A worker smoking a pipe. His overcoat flapped like the wings of a bat. He shambled toward us, swinging his arms.
"March!" said the trooper.
I did not march. I stood in the snow, motionless, my lungs work­ing like volcanoes. I could turn now and say, "Look here, my friends. I’m tired of this. Bring me to the Gestapo and I’ll tell them all I know, all the names, all the addresses, and then I’ll sign a confession, any confession you’ll give me to sign." If I did that, everything would be all right. I’d get cigarettes and a steak and a real mattress to sleep on. The worker had stopped beside a tree and was watching me silently.
The trooper said sullenly, "March, you red hound!"
I did not march. Maybe they had orders to shoot me so that I did not die. Shatter my knee, or shoot off the genitals. Such things had been done before. A man with a shattered right knee would rather sign a confession than have his left knee shattered as well. An ax slicing through the neck, with a judge in a top hat look­ing on gravely, and Gestapo witnesses smirking their self-satisfaction is less painful than a shattered knee. The worker knocked out his pipe against the trunk of the tree and moved on with uneasy steps.
"Heil Hitler," he said as he passed the guards.
"The whore won’t march," said one of the troopers.
"We’ll make the bloody whore march," said the other.
One of them kicked me. I pitched forward into the snow. Boots struck my side and the butt of a rifle came down on my back. "Get up! Who in hell’s name told you to lie down?"
I stood up. Hard and cold the barrel of a pistol pressed into the back of my neck.
"Now, march!"
I marched. I counted the steps because I did not want to think of the pistol pressing the back of the neck. Thirty . . . thirty-seven, forty-one . . .
"My hands get cold," the trooper muttered. I felt him take the pistol barrel away from my skin. "Keep marching," he added.
I marched. Three paces behind me marched the guards.
"Sing," one of them commanded. "Sing the Horst Wessel song!" I sang. I sang at the top of my voice.

"Dann wehen Hitlerfahnen über allen Strassen,
Dann bricht der Tag der deutschen Freiheit an . . .
" [42]

The melody is one of a revolutionary song. I had heard it sung by workers’ demonstrations, surge up from a hundred thousand throats. The tramp of militant proletarian columns in hostile streets was the highest music I knew. My mouth brayed the Nazi words, but in my heart other words welled up in a pounding rhythm—

"Hoch wehen Sovietfahnen über Barrikaden,
So bricht der Tag der roten Freiheit an . . .
" [43]

Once more the guards stopped marching. Immediately I halted, treading the spot, still singing. The prison walls heaved hollow echoes.
"March!" a trooper snapped.
"I won’t march unless you follow," I said.
"Oh, you won’t march?"
"No," I answered.
"All right, stand still then till you’re blue in the face."
The troopers had a consultation while I stood still.
"If you don’t march, we’ll give you a beating," one of them said.
"March!" commanded the other.
I did not march.
"We’ll beat you till you hear the angels’ hallelujah."
I said nothing. I stood still.
"March!" said the trooper.
I did not march.
"You’re a stubborn chunk o’ shit, all right," one of them mut­tered. "Take off your pants."
I unloosened my belt and let the pants slip down to my knees. The guards laid their rifles in the snow. One of them grasped his rubber truncheon. The other held his pistol cocked. They led me to the side of the road and pushed my face against a tree.
"Bend over! Clasp your arms around the tree and bend over!"
From the prison yard came the shot of a rifle and the sound of splintering glass. That happened often. The searchlight had spotted a prisoner looking out of the window and the sentry in the yard had shot at the window. They hardly ever hit a man that way, but the window was shattered and the cell became a pneumonia trap.
Bending over, I threw my arms around the tree. A trooper grunted. "Bend down farther."
They beat me till I sagged into the snow. They stretched me out on the ground and beat me more. Then they took off their shoulder straps and with them they struck me in the face. When the headlights of a car came near, they stopped beating.
"Stand up! Get behind that tree and fasten your pants."
After the car had passed we marched back. At times I staggered and the guards stood aside and gave me a chance to rest. The sentry at the gate seized my throat and shook me to and fro.
"Ah, darling," he muttered. "You don’t know how lucky you are."
One of the troopers who had taken me out brought me back to my cell. When he turned on the light I saw that he had the face of a youngster who needed, above all, ten hours of sleep.
"Well, how do you feel?" he queried.
"Very well, Herr Wachtmeister."
"Here. Take a cigarette. That’ll make you feel better."
He gave me a cigarette and then he struck a match and lit it.
"If they know I gave you a cigarette, it’ll be daylight out for me," he grinned.
He turned off the light and locked the door of my cell. I smoked as if nothing else had ever mattered. While I smoked, the guard stood in front of my cell. When the last tiny fragment of my cigarette had gone out between my lips I heard him walk away down the tier. His heels rang on the concrete, became fainter and then they clattered down an iron stairway.
Sleep would not come. The live pain in my flesh was like the digging of many teeth. Feverish, shivering, abysmal nights. Nights without end. They were wearing me down. Down. All night that word was in my head. Down, down. They were wearing me down.
Four times in ten days they took me for walks in the night. Each time the walk began with a promise of execution, and ended in sleepless exhaustion.

Chapter Thirty-five - I SIGN A CONFESSION

THE GESTAPO BROKE ME ON MARCH 11, 1934. That day, at nine in the morning, I heard a ringing stride approach along the tier.
"An Elite Guard is marching down the line!"
The boots of a prisoner creak dismally, the walk of a jailer makes soft swishing sounds, but the steps of the Death Head guards ring. A key rattled in the door of my cell. I sprang to attention. The door opened abruptly.
The trooper eyed me with cold hostility. He wore a black uniform and a steel helmet. There was a bayonet and a pistol in his belt. A thick rubber truncheon swung from his hips. In his hands he held a carbine.
"Come out!" he said.
I stepped out of the cell. The trooper ran searching hands over my chest, back, sides, legs. There was a feeling of emptiness in my belly and a fog of hate and apprehension in my brain. I could not think. I was like a beast under the whip of a keeper: watchful and powerless.
"March!" he said.
I marched along the tier and down the steps.
Two paces behind me marched the trooper, the end of his carbine pressed against the small of my back. We marched across the prison yard. Iron gates were opened by silent guards with upturned coat collars. We marched through more yards, marching across crunching snow. From the naked trees came hoarse cries of crows. In the still cold my breath showed white.
In the yard three troopers made a skinny prisoner roll in the snow. The prisoner was naked. I recognized him. He was Horst Witzel, a tug-boat engineer who had a wife and three small children. He stared at me out of the snow without a sign of recognition. A trooper struck his rubber truncheon across the skinny man’s flanks and made him get up and run through the yard. A wolfhound sat on his haunches, watching the naked man run.
The guard stroked the dog’s head.
"Get him, Nero!" said the guard.
The dog bounded away in great leaps. Horst Witzel fell into the snow, shrieking, the animal atop of him and snarling, and the troopers laughed.
"Laugh, damn you!" commanded one of them.
I laughed.
"Once more! Louder!"
It sounded like a cart going over cobbles.
Then we marched on. We marched into a gloomy hall flanked by many grimy cell doors. A trooper moved stealthily from door to door, squinting through the spy-holes.
"Against the wall! Nose and toes against the wall!"
That’s not easy. Put the tips of your toes and the tip of your nose against the wall, with your hands shackled behind your back, and stand straight. After you stand so for an hour your eyes bulge out of their caves and you feel as if huge rocks are pressing in on you from both sides. I stood there for three hours. I saw men who fainted after an hour. I also saw men who began ramming their heads against the walls, howling like lunatics until they crumpled up under the butt of a carbine. In a long line they stood nose and toes against the wall, a score of workers, and here and there a desolate Jew.
Only those can stand three hours and longer who down all thought and pump themselves full of hatred. . . . At first they think, but then they go down, or they hate, and their hate keeps them alive.
You can’t stand there in peace. Every few minutes a passing trooper bangs your head against the wall with a sudden blow from behind. Others kick you. Still others bring the butts of their carbines down hard on your toes. . . . They sneak up silently and then suddenly smash your toes. That makes you jump. If you raise your foot and moan, or if you jump, they turn you around, back to wall, and hit you with rubber truncheons.
One small blond ruffian made me take off my shoes. He put a cartridge shell in each shoe and made me put them on again and stand nose and toes against the wall. All the time the clanking boots of Death Head guards passed behind my back, bringing in new prisoners, and taking others away I knew not where. I listened to groans, commands, abuse. So three hours went by.
I was grasped from behind and dragged into an open cell. Then the door was closed and locked.
I was not alone. Four Elite Guards under black steel helmets sat on chairs. Their faces were cocked expectantly. Stretched out on a filthy cot lay a Gestapo man in shirt-sleeves. Blood spots were on the mattress. The Gestapo man had a thick round face and a big mouth and gray-green eyes. He eyed me coldly.
"Do you know who I am?" he drawled.
"No, sir."
"I am Inspector Radam. Your comrades wish I’d burn alive in hell. I’m the best friend of Prosecutor Jauch of the Special Tribunal." Radam grinned broadly. Then he added: "Do you know what you are here for?"
"No, sir."
"Oh—ho! He doesn’t know what he is here for. Let the bastard have it!"
The troopers cuffed me into a corner. They used their rubber clubs until the Gestapo agent bade them to stop.
"Do you know now what you are here for?" Radam drawled.
"Yes, sir."
"As an enemy of the Third Reich," I said.
"Nice going," Radam commented. "Suppose we have a little chat? Suppose you tell me all about the crimes you committed in 1932?"
"Sure. Tell me about the crimes."
"I was in England and Holland," I said. "I don’t know what you mean."
"I’m not interested in the horses you stole in England and Holland. Let’s stick to the good brown German earth. In 1932, you were a communist. Is that right?"
"Yes, sir."
"You believed in the slogan ’Strike the Fascist wherever you meet him.’ Is that right?"
"The Party has always rejected the theory of individual terror,"I answered. "We believed in winning over an antagonist by discussion."
"Ah," Radam said, "the famous ’ideological weapons!’ About two hundred of our brave boys were slaughtered in 1932. Do you mean to say they died of discussions? Or of old age?"
From a shoe-box at the end of the cot Radam drew a sheaf of photographs. He handed them to a trooper. One after another the trooper held them in front of my eyes. They were the pictures of the corpses of murdered storm troopers.
"All these boys succumbed to ’ideological weapons,’ " Radam said sarcastically.
I was silent. It dawned upon me gradually that the Gestapo had decided to link me with one of the murderous affrays of the days before the Reichstag Fire.
"I don’t want to know what you did in Timbuctoo," Radam snarled. "I only want you to help me clear up a few facts about blood spilled right here in Hamburg. I’ve looked over the fairy tales you told to Inspector Kraus. Herr Kraus is a gentleman. I am not. You can’t get away with squirming like an eel. Your measure is full! With me it’s biegen oder brechen (bend or break)." He paused for breath. The faces of the troopers about me seemed to close in. "Tell me all you know about the acts of terrorism committed in 1932," Radam concluded.
"I am no terrorist," I said quickly.
Radam turned to the Death Head guards. "Limber this bastard’s memory," he drawled.
The troopers pulled me out into the corridor. They forced me to perform what was known in the camps as the "bear dance." It consisted of running and frog-leaping while carrying a pail full of water in manacled hands. While I ran and jumped, the troopers ran beside like gleeful youngsters, kicking at the pail. Each time water slopped over the rim of the bucket, I received a kick or a blow with a rubber truncheon. The torture went on until my legs gave way. The guards allowed me a minute’s rest. Then they pushed me back into the cell where Radam was waiting. The Gestapo man gave me a quizzical stare.
"Why are you breathing so hard, hey?"
"I don’t know."
"Has anybody hurt you?"
"No, sir."
The troopers grinned. Inspector Radam sat erect on the paillasse and stared at me.
"Was Jan Templin your friend?" he demanded.
"What happened to him?"
"He’s dead."
"He died after we arrested him?"
"I believe so."
"And Fritz Lux, where’s he?"
"Also dead."
"That’s right. And Hellmann?"
"Dead, too."
"And Wildinger?"
"I don’t know."
"He’s dead," said Inspector Radam, a sardonic smile on his lips. "Dead and gone."
He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and passed them around. All the guards were smoking now. Radam stood up and pushed his face into mine.
"Tell me all about the murders you committed," he said with sudden ferocity.
"I’ve committed no murders."
"Don’t talk like a lawyer."
"I’m no murderer."
"Clout the bastard," said Radam. "Take off his pants and clout him."
The troopers ripped away my trousers and shackled my hands to the bars of the window. Then they hit me until a trickle of blood ran down my legs. At first I moaned. I gritted my teeth and tried to think how big my hatred was, but the moaning came any­way. The blows were like the strokes of a whipsaw biting deeper and deeper into the flesh.
Things began to whirl around my head. The walls, the bars of the window, the cot, Radam, my manacled hands. The floor rushed up and gyrated in a jumble of black and red clouds.
"Everything is going to hell," I thought. The nearness of oblivion gave me a remote feeling of happiness. But then I heard a distant voice:
A basin of water was dumped over my head like a steel helmet. They unshackled me. Again I stood in the center of the cell. From the hips down I was naked. The blood between my toes was get­ting sticky.
"The murders," said Radam.
"Tell me about the murders."
"I don’t understand. No, no murders."
Radam rose to his feet and poked a stubby finger at my throat.
"Listen," he said, "you think you’re tough. I can tell you the names of the toughest comrades in the land and how they got soft, oh, so soft and tractable. Thought they were tough, but they were not. Those who don’t get soft, are dead, you see? Do you think you’re tough, hey?"
"No, I’m not tough."
"Well, then don’t lie like a newspaper, tell us the truth."
"I’m telling the truth."
"That’s fine. Did you ever hang from a ceiling—heels up and head down?"
"It makes honest men out of liars. Do you recall the nineteenth of May? Do you remember the murder? The one you planned? The murder you’re responsible for?"
"I don’t remember. There was no murder."
Inspector Radam bared his teeth. "We’ll boil you," he drawled. "You are a fanatic. Look how he grits his jaw. It’ll take a bit longer than usual, but we’ll boil you. That’s certain."
He blew the smoke of his cigarette into my face. His gray-green eyes shone hard and bright.
He continued quietly, "Here’s your choice. Either you confess. Then your head will come off. One stroke with the big ax. Ssst! Like that. Quick! But till then you’ve peace. Or you don’t confess. Then we’ll take the meat off your bones, inch by inch, gently, and you’ll howl, and you’ll die anyhow."
Alone in such a cell a man does not think. I had no thought and no conscious will to keep alive. There was only a dark, overpower­ing urge inside—hate. "Hate him or you’re lost!"
"Roll in the phonograph," Radam ordered.
Two troopers brought a phonograph and some records. For thirty seconds the door of the cell was open and I saw the faces of Elite Guards peer in at me from the gloomy hallway. Harsh commands rang in from the yard. "Lauf , du Drecksack! [44] Run faster!"
Radam grasped my hair and jerked my head backward. "Head up. In five more minutes you’ll be a cripple." Then, turning to the troopers: "What are you playing?"
"The Blue Danube."
"Not loud enough," said Radam. "Better play a good, loud march. Play the Fredericus Rex."
"All right."
Radam pushed his knee into my abdomen. "We’re gentle souls," he muttered. "We don’t like to hurt anybody, unless we have to. When we think a man knows something and won’t talk—what else shall we do, what? I am going to give you one more chance. You know what crushed kidneys are like? They make you piss blood to the end of your days. You know, it’s hard luck to piss blood all the time. So I think you’ll tell me now how you organized that murder."
"I’ve organized no murder."
"Are you sure?"
"I’m sure."
"Don’t be funny. I’m going to make you wish you’d never been born. After that you can join the gents in the cool earth." Radam tapped the concrete floor with his toes. "A select company! Some got broken necks and the others have no heads."
The troopers laughed.
Radam said: "This bastard is sullen. Clout him. Clout the holy ghost out of him."
"The phonograph is busted," a trooper reported. "They’ll hear him scream."
"Then tie a towel round his head," Radam directed, "and jam a steel helmet over his face, and then all you fellows sing. Let him yell to his heart’s content."
They tied a dirty towel around my head and clapped a steel helmet over my face and threw me to the floor, face down. Radam bent down. "Tell me about the murder," he growled. I shouted something. I do not know what I shouted.
"Clout the bastard. Put a wet towel over him and clout him!" I heard them soak a towel under the faucet. They stretched the towel taut over my back. Then the troopers sang.

"Am Brunnen vor dem Tore,
Da steht ein Lindenbaum;
lch träumt in seinem Schatten
So manchen sü-ssen Traum . . .
" [45]

The whips started to crash and waves of fire curled and slashed through every muscle. At first a man squirms and tries to sink his teeth into anything they can get hold of. Then he howls into the helmet and the shrieks pound back like thunder into his own ears. And after that he can’t scream any more. He groans . . . a long groaning intermingled with sharp gasps for air. A sonorous voice counted, ". . . seventeen . . . eighteen . . . nineteen . . ."
The troopers were singing a different song now. Their voices were slow, deep, mournful.

"Morgen-roo-ot, Morgen-roo-ot,
Leuchtest mir zum frühen Too-od."

Things went red and black again. "Twenty-four . . . twenty-five . . ." It did not hurt any more. Only my legs were out of con­trol and kicking wildly in the air. The singing voices receded as if they belonged to a detachment marching way down a long street.
A dash of cold water came ripping into the silence. My eyes were open again. First thing they saw were boots to right and left, and in between the bright yellow oxfords of Inspector Radam. I was naked and utterly weary. The brain hammered: "Tell them nothing." The blood was pounding everywhere close under my skin and my whole body seemed studded with pieces of hot iron. The electric light was turned on. Through the window I saw that it was getting dark outside. Again I stood in the center of the cell. In a corner sat a young girl behind a small table. On the table was a typewriter.
"What happened to you?" asked Radam.
"Nothing," I said.
"Did anybody hurt you?"
"So nobody hurt you?"
"Nobody hurt me."
"All right," said Radam, turning to the typist. "Write: Everything I am saying now I offer voluntarily and of my own accord. I am making this confession freely, without compulsion of any sort."
The typewriter clattered.
"Is that right?" asked Radam.
"That’s right," I said.
"And you don’t remember the murder?"
"I shall assist you in refreshing your memory."
"On the nineteenth of May you were present at a conference of the leaders of the Party units of the harbor district. The leaders of detachment three of the Red Front League were also present. This conference discussed an assault against the newly-established storm troopers’ headquarters on the Schaarmarkt. This assault took place the next morning, shortly after midnight. The storm trooper Heinzelmann was stabbed to death, six others were seriously wounded. During the conference in question, you proposed that a Nazi had to be murdered in order to frighten off further attempts of the National Socialist Party to gain a foothold in the harbor dis­tricts. Right?"
The typewriter clattered while Radam spoke. It recorded question and answer.
"You were a leader of the seamen’s union?"
"You’ve fought the growing Nazi influence on the ships and on the docks?"
With each question came a swift hail of blows and kicks. "Yes."
"Told your followers to heave overboard any Nazi who might board a German ship?"
"No, I fought them in the press, by leaflets, in meetings."
"In demonstrations?"
"Yes, also in demonstrations."
"With guns and knives?"
"That’s not right."
"You’ve never shot or stabbed a storm trooper?"
"You were wise. You preferred to have your rank and file do the shooting and stabbing. You sat back in the dark, pulling the wires, and now you’re afraid of punishment, and you deny it. That’s right, yes?"
"No, I do not believe in terrorism."
"You believe in revolution?"
"Strike? Armed uprising? Revolution?"
"You were present at the meeting where it was decided to murder storm troopers?"
"Your comrades say you were."
"That’s impossible."
"Would you like some more beatings?"
"Nobody hurt you up to now?"
"Will you tell the truth?"
"Who was at the meeting besides you?"
"I don’t know."
"So you admit you were at the meeting where a murder was planned?"
"I was not there."
"Liar! . . . You’ve organized strikes?"
"Yes, I have."
"The strike in Sweden last year?"
"The strike of rivermen in France? The seizure of German ships abroad? Strikes against the swastika flag in Antwerp? In Marseilles? In Le Havre?"
"Yes . . . no."
"Were any people killed in those strikes?"
"There was some fighting with police and scabs."
Radam approached me closely. He stretched out a finger and traced a swastika in the slime of sweat, dust and blood which covered my belly.
"Some strikebreakers were killed, yes? And some workers, yes? And some policemen in Hamburg, yes? Who killed them?"
"I don’t know," I said.
"You murdered them!" snarled Radam.
"You are intellectually responsible for those murders. You’re more guilty than those who did the direct killing. You said at that meeting that storm troopers had to be murdered. That that would drive the Nazis out of the workers’ quarters. Right?"
"That’s not right."
"So you organized the strikes, but you did not do the actual killing?"
I did not answer.
"The accused is silent," said Radam. Then: “Do you believe in the thesis: ’Kill the Nazi wherever you meet him?”
"Your comrades Wollweber and Neumann originated this slogan?"
"I believe so. It was a wrong slogan."
"I believed that many Nazis could have been won over by friendly discussion, that individual violence was harmful."
"Wollweber was a communist?"
"And Neumann?"
"And you?"
"And Wollweber and Neumann propagated murder?" I did not answer.
"You wanted to win over Nazis by discussions?"
"I did."
"And those who could not be convinced had to be murdered; that was your conviction, yes?"
"Are you a pacifist?"
"So you’re a man who believes in violence. It’ll cost you your head, friend." Radam turned toward the troopers: "Take this bastard out for exercise and bring me Dettmer, Wehrenberg, Hoppe and Koopmann."
Two Elite Guards took me out into the dark yard. I was naked. They kicked me and told me to run. I ran across the yard and the Elite Guards ran beside me, and hit me with their rubber clubs, shouting: "Run faster! Faster!"
After that I stood still in the cold, with arms raised. Five minutes, ten, sixty—I do not know. I had ceased to be a man. I was a living chunk of meat without ambition, hope, will. I did what I was told to do, and only once did I fall into the snow and cry: "Finish it! Shoot me, shoot!" A shot in the back of the neck would have been sudden paradise. The troopers laughed. They slapped my face with belts. Then they made me run around the yard on all four. After that, they brought another naked man out into the snow, and stood him up, facing me.
"Do you see this fellow?" a trooper asked.
"Yes," I said.
"That’s Mr. Adam," the trooper said. "Adam and Eve." The others laughed.
"Hit him!" said the trooper.
I did not move. I could not see the features of the man in front of me. All I could see in the dark was his nakedness and his trembling knees.
"Damn you, hit him!"
I reached out and slapped the man’s face. Not hard.
An Elite Guard jumped between us and struck me violently.
"That’s how I want you to hit him," he said. "Hit him!"
I did not move. A trooper kicked me from behind.
"Hit him!"
I could hear the breathing of the naked man with the trembling knees. His head was bent slightly forward, like the head of a hanged man. I felt the sudden impact of a rubber bludgeon across my abdomen and I doubled up with pain.
"Take it easy," said a trooper. "Stand straight."
I stood straight.
"Hit him!" he commanded.
I reached out and hit the naked man in front of me. He sank to his knees and shook his head. This monstrous thing was repeated again and again, and then it was his turn to hit. He hit me many times, lightly at first, but then with astonishing force. The night was calm and the skeleton arms of the trees reached weirdly into the starlit sky. A dog barked in the distance; muffled sounds of torment and madness pranced from the hulking flank of the prison and subsided in interminable groans; the bell of the prison church rang a melancholy midnight, and a breath of air stirred the tip of the swastika flag in the beam of searchlights on the outer walls. Two naked men stood in the yard and hit each other, and from somewhere drifted the aroma of steak.
From a window sounded Radam’s voice: "Bring the bastard back!"
In the four corners of the cell stood four men, noses and toes against the wall, and beneath the window stood a fifth. As I en­tered the cell, they twisted their faces sideways to see. Their faces were gray and hollow and crusted with dirt and bristly beards. They had had no chance to wash or shave in months. I knew they were comrades. I knew that I knew them, that they were workers who had gone with me through battle and distress, and yet I was not able to recognize a single face, so much had they changed.
"Hoppe!" called Radam.
One of the men turned around. He was the harbor worker Arthur Hoppe, who had been married three weeks before the Gestapo took him between midnight and three in the morning.
"Hoppe," said Radam, pointing at me, "was this man at the meeting where the murder of Heinzelmann was planned?"
The typewriter clattered. Hoppe looked at me out of great sunken eyes.
"Yes," he mumbled, "he was there."
"Did he incite to violence?"
"I can’t remember?"
"Well think! Did he?"
"He did."
Hoppe turned his face back to the wall and his shoulders drooped.
"Wehrenberg!" Radam commanded.
A man in another corner turned around. He was the ship’s stoker Alfred Wehrenberg, a strong, tall man of thirty-five, who had been the organization chief of the Red Marines.
"Wehrenberg," Radam said, "you were at a conference where the killing of storm troopers was discussed?"
Wehrenberg nodded.
"Was this man there, too?" Radam continued, pointing at me.
Again Wehrenberg nodded.
To me the situation was monstrous and incomprehensible. Before Radam mentioned it, I had never heard of the conference. I had had nothing to do with the massacre of storm troopers on the morning of May 20, 1932, for it had been the day of the opening of the World Congress of Seamen, and I had been fully occupied with the preparations for the convention during the days preced­ing its opening. The four comrades who confronted me in the torture-cell were not traitors. I had known them as staunch and reliable fighters, though they had been at no time under my direct jurisdiction. All four had been functionaries of the military department of the Party.
"Wehrenberg," Radam said, "did this man say that storm troopers had to be killed?"
I looked straight into Wehrenberg’s face. He did not seem to see me. He was like a man in a trance. Slowly he nodded.
"Koopmann!" Radam commanded.
Comrade Koopmann also acknowledged that I had been at the murder conference.
"Now, Dettmer," Radam barked.
I looked into the face of Johnny Dettmer, the political leader of the Red Marines, who had been my comrade in the gun-run­ning enterprises and the barricade battles of 1923. I had known him as a bold-eyed stalwart, a reckless man of action who had always laughed at those who paused to count the cost. Comrade Johnny was bent forward as if his chest had been bashed in. A filthy reddish beard covered his face. Where his right eye had been, there was now a bluish-red hole. He did not wait for Radam’s question.
"No, no, no, no," he coughed. "This comrade was not at the meeting. He had nothing to do with it. And even if he had, I wouldn’t have taken my orders from him. That’s all I have to say, Commissar Radam!"
Radam pursed his thick lips. He signaled to the guards to seize Dettmer. "Limber up the bastard’s memory," he drawled.
The troopers pushed Johnny Dettmer out of the cell. They were absent many minutes. Finally returning, they carried Dett­mer between them.
"Do you remember now that you friend here was at the murder conference?" Radam asked.
Dettmer’s breath whistled painfully. "Have it your way," he gasped. "Damn you, Commissar Radam!"
"Was he there?" Radam grinned like a hunter who sees his game in line with the barrel of his gun. "Was he there?"
"All right, he was there," Dettmer growled.
A long silence followed. My four unwilling accusers stood in their corners like mummies propped upright by a joker’s hand. More troopers crowded into the cell. About me was a ring of grim young faces under black steel helmets. Painted in white on each helmet was a skeleton head and two crossed bones. The silence was broken by the clatter of the typewriter. Inspector Radam dictated: "The accused, confronted by the Schutzhaftgefangenen [47] Dettmer, Wehrenberg, Koopmann and Hoppe still persists that he had noth­ing to do with the assassination of Storm Trooper Heinzelmann. The four above-mentioned prisoners, however, stated voluntarily and in the presence of witnesses that the accused has played a lead­ing role in the meeting in which the plan to murder National Socialists was hatched." Turning to me, Radam said quietly:
"What do you say now? Are these four not your good com­rades? Are you coward enough to let them take the sole blame for a crime in which you were a partner?"
"I had nothing to do with street murders," I replied dully.
Radam went on: "With the evidence of four of your accom­plices against you, do you think the Special Tribunal will believe one word of what you say?"
"I had nothing to do with it," I repeated, almost too weak to formulate the words.
About me the troopers grumbled. Ice-cold menace was in Radam’s voice, as he drawled, "This is the last chance I am giving you. Das Spiel ist aus. The last chance, do you hear?"
"I had nothing to do with it," I said, incapable of any other thought.
The four other prisoners were led away. Again my wrists were shackled to the bars of the window. From under the cot one of the Death Head guards extracted a length of chain. He doubled it into a bight and wrapped the loose ends around his right fist.
"Ready," he said.
"Clout him," Radam ordered, "clout him to death."
Jan Templin had been beaten to death with chains. I closed my eyes and waited. I was going down, down.
"Clout him," Radam said.
In that instant I gave up the hopeless fight. I was not conscious of a decision or a definite act of will. I had suffered more than most of my comrades. I had fought with all the skill, all the tenacity, all the loyalty and hatred that was in me. I could do no more. A strange voice said clearly: "All right, I was at the meeting." A moment later I realized that it had been my own voice.
"A—ha!" Radam grunted. "So you were at the meeting?"
"Yes," I said.
My shackles were unlocked. Death Head guards placed me gently on the cot. Someone handed me a cup of strong coffee. Someone else stuck a cigarette between my lips and struck a match. I smoked ravenously; nothing else mattered.
Inspector Radam dictated in a subdued voice and the typewriter rattled at high speed. I could not hear what he said. I heard him mention my name repeatedly, but that was all. A trooper asked me if I wanted a sandwich. Another trooper inquired whether I wished to write a letter. I did not answer them. I smoked cigarette after cigarette, drank coffee and cold water, and rested. The noise of the typewriter ceased suddenly.
"Please step over here," Radam said.
He thrust a pen into my hand and indicated several typewritten sheets on the table.
"Sign your name under each sheet, please."
I was unable to read the text of the "confession" I was signing. The letters danced and the lines swirled toward me and receded. I took the pen and signed. In a last futile gesture of resistance I strove to make my handwriting as different from my usual signa­ture as I possibly could. When I was about to sign the last sheet, Radam intervened.
"Wait a minute," he said, "this is the end of your statement. Write: ’I have read this myself and have found the contents cor­rect.’ Then sign your full name."
I wrote: "Selbst gelesen and für richtig befunden.
"Now sign your name."
I signed.
Radam grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously.. "Now, there’s a sensible fellow," he rumbled. "Any time you want to tell me more, just ask the guard on duty to telephone."
I was led back to my cell. The first pale light of dawn welled up in the eastern sky. I was not put in irons. I received clean sheets and clean blankets and a package of tobacco.
"Sleep as long as you like," the tier guard said. "When you’ve slept enough, bang on the door. We’ll give you a bath and a haircut, and a shave, too."
Sleep would not come.


TEN DAYS AFTER MY NIGHT OF DEFEAT I was transferred from Camp Fuhlsbüttel to Camp Papenburg in the moorlands near the Dutch frontier. Fuhlsbüttel was so overcrowded with men and women who were being broken by the Gestapo that prisoners were forced to camp in the corridors of the cell-blocks. The Papenburg camps—there were five in all, with about eight thousand inmates—were filled with political prisoners who had "confessed" and were awaiting trial before the Special Tribunals.
The Gestapo had more prisoners to transport than it could accommodate in the available prison trains. On the way to Papen­burg, the human freight of my train was lodged for one night in a camp near Worpswede, and another night in Oslebshausen, the central prison of the Weser country. More than half of the prisoners in Camp Worpswede, in the Heath of Lüneburg, were Nazi storm troopers, adherents of Captain Röhm’s program of a "second revolution." I spoke to some of these troopers, at night, in a crowded barrack. They represented the most radical and brutal element in the Hitler movement. Unauthorized looting of shops and other violations of discipline had landed them in protective custody. Rough-housing among themselves and the practice of homosexuality seemed to be their favorite occupations. After three days of traveling, I and about a hundred other prisoners arrived at Papenburg, a small town on the lower course of the River Ems.
The country around Papenburg is perhaps the loneliest and most desolate in Germany. A dreary expanse of moorlands stretched away to the horizon. The ground was soggy, the houses of the poor peat peasants crouched low over the ground, as if they were ashamed of their dismal existence. Everywhere black swamps abounded. As our train pulled in, the station swarmed with Death Head guards.
"All out!"
We lined up on the station platform. The guards received us with jeers and kicks. Anyone who was better dressed than the run of unfortunates became the object of particular cruelty.
We marched through the streets of Papenburg to the hooting of the local Nazis. Among us were workers, professional men, a few white-collar workers, and a brigade of sailors carrying their sea bags over their shoulders. Soon we struck out through open moorlands. After three hours of uninterrupted marching, we arrived at the camp: a conglomeration of long, low barracks behind a triple fence of barbed wire. The prisoners were counted. Names were called. Each man, after receiving an introductory kick, was given a pick and a shovel, and assigned a place in one of the barracks.
Life in Camp Papenburg gave me little time to think. We were roused at five in the morning, and an hour later, in company formation, we marched out to work. We dug ditches to drain the swamps. We worked from seven until five, with an hour for lunch from the field kitchen. By six in the evening we were back in the barracks, dirty, exhausted, and longing for sleep. At night, after the evening count, we were left in peace. The proximity of the Dutch frontier caused many prisoners to attempt escape. Few succeeded. On the flat terrain, the majority fell under the bullets of the sentries. Each week an average of three prisoners were shot while trying to escape. The names of the dead were read to us at the morning roll call. Those who were caught alive received thirty strokes with the Nilpferdpeitsche [48] . The floggings took place in the mornings, before breakfast, in the open court-yard, with all prisoners mustered to witness the punishment.
The Sundays, on which we remained idle in the camp, were frightening. The Death Head guards were bored with their routine. They cursed the lack of amusements and girls, and they blamed us—the prisoners—for their deprivations. On Sunday morning the guards had military practice. They were instructed in sharpshooting, bayonet attacks, defense against bombing, tank assaults, and a series of civil-war maneuvers. The latter included: "How to stop a railway train," "How to disperse a rebellious mob," "House raid," "Arrest of an action committee," "Transport of prisoners," "How to storm a barricade," and others. Invariably prisoners were summoned to play the role of the suffering parties. These maneuvers ended at noon. And by three o’clock in the after­noon every Death Head guard in the camp was drunk enough to embark on a private rampage. Their best-liked Sunday afternoon play included the staging of tournaments between the prisoners and vicious dogs, and the forcing of prisoners to cover their genitals with black shoe polish. A special pastime was to force a prisoner to sit on a small barrel which the guards then endeavored to shoot from under him.
During my stay in Papenburg two bestial murders were committed by the guards, probably on orders from the Gestapo. One night a middle-aged Jew, a physician from Bielefeld, was called out of the barrack. We all liked him, because he was an excellent chess player, though he never talked about himself or the cause of his arrest. Hours passed; the doctor did not return. Next morning the Sturmführer [49] informed us in his barking voice that the Jew had been found hanging from a rafter in the latrine. Cynically, he detailed two men to clean the latrine. The latrine had no rafters, because it had no roof. But the comrades who cleaned it found the rough wooden walls spattered with blood. The doctor from Biele­feld had not committed suicide.
The second murder was committed in broad daylight, while we were at work. The victim was a former police official of Altona, a Social Democrat named Heinrich Kessel. He was accused of having shot and killed a storm trooper while he, Kessel, was still in the service of the police. The leading Death Head guard of the Arbeitskommando [50] made Kessel stand on a mound of earth and shout a hundred times: "I am a murderer!" Then Kessel was chased around a wide circle of guards. In front of each guard he stopped, lowering his pants. Each guard gave Kessel three strokes with, his rubber club. Following this, the chief of the guards ordered the tortured man to "run toward Holland." Kessel was too battered, too frightened to think. He ran. Before he had run fifty yards, an Elite Guard raised his carbine and shot the running man through the back of the head.

One morning, in the second week of April, the camp commander’s clerk shouted my name. I sprang to attention.
"Get ready to leave," I was told. "You’re going to Hamburg for trial.”
"The hour of the verdict is at hand," I told myself, and was glad of it.
I was brought to the vast courthouse prison on Hamburg’s Sievekingsplatz. There I was assigned to a cell on the ground floor, on the Totenreihe—"Dead Men’s Row—which harbored the Gestapo’s candidates for death. The walls of the cell bore the scribblings of men who had been there before me, men who now lay in their graves, or in the dungeons, condemned to many years of hard labor. "We never die!" one inscription read, and another: "We are still the architects of the future. Red Front!" "Dead Men’s Row" was closely guarded. Every few minutes the eyes of a guard appeared at the little spy-hole in my cell door. The cells on the Totenreihe all bore the sign: "Sachen herausnehmen. Nacht­licht. [51]" All night the electric lights were left burning. Every evening all my clothes were taken away from me for the night.
The trial before the Special Tribunal began the morning after my arrival in Hamburg. There were fifty-three in my party of defendants. All of them, except myself, were former functionaries of the Red Marines of the Hamburg area, accused of many specific counts of terrorism against the storm troops and the Hitler Youth. We sat huddled on benches, row on row, in the center of the large court room. A Death Head guard sat between each pair of prisoners. To the left, in a separate enclosure, were the lawyers’ benches; one Nazi lawyer had been appointed to "defend" each group of five prisoners. To the right of us sat an array of Nazi officials, some in civilian clothes, the majority in glittering uniforms. Among them I recognized Fiebelkorn, the supreme chief of the Hamburg storm troops; Karl Kaufmann, Hitler’s special commissar for the Hamburg district; Wilhelm Bohle, the head of the Foreign Division of the Nazi Party, and many others: Elite Guard chieftains, Gestapo men, police officers, a representative of the Reichswehr, Inspector Radam and Hertha Jens. Behind us, the court room was packed with the wives of Nazi functionaries and the relatives of slain storm troopers. Lining the walls, Elite Guards stood shoulder to shoulder, all of them heavily armed. In front was the judges’ bench. Above it hung a portrait of Adolf Hitler against the background of a huge swastika flag.
There was a sudden commotion. All around us the Nazis rose to their feet, their arms outstretched in the Hitler salute. The guards on the prisoners’ benches prodded the ribs of their charges. "On your feet, you murderers!" We rose slowly. Through a carved oaken side door three judges filed in. They wore the swastika insignia on their black robes. They faced the assembly, raised their arms stiffly, and then sat down. Not one of the prisoners had given the Nazi salute. The trial began. Court attendants spread a large accumulation of weapons over two large tables. They were the arms which had been confiscated from the arsenal of the Red Marines, pistols of all makes and calibers, a dozen service carbines, an assortment of knives and daggers, thirteen hand-grenades and two light army machine-guns.
The trial dragged on for weeks. Day after day we sat on the prisoners’ benches, a cadaverous crew of outcasts surrounded by all the symbols of Hitler power. The Prosecuting Attorney, a tall, thin, pale-faced man named Jauch, dominated the hearings. His hatred for us was undisguised. His eyes flashed and his colorless lips drew back in snarls as he demanded death, and nothing but death. Each day the Nazi press blew into the same horn. The head­lines dubbed us the "choicest band of assassins" that ever populated a German court room. Epithets like "sadists," "Asiatic killers," "bloodthirsty wire-pullers," "traitorous vermin," and many others were hurled into our faces day after day. The witnesses, of course, were nearly all Gestapo agents and storm troopers. The fathers and mothers of the slain Nazis made speeches clamoring for the blood of the slayers of their sons.
Johnny Dettmer fought like a Berserker. "If I had two guns in my hands," he declared on one occasion, "I’d be the Red judge at this trial, and the accused would be you, the Brown Pest!" The stoker Wehrenberg accused Gestapo witnesses of perjury. A com­rade named Arthur Schmidt, the young adopted son of Edgar André, shouted at the judges: "Here is the worker Arthur Schmidt. You can kill him, but you cannot kill his spirit!" The answer of the court to such disturbances was always the same: "Hold your tongue! Don’t forget your place. The Dimitrov method will not work here!"
The sensation of the trial, for me, was the moment when Dett­mer, Wehrenberg, Hoppe and Koopmann retracted their state­ments that I had been present at the fateful leaders’ conference of the Red Marines. They accused Inspector Radam of having com­pelled them, under threat of death, to incriminate me in the planning of terroristic acts. Two of the few witnesses who were not Nazis, my former chief, Albert Walter, and a trade union militant named Erich K., swore that I had been fully occupied with the Seamen’s Congress during the nineteenth day of May, 1932, the date of the "murder conference." Nevertheless, Prosecuting Attorney Jauch demanded for me, as for many others, the penalty of death.
Came the day on which sentence was pronounced. The court room was crammed with the Nazi elite. The faces of the prisoners were pale and tense. The curtain was ready to fall. Life was at an end. We rose in sullen silence as the judges marched to their fauteuils. We remained standing while the sentences were read. First came the death sentences. I held my breath. There were nine. My name was not among them. Then came the convictions to imprisonment for life, to fifteen years, fourteen years, thirteen years, twelve years, eleven years. . . . As yet the president of the Special Court had not mentioned my name. Then it came. "Found guilty of conspiring to halt by violence the progress of the German Revolution—ten years of hard labor: Zuchthaus. [52]" A string of lesser sentences followed. Nine of my comrades had been condemned to death. Seven had received life sentences. One prisoner had died during the trial. Another had been transferred to a lunatic asylum. The rest of us shared together 350 years of imprisonment.
The trial had ended. The Death Head guards clamped irons over our wrists. The Nazi womenfolk in the rear cheered merrily. Prosecuting Attorney Jauch beamed amidst a group of reporters. The stoker Alfred Wehrenberg climbed on a bench. "Farewell, comrades!" he cried. He was among the nine whose heads would fall under the ax. Young Arthur Schmidt, also condemned to death, raised his right fist. "We shall be avenged!" he shouted hoarsely. "Our children will play under red banners while Hitler will rot to feed the worms. Red Front! Red Front! Red—"
The fist of a Death Head guard smashed squarely into comrade Schmidt’s face.

A few days after the termination of the trial, which went down in history as the Rote Marine Prozess or the Prozess Adler Hotel (the name of one of the scenes of terrorist assaults), I was awakened by a guard at dawn. It was the nineteenth of May, 1934, the day preceding Whitsunday. I was led into the yard.
"What’s up?" I asked the guard.
"Don’t ask questions," he retorted curtly.
I marched through the yard to a fairly broad alley which ran between the outer wall and the prison hospital. There, lined up against the wall, I saw about forty of my comrades who had been convicted in the trial of the Red Marines. Their faces were stony, their eyes wide open and staring. They stood motionless, under heavy guard.
"Stand in this line," I was ordered, "and don’t move."
I stood in line. My eyes wandered. I was trying to find a reason for this early morning excursion. Suddenly my eyes struck some­thing that made me freeze with horror. Halfway down the alley stood a low scaffold. It was painted a light green. Beside the scaf­fold stood four long baskets the size of coffins, and a large bin filled with sawdust. A thick layer of sawdust was distributed around the scaffold. I knew then that this was execution day. The air was clear and the sky was clear. Birds twittered in the fresh green of the trees outside the walls. The first rays of the rising sun sparkled on the roofs of the prison buildings. From the top of the highest tower floated a great swastika flag. We stood in silence. Death Head guards came and went. Minutes passed, and to me each minute was an hour. The countenances of my fellow-prisoners, which had seemed at first devoid of all expression, now expressed disbelief, stifled rage, anxiety and gnawing fear.
A mass of people tramped through the yard. There were the judges of the Special Tribunal and Prosecutor Jauch, all wearing cutaways and top hats. There was Inspector Radam, grinning nervously and chatting with colleagues from the Gestapo. They were followed by a long train of storm troop officers and Elite Guards. The youngsters were plainly concerned with giving their faces a martial cast; but apprehension and curiosity showed through their grim masks. Then another straggling group crossed the yard—the fathers and brothers of storm troopers who had fallen in the skirmishes for power. All these people took up positions in the alley, on both sides of the light green scaffold.
Last to come was the headsman, a chunky individual with a big-boned face and dull brown eyes. He showed complete emotional indifference to the task ahead of him. He, too, wore a stiff white shirt, striped trousers, a cutaway and a top hat. In a barely audible voice he issued orders to his four assistants. One of them darted into a side door of the prison hospital. Several seconds later he emerged with the ax. Formerly a guillotine had been used to chop off heads, but Hitler had discarded the guillotine as a French invention. The hand-ax had again come into its right. It had a handle of polished wood, perhaps four feet long. The ax was broad and heavy. Its back was a solid square of shining steel. The headsman’s assistant placed it into a rack of metal and leather, a yard away from the scaffold. Prosecutor Jauch produced papers from a briefcase. The row of prisoners along the wall seemed to sway; but, perhaps, it was only my eyes which swayed. The headsman was ready now.
The first to be led from his cell was Johnny Dettmer. Marching between two guards, he wore the striped convict garb. He looked at the sky, at the tree-tops, and he swung his legs as if he enjoyed the morning saunter. They brought him to a halt in front of the Prosecutor. Jauch mumbled, hardly glancing up from his paper. I saw then for the first time that a clergyman was in the assembly. The clergyman was a little man in black, wearing the swastika badge.
"Go to hell," Dettmer told him in a loud voice.
Cries came from the many cell windows: "Good-by, Johnny!" —"Long live the revolution!"—"Nieder mit Hitler! [53]" Cries of rage and cries of terror. When the headsman’s assistant seized Johnny Dettmer, our comrade fought wildly. He fought silently, with all his strength. But his hands were shackled on his back. Guards tied his ankles together and strapped him in upright position to a board. The board was swung to a horizontal position. Johnny’s head protruded over the edge of the board. Beneath the head was a basket half full of sawdust.
"Farewell, Johnny," I thought. "Don’t fight any more. Please stop. Try to die easily. You were a good fighter. Good-by, Johnny, good-by, good-by," Most eyes were tearless. They were wide open and dry and staring. Before I could realize what was happening, the headsman raised his ax over Comrade Dettmer’s head. He did not strike. He simply let it fall on Johnny’s neck. Then, with an easy motion, he drew the blade toward him, and stepped back. Johnny Dettmer’s head fell into the basket.
For a second or two the headless body twitched. Blood ran into the sawdust. The watchers were silent. The headsman’s assistants unstrapped the corpse and threw it into one of the basket coffins. Others washed the board and swung it back again to an upright position. The clergyman mumbled a prayer. The hangman picked up the lifeless head and placed it gently between the thighs of the headless body. Then four guards carried the basket into the basement of the prison hospital. The attendants had hardly covered the blood with a new layer of sawdust when the next man was led out from "Dead Men’s Row."
He was Herrman Fischer, a short, taciturn, courageous man, who, in the 1923 barricade-fighting in Hamburg, had been the leader of the First Red Hundred. Fischer looked neither to right nor left. He pushed the clergyman aside and walked straight up to the scaffold. When the headsman raised the ax, Fischer shrugged his shoulders.
"What a theater!" were his last words.
Fred Wehrenberg, the stoker, was the third. He walked ahead of the guards, singing in his ringing voice:
"Brüder, zur Sonne, zur Freiheit . . ." (Brothers, toward sun­shine, toward freedom . . .)
Confronting the Prosecutor, he stopped his singing. As Dr. Jauch read out the sentence, Fred Wehrenberg roared into his face: "Long live the Soviet Union! Long live Soviet Germany!" He roared until the headsman’s steel cut through his voice. In the row of watching prisoners, two men had collapsed. Guards dragged them back to their cells. From one of the barred little windows a high voice shouted continuously: "Revenge! Revenge!"
Last to die of this group was Arthur Schmidt. As he walked across the yard, it seemed as if he would break down. His knees wobbled, and the guards reached out to support him. In front of Arthur Schmidt, the blood showed through the now foot-thick layer of sawdust. He saw the blackish-red patches, he saw the one remaining basket coffin, the wet scaffold and the blinking ax, and he halted abruptly.
"The others are dead?" he asked.
No one answered him.
"Your head will roll, too," he said to Prosecutor Jauch, straightening in sudden defiance. Then they strapped him to the board.
Arthur Schmidt was talking to himself: "All men must die sometim . . . I die for the proletariat. . . . They can kill the worker Arthur Schmidt, but they can’t kill his spirit . . ." At the last moment, he shouted, "Mutter, Mutter!" (mother, mother.)
The ax fell. It was too much. The wall reared up and the build­ing plunged before my eyes. I heard an Elite Guard reading off the names of murdered storm troopers. As he called out each name of the dead, the assembly of Nazis in the prison yard answered it in a staccato roar.
"Storm Trooper Heinzelmann?"
"Here!" the guards roared in unison.
I reeled and fell. When I awoke, I was back in my cell.

Six weeks after the death and imprisonment of the Red Marines I still lay in solitary confinement in the courthouse jail. May passed, June went by, and the yards sweltered in the heat of July. "Why did they not transfer me to a penitentiary?" I wondered. I was alone in my cell. I was given no work. I could write no letters and received none. I had nothing to read. I heard next to nothing of what was going on in the outside world. I heard prison sounds, the banging of doors, the rapid footsteps of running men, and the cursing of the guards. Day and night the dripping faucet in my cell seemed’ to snicker derision. The green of the trees became darker, and the birds had ceased their morning concerts. On several mornings, lying awake on my cot, I heard the now familiar sounds of executions—the cries of defiance, the yells from the cell windows, and the raucous chorus of the Death Head guards.
On the night of June 30, and during the two following nights, the yards were in an uproar. Motor lorries thundered, barked commands ripped through the darkness, and in the early mornings the whole prison reverberated with the noise made by firing squads. I wondered what the meaning of these fusillades could be. The guillotine and the ax were more silent and discreet. It was as if I had been forgotten. To pass the long hours, I did gymnastics, I analyzed my past, tried to remember all the books I had read, and carried on imaginary conversations in German and English, and at times in Spanish and French. There were hours in which I saw my whole past life as one gigantic and miserable mistake, but I shied away from such insight, and defeated it deliberately by intoxicating myself with the concepts of Bolshevist duty and pride. At night, I had the feeling of being buried alive. Dreams continued to harass me; they were dreams of struggle and escape, and the struggles ended in defeat and escapes in deadly frustration. As a rule, a man in prison makes plans for the future: plans of glory and adventure and delights to come. I forced myself to build no castles in the air. There was no future.
One afternoon, early in July, I had an unexpected visitor. The key in the door rattled, the bolts were pushed back, and I jumped to attention. Rudolf Heitman, the G.P.U. operative in the Gestapo, entered my cell. An elderly guard was on duty. Heitman sent him away.
"Sit down," Heitman told me, "take it easy. Should anyone come into the cell, remember: I am here to have you identify a certain photograph."
I fought the urge to throw my arms around Heitman’s neck. "Tell me," I gasped. "What is new?"
"The same old routine," muttered Heitman. "Hitler is here for good. As for revolution—who believes in it? Perhaps we will have to come to terms with the Brown Pest."
"What was all the shooting in the yards some nights ago?" I asked.
"Forty storm troop officers were sent to Walhalla. Brigadeführer Fiebelkorn and his crowd. Röhm and Heines were shot in Munich. General Schleicher and Karl Ernst and a lot of others were massacred in Berlin. A first-rank mass liquidation of the ’second revolution’ boys. No, Hitler has the rudder firmly in hand. Himmler supervised the slaughter. The whole Elite Guard and the Gestapo lay ready with machine guns, in case the Brown-shirts would get the idea to start something. You fellows in the prisons are lucky."
"If Röhm and Heines had taken the cake," Heitman said "they’d have lined you all up against the walls and mowed you down with machine guns. Dead men cost no money."
"Through whom was I captured?" I demanded. "Who was the spy?"
Heitman shrugged his square shoulders. "That’s just what I wanted to ask you," he muttered. "I’m not close enough to the Foreign Division to see the light. Copenhagen is raising hell—close to nine hundred arrests in the harbor in nine months. Our courier ships are searched, our depots raided. We’ve unmasked a lot of spies, but not the one responsible for that fiasco. I’ve heard that you had a bitter time in Fuhlsbüttel. Inspector Kraus has standing orders from Berlin to exterminate communism from shipping. Lucky for you that Kraus is so busy. He’s the worst of the hellions —he and that man-eating bitch of his."
"Why is Hertha Jens still alive?"
"Ask me! She practically lives in Gestapo headquarters. But our good friends are working on the problem. She’ll have her vacation in August. Should she spend it abroad . . ." Rudolf Heitman drew his stubby forefinger across his throat. "Lights out for Hertha," he added.
"Who is on the job?"
"I don’t know," Heitman said.
"Don’t worry. Paul Kraus’s bitch-baby will get what’s coming to her."
"What happened to Cilly?"
"She played a high-class comedy," Heitman chuckled. "She gave away nothing. She said you hypnotized her and seduced her, and after that she was in your power. Don’t forget the item. Don’t spoil her game when you come to trial."
"Yes, you’re going to have another trial. High treason. Kraus suspects a lot, but there’s very little he really knows. You’re lucky he’s so busy; works day and night. He’s sending spies out wholesale. The Foreign Division opened a special spy school right after Christmas. They teach their boys everything, from safe-cracking to Oxford English. But never mind that. Just keep tight."
Heitman pulled out his service automatic. With it he scratched his scalp. "Get me pencil and paper," I suggested. "I want to put a report through to Copenhagen."
"Good you mentioned it first," Heitman said. "I was waiting for it. It’s what I came for. I’ll leave you writing material here. Write it tonight. Can you write in the dark?"
"No handwriting, Print your letters."
"All right."
Heitman handed me a block of note-paper and three pencil stubs, which I secreted in the inside of my reeking paillasse. I noticed that he was getting somewhat nervous. Heitman worked for money. He was regarded as reliable because he knew that his life was at the mercy of the Comintern.
"Never fear," I calmed him. "If anything goes wrong, they’ll never learn who gave me the pencils."
We had spoken in whispers. Once in a while, for the benefit of the guards in the corridors, Heitman broke out in vile abuse. Equally often he produced a flask and gulped cognac.
"I have to keep drinking all the time," he said. "If I don’t, I’ll go loony."
Soon he departed. I was as excited as if I had pumped myself full of absinthe. Cilly had told them nothing. Hertha Jens was, perhaps, going to her doom, going the way Ilia Raikoff—The Ox —had gone. Martin Holstein. . . . At the thought of his name, I winced. Holstein had not been taken. Was Holstein the spy? I brushed the suspicion aside. I had known Holstein too long to doubt his loyalty. Röhm was dead. Heines was dead. Fiebelkorn and many others of the Brown brigands were dead. I was hot with a grim satisfaction. "Ha-ha-ha," I laughed inwardly. "They are dead and you are still alive."
Late that night, when all was still, I wrote my report for the Western Secretariat. I wrote feverishly, wary to catch the footsteps of approaching night guards. They had a custom of sneaking along the tiers on rubber soles, and of suddenly switching on the light and bursting into a cell. Next morning Rudolf Heitman came again. He remained only a few seconds, long enough for me to give him my report. I was happy then. I had broken the ring of isolation. I had pierced the wall of loneliness and suffocation which had been around me for two hundred interminable days. I remembered Wollweber’s parting growl: "The Party does not forget its children." It was true! The Comintern had found its way into my solitary confinement to shake my hand.
Only at the end of the day did I recall with a dismal feeling that I had forgotten to ask Heitman about Firelei; I could have in­cluded a letter for her in my report. I cursed myself for a disloyal idiot. It had seemed to me that Firelei was unattainably far away —as far away as Sirius. "Perhaps," I thought, "she has found a good comrade to be her lover." We had granted each other that freedom when we parted. I revolted at my own thought. Firelei was somehow not far away any more. She was close to me. All night I could not sleep. I thought of Firelei. In the darkness, be­tween the stifling wall, I saw her many moods. At the very last she sang the beautiful, the sad song, "Fahrewohl, du grüne Erde . . ." [54] A jeering clangor interrupted her. It was the morning bell. Daylight hovered in the cell, and a small square of sunlight crossed by black lines crawled over the wall near the ceiling.

At the end of July I was haled again before a Special Tribunal. This time it was the court which dealt with high treason cases.
Instead of three judges, there were five. I saw Cilly again. She sat on the Sünderbank [55] three yards away from me. She looked as cool and elegant as ever, but pale and a little thinner. But as soon as the judges entered the court room, she played the role of a frightened girl that had been debauched and misused by a Bolshevist emissary who had made her believe that he was the journalist Williams from London. She played her comedy superbly. I admitted that I had induced Cilly to become my willing tool. On all other questions I refused to give answers. The trial lasted four hours. The reporters of the Nazi press almost ignored me; their interest was concentrated on the "woman in the case." One of the witnesses of the defense was the Danish consul in Hamburg. I guessed that he had been drafted by Richard Jensen. He testified that Cilly, who had been his secretary in earlier years, had never had the slightest contact with the Comintern. Another witness, summoned by the Prosecutor, was the consul-general of the Soviet Union. He was a comrade and a friend. He sauntered into the court room with his hands in his pockets. The Nazi judges were irked by the Russian’s casual behavior.
"Are you the Russian consul?" the presiding judge, Dr. Roth, snapped.
"No," said the consul.
"Well, who are you?"
"I am the consul-general of the Soviet Union," he replied.
The judge produced several photographs. They showed German communists, including myself, saluting the Soviet banner. The pictures had been taken in Leningrad during the German shipping strike of 1931.
"Can you identify any of the men who are standing here under the Red rag?" the judge asked.
"Der rote Lappen?" (The Red Rag?) the consul said slowly. "I regret."
Without a further word, he turned on his heel and walked out of the court room.
The judges deliberated for two hours. They had not sufficient proof to sentence me under the new high treason laws, and I had admitted nothing of a political nature. Nevertheless they sentenced me—not under the Nazi laws, but under the Republikschutzgesetz, the "law for the protection of the Weimar Republic!" I received three years in prison—the maximum sentence under the old law— for "preparation of treasonable enterprise." Mechanically I thought: "Three plus ten make thirteen." The presiding judge regretted that the Gestapo had not supplied sufficient incriminating material to warrant a death sentence for high treason. In his concluding speech, he branded me as an "exceptionally dangerous enemy of the New Germany." I was jubilant.
My terrible battles in Gestapo headquarters and in Camp Fuhlsbüttel had not been fought in vain. Cilly had succeeded in duping the five judges of the Special Tribunal; through her marriage, she had acquired Danish citizenship, and her release was vigorously demanded by the Danish press and the government in Copenhagen. They gave her seven months for "perhaps unconsciously assisting in the preparation of a treasonable enterprise."
After the trial, we were led back to prison. At the barred steel gate which separated the women’s ward from the section for male prisoners, I suddenly turned and grasped Cilly’s hand.
"When you are released, give Firelei my greetings," I said. Tears were in Cilly’s eyes. "Be sure I will," she answered. I wanted to say more, but the guards tore us apart.
Shortly after my second trial I was transferred to the Hamburg penitentiary, a modern prison adjoining Camp Fuhlsbüttel. 1 was stripped naked and my body was examined, first by a prison official, who searched for hidden contraband, and then by a physician. The doctor decreed that I should remain for one month in the prison hospital to recuperate. I left the hospital at the end of August, greatly restored. I received the regular prison clothing—a black cotton uniform, a neck cloth and a pair of old boots. No prisoner received socks. No heavier garments were issued for the winter months. Political prisoners wore a yellow stripe around their right sleeve; those convicted of criminal offenses wore a green stripe, and those who had been sterilized or castrated wore a blue stripe. Again I was in solitary confinement.
During the first months, I attempted to keep track of time. But more and more I followed a natural craving to forget the meaning of time. Time had ceased to have significance. Time was a fraud. I detested the Sundays, for then the church-bells rang with malev­olent insistence, as if to mark time. Twenty minutes each day I was taken into the yard for exercise. Then I and thirty-odd other prisoners from my tier ran around the yard in single file, keeping a distance of twenty feet between each other. Speaking was prohibited. The remaining one thousand four hundred and twenty minutes of each day I lived in the solitude of my cell. Breakfast and supper consisted of two slices of dry black bread; the midday meal consisted of a liter of soup. I ate in my cell. The food was thrust through a small aperture in the steel door. I was always hungry. I had known the meaning of hunger before, but never had I hungered like this. Occasionally strange-looking foods were handed to me, and I was ordered to eat them. They were Ersatz, food substitutes which were tried out on prisoners before they were offered to the population outside.
Ten hours each weekday I worked, plucking hunks of old rope into oakum. First the ropes had to be separated into strands. The strands had to be beaten against the stone floor to loosen the rope-yarns. Then each rope-yarn was plucked apart by hand. The dust flew thickly. At the end of a day’s work, the whole cell was covered with a layer of dust. Three kilos of oakum were the day’s task. The prisoner who was unable to produce them received half-rations of bread for breakfast and supper. I had books to read. Every Sunday morning I received a book. The books were distributed by the prison pastor, who was a Nazi of the Prussian school. It was he who decided what each prisoner should read. For reasons of his own, he persisted in plying me with ancient historical romances.
Every fortnight I was allowed to bathe. A bath lasted exactly two minutes. Undressing, hot water, soaping, cold water, towel use, and dressing—each of these performances was measured in seconds, and their execution was commanded by the guard on duty. Once each month I received a change of underwear, once a week I was shaved, and once in four weeks my hair was cut. Smoking and newspapers were taboo. Had a continent exploded, I should not have known it, unless it had been Central Europe. I was not permitted to receive visitors. Once in sixty days I was allowed to write a letter, and once each week—to receive one. The letters I was permitted could not be longer than twelve lines—and half of them were scissored away by the prison censor. But I received letters. They came from Firelei. They were beautiful letters, alive with kindness and love and courage. "You are not alone," she wrote me. "I am with you. Don’t you see? I am in your cell. I put my hand on your shoulder and I walk with you. Four steps. Turn. Four steps back. I chat with you about the unforgettable hours we have shared. I am thankful for such hours. No, no, you are not alone."
Life in solitary confinement is hard. Compared with the German prisons, San Quentin had been a pleasure resort. Sometimes I was near despair. I tried to overcome the gloomy hours by being brutal to myself. "They make life hard for you," I thought. "Very well, make it still harder yourself!" I threw bread out of the window. I produced more oakum than I was required to produce. I forced myself to stand for many minutes in painful positions. I disciplined my body and my mind. That was my triumph. Self-imposed hardships made prison hardships appear as the natural ingredients of an easy life. My greatest pleasure was to lie awake at night to let my imagination produce majestic music. I heard Carmen and Lohengrin. When the music would not come to sweep through my brain, I hummed songs for hours on end, all the folk songs I could remember, and all the battle songs of the Comintern.
I also explored my own resources. I discovered undreamt-of lands. I was never idle. I always had something to do. I could play chess with myself in the dark and without board or pieces; or I could force my mind to take me to China or Arabia or back to the ages of Alexander or Napoleon; I could resurrect the men and women I had known as if they were in the cell, live flesh and blood and voice; and I could take a dull book and spend a long Sunday translating portions of it into English or French, or training my memory by learning the dullest passages by heart. I came to the conclusion that man was a wonderful animal. I was content with my chores and explorations. As time went on, I thought less and less of the outside world. It did not exist. It was an illusion. The prison cell was the world, and the prison yard the universe.
November, 1934, brought me suffering and restlessness. Firelei’s letters had stopped coming. Each morning, when footsteps approached on the tier, I thought eagerly, "Now, there is a letter from Firelei." But the steps passed. "What has happened to her?" I asked myself. "Has she forgotten? Has she grown tired? Has she been sent away on some illegal mission? Has the Party forbidden her to write? Has she died?" I could not find an answer. The winter passed, and the spring of 1935. And no letter came. I was so lonely that I talked to the drowsy flies in my cell. "Where is Firelei?" I asked them. One day in June a butterfly meandered into my cell. I shielded it like a great treasure. "Have you come from Firelei?" I asked. It fluttered through the clouds of dust and beat its wings to shreds against the walls.

 Chapter Thirty-seven - MAN-CAGE MAGIC

THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS was a dark, thin little man with a hatchet face. Walking, he bore a great resemblance to a broken broomstick. His face was yellow, his nose hooked, his lips thin, his eyes black and piercing. The prisoners called him "Marabou." This man’s job was to harass guards and prisoners alike. It was he who determined the punishment to be inflicted for infractions of the rigid prison rules. Punishment ranged from depriving a prisoner of his privilege to write letters, or of his mattress, to the shortening of food rations and confinement in the dark-dungeons. For long periods at a time, "Marabou" would stand silently in front of a cell, watching the prisoner through the spy-hole, searching for some irregularity, for a chance to inflict punishment.
If some restless soul paced his cell during work hours, "Mara­bou" called it "passive resistance." If someone saved a piece of bread from his breakfast to consume it with his soup at noon, "Marabou" termed it "hoarding of supplies for a planned escape." If, in the heat of summer, a prisoner loosened his neck cloth, "Mara­bou" was there to avenge the violation of discipline. If a prisoner’s tin cup or his spoon lay an inch away from the spot designated for it in the printed prison regulations—that was "organized obstruction" to "Marabou." When he found a pencil stub hidden beneath a convict’s mattress, "Marabou" called it a "conspiracy to write communist pamphlets or homosexual love notes." He was always stealthy and alert and merciless. The prisoners hated him. But "Marabou" never entered a cell alone, and was always protected by a vanguard of two husky warders. At times he appeared in the yard when we were out for our exercise. "Attention!" the guards on duty would yell, and we would all stop like rocks in our tracks. "Marabou" would slink from one man to the next, searching for faults. If a button on a prisoner’s uniform was open, he would pull out a penknife and cut off the offending button and all other buttons as well. His favorite yard punishment was to have prisoners jump in and out of a huge barrel. Then his voice would crackle: "Into the barrel—out of the barrel! Into the barrel—out of the barrel!" Once each week he would surprise us and order us to strip. One crew of guards then searched our naked bodies, and another gang would go over every inch of our garments and shoes. Repeated attempts by maddened convicts to kill "Marabou" came to naught. Several of the would-be assassins were kept in chains in the cellar dungeons. Prison rumor, tapped through the walls and whispered at night from window to window, had it that these unfortunates were flogged each night by "Marabou" in person.
One day in June two guards shouldered into my cell. They were followed by "Marabou." I sprang to attention, shouting my name and number and the reason for my conviction. "Marabou" walked around me, sizing me up from all sides. His yellow hands were clasped behind his back. He was so near that I could have reached out to break his scraggy neck. I stood motionless. "Marabou" scrutinized my neck cloth. It was faultless. He squinted at my boots. They were shiny. Carefully he looked over my jacket. No button was open, no seam torn. His quick black eyes darted into every corner of my cell. He rubbed his forefinger over the floor behind the lavatory. He then looked at his finger. No dust. He ordered me to turn over my mattress, to show my eating utensils, to lower my pants to prove that I had nothing illegal hidden between my legs. Finally he said in his creaking voice: "How are you getting along?"
"Excellently, sir," I replied.
"Are you still a Kommunist?"
"No, sir."
"Well," he commented peevishly, "I can’t see what’s going on inside your head. But that’s no reason why I should believe you. I have some pictures here for you."
Out of his pocket he drew a few snapshots. They were photographs of Firelei. I lunged forward, my hand outstretched. "Marabou" snarled:
"Don’t move! Keep your fingertips glued to the seams of your pants when I speak to you."
"The pictures, sir," I said.
"They came with the letters from your wife. Nice letters she wrote you, very nice letters."
"Yes, sir."
"I cannot let you have the pictures," he said drily. The specter of a grin crept over his face. "You’ll get them when you are released. In—in how many years?"
"In twelve years," I said steadily.
"It’ll be nice to see then what your wife looked like twelve years ago," "Marabou" cackled. "People have the habit of getting older, you know. The joints get stiff and the skin flabby, and the face gets a good many lines. The lines of old age, I dare say. What did you do in the communist movement?"
"My duty, sir—as I thought it right at that time."
"Duty—aye! We all do our duty," he said.
"Yes, sir."
It gave me a wild pleasure to face him, and not to show the weakness which he craved to discern.
"Do you like solitary confinement?" "Marabou" inquired.
"Yes, sir."
"I like to be alone."
"You like it better here than in the common hall?"
"I believe I do, sir."
"Why?" he demanded harshly.
"Because it’s monotonous," I replied. "A man loses track of time, and so time flies faster."
"You live too well," "Marabou" said finally. He turned to one of the guards. "Here, take this man to Hall Nine."
"Marabou" walked off. He wore rubber soles, and it was impossible to hear him come or go. The guard ordered me to roll up my blanket and to follow him to Hall Nine.
I marched down the tier, past long rows of cell doors. The locks shone. The floor was polished. The whole prison was kept scrupulously clean. The silence was appalling; it seemed to belie the fact that nearly two thousand human beings lived behind those mute steel doors. The central hall was cool and gloomy, and there was no sign of life except the slowly floating shapes of the guards. One of them was cleaning a gun. Others paused to squint through spy-holes. The wings of the prison which harbored the solitary cells resembled more a half-dark tomb than a place full of incarcerated men, men who were month after month alone with their thoughts.
Over a narrow iron stairway I descended to the ground floor of the building. Convicts stood in long rows, their faces to the wall. There was no noise, and apparently no motion. But as I passed them I saw eyes glance furtively sideways. I saw a fair-haired boy whom I had last seen crouched on the roof of a tenement in Altona, sniping at marauding Brownshirts in the street. His shoulders twitched a salute; his hands jerked a signal: "Fifteen years." Then I passed the visitors’ room. A young woman emerged. She was neatly dressed, but her eyes were reddened; with each hand she led a child, little girls with bewildered faces.
I passed the center of the prison. Here, on a raised platform, sat two guards behind a machine gun. They were so posted that they could send streams of lead—without even rising from their seats—into any one of the five radiating wings of the prison. Ironically, the gun platform had the shape of a five-pointed star.
I passed the great bell which boomed the commands to rise, to begin work, to stop work, to eat, to undress. Ten times daily it boomed; thirty-six thousand five hundred times it would boom in ten years; and each time its booming was like a contemptuous voice and a rattling of chains. It also was the only music—outside of the prison church—that had reached my ears since the day of farewell from Cilly. At first the persistent clanging of this bell had made me wince, but later I had fallen into the habit of answering the metallic clangor with a perfunctory, "Yell, you bell, and be damned."
We crossed a yard and swung into the largest wing of an older part of the prison. In it were the common halls. It had three broad tiers. Each tier had seven broad steel doors, and each door led into a hall. This part of the prison was filled with a continuous dull roar of a distant surf, a roar which began in the morning and did not cease until the "lights-out" signal was given at seven-thirty in the evening, a roar that was like the sound of unquenchable life and motion, the sound of a thousand human voices coming from be­yond the gray steel doors.
"Hall Nine—stop here," the guard commanded.
The door swung open. My blanket roll jammed under my arm, I entered. From under the low, grimy ceiling a crazy cataract of sounds and motion sprang at me. I stood still, stunned by the mass of moving and talking shapes. I was shocked by the existence of so much life. And suddenly two firm hands reached up from behind me and covered my eyes.
"Ha—got you!" a voice triumphed.
I freed myself. In front of me stood Salomon, who had been my right-hand man in earlier years. He shock my hand until I nearly swayed off my feet. His grizzled face was twisted with joy.
"Welcome," he said. "By God! You’re here! There were reports that they had killed and buried you."

Hall Nine was about forty feet long and thirty feet wide. It had three barred windows facing the yard, and two smaller windows which faced the tier to permit the guards outside to keep the hall under surveillance without running the hazard of entering it. The entire length of the other walls was obscured by clumsy wooden scaffolds which rose in two tiers, like enormous shelves. Each of these shelves was thirty feet long and six feet wide, and on them lay rows of burlap bags thinly stuffed with straw. These bags were our mattresses. No space separated one paillasse from the next, and there were fifteen paillasses on each platform. Thus, the sleeping space allowed each inmate of Hall Nine was twelve square feet. Five long tables occupied the central portion of the hall. Jammed in between the tables were crude wooden benches. The tables, the sleeping scaffolds, the concrete floor—every available space in Hall Nine—were littered with bulky bundles of brightly-colored bast.
About sixty men in convict uniforms squatted on the benches, shoulder to shoulder and back against back. With swift, mechanical movements they drew threads of bast out of the bundles and knotted them together to lengths of a thousand yards or more. The knotted bast was then smoothed and wound up into the shapes of huge eggs. In the basement workshops and in the solitary cells, the bast was then woven into mats, handbags, sandals, and the like.
A steady uproar of voices filled the turbid air. The men spoke and shouted at one another across the tables, their voices loud so as to be heard in the general bedlam. I caught a few words—"pea soup . . . chess tournament . . . Schiller’s Glocke . . . surplus value . . . a tart with breasts like puddings . . . Litvinov . . . sixteen apple trees . . . letter from the wife . . ." Some of the men squatted in silence, and their aspect was either one of dejection, dreaming, or of sullen ferocity. Sixty men worked and slept, ate and argued and washed and fought their great and small battles in Hall Nine. And there were eighteen such halls in the prison. Thirty minutes of goose-stepping in the yard each day was their only respite from life in a space of which each man’s share was two square yards—month after month, and year after year. They rose at six and went to bed at half-past seven. Ten hours a day they worked. They stood in line in front of the single latrine, and they ate their food with spoons, for a fork was already considered a dangerous weapon. At night the windows were closed, and the air in Hall Nine became a suffocating stench in which dust settled slowly. It became clear to me from the beginning that such an accumulation of unruly tempera­ments in so small a space was fraught with promises of antagonisms and outbursts of helpless savagery. Men fought for a piece of soap, a crust of bread, a place by the window—and for more important prizes. One-third of the population of Hall Nine consisted of genuine crooks—forgers, thieves, burglars, robbers, marriage swindlers, knife-artists and pimps. Most troubles in the common halls were caused by the aggressive individualists in this category. The other two-thirds of the convicts were political prisoners. There were two or three socialists, editors and trade union officials, but the bulk of political captives was made up of members of the Communist Party. The name which the guards applied to a common hall was "devil’s kitchen." They were afraid to enter it alone, preferring to invade it in squads.
Comrade Salomon whispered a warning. "Be careful whom you talk to," he said. "The Gestapo has its spies in every hall. Some only sit and listen; others are forever trying to recruit more spies. A careless word here may bring about the arrest of our friends who are still outside."
I asked for news. Much had happened during my long months of solitary confinement. An insurrection of the workers in Vienna had been drowned in blood by Chancellor Dollfuss, who, in his turn, had been shot to death by Nazi assassins. The King of the Belgians had fallen off a cliff and died. American shipping had been rocked by the violent San Francisco general strike. President von Hindenburg had gone to his grave and Hitler had stepped into the senile veteran’s boots; and Fascist legions had gone to war in Ethiopia. The Saar district had been returned to the Reich, a revolution had taken place in Greece, and a near-revolution in France. In Marseilles the King of Yugoslavia and the Foreign Minister of France had died from the bullets of a Bulgarian conspirator. Of all these events, which the busy and tormented world had already half forgotten, I now heard for the first time.
"Do you get newspapers?" I asked.
"We have a way of smuggling them in," Salomon said. "We are kept well informed. We are in constant touch with the Party."
"You have a way to send out uncensored letters?"
"Sure. The comrades in all the halls co-operate. We have a tobacco line. We have a letter line, an intelligence service, and we also have the Communist Manifesto and the latest brochure by Comrade Dimitrov. The Comintern policy has been modified. Now it’s Front Populaire. We defend democracy because democracy gives us the best chance of organizing the armed insurrection. An important tactical maneuver, though many of the comrades here are bitter about having gone to prison for a policy that’s now declared erroneous by Moscow. You’ll learn much. But caution! The halls are infested with unstable elements."
I received perhaps the greatest shock of my life when Salomon told me that Albert Walter, the former chief of the Comintern’s Maritime Division, had entered the Gestapo service.
"How is that possible?" I stuttered.
"A demonstration of human insufficiency," Salomon observed. "There are fellows who look as strong and tough as a tugboat, and who crack under the first thirty blows. A lot of our top leaders turned out to be figureheads of clay. At the same time, the little comrades you hardly noticed before show the grit of real devils. Indomitable! As to Albert Walter—his old mother was worth more to him than the revolution, or his honor as a revolutionist."
Albert Walter a Gestapo man! It sounded as grotesque to me as the assertion that Captain Göring was an agent of the G.P.U. The comrades in Hall Nine were, however, accurately informed, partly through the intermediaries of Rudolf Heitman, and partly through our own Nachrichtendienst [56]. Albert Walter had been the key man of Stalin’s power on the seven seas. The Gestapo knew that, and the Gestapo knew that if they broke Walter, they would gain access to the ramifications of the Comintern empire in inter­national shipping. They had tortured him horribly. But a warrior of Albert Walter’s caliber could not be broken by physical torture.
The old sailor’s Achilles Heel was his deep love for his aged mother, who had catered to her fifty-year-old son’s needs as though he were still an infant; who had lived with him through the stormy years, and who had fought fearlessly to lighten the lot of her son after his capture by the Gestapo. Inspector Kraus had seized old Mrs. Walter and kept her on water and bread in a solitary cell. He had brought Albert Walter to the women’s section of Camp Fuhlsbüttel and had permitted him to peer through the spy-hole of the cell in which his mother languished. And then Inspector Kraus served this ultimatum:
"Walter, either you work with us, the Gestapo, or your mother will die in Ko-La-Fu."
The price Albert Walter paid for the liberation of his mother was treason to the cause he had served all his life. Both Mrs. Walter and her son were released, and Albert became a collaborator of the Gestapo, a Ratgeber (counselor) in maritime affairs. The Western Secretariat of the Comintern had then dispatched Georg Hegener, Jensen’s trusted aide-de-camp, to Germany with orders to spirit Albert Walter out of Hitler’s reach. Comrade Hegener’s formidable brain was an arsenal of G.P.U. methods; but Walter, his former superior and now his quarry, also knew all the tricks and rules of foul play. One night, in 1934, Georg Hegener, armed with a false passport and a Colt, invaded Walter’s home in the Pestalozzi Strasse in Hamburg. The conversation between the two must have been one of the grimmest and weirdest episodes in the history of the two grimmest and weirdest revolutionary movements of our time. Hegener retreated in the battle of wits and, perhaps, guns. For all his cunning and courage, he was no match for "Davy Jones’s Great Uncle," as Walter was called by his intimates.
Next morning the Gestapo was informed of Hegener’s presence in Hamburg. The Nazis did not arrest him. They aimed at bigger game. When Georg Hegener left Germany clandestinely, he was shadowed by operatives of the Gestapo’s Foreign Division. He led his shadowers straight to the offices of Kuusinen and Wollweber in Copenhagen. Inspector Krauss’s emissaries rented a villa in the suburb of Charlottenlund, and a week later Inspector Kraus himself, using the name and the passport of a Hamburg master-baker, established temporary headquarters in Copenhagen. Another week passed. The headlines of the Danish press shrieked: "Gestapo Bandits in Copenhagen . . . Nazi Kidnapers at Work." Ernst Wollweber and a man named Vogel—whom the Gestapo raiders mistook for Kuusinen—had been slugged in a street and thrown into a waiting car. They had been brought to the villa in Charlottenlund to await being transported secretly to Germany. But the villa had already been under G.P.U. supervision. Men from the communist Espionage Defense, then directed by Leo Haikiss, went into action. Inspector Kraus and his aides fled. Wollweber and Vogel were rescued. Shortly afterward, Ernst Wollweber was taken into custody by the Copenhagen police, but Richard Jensen negotiated his release, and won it under the pretext that Wollweber—"Schmidt" to the Danish detectives—would leave at once for Russia.
"And Walter is still at large?"
"Yes," Salomon said quietly. "I’m unspeakably sorry for his militant old mother. And for him! Imagine living as a traitor! When Hitler falls, Walter will die before a firing squad. A pity if he’d have to share the same mass grave with Hertha Jens."

Each common hall was a seething hole of intrigues and a ruthless struggle for hegemony. The prison administration deliberately saw to it that the composition of the prisoners in each hall should allow for no mass solidarity. The most conflicting elements were crammed together between four narrow walls. The administration invited spying, denunciations and mutual frustration of conspirative endeavors. The prison officials themselves, responsible for the maintenance of political sterility of the prison inmates, lived in constant fear of the Gestapo. They left nothing untried to render it impossible for the vast numbers of political prisoners to embark on mass conspiracies. The task of administration spies and Gestapo creatures in the common halls was to sow strife and distrust, and to ferret out evidence which would lead to additional convictions and prolongations of sentences already imposed. Moreover, the Gestapo was always on the alert to recruit additional informers from the ranks of political convicts. The authorities encouraged the criminal prisoners to maintain a permanent state of dissent and enmity in the halls. Invariably, the criminal prisoners were banded together in numerous small cliques, each clique following the orders of a strong-arm leader, and all of them saturated with a spirit of hatred and fear for the majority of political convicts.
As the days went by, I learned that the Hamburg penitentiary was virtually ruled by a secret organization of communist prisoners. The Party existed and was active behind prison walls. In the Hamburg prison it had roughly eleven hundred members. The structure and discipline of this organization of convicts followed the standard communist pattern. The comrades in each hall were organized in groups of five. No one, except the unit leader, was permitted to have political associations outside of his own five-man nucleus. Each group leader followed the commands of, and was responsible to, the Hall Committee of three. All Hall Committees worked under the direction of a Spitzengruppe—the Central Com­mittee, which had its headquarters in Hall Eleven, and which maintained, through prisoners who went "on transport," a secret courier service with other prisons.
Each newly arrived communist prisoner was inevitably drawn into this organization, except when he had proven himself a weakling or a traitor. The Central Committee had also created its own Apparat, a sort of prison Tcheka, which operated against and under the noses of the prison spies of the Gestapo. Underlying this whole prison organization was the principle: "Even in hell a Bolshevik must remain a Bolshevik; we must keep the Party together and sharpen its weapons for coming struggles; the greatest crime is to permit the Party to die." The comrade in the Fünfergruppe—the group of five—knew little of the tentacles of this organization. He knew the members of his own group and its leader. The leaders were appointed by the Hall Committee, and the members of the Hall Committees were appointed by the Central Committee, which exercised, of necessity, a most stringent dictatorship. The contact between the Central Committee in Hall Eleven and the seventeen other Hall Committees was maintained by a special staff of liaison agents—trusties, food-carriers, and prisoners detailed to transport the bales of bast from the storage rooms to the various halls.
The organization, though dominant, was practically invisible to an outsider. It was intangible to the eyes and hands of strangers. But it was there. Behind the walls its arm could be felt every day and every hour, and most of all at night. The reckless desperadoes, who had been the natural overlords of all the convicts in bygone years, had found that their hitherto effective methods of leadership had become completely worthless.
Buried away in solitary confinement, I had already half forgotten the Party and the Comintern. Now, in Hall Nine, I was surrounded by communist militants whose minds were dominated by but one thought: "The Party comes first!" It was unique. Such a thing, I felt, had never before existed in any prison at any time. I felt the power of the Party. It gave me a wild sense of pride. In me the old revolutionary enthusiasm awoke with might.
My transfer to Hall Nine was quickly reported to the Central Committee in Hall Eleven by a convict courier who in his capacity as food-carrier served four halls during meal times. Communications between prisoners in different halls were forbidden, and severely punished by the prison administration. But the method we used to convey messages was nearly fool-proof: printed on a tiny piece of paper, the message was glued to the bottom of a soup pail and delivered at noon, together with the soup, while the guard on duty looked on unsuspectingly. Several days later the Central Committee sent back instructions that I should prepare for my transfer to Hall Eleven, which we jocularly called the "Kremlin of the Hamburg Big House."
"How the devil can I get to Hall Eleven?" I asked Salomon, who was the political leader of Hall Nine.
"Do nothing," he said. "Leave it to Tonio."
"Tonio" was the political chief of the whole prison. I had met him long before my arrest. He was a powerfully-built man of thirty-two, light-haired and blue-eyed, and as dauntless as he was cheerful. Resourceful and just, he had a driving personality, but, like Michel Avatin, he never demanded anything of other com­rades which he would not do himself. Tonio was a Teutonic image of Avatin. He had been one of the Comintern’s experts for the mining industries, and after the arrest of Walter Duddins, he had become the Party chief of the North Sea districts—the office in which Wollweber had planned to install John Scheer. Seized by the Gestapo, Tonio had been sentenced for high treason. His young wife had subsequently been sent to the Lenin School in Moscow for special training. I soon came to feel Tonio’s power and ability even in a Nazi prison.
An elderly guard summoned me out on the corridor.
"Would you like to be shifted to Hall Eleven?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," I replied smartly.
"All right. Roll up your blankets."
Five minutes later I was in Hall Eleven. The guard was one of the older prison officials, who had been members of the Social Democratic Party before the advent of Hitler. When Hitler came to power, they had—to save their jobs and their pensions—joined the Nazi Party in a great hurry. Usually they "Heil-Hitlered" louder and fiercer than any of the genuine storm troopers. But the arrival of communists in the prisons plunged these former socialists into a dire dilemma. The communist convicts often knew of the Marxist past of their jailers, and the threat of denouncing them to the Gestapo for having entered the Nazi Party fraudulently turned these prison guards into helpless pawns in the hands of their communist charges. There were six or seven of them in the Hamburg prison. A single command from Tonio could make them jump like frightened bell-boys. It was a grim business. But all prisons are grim, and Hitler’s prisons are the grimmest of all.
When Tonio saw me, he pranced across the hall like an exuberant colt. His rough playfulness was the best possible camouflage for the unflinching and ruthless determination which had its home behind Tonio’s flashing eyes. He and three of his aides grabbed me and carried me to the lavatory in a corner of Hall Eleven. I received a thorough dousing with cold water. Tonio made a speech which drew laughter even from the most sullen criminals in our midst. I received a name—"Longsplice." After the noisy introduction, he drew me aside.
"We need you in the Spitzengruppe," he said. "The third man is Frederic, a young teacher. One thing you must always remem­ber: We are the Party behind these walls. We must transform this jailhouse into a university of revolution. By that we turn the pur­pose of this prison into its opposite. Our attention must not over­look the most obscure comrades. The Gestapo puts them here to be broken. We are here to make them stronger and more loyal to the cause. Savvy?"
"Good—let’s get busy!"

I was a denizen of Hall Eleven and a member of the prison Central Committee for fourteen months. They belonged to the most crowded months in my life. They showed me that even in hopeless defeat men can retain their morale as long as the conviction that they are fighting for a worthy cause is alive in their brains. The individual may give up the struggle and sink away in despair, but banded together with other castaways for a common purpose, he sees his place, feels his strength, and salvages his belief that life still has a meaning. The inarticulate rank and file had greater fortitude in the face of crushing obstacles than the general run of the intellectually superior. The average communist militant, even in prison and facing an implacable future, would have jumped into a kettle full of molten copper, had his chiefs commanded him to jump. The tenet that men fight only for material gains was given the lie by the nameless "activists" in felon’s garb. Obsessed by a faith, a human being fights longer and fiercer than his brothers and sisters whose foremost inspiration is shoddily disguised avarice.
With a pathetic élan and considerable cunning we transformed the prison into a "university of revolution." We supervised the lives of our comrades, and we organized their time with greater severity and detail than my own time had been organized when I had been a student at the Communist University of Leningrad. A frightened guard supplied us regularly with the latest pamphlets and resolutions of the Comintern. The decisions of the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern, which ushered in the era of Popular Front movements, were in our hands even before they were commented upon by the German press. In Hall Eleven, in whispered discussions, which sometimes lasted all through a night, we worked out the texts for revolutionary-political courses. "Imperialism," "Strike Tactics," "Sabotage," "Propaganda in the Army," "Marxian Dialectics," "Strategy of Civil War," and dozens of similar themes were elaborated and written down in the clearest possible and most concise form. Our paper and pencils were stolen for us by comrades working in the offices of the administration; the fountain pens we used were smuggled in by guards. A special group of "agit-prop" men—agitator propagandists—in Hall Eleven then copied the original tracts in neatly printed letters. They wrote at night. The copies were then circulated in all the other halls of the prison. Trusties and food-carriers acted as couriers between the various tiers and cell blocks. They delivered the written ma­terial to the political leaders of the various halls. The political leaders then pressed it into the heads of the other members of their group. The conferences were carried on at night, and in whispers, while as often as not a Gestapo spy lay only a few paillasses away. Our machine functioned smoothly, from Tonio down to the meanest comrade. Some day the majority of those we trained would be released; they would, we hoped, continue their "underground” work outside as firmer Bolsheviks than they had been on the day of their first arrest by the Gestapo.
Every Sunday morning the Central Committee met in confer­ence with the political leaders of the halls. Reports were rendered, and the plan of action for the coming week laid down. These sessions took place in the prison church. Church attendance was compulsory. The prison pastor was an arrogant young Elite Guard officer. His sermons were a potpourri extracted from the Bible, German mythology and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. There was little opportunity for surreptitious communications among the mass of prisoners in the nave. Our organization conferences were held in the choir, which was situated on a high gallery on the far end of the church. The choir master was a kindly old man who was always ready to do the prisoners a favor. The organist was a former social democrat. The Sexton was a fanatic Catholic who hated the Hitler movement. But all three wore the swastika badge and were members of the Nazi Party. The choir master employed only such singers who volunteered from among the convicts in the halls. Among others, Tonio and Frederic and I, the members of the Spitzengruppe, volunteered; so did, upon our instructions, the political leaders of all the other common halls. While the minor choristers roared hymns at the top of their voices, the political leaders retreated to the background of the choir, and there, out of sight of the guards in the nave below, conspiracies took their course.
Our intelligence service, the prison Nachrichtendienst, was well organized. It worked with thoroughness, and, of necessity, with utmost caution. The intelligence level of political prisoners was much higher than that of the run of criminal convicts. With much wary maneuvering we succeeded in placing communists in all key jobs open to convicts. The clerks in the offices of the administration were Party members. The attendants in the prison bathrooms were comrades; they were of great importance to us because their job brought them into contact with every prisoner in the course of each week. The majority of the trusties were communists, as were the foremen in the various industrial departments of the penitentiary. Those of our comrades who had slipped into the jobs of "con-bosses" took great care to accelerate production efficiency, at the same time using all means to keep the guards ignorant of production technique. Increased production won for the "con‑bosses" a good reputation with the administration, and the guards’ ignorance of production technique enabled the "con-bosses" to say: "To fill this vacancy, I need Convict X." And invariably "Convict X" was a seasoned Party member. The prison librarians and the book-binders were also Party members. Their function in our Apparat consisted in pasting pages from the Communist Manifesto and the latest speeches of Stalin and Dimitrov into such books as The Count of Monte Cristo, Ivanhoe, and Bismarck’s Gedanken und Erinnerungen [57]. Of course, the comrade librarians took care that such "doctored" books only reached reliable political prisoners. When men convicted of political offenses entered the prison, they invariably found themselves at first completely isolated by our organization. The political leader of the respective hall reported the new arrival to the Central Committee. The Central Committee then sent a note of inquiry to the comrades in the offices of the prison director, Oberinspektor Bruhns. The communists in the administration offices then lurked for a chance to peruse the official dossier of the newly-arrived prisoner. They gathered all available data and sent it to the Central Committee in Hall Eleven. Within a week we knew the past history of every new convict, the crime for which he had been sentenced, his behavior before the Gestapo and the Special Tribunal, and his political affiliations. We knew as much about him as the Gestapo did, and often more. Was he considered reliable, we informed the respective Hall Committee of the fact, and the newcomer was then drawn into our organization as an active member. Much of the information we gathered from the constant flow of political captives we collected into long reports, which were then smuggled out by our aides among the guards and forwarded by Rudolf Heitman to the Western Secretariat and the G.P.U. in Copenhagen. These reports contained information on new Gestapo plans and methods, on Nazi spies and traitors in our own ranks, and also industrial and military secrets in the possession of arrested comrades.
Our most important and effective method to keep control of the criminal element in the prison population was the organized distribution of tobacco. Smoking is prohibited in all German prisons. But certain prisoners, upon recommendation by the prison authorities or the police, were permitted to receive a weekly allowance of chewing tobacco Priem. These privileged prisoners wielded great power among their underprivileged colleagues, and the possession of tobacco by a few select gave rise to the most vicious aspects of convict "politics." I saw men who were ready to murder each other for a stick of chewing tobacco. I saw others who were prepared to do the most sordid deed if they were offered an inch of Priem in payment.
"We must streamline the tobacco question," Tonio said to me one day. "As conditions are now, a tobacco knifing might bring the Gestapo swooping down for a wholesale investigation. The tobacco fiends would be only too glad to sell us out."
We turned tobacco into a political weapon, and did it in the following manner: Every two weeks Tonio ordered a consignment of good smoking tobacco to be bought from the funds which the International Red Aid had established for the relief of relatives of important political prisoners. An unknown Party comrade outside got the money and bought the tobacco, which was then smuggled in piecemeal by three former socialists among the guards. They delivered the contraband in Hall Three, and from there it filtered to Hall Eleven. The tobacco was then distributed equally among all prisoners, together with fire-stones and tiny pieces of steel. In this manner, criminal and political prisoners alike shared, in groups of five,—called "tobacco groups,"—at least two cigarettes each day. This broke the power of the chewing-tobacco monopolists, who comprised the most vicious cut-throats in the prison; they were, in the end, glad to be admitted to one of the disciplined "tobacco groups."
The harshest punishment that could befall a prisoner was to be ostracized by his own comrades. There could be no more cruel treatment than to live in a crowded hall and to be shunned by all hall-mates. But the price of comradeship was co-operation in our political schemes. One of the political convicts who refused to co-operate was Comrade Nickel. He was the same Nickel who, as a Party leader in Bremen, had tried to impose his blustering will upon me on the eve of my voyage to Murmansk aboard the Pioner. The Gestapo had captured Nickel and over ninety of his aides in a single raid in the summer of 1933. Nickel was sent to prison for high treason. There he refused to accept Tonio’s leadership. The answer of the Spitzengruppe was: "Nickel must be isolated!" And Nickel’s isolation was complete. No one wanted to be his neighbor during meals or on the sleeping scaffolds. No one spoke to him. Comrades edged away from him as if he were a leper. Nickel fell into the habit of brooding alone in a corner of the hall. After nine months of such treatment he gradually became like a man who has lost his reason. "Speak to me," he would moan, "oh, why doesn’t somebody speak to me."
And he would receive the contemptuous answer: "Croak—you saboteur!"
Our prison organization did not even relinquish its hold on a comrade after his release. Many, after serving their sentences, were not released; if the Gestapo considered them still dangerous, it sent them from prison straight to another concentration camp—bis auf Weiteres—"until further notice." The Estewege Camps in Western Germany and Camp Sachsenhausen near Berlin were the mammoth places of detention for anti-Nazis who had finished their term in prison. However, two prisoners out of three were actually released after they had served their sentence. It was this category on which we concentrated our interest. Such comrades, after their last day in the penitentiary had passed, were brought to Gestapo headquarters. There, as the inescapable condition for their release, they were required to sign a statement to the effect that they would henceforth collaborate with the Gestapo. The Gestapo procured jobs for them. In return, the comrades were pledged to send to the Gestapo weekly confidential reports about the actions, associations and conversations of their fellow-workers and their neighbors. If such reports were not forthcoming, or if the Gestapo considered them unsatisfactory, the respective "informers" were promptly seized for another term in a concentration camp. So, theoretically, every anti-Nazi released from prison was a Gestapo spy. Those who refused to sign the spy-pledge were not released.
In the Hamburg prison we began to evolve a plan to turn this system of mass espionage into an asset for the Communist Party. We instructed all reliable comrades who were due for release in the art of concocting misinformation in reports which the Gestapo would nevertheless find "satisfactory." It was a dangerous game, but one calculated to divert the Gestapo’s attention from the communist cells in the shops by furnishing them with information on Nazis who criticized the Nazi regime. Repressive actions of the Gestapo against rebellious Nazis would tend to increase the already existing anti-Gestapo sentiment in the Nazi rank and file. Before a comrade was released from prison, his name and the date of his release were transmitted by us to the secretly operating liaison committee of the Communist Party. The released comrade was then contacted and given his place in the "underground" Party machine. Each released communist was also entrusted with a Patenschaft (patronage) over three comrades who were still in prison. Once "free," his task was to maintain contact with the three pris­oners assigned to his care and with their families, and also to keep them supplied with information and cover addresses to which they could report when they themselves would be released.
The months flew by. Summer passed. The trees in the yards became golden brown, and the sky was filled with storm clouds. The leaves fell, winter covered the land with snow, and thousands of gulls came screaming in from the frozen coasts. The sun rose higher and vanquished the winter, and it was spring again, and summer, the summer of 1936. King George of England had died, Hitler’s armies had marched into the Rhineland, General Franco had raised the banner of civil war in Spain. And in the Soviet Union, the Great Purge initiated by Stalin after the assassination of Sergei Kirov, the Leningrad Party chief, brought countless members of the Old Bolshevik Guard before the firing squads. No letter had come from Firelei. It was as if the earth had swallowed her. Thirty-two months had passed since I had seen her last.
"Dear girl," I wondered. "Where are you? What are you doing?"
I received the answer at the end of July. A young comrade from Hall Eleven had been taken to Gestapo headquarters for questioning. He had spent the better part of the day in the office of Inspector Radam, who was then preparing the material for the trial of Edgar André for treason and murder. Late in the afternoon the comrade had been brought to the Wartezimmer to await his return to the penitentiary. There he had had an opportunity to scrutinize the faces of a number of other waiting prisoners.
"Five girls were sitting faces to the wall," he told me. "One of them wore convict dress. She was your wife, Comrade Firelei.
My voice trembled. "Are you sure this girl was Firelei?" I asked.
"I am certain. She, too, recognized me. We were too far from each other to whisper. But she smiled."
I meandered through Hall Eleven like a man who is struck by sudden blindness. Firelei in the hands of the Gestapo! When was she captured? Of what did they convict her? Was she abducted from abroad? Did she return to Germany herself? Did she come on a secret mission? Did she come because she wanted to rescue her child?
All night the questions rushed through my brain. It was a new kind of agony. Firelei captured by the Gestapo! Firelei condemned by the Special Tribunal! Did they beat her? Did they keep her in solitary confinement? How many months already has she been in the dungeons? I felt the urge to cry. I forced back the tears because I was ashamed of the comrades whose bodies pushed against me from right and left. I was seized by an insane hatred against all the world, and a hatred against myself.
I cursed myself. "Your fault! Your fault!" I muttered. "You drew her into the bloody morass! Had you never spoken to her—she would be happy now, and free!" I gnashed my teeth. Bitter self-accusations cut through my mind like sinuous knives and tormenting spirals. Toward morning, when the first gray light trickled through the barred windows, I grew calmer. "I must do something," I decided.
I wrote a letter to the Gestapo, requesting permission for a brief meeting with my wife. Permission was quickly refused. "Marabou," the captain of the guards, read to me the contents of the Gestapo’s reply: "Communication between confirmed enemies of New Germany is not permissible. Heil Hitler!" I wrote again—and received no answer. Then I wrote another letter, this time to the President of the Special Tribunal, asking for information about the reasons for Firelei’s conviction and the length of her sentence. The curt answer read:

"Your wife has been sentenced to six years of penal servitude for preparation of a treasonable undertaking. She is serving her sentence in the Women’s Prison in Lübeck.
Signed: Dr. Roth.

Immediately I set the intelligence Apparat of the Spitzengruppe in motion to inquire into the details of Firelei’s arrest and convic­tion. Recently arrested communists in Camp Fuhlsbüttel, who had been sent to Germany from Copenhagen and who subsequently had been questioned about Firelei by the Gestapo, were able to supply fragments of information. By piecing these fragments together with minute care, Tonio and I came to the following conclusion: Firelei had continued to work for the Comintern in Copenhagen until October, 1934, eleven months after my arrest in Hamburg. After my capture by the Gestapo, she had, in a flurry of despair, accused Ernst Wollweber of being responsible for my arrest. In the spring of 1934, the Western Secretariat had received a report from Berlin that I had died in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. Half out of her mind with anguish Firelei had written a letter and addressed it to Ossip Piatnitzky at the Comintern headquarters in Moscow, for she knew that Piatnitzky had a high opinion of me as a maritime organizer. She wrote in this letter that Ernst Wollweber had dispatched me to Germany for no other reason than that of getting the ISH (International of Seamen and Harbor Workers) subsidies under his personal control. She had entrusted the letter to a Belgian comrade who was passing through Copenhagen on his way to the Soviet Union. Whether this letter ever reached Moscow, or whether the Belgian turned it over to someone in the Westbureau, I did not know. I learned many months later that the Belgian had surrendered it to Richard Jensen, and Jensen to Wollweber.
The fact remains that Wollweber, shortly after the letter had been written, sent Firelei on a secret mission to Germany. On her journey to Germany, Firelei was accompanied by another courier of the Western Secretariat, one Kurt Bailich, a former leader of the Party organization in Altona. I knew Kurt Bailich. He was a dapper, smooth-faced young man, an able conspirator and a master of three languages. But Bailich was also one of the most clever foreign agents of the Gestapo. Late in November, three weeks after her clandestine arrival in Germany, Firelei was arrested by the Gestapo in Bremen and transferred to Hamburg for questioning by Inspector Kraus. Nine months after her capture, she was sentenced to six years of penal labor at a secret session of the Special Tribunal in Hamburg.
"Two men who are responsible must suffer for this," I said grimly. "One is Wollweber, the other Kurt Bailich."
Tonio fixed his blue eyes at me for a long time. Finally he said: "You are upset. Let at least one night pass. Never forget that you are a member of our Spitzengruppe. Wir sind Blutstropfen im Herzen der Partei! (We are drops of blood in the heart of the Party.) Never forget that, my comrade."
"It had been proven that Bailich is a spy."
"I’ll advise Copenhagen," Tonio said. "He’ll be hunted down."
A man in prison, crowded in on all sides by fellow-prisoners who once were active in all the tentacles of the communist octopus, gains a far better insight into inner-organizational secrets and in­trigues than the comrade who is still active and "free," and who, therefore, learns little beyond the doings of his own limited Apparat. I had heard much and I had kept silent. And 1 knew that nearly every one of the many comrades whom Ernst Wollweber had sent on secret missions into Germany had fallen prey to the Gestapo within a month or two after he or she had crossed the German frontier.
"Wollweber is a murderer," I said quietly.
Tonio stared at me in silence.
"Wollweber is the destroyer of our best staff workers," I added.
Tonio crossed his arms over his chest. His indomitable face looked down. "Comrade Ernst is the most consistent Bolshevik in the German Party," he answered slowly.
All through the following night I thought of Firelei. I shall not attempt to describe my thoughts and emotions. On the paillasse beside mine, Tonio snored in militant unconcern. He always slept soundly. He had even deliberately fallen asleep during his trial for high treason.
Dawn came.
All day Tonio argued with me. He argued with all the persistence and sincerity of a man defending his own naked life. "The Party is our life," he said. "Without the Party, we cannot live. Look at me! Should the Party take the life of my own mother, I will still say: I’m a Bolshevik! I shall remain a Bolshevik!"
Inside of me voices raged:
"Firelei is in prison!"
"Prison will not daunt her," Tonio said.
He won. Late at night, we shook hands. On our sacks of straw we lay so close together that we could feel each other’s pulse-beat.
"Never say die," Tonio whispered with a wild elation. "In my next report to Copenhagen, I am going to recommend you as the best Bolshevik I have met since the Gestapo took me."

The S-Apparat of the Comintern eventually received all the data we had collected on the spy Kurt Bailich. The G.P.U. hunted the traitor through four European countries. But Bailich escaped to Germany, and for eighteen months he disappeared from my ken.
In 1938, his presence was reported in New Orleans; Bailich had been transferred in December, 1936, to the Gestapo’s North Ameri­can division.
However, another Gestapo spy, more important and more dangerous than Kurt Bailich, did not escape our vengeance. He was Martin Holstein, who had betrayed me, and hundreds of other comrades to Hitler’s secret police. Until the beginning of 1936 no one among us had seriously suspected Holstein of being a traitor. He had been too cautious, too clever, and he knew well how to play the role of a fanatical revolutionist. His ultimate discovery was due to a coincidence. The political leader in Hall Seven had been summoned to the Gestapo for questioning. While he was being grilled in one of Inspector Kraus’s torture-chambers, the door was opened abruptly and a smartly-dressed man burst into the room. The intruder was Martin Holstein. The recognition between him and our comrade from Hall Seven was quick and mutual. Holstein, without uttering a word, had turned and rushed dut of the room.
"Who was that man?" the Gestapo agent who was questioning the communist from Hall Seven asked suspiciously.
"I don’t know," the comrade answered.
Returning to the prison that night, the comrade reported to Tonio that he had seen Holstein move freely in the headquarters of the Gestapo. Such proof was conclusive: Holstein was the traitor for whom we had searched through the years. The fact was communicated to the S-Apparat in Copenhagen. The hunt for Martin Holstein began.
One day in September a corpse was fished out of the Rhine below the harbor of Duisburg. It was the corpse of a man whose throat had been slashed from ear to ear. The dead man was identified as Martin Holstein, the traitor.

The late summer of 1936 brought a grim end to our magic life in Hall Eleven. It was a scorching day in August. The men from Hall Eleven marched through the yard in closed formation. Sixty sweating men swung their legs and arms in a cloud of yellow dust. We marched, as always, closely packed, with not more than a foot of space between the back of one and the front of another.
In the first row marched Tonio. He was one of the tallest. He held his bold head high and his eyes glittered alertly. He crammed a maximum of physical motion into his goose-step, and his deep chest expanded visibly with every breath. His eyes roamed across the yard, and upward along the walls of the cell blocks, sharply scanning the small squares of the windows for familiar faces, always ready with an encouraging smile, always ready to strengthen purpose and defiance. Well I knew the warming grin that invaded the face of this or that comrade in his solitary cell when he caught the flashing salute and the dauntless smile of Tonio. All day that comrade would be a stronger man. "I have seen Tonio," he would think, "and he has told me to carry on."
In the middle of the sweating column marched Gottlieb, the theorist of Hall Eleven, white-haired and smooth, and always scheming to raise a little cheer. I heard his voice, subdued so as not to reach the ears of patrolling guards, for speaking in the yards was forbidden.
"Tell me," said Gottlieb, "what would you prefer in this furnace weather: a glass of iced beer, a roast duck, or a pretty girl?"
There were chuckles in front and behind him as the question was passed from man to man. "Beer," most of us said. "Duck," sighed Albers, the banker. "The girl," croaked an old convict named Udje. "The girl, just once more before I die." At the head of the column Tonio turned his head. "The world is ours," he proclaimed. "Down your modesty! First the duck and the beer, and then the girl."
Soft laughter passed down the length of the marching column, down to the very end, where a safe-cracker whom we called Tarzan shambled through the dust, short and immensely broad, and scowling through streams of perspiration.
Only one man showed no mirth. The laughter of the others seemed to hurt him. He was a youngster, barely twenty-two, with a handsome face that seemed to suffer under unbearable gloom. His name was Oswald. The others shunned him as a traitor. He had been a member of a terrorist group in the Party’s S-Apparat, and had taken part in the assassination of a police officer in Hamburg. Arrested, he had given away the names of the comrades in his unit; the leader, a young communist named Lindau, had died under the Nazi ax, and his accomplices had been sentenced to prison for life. For Oswald, life behind the walls and bars became an intolerable hell. He was isolated by his comrades, despised, left alone with his own bleak thoughts. He could not live without the Party. He hungered to atone for his betrayal. "Kick me," he screamed, "kill me if you like, punish me! Do something! Anything! But don’t leave me so alone!" A contemptuous silence had been the answer of the communists in Hall Eleven. Now, in the yard, Oswald danced abruptly out of the line. He lurched crazily, hurling vituperation at the guards. The guards came at, a run.
"Beat me up!" Oswald howled. "Lieber Herr Wachtmeister, beat me up! Beat me hard! Let everybody see how you beat me! Beat me!"
One of the guards, a burly young roughneck, brandished his club.
"A beating you want?" he growled. "Any amount! I’ll give you a beating!"
While Oswald was cruelly beaten, "Marabou," the captain of the guards, appeared in the yard.
"Attention!" a guard barked.
We all stopped in our tracks. "Marabou" inquired into what had happened. The guards stood sheepishly. "I wanted a beating," Oswald explained piteously, "because I have betrayed my friends."
"Marabou" spoke to him soothingly: Then he turned toward us. His voice rang like a pistol shot.
"Fiends! Scoundrels!"
He ordered all prisoners to line up in single file and strip naked. Then he blew his whistle, and additional guards hastened from the cell blocks. We stood in the sunlight, naked, our hands raised above our heads.
"Search the lot of them," "Marabou" ordered the guards. "Search the carcasses and search the clothing."
The search lasted all of two hours. The guards found knives, illegal pencils, tobacco and several fire-stones. One of them drew a strip of paper from the pants of a prisoner. He stared at it, then handed it to "Marabou," who scrutinized the paper. His face tightened dangerously.
"Ten Commands for Young Communists in the Hitler Youth," he read aloud, adding: "Interesting, exceedingly interesting."
The comrade in whose clothes the paper had been found was one of our couriers in Hall Eleven. "Marabou" had him step forward, and slapped his face.
"Did you write this?" he snapped.
"Yes, sir," the comrade answered.
"What’s your trade?"
"This epistle is very neatly written. Could a common laborer write like that?" "Marabou" observed. He drew a notebook and a fountain pen from his breast pocket and handed them to the prisoner. "Now show me how you write," he commanded. "Write: ’Hitler Youth.’ "
The comrade wrote in a clumsy scrawl. "Marabou’s" eyes narrowed.
"Now tell me who wrote this sheet of instructions," he said softly.
"I wrote it," the comrade answered. His loyalty was superb.
"Marabou" ordered him to dress. "We are going to send you to the Gestapo," he said. "They’ll loosen your tongue there." And, facing the column of naked men, he hissed: "The whole lot of you will stand here naked in the yard until I know who has written this treasonable stuff."
Until nightfall we stood in the dust. No one had volunteered any information. The comrade on whom the incriminating paper had been found did not return from the Gestapo. But others, coming back from rounds of questioning, reported that the Gestapo had charged the courier with high treason committed while in prison. We never heard of him again. But several days after his transport to the Gestapo, a sinister newcomer was lodged in Hall Eleven.
The newcomer’s name was Ludwig Grauer. He was a man ap­proaching his fifties, with a massive body, gorilla-like arms and a ruthless nutcracker face, a man of action and one of the most formidable crooks in the Hamburg prison. One day after Grauer’s arrival in Hall Eleven, "Marabou" appointed him as foreman of the hall. Again a day later Grauer received a trusty assistant, a tall, well-knit, red-headed man named Willy Kronenberg. Kronenberg had been, until the spring of 1933, the organization chief of the Anti-Fascist Guards; for money he had sold out his organization to the Gestapo. But the Gestapo’s chiefs, after squeezing and buying the last scrap of information from Kronenberg, sent him to prison as a marriage-swindler. Kronenberg had served in the French Foreign Legion. He was an adventurous, unscrupulous type whom one could imagine even going to the gallows without losing his mercenary poise. We discovered that, in Hall Eleven, Kronenberg took his orders from Grauer. They had their paillasses side by side in the most sheltered corner of the hall. The watchers appointed found that Kronenberg and Grauer engaged in lengthy surreptitious conversations night after night. This caused Tonio to request his aides in the administration offices to look over Grauer’s dossier. The data they gathered verified our suspicions.
During the World War, when he served as a gunner’s mate in the Kaiser’s navy, he was already a political spy for the reactionary officer camarilla, informing on the revolutionary sailors in the fleet. During 1923, the year of the Ruhr occupation, he had spied against Germany for the French general staff. In 1927, he had been sent to prison for selling another man’s Rhine ship to Holland. Released in 1931, he had gone into the banking business, and by 1934 he had become the director of a fraudulent enterprise—the Zwecksparkassen—which involved several million marks of poor people’s savings. Grauer was tried and sentenced to eight years in prison. His dossier in the prison office contained a note from the Gestapo requesting the administration to dispense, in his case, with severe solitary confinement. Grauer, the pirate and bank-director, was a Gestapo spy.
"A fine pair they sent us here," Tonio grumbled. "Grauer and Kronenberg. Die Gestapo wittert Morgenluft! They smell a rat."
With two seasoned spies among us, the political work in Hall Eleven was practically paralyzed. We exhausted all our contacts and influence to have them removed to another hall. The fact that we did not succeed was sufficient proof that the Gestapo had ordered Grauer and Kronenberg to keep Hall Eleven under constant surveillance. Repeatedly fist fights broke out between maddened communists and the two spies; but the latter two showed themselves to be fearless fighters.
"We had better come to terms with the cut-throats," Tonio advised. "Cultivate them, incriminate them, neutralize them."
Late the same night someone came crawling in the darkness to the window corner where Tonio and I had our sleeping sacks. The nocturnal visitor was Oswald, the traitor.
"Listen," he said tremulously. "You think I am a traitor. That’s not true. I am a comrade. I will prove it."
"What’s on your mind?" Tonio asked him.
"I am going to kill Grauer," Oswald whispered. "I am going to kill Kronenberg."
"Nonsense," I muttered. "We can’t get away from this hall. We’d all pay for it a hundredfold."
"I am going to kill them both," Oswald said happily.
Tonio shook him by the shoulders. "You’re crazy! Get back to your paillasse and leave us alone!"
Oswald patted Tonio’s chest. He did not say another word, but crept away among the sleeping forms as silently as he had come.
"Is he perhaps co-operating with Grauer?" I asked Tonio.
"Oswald is no provocateur," Tonio replied. "We can do nothing. He is crazy."
I fell asleep. Between three and four o’clock in the morning a hoarse scream roused everyone in Hall Eleven. Sounds of struggle came from the inky blackness of the lower sleeping platform. Then yells again, hoarse and wild, yells for help. Somehow everybody knew that the yells came from Grauer’s throat. No one rose to help him, not even Kronenberg. By the time the night guards burst into the hall, the yells had subsided into spells of protracted moaning. The electric lights blazed. Grauer lay on the stone floor, his face and chest spattered with blood. Oswald was not in sight. The guards found him in the lavatory, giggling to himself. He had slashed Grauer’s face and neck with a pair of scissors, such as were used by the bast weavers.
The rest of the night we all stood lined up in the corridor, our arms raised, clad in nothing but our shirts. There was a constant running and shouting of the guards, and an inquiry was on. At nine o’clock in the morning, a detachment of Gestapo men swooped down on the prison. The seventeen best-known communists in Hall Eleven, Tonio and I among them, were transferred from the prison to solitary cells in Concentration Camp Fuhls­büttel. The whole prison was ransacked by the Gestapo. Batches of prisoners from other halls were sent away to Oranienburg, to Buchenwald, to Dachau.
Again I lay in the house of horrors. The days passed with mocking slowness; and the memory of life in Hall Eleven was like the memory of some distant, unattainable paradise.

Chapter Thirty-eight - MY BATTLE FOR “MEIN KAMPF”

THE TWENTY-NINTH OF SEPTEMBER began like any other day in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. The night had been loud with the arrival of new loads of prisoners, with curses and commands that came like pistol shots, with the wakeful moans of the chained, tie banging of doors and the roar of airplanes. The bell rang at six-thirty, and ten minutes later the guard entered my cell, took the shackles off my ankles and my left wrist to allow me to put my cot in order, to visit the toilet and sweep up the imaginary dust on the floor. Then he shackled my hands together on my back and threw a chunk of black bread into my cell. And I lay down on the floor and gnawed away at the bread.
Until about ten nothing further happened, except that I paced the cell, oblivious of time, occupied in making a mental list of all zoological terms I had encountered in my previous reading. When the key suddenly rattled in the lock and the door swung open I sprang under the window and yelled out my name, my number, and the charge of which I had been convicted. The guard stepped aside. Into my cell walked Rudolf Heitman, broad-shouldered, blue-jowled, thin-lipped, a pale double-chin resting on a lily-white collar.
Heitman nodded to the guard. "S’ist in Ordnung, [58]" he said. "You can lock me in."
The trooper locked the door behind Heitman—the G.P.U. man in the Gestapo. An instant later I saw that the guard had raised the small metal shield from the spy-hole in the door and was peering in through the glass disk. Under such circumstances, I could not greet Heitman. I continued to stand at attention.
Heitman pushed me rudely against the wall.
"You look too damned contented," he shouted. "Guys like you ought to be hung with barbed wire."
I regained my balance. Heitman reached out and struck the side of my head, and now I let myself fall to the ground. The pale blue eye of the guard outside was still glued to the spy-hole.
Heitman roared: "Stand on your feet! Who gave you permission to lie down?"
I raised myself and faced him squarely. Heitman’s teeth were bared and his thin mouth curved down at the corners.
"Are you going to tell me the truth?" he bellowed.
"Yes, sir."
Heitman produced a photograph. Holding it in the palm of his hand, he brought it close to my eyes. It was a passport photo of a blond young man.
"Do you know this fellow?" Heitman demanded.
"No, sir."
Instantly his left fist hit my nose. It began to bleed.
"Do you know the man in this picture?"
"I don’t know him," I said, tensely aware that the purpose of his visit had nothing to do with the question he asked.
At the spy-hole the guard’s eye blinked.
"Shall I call in the boys to give you a whipping?" Heitman asked.
"No, sir," I said.
"Then tell me all you know about this man," he roared. I was silent.
Again Heitman brought the hand with the photograph close to my eyes. He crouched in front of me as if ready to spring; his face was contracted, his small eyes gleamed.
"Look at this picture," he said softly, "and tell me what you know about this man."
I stared at the photograph. Now it was a photograph of Ernst Wollweber which Heitman had in his hand, a small photostatic copy of a picture of Wollweber which had appeared years before in the Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung.
"Look well," Heitman growled. "Think it over."
Slowly, with an almost imperceptible motion of his thumb, he turned the picture around in the palm of his hand, his broad back turned stonily upon the guard at the spy-hole. A short message had been printed on the reverse side of the photograph. My eyes ab­sorbed letter after letter, memorizing each word as it slid along:

"Attempt entry into PP-Apparat. Situation favorable. Talk with caution."

"Was this man known to Ernst Wollweber?" Heitman barked.
"I think he was," I said quietly.
"You think, do you? Was he, or was he not?"
"He was."
Heitman shoved the photograph back into his pocket. He threw his head back and his throat bulged forward.
"So you saw him take orders from Wollweber?"
"Yes, sir."
"What kind of orders?"
"Police work, I believe," I said.
Heitman grunted. "Aha!" Peevishly he added, "You could have told me that at once."
He turned and pounded on the door of the cell. The trooper outside opened it at once.
"You may go about your duties," Heitman told him. "Our friend here is becoming tractable."
The Death Head guard was satisfied with what he had heard. He locked the door again, and then his departing footfalls rang on the floor of the corridor. We were alone now. Heitman relaxed. He pulled out a flask and drank. My mind was on the message. PP-Apparat was the communist designation for undercover work inside an enemy police force. I had no fear of Heitman. I knew enough about him to send him to a tryst with the headsman. Heit­man was aware of this. He would never try to plunge me into a trap.
"Well, I am waiting," I said quietly.
He spoke in low tones. Instead of "Westbureau" we used "firm" and in place of PP-Apparat we substituted "our competitor."
"I’ve spoken with a man from the head office," Heitman said. "The firm has received Tonio’s estimate of your qualities. You should try to join our competitor. The firm wants more men on the inside to tell them when and where to strike—for increased sales."
I understood the significance of the message. The Western Secretariat had appointed me to maneuver myself into the Gestapo. Such assignments had been given before. But, with two or three exceptions, the comrades who had tried to carry them out came to grief, and sudden death.
"Impossible," I said. "I am too discredited."
Heitman shook his head. "You will find the ground prepared," he murmured. "You will have co-operation. Our competitor is always on the lookout for bright young men. It’ll take time—and patience. And cool blood."
"The point is not to make an outright offer. Nothing that’s clumsy or suspicious. The problem is to bring the competitors to a point where they’ll come and invite you: ’Brother, how about it?’ Understand?"
I crouched near the door, my left ear against the steel, listening for the steps of approaching guards.
"But . . ."
I showed Rudolf Heitman the document I had received after my transfer from the penitentiary to the concentration camp. Printed on blood-red paper was the legend:

The bearer, prisoner. . . . . . . . . has been returned to Ko-La-Fu because he endangered the peace and order of the State Penitentiary.
(For the Gestapo): PAUL KRAUS.

"There you are," I said, "solitary confinement . . . chains . . ."
"That’s fine," Heitman countered. "A man in chains is likely to do anything to get rid of the shackles. You have rummaged for years. You have given up the old ideas. You are ready to capitulate. That’ll be your line. It’s not so hard to fool people who think they’re all-powerful."
"What would be the procedure?" I asked.
Heitman shrugged his shoulders. "It’s your comedy," he muttered, "not mine. I can tell you only the beginning of the first act. After that you’ll have to sail alone."
"Sail into the grave," I grinned.
"Or to freedom;" Heitman said vaguely.
"All right. What’s the beginning?"
"Ask for permission to read Mein Kampf. That’s always safe. Then appear to be shocked by the mass shootings in Russia. Since Kirov bit the pavement, thousands have been shot, all ages, all nationalities. Let them know, somehow, that you’re shocked. Bring yourself in conflict with the firm. Then wait for results. You’ll win if you’re lucky. Flow long have you been in the bunker?" "Nearly three years,"
I said.
"Long enough to make any man break with his past," Heitman growled. "The thing is to be lucky. Luck counts for more than mathematics."
"I’ll think it over."
"Look at me," Heitman smiled glumly. "I’m in it for years. And I’m alive just the same." He said it, I felt, more to reassure himself than to urge me on. A few minutes later he shouted for the guard.
Heitman departed with a curt "Heil Hitler!" The guard clicked his heels. He put the irons back on my wrists. Then I was alone again.
I paced the cell all afternoon. Night came, and I did not sleep a wink. I was oblivious of hunger and cold. Every inch of me was in fever and uproar. From the beginning I knew: this would be an ugly business, the most dangerous, the most difficult, the most deadly assignment of my career. I did not think a successful termination of this mission within the scope of possibility. I was firmly convinced that by embarking on it I was bound for certain death. I asked myself: "Are you still a good Bolshevik?" Half the night I fought with myself to arrive at an affirmative answer. The faint aroma of a cigarette smoked by a night guard on the tier disturbed me in this battle.
But before the next morning bell sounded, I decided to go ahead. I felt myself a lone wanderer, surrounded by desolation, with nothing to rely upon except myself.
I asked the guard on duty for permission to read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
This guard was new on the tier. Guards were changed every few weeks to prevent them from becoming friendly with the prisoners. He flatly refused my request.
I let two days go by. Of course, I had read the book before, but, for two reasons, it was essential for me now to get it. One was that the Gestapo kept a close record of each prisoner’s correspondence and reading matter; imprisoned men who seemed to spend much of their time over official Nazi literature were generally considered as being at odds with their former Weltanschauung [59]. The second reason was that I wanted to acquire a thorough knowledge of National Socialist conceptions and phraseology in order to be able to meet the Gestapo chieftains on their own ground at some date to come.
On the third morning I asked to be led before the Lagerkommandant [60].
"For what reason?" the guard demanded.
"I wish to make a statement," I said.
"A personal statement? Nothing doing."
"A political statement, Herr Wachtmeister."
The guard was impressed. He went off with clanking boots, and ten minutes later he returned and took off my manacles.
"Step out. The Kommandant wants to see you."
The commander of Camp Fuhlsbüttel lounged behind a bat­tered desk. His office was overheated and cluttered with files and papers. Portraits of Nazi leaders lined the walls. The Kommandant was a slender, graying man with soldierly features. He wore the black uniform of the Elite Guard. A saber scar ran from his temple down to his mouth, a souvenir of a duel, or of the World War, or of his years in the French Foreign Legion. When I entered the office, clicking my heels and reporting in the sharp customary manner, he waved several clerks—also members of the Elite Guard—out of the room. For some time he looked me over. I stared at the pale blue eyes of the man under whose regime in Camp Fuhlsbüttel so many of my comrades had perished. Finally he snapped:
"Why are you here?"
"I wish to ask—"
"I don’t want to know what you wish," he interrupted. "Why are you in protective custody?"
"I was accused of stirring up unrest in prison."
I saw that the Kommandant liked my frank answer.
"Is the accusation true?"
"In part—yes," I admitted.
"Why did you do it?"
"I saw the futility of the old ideas," I replied. "I despaired. To avoid facing the truth, I struck out in the opposite direction.”
"That seemed easier than facing the truth?" he asked shrewdly.
"Yes, sir. It seemed—for a time."
"Why were you sent to prison?"
"For illegal work against the. Third Reich."
"How much?"
"Thirteen years."
"You were lucky. Had I been judge, you’d have been shot." Silence. He scanned me minutely. I looked straight into his face. His type had no love for servile skulkers.
"Why are you kept in irons?" he asked.
"I attempted suicide."
"All that I know," the Kommandant drawled lazily. "But you came to make a political statement. Now, out with it."
"I’d like permission to read Mein Kampf," I said.
At first he scowled. He had probably expected something else. Then he smoked thoughtfully. After a while he said: "Why should a traitor like you want to read the Führer’s book?"
"When a man is much alone, he starts to think, Herr Kommandant" I explained. "I said I had to make a political statement. I desire to read the book. That, to me, is a political statement, Herr Kommandant."
The Kommandant leaned forward. "You are not turning Nazi, are you?" he asked ironically.
"No, sir."
"You are still a communist?"
"I thought I was. But communism in Germany is dead, sir."
That’s tough luck, nicht wahr?"
I nodded. I continued to stand as rigidly as I possibly could. In the presence of the camp commander, no gesture was permitted a prisoner.
"The hardships of camp life are not conducive to communist morale, are they?" the Kommandant went on.
"I don’t mind the hardships, sir," I answered.
"Hardships make men. Those who crumble under hardships are not worth bothering about. Just what put the idea in your head to read Mein Kampf?"
"My life has been irretrievably destroyed, Herr Kommandant," I said. "I’ve no intentions of becoming a Nationalsozialist. I can­not. It is too late. But I know that I’ve belonged to an army which has been beaten—definitely beaten."
"Beaten? . . . Annihilated," the Kommandant said. "Go on."
"Annihilated," I admitted. "It was a strong army and it has been annihilated by the Hitler movement. That is why I want to read Mein Kampf , Herr Kommandant. I am curious and anxious to understand what gives National Socialism such annihilating strength."
"You should have done that in 1930," the Kommandant observed.
"At that time I was blind, sir."
"And you are still blind?"
"No, sir."
"I don’t believe you. You seem to me a Kerl [61] who’d bash his head against a stone wall rather than admit that you were wrong. You shouldn’t start crawling."
"I do not crawl, Herr Kommandant."
The Kommandant tapped his desk. He spoke crisply: "You find yourself in a situation where honesty is the foe of loyalty, my friend. The Communist Party is rotten from top to bottom. Always was rotten. The fact that very few communists stick to their guns even in hell proves it."
"I cannot profess loyalty to a cause which has ceased to exist," I countered.
"So you wish to read Hitler’s book?"
"Yes, sir."
"Request refused. I’ll have you chased twenty-five times around the yard instead."
The Kommandant pressed a button. A trooper clanked in, stood at attention. The Kommandant issued an order.
That ended the interview. I was taken out into the yard by two guards who made me run twenty-five times around the inside of the surrounding walls. The guards ran in a smaller circle. "Faster!" they shouted. "Faster!" If I did not run fast enough, they tripped me and beat me with their truncheons. Two rounds were nearly a kilometer. While I ran I saw the Kommandant’s slight figure leaning against the barred window of his office. I ran for two hours. Then I sagged to the ground, was dragged back to my cell and handcuffed.
There was a special telephone line directly connecting the Kommandant’s office with the headquarters of the secret police. I knew that over this wire my petition to obtain Mein Kampf had been communicated to the Gestapo. After several eventless days, I was again called to the Kommandant’s office. With all the resources I could muster I continued the comedy on which I had embarked. To my astonishment, the Kommandant, when we were alone, told me to sit down.
He asked me about Cilly who had been his prisoner during the months between our arrest and trial. Her clever defiance, together with her rather exotic charms, had interested him. He seemed to derive some pleasure when I willingly answered a string of questions pertaining to Cilly’s personal affairs and her erotic qualities. Finally he asked me point-blank:
"Have you had sexual intercourse with this girl?"
When I nodded, he almost leaped out of his chair.
"Is that true?"
"Yes, sir."
He rose and I saw him work himself up into an unconvincing rage.
He blustered, "You should be ashamed of yourself. A married man, aren’t you? And with such a fine wife. I’ve had a few long talks with your wife. You—don’t you feel any shame at all?"
No, sir," I said.
The Kommandant guffawed. "I know all too well how it is . . . in the War . . . any day we might be blown to smithereens . . . anything that smelled of she-flesh we used to squeeze dry before it was too late. This—how’d she call herself?—this Cilly was a good-looking bitch. And you did have a lot of fun with her, did you?"
"Yes, sir," I said.
The Kommandant pressed me for details. I invented them for him. In that hour at least Cilly’s skill as a mistress fascinated the Kommandant more than all the theories of Rosenberg and Hitler. I felt the ice thaw. Our talk consumed hours. I forged ahead eagerly. The Kommandant was irritated whenever the telephone rang or when a guard knocked to ask for instructions regarding the ordre du jour.
From Cilly’s role as an international voluptuary the conversation shifted to the moral corruptness of leading Bolsheviks in general and to the sexual degeneration of Dimitrov, Wollweber and Heinz Neumann in particular. I told the Kommandant weird tales about mass rapes during Stalinist jamborees in Moscow and Paris. Because communists were the culprits, he believed them. The next theme was prostitution in the Soviet Union. From there jumped to the prices of prostitutes in various zones and climates.
"The greatest fault of the German is his narrowness," the Kommandant suddenly declared. "I, too, have seen much of the world."
I endeavored to flatter his pride until he, who was at best a scullion of the Gestapo, found it hard to conceal his pride at being regarded as a man of the world.
"First of all, I serve my country," he said.
I said respectfully, "Ja, Sie sind Soldat, Herr Kommandant."
"What you have told me today," the Kommandant mused, "all these details about the cesspool beneath the communist belt line—verdammt, they’d be worth an article in the Völkischer Beobachter."
There was a short silence. The Kommandant’s communicative mood tempted me to ask him about Firelei. I realized instantly that I had made a mistake. My vague question regarding my wife’s health jerked him back into his customary brusqueness.
"Your wife got what she deserved," he snapped. "No more, no less."
"She never was a confirmed communist," I interjected.
"I know her case," the Kommandant said. "She deserted her child rather than face responsibility for the crimes she committed. Abhorrent, that! Worse than a beast. The lowest female beast takes care of her young ones, defends them, dies for them. Shooting is too good for such a one."
I hung in my chair, my arms dangling limp.
"Dismissed," the Kommandant barked.
A trooper entered.
"Take him back to his cell."
"Irons, Herr Kommandant?"
"Most certainly!"
The rest of that day and the following night remain a hellish memory in my mind. I let another day go by. The next morning I resumed the bitter offensive.
The guard on my tier that morning was a phlegmatic, apple-cheeked fellow whom the prisoners judged the most easy-going in Camp Fuhlsbüttel. When he entered my cell for the daily inspection I told him I wanted to write a letter to the Gestapo.
"What sort of a letter?"
"A confession, Herr Wachtmeister."
"Long or short?"
"A long one, Herr Wachtmeister."
"Very well."
Each prisoner, no matter how isolated, is always allowed to write to the Gestapo. The Gestapo welcomes letters from prisoners. The more they write, the more they bare themselves, the deeper—usually—do they become entangled in the thousand-and-one snares laid out for enemies of the New Germany. The prisoner may cover any number of sheets with his writing; the only condition is that he delivers to his guard as many sheets as he has received.
The guard brought me three sheets, and pen and ink. He also brought me a piece of board which was to serve as a table. Then he unlocked the irons from my left wrist, leaving them to dangle from my right, and left me. A quick glance at the spy-hole showed me that the trooper kept observing me from the outside. He merely followed camp regulations; many a prisoner, having his hands freed under the pretext of wanting to write to the Gestapo, seized the opportunity to commit suicide.
One sheet I addressed to Regierungsrat Schreckenbach, the chief of the Foreign Division of the Gestapo. I wrote a flaming denunciation of communism. I declared that I herewith severed all my connections with the communist cause. I concluded this letter with the sentence, "I am a German. I realize that he who embraces communism accepts the betrayal of his fatherland as a part of his duty to Moscow." I added that I agreed to the publication of this declaration in the Nazi press. The Gestapo liked to publish such declarations, most of which were obtained under torture, on the assumption that they would do much toward demoralizing the remnants of the "underground" opposition.
The two remaining sheets I filled with notes about real and invented acts of profligacy of communist chieftains who had been more or less in the headlines of the German press since 1933. Over this slush I affixed the title "So live the would-be wreckers of the German family." This expose I addressed to the Kommandant of Camp Fuhlsbüttel.
The guard who received the two letters for dispatch grinned broadly. "I know what it means when a former Staatsfeind [62] writes to the Gestapo," he said. "The inner struggle. . . . Oh, yes—solitary confinement and the inner struggle." He went away chuckling.
Nothing happened for a week. The monotony, the routine brutality, the food gobbled up from the floor, the banging doors and angry shouts and the screams of beaten men, the constantly gnawing pain in my wounded wrists—all that remained the same. Different only was the manner in which I occupied my brain. I had succeeded in forcing myself not to think of Firelei. I had abandoned my usual grind of mechanical mental exercises. My brain was filled—even in its dreams—with but one train of thought: "How can you best carry out the command of the Comintern?" This central problem gave birth to uncounted silent questions and a multitude of equally silent answers. I had been stripped of most illusions; I saw the Comintern for what it was. But I clutched at the task. I was afraid of emptiness. Regardless of how it ended, it seemed to bring a purpose into my life again. At the end of the week I wrote another letter to the Gestapo. I humbly asked for permission to study Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.
Early next morning, under supervision of two troopers, I was shaved by a tight-lipped, elderly Jewish prisoner.
"You are going to the Gestapo," a trooper informed me with a parting kick.
I was marched to the ground floor of the old prison, and stood nose and toes against the wall for several hours. To my right and left a long line of prisoners also stood nose and toes against the wall, waiting. At last I was herded into the prison van. As usual, it was overcrowded. But while the lorry rumbled through the streets toward the Gestapo headquarters I realized that the prisoners who were being carried to torture sessions in the latter part of 1936 were different types than the militants of the first three years of Hitler power. There were more Jews, professional men, Catholic priests, small merchants and others who never had belonged to the Party or the proletariat. I tried to draw one or the other of them into a discussion. But they were too frightened to speak, it seemed. My thoughts turned to my own problems. "Why are you being called to the Gestapo?" I asked myself. My whole future hinged on the answer to that question.
The truck veered into the yard of Gestapo headquarters, the yard in which Karl Burmeister had died a thousand days earlier. I was not driven into the waiting-room of the Gestapo. I was led into the basement dungeons and locked into a closet which barely provided standing room. There was a small grill in the closet door. Through it I smelled the wondrous aroma of pea soup. Imprisoned prostitutes ran around freely in the corridor, bearing brooms and mops and stacks of tin bowls. At last I was called. "Keep calm, now," I told myself.
A young Elite Guard handed me a book. It was Mein Kampf. "When you have read it," he said, "give it to the prison library in Plötzensee."
I was startled. "Plötzensee?" I asked.
"Yes, you’re going to Plötzensee Prison," the trooper said.
I was marched through filthy corridors to another part of the cellar dungeons. Here a long line of men in crumpled civilian suits, most of them carrying cardboard boxes under their arms, was assembled.
"Step into line," I was told.
A chief guard barked: "Prisoner transport to Berlin-Plötzensee —listen: Whoever attempts to escape during the transport will be shot! Links um! Abteilung, marsch!" [63]
We tramped along gloomy corridors into the yard, where the vans were waiting. They brought us to the station.
"Plötzensee!" I thought. "What does it mean?"
Plötzensee was Hitler’s central slaughterhouse. All anti-Nazis condemned to death by the so-called People’s Courts were brought to Berlin from all parts of Germany to be beheaded in the yard of Plötzensee Prison.

At the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof the prison train was waiting. The train was long. The coaches had no ordinary windows, but grilled air holes high in their sides. A narrow corridor ran through the length of the car. To the right and left of it were small compartments with steel walls and steel doors. Electric lights burned brightly. Some of the compartments had room for only one prisoner; others were fitted to accommodate two and four. Guards and prisoners alike called it the Henkerszug—the hangman’s train. Together with three others I was herded into a four-man compartment. We waited a long time. New batches of prisoners arrived from various outlying prisons. Through the air hole I could see them march along the platform; there were men and women of all ages, political convicts bound for the numerous prisons in and around Berlin.
I soon got acquainted with my three companions. One, an elderly interior decorator, was a homosexual; one day he had become drunk and had walked through a crowded street, giving the Hitler salute and shouting, "Heil Captain Röhm!" For this he received three years. The other was a small merchant from Bremerhaven, a rotund Nether-Saxon who had assembled his friends to listen to anti-Hitler phonograph records which socialist sailors had smuggled in from England; one of the merchant’s friends, after the police had raided a home adjoining his own, had become frightened, and betrayed the merchant to the Gestapo. He had received a sentence of eight years under the new terror laws of 1934. The third of my companions was a soldier, an exuberant and reckless youth. He had written a letter to a former schoolmate in Switzerland, telling him boastfully at what range he could kill a man with a newly-introduced machine gun. The former schoolmate’s girl friend was a German and a Nazi. She had read the letter. She had had it photographed in a Nazi spy station in the Swiss town of Zug. The photostat had reached the Gestapo. The soldier was arrested and charged with betraying military secrets. The Special Tribunal, after a half-hour session, sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Toward evening the train began to move. It rolled through the night, crammed with a hapless human cargo. Every night, under cover of darkness, such prison trains rolled through the German land. The guards in the corridors were friendly. They brought us water when we asked for it, and they gave us tobacco and cigarette paper. They did not interfere when the soldier in our compartment began to tap against the steel partitions to communicate with prisoners in the adjoining boxes. The guards even allowed us to shout through the walls.
"Talk your fill," one of them said. "You won’t do much talking in Plötzensee, except to yourself."
Across the corridor from our compartment a man sat alone in his steel coffin. I could not see his face. But he had a deep, pleasant voice. He gave his name as Robert Gerdes, a communist, twenty-six years old.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Plötzensee," said the voice.
"How many years?"
"Just a few days, comrade," he answered. "They’re going to cut my head off."
There was a silence. The wheels hammered beneath us. Someone from another compartment asked:
"Death," Gerdes answered.
I gave him my name, the length of my sentence. "Tell me what you wish our friends outside to know," I said.
"I cannot tell you much," Gerdes said. "There are too many ears here. I was arrested in May, 1935. I ran a broadcasting station . . . on a ship . . . on the Baltic Sea. . . . They came out with a sub-chaser and got me . . . never mind the consolations. Tell our friends I’m not sorry . . ."
The conversation lagged. In the cages around Gerdes the prisoners were depressed. The young soldier broke the spell. Two cages away from the condemned man was a girl. She had kept silent for a long time. She, too, was alone.
"Hello, Puppe [64]," the soldier shouted. "Have a heart!"
The girl laughed. "I have a heart," she cried. "Wait a second. I’ll make it bigger, big enough for you to come in."
"I’m twenty-one," the soldier crowed, "and five foot ten. How old are you?"
"Twenty-four," the girl called back. "What’s your name?"
“Albrecht—and yours?"
"What did you do?"
"I was a smuggler—and you?"
"I betrayed military secrets," the soldier yelled. "I am a soldier." And then: "Hey Gretchen! What did you smuggle?"
"Other people’s money and diamonds . . . Cologne to Amsterdam."
"Why didn’t you stay in Amsterdam?" the soldier yelled. Again the girl gave a tinkling laugh. "I was too greedy," she said. "I came back to smuggle some more."
"What did they give you?"
"Four years for economic treason," she replied slowly.
"That’s not bad," the soldier said. "I wish I had only four years. Then I’d meet you when I come out. I wish you were with me now. I’d do something to you, something nice."
"Oh, why can’t I be with the soldier?" the girl wailed in mock despair. "Have you a good bayonet?"
"No—they took my arms away, silly!"
"A soldier without a bayonet isn’t much good," the girl said.
In the corridor the guards laughed softly.
"Guard! Guard!" the girl cried suddenly.
"What do you want?"
"Ask the man two doors away . . . Gerdes . . . the one who’s going to die . . . ask him if he’d like to be with a girl."
The condemned comrade’s voice said steadily: "I wouldn’t mind."
"You would like it, wouldn’t you?"
"Yes, I would like it, good girl."
The hammering of the wheels became slower. The locomotive shrieked. The girl pleaded with the guards.
"Be decent," she said. "You’ve once been young yourselves. Let me go to him. Let me be with him a short half hour."
The guards talked to each other. In the steel boxes the prisoners shouted: "Let Gerdes have Gretchen! Let him have her!"
"Shut up, you dogs!" a guard roared.
"Herr Wachtmeister. . ." the girl pleaded.
"Es geht nicht," the guard rumbled. "It’s against the rules . . . I’d get it in the neck . . ."
"Gretchen!" Gerdes called her. "Never mind, Gretchen. Ac­cept my thanks."
Gretchen beat her fists against the door.
"Now she’s weeping," a guard said disgustedly.
Gray daylight seeped through the air holes. The train was ap­proaching Berlin. The merchant sighed.
"I am troubled about my wife," he said drearily. "The business is going down . . . she’ll have such a hard time . . . undeserved, undeserved . . ."
The soldier had become silent. Gerdes was singing one old Ger­man folk-song after another. The train slowed down. It rolled into a station and stopped. The guards unlocked the doors of our steel cubicles.
"Good-by, Gerdes," Gretchen cried. "Good-by, boy."
"Step out! Single file! No talking, you dogs!"
No one among the prisoners spoke now. The soldier craned his brawny neck. Not far ahead of me walked the girl. She had a slight angular figure, and her face looked thin and serious. The platform was roped off by Elite Guards. Wide-awake eyes stared out of mask-like young faces under black steel helmets. From other platforms and from the windows of the waiting-rooms, scattered groups of civilians gaped in silence. The clocks showed eight-fifteen. The prisoners of each coach were marched off in separate formations. Now it was our turn. The girl and three other women were called out first. Before they went, Gretchen smiled faintly in the direction of Gerdes. Gerdes’s taut face—the face of a man who had made self-discipline his god—showed no sign of response. I never saw Gretchen again.
There was the ringing of iron heels on the concrete, and a series of commands, curt and harsh, leaped along the lines of convicted men. One after one we descended from the train. Each two prisoners were handcuffed together. Then a chain was passed through the handcuffs the whole length of the column. So, each man became chained to seventeen others. A dense detachment of policemen surrounded our crew on all sides. A man complained; his handcuffs were too tight, his wrists were swelling rapidly.
"Tut’s weh?" asked a policeman, "does it hurt?"
"That’s what I want . . . Abteilung, marsch!"
We marched through the station-hall which by that time was packed with people who stood in a solid mass on both sides of a lane cleared by the police. An old man whimpered; he shambled ahead of me like a decrepit ape. A marching Jew closed his eyes in a gesture of utter desolation. All the others marched erect, their heads high, as if they were proud of their fate, their eyes stony, or defiant, or glued briefly to the shape of young women in the front row of the watching multitude. The watchers stood immobile, staring mutely, some gloomy, some thrilled and curious, but most of them without a trace of expression.
Once outside of the station, we were herded into a grimy windowless truck. As we entered it, the chains which linked the column were taken off. Policemen were with us. Speaking was prohibited. At high speed the truck bounced and rattled through unseen streets. Twenty minutes went by. We stopped suddenly. There was the sound of voices outside, then the clanking of an iron gate. For a few yards the truck moved slowly over cobbles. It halted. Its door swung open. "Alles raus!" We were in the yard of Plötzensee.
We stood in the sunlight with blinking eyes. Red brick buildings with hundreds of barred windows loomed all around. They were encircled by a patchwork of yards and gardens. A brick wall eighteen feet high shut off the grounds from the outside world. Guards in gray uniforms lined the inside of the wall at intervals of fifty yards. Each of them had an army carbine in his hands, a truncheon in a pocket fastened to his trouser leg, and bayonet and pistol in his belt. Low round machine-gun turrets topped the roof of each cell block. From a tall white mast in the front yard a monstrous swastika flag curved lazily in the breeze.
A stiff-backed lieutenant lined us up in the yard. As he called each newcomer’s name, the one addressed had to report his crime and his sentence. "Possessing fire-arms." . . . "Attempted assassina­tion" . . . "High treason" . . . "High treason" . . . "High treason." So it went. "High treason" might have been anything from listening to Moscow radio broadcasts to running an underground printing press or dumping sand into the machinery of a tank factory. "Four years." . . . "Ten years." . . . "Fifteen years." . . . "Life." . . . "Death." The prisoners spoke without emotion. The lieutenant checked their reports as though he counted buttons.

In a rambling basement hall we were stripped naked. Each man was told to raise his arms, spread out his legs, and to bend over. Guards inspected every inch of our bodies for hidden contraband. A young physician raced past us and pronounced us healthy. Then we were given a cold shower and prison clothes. The clothes were handed out without regard to the individual’s size, except shoes. Each man received a suit of woolen underwear, a pair of ancient gray socks, hobnailed shoes, a pair of shapeless mules, a blue handkerchief, a neck cloth, a black cotton uniform and a round black cap. The right sleeve of each jacket carried a bright yellow stripe. The prisoners who handed out the clothes worked like automatons. But for the snapped orders of the guards not a word was spoken. After each prisoner had been shorn of his hair, and had written a short history of his life, he was escorted to his cell by a taciturn guard.
Solitary confinement predominates in Plötzensee. There are 1,800 solitary cells in four large cell blocks. The cells range in four tiers. Newly-strung wire nets between the tiers discourage suicide by diving head first to the ground floor. Each cell has a small window high in the wall which faces the yard, a steel door with a spy-hole, an open toilet stand, a collapsible iron bed, a work table, wooden stool, and a rack for wash bowl, plate and spoon. Knives and forks are taboo. There is steam heat, electric light and running water in each cell.
During his first week in Plötzensee the prisoner is left alone. He sees no one. He has no books to read and no work to do. He does not leave his cell for exercise. Between seven A.M. and seven P.M. he is not permitted to sit down. During the other twelve hours he is not permitted to budge from his bed. Those who violate this rule are handcuffed to the bed, hands and feet; the window of their cell is closed and the steam heat turned on to the limit. In all the cells the radiators are installed beneath the beds. The latest handcuffs are of such construction that they tighten automatically with every accidental tug or jerk—and remain tightened. So the prisoner learns to be very quiet. After this first week, the prisoner enters the routine life of Plötzensee. He is given work to do. All his work is done in the solitude of his cell. He may be given hunks of old rope to be plucked into oakum; he may be given worn-out army uniforms to be taken apart for re-utilization; or he may be given a store of paper and glue for the manufacture of paper bags. The making of paper bags is the best work available to the political convict in Plötzensee. But most of them make oakum or take apart old uniforms, toiling from morning until night in a stinking cloud of dust and dirt. The prisoners are paid for their labor. Two pfennigs is an average day’s wage.
For thirty minutes each day we were taken out into the yard for exercise. We were formed into columns of thirty men and went through those thirty minutes at an exhausting pace: running in circles, jumping on one foot, leaping like frogs with hands clasped in the back of our necks, galloping through the dust on hands and knees, diving into garbage pits, running backwards with heads stuck between our thighs, goose-stepping with pants lowered beneath the hips. There were many other variations. Each detail was commanded by the guard on duty, and each guard had his own set of ideas about exercise suitable for foes of the Nazi regime. There were, of course, decent men among the guards, mainly soldiers who had served their time in the army, but even they adhered to the man-breaking program in order not to forfeit their chances for promotion. The strongest among us forgot the degradation of this daily Freistunde ("free hour"), and even began to like the deadening prance, but for most it was an ordeal unmitigated by thousand-fold repetition. Those who rebelled were thrown into the dungeon, a basement hole of complete blackness, put on bread and water, and often given nightly beatings. The Prügelmeister (flogging master) wore a mask.
During the "free hour" conversation among prisoners was, as at any other time, severely punished. Nevertheless, each of those hours became a social event. The eternal militants among the inmates of Plötzensee were experts at furtive contact and conspirative organization. Unnoticed by the guards they slipped information, exchanged the latest news, broadcast warnings about suspected traitors and spies, gave whispered instructions as to release. Their hawk-eyes watched the long rows of cell windows for familiar faces, flashed signals, smiles, and words and gestures of loyalty, encouragement and courage.
During one of these hours I saw two leading functionaries of the Communist Party sit side by side beneath an oak in the yard, munching acorns they picked up from the ground. They were permitted to do that because one had hobbled into the yard with a shattered knee, the other with his left foot swathed in a blood-stained bandage. That was the price they paid for the opportunity of thirty minutes of whispered conversation in the guise of munching acorns. Meanwhile, we others astounded the guards by marching like fiends.
In Nazi prisons, the time-honored method of tapping messages through the walls had gone out of fashion. Guards had ears, and codes could be deciphered. But there were other means of communication, all more or less known to the prison officials, but more difficult to check. The stealing of pencils from the doctor’s or dentist’s office and the passing of written notes at the end of broomsticks from window to window in the dead of the night; the use of the system of air-shafts which permitted verbal contact from tier to tier in a vertical direction; messages to the kitchen pasted on the bottom of dirty dishes, and messages from the kitchen hidden in a chunk of bread or a pail of cabbage soup. All this was extremely dangerous. Every newcomer among us was considered as a provocateur or an informer of the Gestapo until he had been identified by someone who knew his past or the circumstances of his arrest and conviction.
Once a week each prisoner received a book from the prison library. He had no choice of books: the teacher, a retired petty officer and a fanatical Nazi, decided what each man should read. So, with few exceptions, the literary diet consisted of super-patriotic propaganda, and of harmless scientific treatises, which as often as not, had been written and printed a hundred years ago.
All illustrations bearing any resemblance to a woman were re­moved before the respective books were given into circulation.
Church service in Plötzensee prison was compulsory. I had barely entered my cell when a voice had hailed me through the window of the cell on my left.
"What are you?" the voice asked. "Political or criminal?"
"When they come around to ask you about your religion, tell them you have become a Catholic!"
I followed this advice. The Catholic Church in Germany had fallen on evil days. Adversity did much to cause it to regain its old, half-forgotten fighting spirit. Plötzensee Prison was well populated by priests and monks from the South and the Rhineland. They had been convicted of all manner of sexual atrocities, but prisoners and guards alike knew that the charges of lewd conduct were merely a device invented by Dr. Joseph Göbbels and the Gestapo to screen the actual political and religious persecution of Catholic organizations and their militants. As a "Catholic" I was frequently visited by priests who attended the spiritual needs of the prisoners. I was surprised to find how close the minds and hearts of these soldiers of God were to the minds and hearts of the Ger­man masses. Not one of these priests ever gave me the impression that I was dealing with an opportunist or a hypocrite. I found in them keen-eyed, warm-hearted and understanding crusaders for human rights. Prudence and the watchfulness of the Gestapo for­bid me to relate in greater detail my relations with these doughty representatives of religious internationalism, for they are still hold­ing out at their difficult posts in Germany. Suffice it to say that during my sojourn in Plötzensee Prison I succeeded, with their assistance, in exchanging short notes with Firelei, who continued to fight her own battle in the distant Women’s Prison in Lübeck.
Once a week the prisoners of each tier were summoned to attend the prison school, the purpose of which was to impress the minds of the convicts with the glory and the achievements of the Hitler regime. One lesson consumed two hours; during the first hour the teacher would read a chapter from Rosenberg’s The Myth of the Twentieth Century, or an editorial from Hitler’s newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter; in the second hour the prisoners were permitted to ask questions which the teacher then endeavored to answer. Some of our comrades kept the teacher busy with questions, while the rest of us settled down to a conspirative conference, speaking in the lowest of whispers. It often happened that a pointed question of some anti-Nazi convict effectively plunged the teacher into a dilemma. Some of the questions were: "What is the ’just wage’ which Dr. Ley, the chief of the Nazi Labor Front, has promised the German worker?" Or: "Why did General Göring tell the people that cannon are more desirable than butter?" Or: "What is the origin of the First of May as a day of workers’ parades, and why did Hitler proclaim it as a Nazi national holiday?"
Once a communist asked: "What is imperialism?"
The teacher could not find a satisfactory answer. The comrade who had asked the question rose and quoted Lenin’s interpretation of imperialism, without, of course, mentioning its author. "That was an excellent explanation of imperialism," the Nazi teacher beamed. "It hits the nail on the head."
Next day prisoners from another tier went to school. That night, back in their cells, they caused chuckles to travel from window to window. The teacher had begun the day’s session by asking brightly:
"Now, let’s talk about imperialism. What is imperialism?"
After some discussion he had given the answer himself. To the prisoners’ astonishment, the Nazi teacher gave them Lenin’s interpretation of imperialism as his own.
But laughter was rare in Plötzensee Prison. My cell was situated on the ground floor of Cell Block A. Another wing of this ground floor harbored Death Row. The cells of Death Row were never empty. We passed them daily when going to and returning from the yard. Inside the death cells the lights were kept burning all night, and the doomed inmates were not permitted to wear cloth­ing. In front of each cell door, in a neat pile, lay the pants, the jacket and the boots of the condemned man inside. They only dressed for half an hour each day, when they went to exercise in the yard. Many times I saw them walking over the frozen earth. Every week, old faces vanished, and new faces took their place. The men walked briskly, their wrists shackled together behind their backs. Most of them seemed unconcerned; only a few looked strained or gloomy. Their heads fell at the rate of four to ten each week, and there were weeks when women, working girls and ladies of the nobility, convicted of treason or espionage, were among those who died at dawn. The laws of 1936 were far more savage than the laws of 1933.
Middle-aged men, young men, and mere boys of soldier age goose-stepped in this single file caravan of death. From all points of the compass they had been dragged to Plötzensee to die. Here the hand-ax was not used. The executions were too numerous, and the guillotine had again come into commission.
Those among us who awoke early in the morning, waiting for the bell to command us to rise, soon learned to recognize the sounds accompanying an execution: the clatter of feet on Death Row at six in the morning, the creaking doors of the shed at the other end of the cobbled square facing Death Row—the shed where the guillotine stood hidden behind a canvas curtain; the sudden rattling of keys in ponderous doors, sometimes the sounds of a futile scuffle, roars of rage and screams for help, or a booming voice singing the Internationale and ending with a hoarse shout of farewell to the hundreds who lay listening in their cells, still alive. But most of them went quietly, without imprecation or audible complaint, and only the cries of solidarity, of hate and indignation from distant cell windows, perhaps imparted to the marcher the illusion that he did not die in vain.
In most cases we did not know the names of those who died. But toward noon, when we marched out for exercise, we would often see a heavy patch of sawdust on the cobbles. And we noticed that the guards were then less unfriendly than on other days.

On November 4, 1936, unknown to us who lay behind the thick walls of Plötzensee, Edgar André’s warrior head fell under the Nazi knife, after nearly four years of continuous torture. When the news of it was flashed through the prison some nights later, the walls reverberated as if by magic with the singing of the Russian revolutionary Death March. He had gone to his death with the defiant battle-cries of bygone years, a fighter to the last. But the guards who had been with him in his cell during the last moments had seen another Edgar André, and they spoke of him—much later—in whispers. When André had heard the footsteps of the headsman’s assistants approach at dawn, he begged one of his guards to tell a joke.
"I have experienced everything that’s good and noble in life," André had said. "Now I want to laugh once more before I go."
The guard had said that he knew no joke, but a Nazi lawyer among the attendants volunteered to make André laugh. He told a joke about a Jew. André was himself a Belgian of Jewish origin. By the time the other had finished telling his anecdote, the cell was filled with people. In addition to Comrade André, the guards and the lawyer, there were the headsman’s aides, the prosecutor, Death Head troopers and Gestapo agents. All stood guffawing, André louder than any of the others.
"When I march out," André told them, "my comrades will watch from the windows and say: `Look, André is going to the guillotine!’ They will all watch. They all want me to die as a real Bolshevik; to do that is my duty toward them. Not one of my boys will suspect that I am in truth nothing but a tired comedian of loyalty to a cause in which I have ceased to believe. Gentlemen, I am ready."
André died with the cry: "Death to Hitler! Long live the workers’ revolution!" He died as revolutionists are expected to die by those who have followed their command. In his honor, the "Battalion Edgar André" was formed in Spain, and was counted among the shock troops of the International Brigade. Also, the Frenchmen and Belgians in the "Battalion Paris Commune" elected Edgar André as their honorary commander.
It was my fourth winter in Hitler’s prisons. Around me men and women I had known toppled into their graves. Among those who died that winter was Franz Lauer, who had been my comrade in Hall Eleven; he attempted escape, and was riddled with bullets from the guns of the Death Head guards. News of his death filtered through the walls of Plötzensee Prison. He was but one of many. Closing my eyes I saw the dead march through my cell in an endless and silent train. "Are they heroes?" I wondered. "Or are they no more than poor, betrayed wretches, who seem to me like heroes because my brain is blind and drunk and mad?" With savage efforts I fought down the forerunners of despair. By sheer will-power I could make myself hear the roar of guns in Spain, and the shouts of the forward-storming revolutionary volunteers.
"Shoot well, comrades," I would growl, gathering strength to fight my own dark and insidious battle: "Don’t waste ammunition, comrades. For every slug—a dead Fascist! Roar, you guns in Spain! Give them the answer for workers’ blood spilled in the horror camps. Give them the answer without fail and pity. Give them the answer they deserve. Roar, you guns in Spain! I am with you! We are all with you!"

Chapter Thirty-nine - DARK DUEL

IN MY CELL I DILIGENTLY STUDIED HITLER’S Mein Kampf. With a contraband pencil I copied whole sentences and paragraphs on scraps of toilet paper, added admiring comment to the quotations, and left them where they would be found by the guards during the next routine search of my cell. I knew that they would seize the notes, and the prison director would add them to my dossier. Occasionally I received letters from one of my brothers; I was permitted to have them for two hours before they were taken from me, also to be filed with my dossier. In these two hours I scribbled words of disillusionment between the lines. "It is true," I wrote, "Hitler is Germany, and Germany is Hitler." And: "Com­munism is a heinous lie. One cannot be a communist and not be a traitor to the Fatherland." The letters with such inscriptions, I hoped, would find their way to the Gestapo. They would be noticed, perhaps discussed, and the Gestapo would draw its conclusions—in one way or another. I worked patiently and cau­tiously, week after week, at this game.
A few days before Christmas, 1936, the majority of communist prisoners launched a secret campaign for a church strike on Christ­mas Eve. "Refuse to attend church! Let the Nazi pastor talk to empty benches!" were the main slogans of this drive. Deliberately I launched a counter-drive under the cry: "Down with the church boycott! Prisoners, refuse to be terrorized by the godless!" This caused some consternation in the ranks of the political convicts. I induced my cell-neighbor, a reliable comrade whom I had drawn into my confidence, to write a violent epistle against me, condemning me as a renegade, a counter-revolutionary, and a violator of Party discipline. This he did, under the headline: "Down with the Trotskyist! Down with the lackey of the Church!" He ended it with the exhortation: "READ—AND PASS ON." During the next exercise hour I dropped this broadside against myself in the yard. A guard picked it up. Before I was returned to my cell, I could see the guard striding toward the administration offices, the paper in his hand. A day later I was called before the prison direc­tor. He showed me the paper.
"I must say," he observed, "your communist friends have heaped a goodly load of maledictions on your head."
"They are not my friends," I answered stiffly. "I have broken with communism. If I knew of a way to fight communism, I’d do it."
"Who wrote this barrage?" the official inquired.
"I wish I knew, sir," I said. "I’d wring his neck."
"Oh, you would?"
"Yes, sir."
He nodded in a friendly way and sent me back to my cell.
I continued the grim comedy all through January. I avoided all contacts with other prisoners. When I knew that a guard was listening outside my cell, I hummed the Nazi anthem. I had come to the point where I resembled a man who stands with his head braced against a thick wall, determined to break it, or to crush his skull. And then the wall gave way. One day a guard came into my cell and told me to pack my things.
"Where am I going?" I asked.
"The Hamburg Gestapo wants to see you," the guard replied, glancing at the printed transport-order in his hand.
That night I was again aboard a prison train.
"The duel of darkness has begun," I told myself. "How will it end?"

An Elite Guard led me through the corridors of the Hamburg Gestapo headquarters. We entered a section of the building in which I had never been before. We passed through a door which bore the sign: Auslandsabteilung.
The armed sentries stood aside. We were in the offices of the Foreign Division of the Gestapo. The guard took off my handcuffs and ushered me into a thickly-carpeted reception room. In the distance, typewriters clattered, interrupted by the intermittent ringing of telephones. The room was large, light, and well-aired. The carpet was a rich pearl gray. On the wall, in solid black frames, were a map of Germany, regional maps, a map of Europe and another of the world. Behind a large, low desk lounged Hertha Jens. Curtly she signaled the guard to leave.
The years had not changed the traitress. Her clothes were smarter than they had been when I saw her last. On her wrist-watch flashed diamonds. Aside from her finery, she was still the pink-fleshed, large-breasted, capable traitress of 1933. Her blue eyes, in which the lights danced, were hard, and somehow naive. Her teeth were still superb. She nodded pleasantly, and gave me her best smile.
"How do you do?" she said. "We were expecting you." Then she spoke into a tube: "He’s here!"
A short, rather grim-faced man came through one of the side doors. His eyes were deep in their caves, but intensely alert.
"Hello," he said briskly. "Glad to see you. You don’t look as prosperous as you did when we first had you here."
"No," I said.
"Do you recognize me by any chance?"
"You are Inspector Kraus," I said.
He led me into a small office which adjoined the reception room. In contrast to the latter, it was furnished with studied simplicity. A desk by the window, two hard chairs, several steel lamps, a bookshelf, and a portrait of Hitler. On one side of the room a gen­eral staff map of Germany was fastened against the wall, on the other a map of Europe which reached from floor to ceiling.
"Sit down," Inspector Kraus said.
I sat. Facing me, he pushed a silver cigarette case across the desk. "Smoke?"
I took a gold-tipped cigarette. He struck a match and I thanked him. The thought that this was the man who had had me beaten within an inch of my life never left my consciousness. From a drawer he took the letters containing my repudiation of communism and my application for Mein Kampf.
"What," he inquired softly, "induced you to write this declara­tion?"
I feigned embarrassment. "The causes for it go back years," I said. "It is a long story, I fear.
"That’s clear.—How long have you been imprisoned now?"
"Thirty-seven months. Since November, 1933."
"That was an unpleasant day. Your story goes back to that day?"
"Further," I said.
Inspector Kraus lit a cigarette. He had the expression of a very passionate smoker. "Nun," he said, "go ahead. Get it off your chest. I am an excellent listener."
I talked, haltingly at first, and then in a continuous flow. At three Inspector Kraus ordered a lunch from a nearby restaurant and Hertha Jens joined us during the meal. I talked until five. Many of the things I said were not lies; they were conclusions I had arrived at in the self-searching and digging which many thou­sand lonely hours had invited. I used them now because they seemed to fit into my scheme. I was fully aware that the slightest slip of my tongue, a single wrong word or gesture under the ex­perienced ears and eyes of Inspector Kraus, would plunge me to ultimate destruction. Inspector Kraus held the power of life and death. He could make life easy for men, could free men, could keep them incarcerated for life, could make them die fast, or die very slowly. A few times he interrupted me to murmur a ques­tion, but mostly he listened, his eyes following the eddies and spirals of tobacco smoke. The more I saw the expression of mingled curiosity and quiet triumph spread over his face, the greater my confidence became.
"What made you join the Muscovites in the first place?" In­spector Kraus asked, interrupting the flow of the blend that I was pouring out to him. "Didn’t it strike you that they speak an alien language? That they are like pickpockets sporting a scientific vernacular?"
"To the worker the language of their ’theses’ and ’resolutions’ is like Chinese," I admitted. "But it was not so in the years follow­ing the World War. They seemed to offer a sound solution for a diseased and betrayed Germany. Our so-called democracy was a Mummenschanz from the start. I joined the Communist Party as a boy out of the same motives which brought other youths into the ranks of the Hitler movement. Germany was broken then, life had become intolerable, and a radical course away from the shame of Versailles became law to every German who longed for national freedom. I became a communist because I believed the revolu­tionary workers could build a better Germany. I fought the Na­tional Socialists in later years because I believed what my leaders—Thälmann, Neumann, Wollweber—had told me: that the Nazi movement was neither ’national’ nor ’social,’ but a mercenary brigade organized by industrialists and bankers for the protection of their stranglehold on the German nation."
Kraus nodded. "Quite right," he said. "What is it that changed your opinion of the character of the Hitler movement? Prison is not likely to produce a cheerful state of mind toward us—or is it?"
I had studied the psychology of the Nazi movement and of the Gestapo too long and too thoroughly to stumble over this snag. There was but one effective answer.
"Hitler’s achievements changed my opinion of the Nazi move­ment," I said, and proceeded to give Inspector Kraus all the stereo­typed explanations which the Nazi propaganda machine had been circulating for foreign consumption: "The new realization did not come overnight. I struggled against it for years, tooth and claw. But I am not foolish enough to persist calling a square after all the world has seen that it is a circle. Since 1933, there have been no wage cuts for the German workers. When Hitler came to power we had eight million jobless—and now we have almost none. No other government on earth has accomplished that. The workers have vacations with pay. They can make ocean trips to Norway and Madeira for very little money. Employers who pay less than the decreed minimum wage are sent to jail. Germany was weak and despised—now it is strong and respected. The roads which Hitler built—the Autobahnen—are the best in existence. Fellow prisoners have told me that the Hamburg slums have been torn down; new, modern houses with gardens were built in their place. Boys and girls who before were condemned to grow up in over­crowded hells and the gutter, are now in the Hitler Youth—they learn wood craft, they go camping, they have all that children should have to be happy. Before 1933 each winter hundreds froze and starved to death; today everyone knows that the Nazi Welfare’s slogan, ’No one shall be cold or hungry,’ has been translated into reality. Well, neither I nor my comrades expected that Hitler would do so much for the workers. I came to the conclusion that I had been mistaken. I came to the conclusion that the Hitler movement was national and socialist in the best sense. I came to the conclusion that I had made a ghastly mistake."
"I’ve said that already to many of the ex-Muscovites we’ve had up here," Inspector Kraus observed. "What did you fellows want here? Fight Hitler! Isn’t it Hitler who has fulfilled many of the communist demands? Curbed capitalism? Broken the bourgeoisie? Cowed the church? Given security to the workers?
Refused to let Germany be bled white by the foreign bank sharks?"
"Hitler has done that," I said. "It was hard to admit, but it is the truth."
"Bitter, eh?"
"Yes, it was bitter," I said. "Bitter to find that one has been fighting on the wrong side."
"When did you begin to think that the Comintern was not so holy?" Kraus inquired suddenly. "Why did you stay with them so long?"
"The Hitler movement is built on the soldier ideal," I answered. "The Comintern is built up on military discipline. Hitlerism has an ideal. Communism rejected ideals—it recognized only historical materialism. What both had in common was the soldier attitude. I was a soldier. The soldier’s highest virtue is loyalty."
I went on, for a long time, uninterruptedly, afraid to let Inspec­tor Kraus listening brain slip from my grasp: Of course, by 1933 I had lost my brotherhood-of-man illusions; I recognized the Comintern as a mere instrument for the promotion of the imperialist aims of the Soviets, and its chiefs as a band of shyster lawyers and brigands. Yet I remained in the communist movement, a serf of Moscow, because I valued loyalty to a once chosen cause above all; because I despised the deserter; because I considered myself a soldier who fights with his army without asking whether his side is right or wrong. The decisive break developed during the years which followed my arrest by the Gestapo, which were years of painful inner struggle toward light. I heard what Hitler was doing for the German people. I recognized as falsehood everything the Jewish-Communist press printed about the New Germany. My own life, my home, my family had been wrecked, not by the Nazis, but by the communist leaders and their inhuman intrigues. I saw how I had been fooled. I had come to hate the leaders who had wrecked my chances for a decent existence. Allegiance to the Comintern was allegiance to the Kremlin, and equal to the crime of high treason. I had, at last, discovered that I was a German, that I belonged to Germany, that there was only one way in which I could atone for the crimes I had committed: to serve Germany by fighting its enemies, the communists, the overfed democracies, the emissaries of Judah! I hated the Jews. Was it not a Jew I had assaulted in California more than ten years ago?—All this had created in me the overwhelming urge to openly reject the communist creed. I wanted a clear break. I wanted all my former comrades to know that I was a communist no more. That is why I had written the declaration; I wanted it to be the tombstone of my ill-spent and futile past.
While I spoke, a number of Gestapo agents, single and in pairs, came into the office to report in whispers on the progress made in the questioning of various prisoners. A few of them put typewritten sheets on the inspector’s desk. After receiving short comments or instructions, which their superior gave in a low, rapid voice, these agents departed. On one occasion Inspector Kraus placed, as if by chance, one of the typewritten pages on a spot directly under my eyes. My impulse was to throw a surreptitious glance at the writing. I controlled the impulse; the section of a report lying so close in front of me looked too much like a trap.
"When we first got you, you seemed a hard nut to crack," Inspector Kraus said, after I had finished. "Pity you didn’t think then as you say you think now. You could have given us a lot of first-rate information at that time. Now, after years. . . . Anyway, you’ve traveled a long, long way."
Hertha Jens, ever-watchful under her placid exterior, interjected:
"Why, then, did you organize the communist training centers in the Hamburg and Berlin prisons? It doesn’t seem to make sense!"
"You’ll have to explain that," Inspector Kraus muttered.
I made my decision on the spur of the moment. Through my brain flashed the thought: "If you deny that you built up a schooling system, they won’t believe you, they’ll question the sincerity of what you’ve just told them; and if you admit that you did organize those training centers, you confess to a charge of high treason and lay yourself open to another trial and a possible death sentence." For a fraction of a second my whole plan hung in the balance. I told myself it was too late for retreat.
"I helped to set up the training centers in an attempt to kill the growing doubts in my own mind," I explained. "I faced com­munism with hostility, but I was afraid to admit this to myself. I was afraid of going mad. That’s why I started this—to keep my­self from thinking. Besides, in a prison full of communists, any comrade who does not do what is expected of him is likely to get hurt."
Strange as it may seem under the circumstances—I had spoken the truth. Though it was not fear of my comrades that had made me organize Stalinist courses in prison.
"Who was the head of the organization?" shot Hertha Jens. "Lauer," I said.
Comrade Lauer was dead. I could not hurt him.
"And what were the roles of all the others we grabbed in that affair?"
I hesitated. "They were small fry," I said finally. "Please don’t demand that I incriminate simple workers who have been made harmless already."
Inspector Kraus’ face tightened. "For the time being," he said, "we shall not press you. There is bigger game than the few stinkers in prison."
"Let him tell us about them," Hertha Jens insisted.
"No," Inspector Kraus interrupted. "Why spoil a perfectly good day? We’ll get the information when we want it." Facing me, he added slowly: "I am glad that you have written a re­nunciation of communism. Are you willing to see it published?"
"Yes," I replied steadily.
"I don’t think we shall publish it," Inspector Kraus observed. "You still have a good name in the Party. Why spoil a useful reputation?"
He gathered up a handful of cigarettes and handed them to me. "Take them," he said. "I see you like to smoke. I’ll phone the Kommandant to let you smoke."
I had broken through the first barrier. From now on I was moving in enemy country. "I must pretend that my friends are my foes, and that my foes are really my brothers," I thought. I loathed to take cigarettes from the man at whose hands thousands of my comrades had been tortured and degraded, at whose behest many of the best had been murdered in cold blood.
I took the cigarettes.
That night in Camp Fuhlsbüttel I was not handcuffed. I could move my arms as I liked to move them! I felt as free as a bird! During my absence someone had put a table into my cell. On the table were two books. One was a treatise on modern power politics by Professor Haushofer, the other was a brand new edition of Mein Kampf—a token from Inspector Kraus.
I did not read. I stretched out on my cot, intending to analyze the events of the day. But I was exhausted. Almost instantly I fell asleep.

An eventless day passed. The following morning a smooth-faced Gestapo man shouldered into my cell.
"Good morning," he said, "I come from Kraus."
He produced several sheets of drawing paper, pens and some india ink, and placed them on the table. Suddenly he asked me:
"You’ve been connected with the Red Seamen’s International, haven’t you?"
"Yes," I said.
"Here," he drawled, pointing at the drawing utensils. "My chief thought you would draw for him a schematic chart of the ISH network. The continents and harbors are traced on these papers. If you feel like it, Kraus thinks you can draw in the Inter­national Clubs, the names of the Red waterfront organizations, lines of communications and whatever else you know about the Muscovite grand admiralty for other countries’ ships. We know most of the details. Your good friend Albert Walter gave them to us." He gave a crafty smile. "What the chief wants," he continued, "is a general outline, a picture of how these things hang together. Do you know anything about that?"
"A little."
"Fine! Here, the chief gave me some cigarettes for you. He wants me to tell you not to do anything if you don’t like to do it. But if you’re ready to do us a favor—well, go ahead. I’ll tell the Kommandant to keep the light burning all night."
"All the information I have is over three years old," I cautioned him.
"We know that," he said naively. "To the devil with information. Just now we’re interested in your attitude."
He departed, grinning.
At once I went to work. Midnight passed before the job was completed. The maze of lines and dots and tiny flags, and the array of foreign organization names with which I had covered the sheets looked complicated and impressive. I added membership figures, and across the top of each sheet I wrote: Organization Plan of the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers in 1933.
I did not state, however, that this International had ceased to function as an "independent" organization; nor that Moscow had decided early in 1936 to replace the ISH with a subtler and more secret form of marine organization.
Two days I waited. Again I felt that my fate hung by a thread. If the Gestapo’s appraisal of the plans I had drawn was negative—the thread would part, once and for all.
On the third day another Gestapo agent called for me. He es­corted me to a sleek gray motorcar. An instant later we were racing toward Gestapo headquarters. Again I was led to the office of Inspector Kraus. Hertha Jens served coffee and cake. Kraus, munching cake, looked at me for a long while.
"What would you do," he asked abruptly, "if we would let your wife free?"
"I’d do anything," I blurted out, taken off guard.
"We’ll see," he said lightly. From a folder he took a number of typewritten sheets. "You have attended a communist school in Russia?" he inquired.
"Yes—years ago."
He pushed the typewritten sheets toward me. "It’s the copy of a report of one of our men in the University of the West in Moscow," he said. "Read it over. Take your time, there’s still plenty of good coffee. Read it over and tell me what you think of it. The boy who wrote it was once a fanatic Bolshevik. Now—he works for us."
I read the report. It was unquestionably authentic. It contained a description of life at school, of the study plan, the names of instructors and a long list of students’ Party names. While I read, the telephone rang repeatedly. From the answers given by Inspector Kraus I gathered that the persons at the other end of the line were Gestapo agents engaged in shadowing a young woman. They were reporting on the movements of their quarry.
"Ah," Inspector Kraus would say, "she went into a restaurant? Whom is she meeting? Don’t lose her, please."
I read on, bewildered by the revelation that a Gestapo operative had sent this report out of the innermost and exclusive training center of the Comintern, Again the telephone rang. Again I listened.
"Ah, she went into a movie?" Inspector Kraus drawled.
Hertha Jens was cursing. "Now she sits in the dark," she snarled. "And whom may she be talking to?" Inspector Kraus spoke into the telephone:
"Arrest the lady when she leaves the theater and bring her in." Turning to me, he smiled broadly: "Have you read the report? Do you find it interesting?"
"Very interesting," I muttered.
We talked about the report, going over it point by point. No significant detail, however small, seemed to escape the attention of Inspector Kraus. But he was vain. Whenever I said anything that implied respect and admiration for the efficiency of the Gestapo, pleasure spread over his half-suave, half-brutal face.
"How do you account for your phenomenal success in suppressing communism?" I asked.
"Our methods are a combination of enterprise, patience and the methodical application of workaday skill," he said, adding: "Communism was not suppressed; in Germany it was exterminated."
We came to a paragraph in the report from Moscow which mentioned the execution of nineteen German and Polish communists for alleged collaboration with the Gestapo. Kraus saw my questioning glance.
"Let them have their fun by killing off their own," he said quietly, indulgently. "They never shoot our men. We can have shot to order by the G.P.U. any man outside of the top-dozen in Moscow. All we have to do is to convey the word that he worked with us. Simple, what?"
I forced myself to remain calm. I was shocked and puzzled.
"I don’t mean that all the damn-fool comrades who got a bullet in the neck were shot to our order," he laughed. "We aren’t that bloodthirsty. With them, the problem of getting them­selves killed is quite simple. Communists—the foreign ones—are rebels. When they go to Russia, they feel themselves at home. They think they have a right to criticize the breadlines. Presto! Des Soviet Bürgers höchstes Glück, ist eine Kugel ins Genick! (The Soviet citizen’s highest bliss is a bullet in the neck.) Do you think that the Soviet mess is socialism?"
"What would you call it?"
"A form of imperialism camouflaged under a socialistic theory," I said quietly.
"And what do you think of the theory?"
"The theory has failed. Internationalism is an illusion."
"The methods of the Muscovites prove that their theory is wrong," Kraus remarked. "Stalin uses the ideas and the dictionary of Leninism to cover up his nationalistic aims. That makes every foreigner who works for Stalin a traitor to his own fatherland. Is that correct?"
"That is correct," I admitted.
"We are getting somewhere," Inspector Kraus smiled. "Things are different than they were when we arrested you. Moscow has abandoned all efforts to keep a Communist Party alive in Germany. Instead they’ve covered the country with a network of spies and sabotage groups. Most despicable and dangerous! What, in your opinion, should be the punishment of a German who sells out his nation to Stalin or the French finance hyenas?"
"Death," I said.
Abruptly he asked: "Would you like to see your wife? We could arrange that, you know."
I was silent.
"That would cost something," Inspector Kraus drawled. "I realize that," I replied.
Now came the question for which I had been maneuvering for months.
"It is not enough to repudiate communism," Kraus said harshly.
"One must fight it as long as there’s fight left in the beast. Would you be ready for that?"
"Yes," I said boldly. "It has destroyed my life and I am ready to strike back."
Inspector Kraus relaxed. Hertha Jens folded back her skirt and scratched her thick white thigh.
"Would you consider working for us?" Kraus asked easily.
I pretended to deliberate. It would not do to accept the offer quickly; that would make them suspicious. With a tremendous effort of will I hypnotized myself into the role of a man who fights a hard inner struggle.
"We force no man." Inspector Kraus spoke in a placating manner. "We are simply logical. If you wish to reject my proposal, don’t hesitate to do so. Nothing will happen to you. You will merely serve out the remaining ten years of your sentence."
"I will think it over," I said finally. "For me it is a monumental decision."
"Remember," Kraus said precisely, "working with us, you work with the winning side. No force on earth can keep Germany in the position of a second-rate power. As I have told you—times have changed."
"I shall give you my answer tomorrow," I replied.
Leaving the headquarters of the Foreign Division, I ran into Rudolf Heitman. He passed me in the corridor. As he shambled by, his eyes struck my face—and glanced over it as if I had not been there.

Tomorrow came.
Between eight and nine in the morning the sleek gray car whisked me to the Gestapo center. A few minutes later I faced Inspector Kraus across his cluttered desk.
"Well," he cried cheerfully, "have you decided?"
"Yes," I said.
"You will work with us?"
"Yes, I will work with you—under two conditions."
"We, too, have our conditions," the Gestapo chieftain observed. "We will come to them later. What are yours?"
"First," I said, "the release of my wife. Second, I will not do any small-time spying in factories or city blocks. I have no grudge against the communist rank and file, against the poor suckers who do not even know whose wagon they are pulling. But when it comes to bringing the top conspirators to justice, the ones who scheme from neutral soil and send others to die in the trenches, the real wirepullers—I am at your service!"
"We don’t want you for small-time spying," Inspector Kraus said matter-of-factly. "We have thousands to do that sort of work. We want you to slip into some central body of the enemy machine. We want you to get us a line on their sources of information, on their plans, their personnel, their movements. The world is big. We have, in most countries, an excellent Apparat. But the value of this machinery depends on the information furnished to it—and to us—by confidential collaborators in the inner circles of Germany’s potential foes. That should not be difficult for you, if complete secrecy is maintained. You have traveled much. You have Weltkenntnis [65]. And you will have our faithful and energetic assistance."
There was a pause. The Gestapo had put its cards on the table. In that instant I knew: If I did not succeed in winning their confidence, I would never be permitted to leave their prisons.
"The leaders of the Comintern know that I have been sentenced to thirteen years," I said. "I must have a plausible reason to account for an earlier release."
Inspector Kraus gave a mischievous grin. "We shall arrange for an ’escape,’ " he said. "We’ll let the enemy know in some inconspicuous way that you have escaped during a transport, and that we are looking for you, high and low. Among the anti-Nazis, a man who escapes from one of our ’sanatoriums’ is always a hero. We have had experience. We have done that before. It has always worked."
"I understand," I inquired, "that you wish to employ me outside of Germany?"
"Of course."
"That depends on your own connections. Any European country, or Russia, or North America. South America is well covered. The Far East we leave to the Japanese."
"What guarantee have you," I asked slowly, "that I won’t vanish once I am outside of Germany?"
"We are no children," Inspector Kraus said earnestly. "Any pact of value is a reciprocal affair. You will know what is good for you. Offhand, there are three guarantees: First, our own Überwachungsdienst—control-service—in foreign countries; as a rule, our boys abroad are trained and clever. Second, you will leave in our hands material which, should we choose to publish, will cause the G.P.U. to give you a one-way ticket to Valhalla. Third—"
"Your wife and child will remain in Germany." Inspector Kraus, speaking in a gently menacing tone, accentuated each word carefully. "They will be free, but they will be under surveillance. You may come to see them as often as you like—in Germany. Your loyalty to us will be the best guarantee of their happiness."
"I see," I said.
"I am glad you do," Kraus remarked.
Hertha Jens smiled brightly. "You have a very nice wife, you know," she said in her most innocent manner.
Every few minutes the telephone rang. Gestapo business. Inspector Kraus made his decisions quickly. He seldom talked for longer than thirty seconds with each caller, except when the call came through from Berlin. Whenever Berlin telephoned, Kraus requested me to leave the office; I would stand in the reception room under the eyes of two Death Head guards. On more than one occasion I heard in what summary manner Inspector Kraus decided the fate of individual prisoners who had served out their terms. Hertha Jens would take the telephone and listen to the call. Then she would report to Kraus:
"Convict Meier, he has finished his sentence. They want to know what to do with him."
"Meier, . . . Meier," Inspector Kraus would then mumble. "Wait a minute . . . what was he convicted of? . . . Oh, yes, I remember How did he behave?"
A few moments later he would make his decision:
"All right, let him go, he seems to have become sensible. Send him up here first to sign his declaration."
"Schultz? . . . He was a stubborn customer. We’ll send him to Sachsenhausen. Put him on ice for
another year or so."
And the anti-Nazi’s fate was decided . . .
"Let’s proceed," Inspector Kraus announced.
Hertha Jens slipped behind a typewriter to take dictation.

I herewith declare that I have become a devoted son of the Great German Fatherland. I declare that the enemies of the new Germany are also my enemies. I declare that I accept as my duty the tireless and consistent effort to aid in the destruc­tion of my country’s and Adolf Hitler’s enemies. 1 declare my willingness to accept and execute to the best of my abilities all and any orders issued to me by the Secret State Police of Germany (Gestapo).
Hamburg, February 17, 1937

"Sign this," Inspector Kraus said.
I signed. My hand was steady. A photograph of myself, bearing the Gestapo seal, and my fingerprints were then affixed to the document. Inspector Kraus smiled broadly.
"We will celebrate this with a glass of cider," he said. "We are non-alcoholics here. . . . Hertha, please telephone the canteen . . ."
Hertha Jens raised the receiver. Her whole Junoesque shape seemed to bubble and shiver.
"It is so very exciting," she giggled.
A trooper brought a bottle of cider and three glasses. We drank.
"Anyone who still works against Germany today is shoveling his own grave," Kraus murmured. "We are not what we used to be." He had the disconcerting habit of staring at me silently, for minutes at a time. Not a flicker of emotion was in his sunken eyes. I survived these dangerous intervals by staring, in my turn, at the huge portrait of Hitler on the wall. After a while I would break the silence by quoting a sentence from Mein Kampf.
"The world does not exist for cowardly peoples."
"Oh, did the Führer say that?" Kraus would murmur, thus ending the spell of acute danger—for me.
"Where would you like to work?" he asked me abruptly. "Where are your best contacts?"
"In Copenhagen," I said.
"We concur," Kraus drawled. "Wollweber is in Copenhagen. He’s as hard to catch as a lame wolf. When wolves are old and lame, they become as wary as devils. Besides, ninety-five percent of the false passports on the fish we catch are produced in Copen­hagen. Counterfeiter-in-chief is a fellow named Jensen. Old friend of yours, I believe."
"I know Jensen well," I admitted.
Hertha Jens whistled. "If we could have somebody in Jensen’s lair, we’d be cocks in the chicken ranch," she chimed in.
"Sei nicht so vorlaut," her chief warned her quickly. "Don’t let your tongue run away with you." He telephoned the Bureau of Identification.
"Send me up a picture of Richard Jensen, Dane, Copenhagen, communist, passport forger."
A young Gestapo agent appeared. He brought a large collection of photographs. All of them showed Richard Jensen. There was Comrade Jensen speaking at a meeting in Moscow, Jensen at a congress in Paris, Jensen emerging from a railway-station, Jensen lolling on the sands of a beach, and many more: front view, side views, and snapshots taken by some shadowers in the rear of the giant Dane.
"Is this the Jensen you know so well?" Inspector Kraus inquired.
"Yes," I said.
"Would you come in friendly association with him if we sent you to Copenhagen?"
"I am sure of it. I’d probably live in one of his apartments. I’ve done so before."
"You see," Kraus explained, "we don’t want Jensen. He can be a goldmine for us. We want Jensen hale and hearty, so as to furnish us a line on the passports and the men who use them, and where they use them."
"I understand."
"How well do you know Jensen? He is a great boozer. Do you know him well enough to have him buy beers for you?"
"Yes, I know him well enough for that," I answered. Inspector Kraus deliberated.
"You will have to prove it," he said finally. "We’ll give you a chance to prove it—if you can."
Our conference lasted, with numerous interruptions, all through the day. Before I left to shuttle back to my cell in Camp Fuhlsbüttel, I clicked my heels and raised my right arm stiffly.
"Heil Hitler," I said.
"Heil Hitler," Kraus murmured, barely raising his fingers from his desk.

Chapter Forty - I JOIN THE GESTAPO

IN THE LAST DAYS OF FEBRUARY, 1937, the Gestapo engineered my "escape" from Camp Fuhlsbüttel.
While these arrangements were being made, I continued to languish in prison, and continued to wear the convict’s uniform. The Gestapo worked with great secrecy, and equally great efficiency. Those were weird weeks. Even today I wake up at night, at times, and wonder how I pulled through them without losing my balance and my life. They were weeks in which my wits were pitted against all the craftiness of the Gestapo. I had ceased to be myself. I had become a cunning animal, battling in the dark, fighting a battle of despair.
A week after I had signed the "Pledge of Loyalty" to the Gestapo, I was transferred from the murder Camp Fuhlsbüttel to a small precinct jail in the heart of Hamburg—the Hütten Prison. The transfer took place in the dead of night. No prisoner could possibly know that I had left Camp Fuhlsbüttel. My new abode, a small jail which contained only a dozen cells, was almost empty. There were only two other convicts there—sexual criminals await­ing their official castration.
I spoke with one of them, an elderly machinist named August Austermann, who had misused his twelve-year-old daughter, and had continued to misuse her until she was fourteen. To keep her silent, he had bought her a piano. One night his wife had surprised him and denounced him to the police. Austermann was condemned to seven years in prison and to castration. His mind was deranged. He talked of cutting his wife’s throat after his release. He wrote letters to lawyers, trying to find one who would institute a suit to regain the piano he had given to his daughter. Scores of times, in the course of a night, he mumbled, "They can’t castrate a man like me!" On our second night together he showed me a rope which he carried next to the skin around his stomach. He sobbed and threatened to hang himself. I did not cherish the prospect of having the guards find a hanged man in a cell of which I was the second occupant. So I fought with August Austermann for the possession of the rope. I took the rope away from him and threw it out of the window. All night August Austermann kept me awake, complain­ing that I was his murderer, complaining that he was choking. Next morning they led him to the lazarette to be castrated.
In the meantime, the Gestapo staged a phony "escape" from Camp Fuhlsbüttel. One of Inspector Kraus’s aides later told me how it had been done. An Elite Guard had been commissioned to saw through the bars of the cell window. Another guard had thrown a rope over one of the walls. The same night the high tension wires which ran parallel to the walls had been put out of commission by an "accident." At two in the morning, a night guard "discovered" that my cell was empty. He gave the alarm. A siren shrieked, flying squads of Death Head guards turned out, and the "hunt" was on. Of course, the supposed fugitive was not found—he sat securely in an obscure backwater jail. Only the Gestapo, the Kommandant of Camp Fuhlsbüttel, and two guards knew that the escape alarm had been a fake. The rest of the guards, some two hundred strong, and all of the prisoners, really believed that I had succeeded in making a successful getaway. Inspector Kraus calculated, correctly, that information would filter through to the Comintern that I had escaped. Even Rudolf Heitman was fooled by the trick; I later found that he had faithfully reported my extraordinary disappearance to his paymasters in Copenhagen.
Following this preparatory coup, I tackled the job of convincing Inspector Kraus of my connections with the Comintern Bureau in Copenhagen. It was a game which Richard Jensen and I played with marked cards, though we had not spoken or written to each other for more than three years. On its outcome depended, for me, life or death. Sitting in the office of the Gestapo’s Foreign Division, I wrote a note to Richard Jensen. Inspector Kraus watched me lynx-eyed. Over my shoulder peered Hertha Jens.

"Dear Richard," I wrote. "Perhaps you will remember me. I am an old friend who needs your help urgently. I have just left the hospital after a long sickness, and I am in dire need of money to visit my Aunt Ernestine. Please help me!

"Williams" was the name of a British journalist under which I had illegally entered Germany in 1933. Jensen knew my handwriting; he would know. "Ernestine" was Ernst Wollweber. I added, at the instruction of Kraus, a general delivery address. Inspector Kraus had the letter photographed for the Gestapo files. The original he sent off to Copenhagen. I was returned to my jail cell, asking myself, "How will it end? If Jensen makes a blunder, you are as good as dead and gone!"
Two days I waited, seized by a mad restlessness, too excited to touch the coarse prison fare.
At the end of the second day, late at night, a Gestapo chauffeur called for me. We drove to headquarters, entering it through the door of another building which was connected with the Gestapo mansion by a short subterranean passage. Since my "escape" from Camp Fuhlsbüttel, my escort always used this passage to safeguard me against being seen by fellow-communists brought in for questioning. Hertha Jens received mc. She was in high spirits. A letter, addressed poste restante to "Mr. Williams," had arrived from Copenhagen. It had not contained a single written word. Its contents were two new one-hundred-dollar bills in United States currency.
"Elegant!" she crooned. "It worked! They have fallen in the trap! Two hundred dollars—they show that the Muscovites still hold you in high esteem. I hoped they were counterfeit bills. But they are real." In my heart I fervently thanked Comrade Jensen. He had taken the one and only right road in this matter. Also, I was reassured in another respect: If the Comintern threw two hun­dred dollars into the maw of the Gestapo, they must consider the assignment which Rudolf Heitman had transmitted to me as one of considerable importance. Wollweber’s words, "The Party does not forget its children," tingled in my brain. Hertha Jens called the inspector.
Inspector Kraus looked as if he had come straight from a torture session. His face was ashen, his eyes cruel, his mouth a thin gash. When he saw me, his features lit up.
"Well, you passed the test," he grinned. "I hope there will be no disappointments. I will take up the matter of your release with the Ministry of Justice—suspended sentence or something like that." In a sudden outburst of cold anger he added: "This fellow Jensen is a wily fox! The address on the letter was written by some woman. No usable fingerprints on the paper—well, it’s time we do something!"
He hurried off.
"The chief is very busy tonight," Hertha Jens explained. "We caught a batch of Jesuits. The devils operate from Holland; codes, false passports and all. The religious hypocrites—they make me sick!"
I heard other Gestapo men talk of Catholic emissaries as the "Black Pest," and of the Pope as the "Black Devil." Inadvertently I thought of Bismarck’s phrase: "Whoever feeds off the Catholic Center, will die of it."
Hertha Jens led me to another office. Here she handed me a thick mimeographed volume, and another, thinner one. "Go through them slowly," she suggested. "If you find acquaintances, mark down the names and all you may know about them."
The larger book bore the title, Register of International Agents of the G.P.U. and the Comintern; the other was the List of Foreign Volunteers in the Armies of Red Spain. The first contained approximately seven thousand names; the second, about nine hundred. Each name was followed by notes on the age, nationality, aliases, and the personal history of the suspect. Many hundreds of photographs had been pasted over as many names. The volumes had been produced by the Gestapoamt in Berlin. The names of men and women who had been apprehended by the Gestapo, or by the secret services of Italy and Japan, had blue-pencil marks.
For nine solid hours I pored over the volumes, straining my memory to retain data which might be of value to the Western Secretariat of the Comintern. It was curious to see my own name and picture, and Firelei’s in the larger volume. Some fifteen pages were devoted to George Mink and other Americans. There were Joseph Djugashvili—alias Stalin, Meyer Wallach—alias Litvinov, Sobelsohn—alias Radek, and so on, down to Michael Appelman—alias Mike Pell, and Charles Krumbein—alias Albert Stewart, alias Dreazen. Much of the information I found to be alarmingly accurate. But in many cases the names and cover-names of many persons were tangled, and there were many names whose bearers had gone to their graves. Among the latter was "Bandura—leading G.P.U. agent in Greece." Him I selected, together with a score of others who were either dead or trapped in Russia, and augmented their records by adding "significant detail." Several hundred well-publicized Bolsheviks whose movements through many countries the Gestapo had recorded, I identified as men I had met "in Paris in 1933" or "in London in 1932." The Gestapo never tired of collecting details on the doings of suspects during years that seemed as far away as the Franco-Prussian war.

On March 16, when I was taken from my cell to Gestapo headquarters, I was not escorted to the offices of the Foreign Division. The Death Head guard led me to a small room on the third floor. No sooner had I stepped into the room than he closed and locked the door behind me. Except for a table, two chairs and a radiator in a corner, the room was bare.
Firelei rose from one of the chairs. Our eyes met. We had not seen each other in more than forty months of hardship and disaster. We looked at one another across the room, and it was as if each was afraid to take the first step forward. I put my forefinger to my lips to tell Firelei to be silent. I turned and looked at the door. There was no spy-hole. The walls and the ceiling were solid. The single window faced a large inner courtyard. There could be no watchers. I tiptoed around the room, scrutinizing the floor and the corners. At the radiator I stopped. There was a microphone, fastened between the radiator and the wall. Wires ran through the wall into an adjoining room. The little black-and-silver device seemed to grin at me out of the gloom and say, "Yes, I am here; you two had better be careful." I pointed it out to Firelei. Then I said:
"You—are you here?"
"Yes, I am here," she answered in a strange, somber voice.
"We shall begin a new life," I said sheepishly. "It is not too late."
"Why do you say that?" she asked slowly, the specter of a smile on her pale lips.
I did not know what to say. All that words could express seemed meaningless. "You should not have come back to Germany," I said. "You should have discarded me and gone away."
Firelei stepped forward. Her gaze did not budge from mine.
"Let’s not speak." Her voice was steady now. "I was afraid we would never see each other again. In Copenhagen they told me you were dead."
She was close to me. I held her lightly.
"Where is little Jan?" I asked.
"He is well. He is big. He will be five this year. I have not seen him, but I know."
"Your parents?"
"They hate you," Firelei said. "They have suffered terribly."
"Where are you?"
"In the Lübeck prison; they brought me here this morning."
"Are you alone?" I inquired.
"Two years I was alone. I am now with another woman. She is old and ugly, but she has a good heart."
A long silence followed. Words were futile. Neither joy nor sorrow was between us. Only a dull, brooding happiness. Firelei was not the same as she had been in earlier years. Her face was drawn, earnest, almost hard. There were lines in it which I had not seen before. The bitter years had wiped out her lust for mischief, her carefree laughter, her enthusiasm for life and her youthful enchantment. Her hands were still capable and firm. They were hard from manual work. Hard also was her slender body under the drab and shapeless prison garb.
"Yes," Firelei continued in a murmur, "I, too, am old and ugly. I know what you think—you think it is your fault that I have become hard and gray. You must not think that. Maybe I can be young again, if . . ."
". . . if—what?"
Firelei trembled under a sob that was half laughter. ". . . if I could feel the arms of our boy around my neck and hear his voice crow, ’Mama, give me . . . "
"You will—soon," I said.
"I need no make-believe consolation," Firelei said harshly. "It’s all over . . . the little girl dreams, the little girl softness . . . I could be content with lying down in the tall grass and sleep, sleep forever."
I do not know how long we were allowed to be together. Per­haps it was three hours, perhaps only one. We said little of what we had wanted to say. Mostly we were silent. At times we said things which were not parts of ourselves, words designed to lull the possible suspicions of the listeners on the other side of the wall. Firelei knew nothing of my assignment. When the Death Head guard came into the room to tell us that it was time to part, Firelei bade me good-by with the thought that it would be a good-by for many years. I could not tell her the truth then, without risking everything. That was the hardest of all. She had changed. We had both changed. We parted, inwardly disturbed, questing, and a little dazed. She returned to the Women’s Prison in Lübeck; I—to the obscure little jail for men condemned to castration.
Each morning of the last two weeks in March I was whisked to Gestapo headquarters. Each night I was brought back, exhausted from the constant tightrope walking, to my cell in the Hütten jail. During this time I learned to find my bearings in the labyrinth of the Gestapo empire. I looked over thousands of photographs. I read hundreds of pages of reports from spies abroad, each bearing the signature of a letter and a number, instead of a name. I was questioned on the possibilities of recommending Gestapo agents as candidates for political schools in the Soviet Union; of organizing Nazi Vigilante Committees in foreign ports after the communist model; of placing Nazi agents in the International Brigade in Spain; of recruiting members of the crews of Belgian, Dutch, French, Polish, Russian and Scandinavian ships as paid auxiliaries of the Gestapo; and on the feasibility of many other schemes. Each session with Inspector Kraus or his immediate aides was like a game of chess in which a single wrong move meant the loss of the game—the loss of my life.
The Gestapo’s chief weakness was its fanatical eagerness to succeed. Its second weakness, as compared to the G.P.U., was its lack of foreign experts for work abroad. Ninety-nine percent of the Gestapo’s foreign operations were carried on by German nationals, while the G.P.U. had the nationals of fifty lands to draw upon. My knowledge of international shipping and of the workaday conditions in foreign ports evoked more than one exclamation of naive admiration not only from Hertha Jens, but also from her chief. The men who worked in the Foreign Division of the Gestapo were thoroughly German, and narrow. They specialized in one field, and of all that lay beyond their circumscribed horizon they knew little or nothing. Ruthless strength, tireless surveillance and gathering of details, and a vast army of half-trained spies, rather than a smaller number of experts, were their most valuable assets and the chief reason for their successes. The Gestapo was younger and more clean-cut than the G.P.U. Stalin’s Secret Police were far craftier, better trained in conspiracy; Inspector Kraus spoke of the G.P.U. with respect. "We have much to learn from it," he added. "Each day we are learning something new."
I, also, learned. After weeks of concentrated maneuvering and observation, the framework of the Gestapo’s Foreign Division lay before me like a picture-book. There was, for instance, one large office where a score of men and women did nothing but clip photographs of anti-Nazis of all shades and nationalities from foreign newspapers; faces on group pictures were scrutinized through powerful magnifying glasses and photographically enlarged. There was another office, lined with long galleries of files, which contained names and data on many thousands of Nazi foes in every civilized country on earth. Each of the countries bordering on Germany had a special room in the Foreign Division. There were Gestapo offices for German business firms abroad, for the Foreign Section of the German Press, the Hitler Youth, the Labor Front, the League of Germans Abroad, a Technical Division, a Cultural Division, a Maritime Section and another for the transport sys­tems—rivers and railroads—of foreign countries. In all, there were twenty-five separate departments, each handling a special branch of the Gestapo’s activities abroad. Geographically the Gestapo had divided the world into eight regions; Gestapo business pertaining to each region was handled through the respective Gestapo Länderamt [66]. The eight Länderämter were:

I. Scandinavian Countries, Finland and the Baltic.
II. Western Europe.
III. South-eastern Europe, including Turkey.
IV. Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
V. Africa.
VI. North America.
VII. Latin America.
VIII. Great Britain, the Far East and Australia.

This Apparat functioned through 648 units in 45 countries (Landeskreise). The Maritime Division alone employed 1097 agents, scattered in the harbors and on ships. The offices of the Foreign Division of the Gestapo in Hamburg were manned, in 1935, by a staff of 170; by March, 1937, this staff had been in­creased to 710. In this gigantic machine of terror and espionage, Inspector Paul Kraus, for all his murderous power, was only a cog. He was the director of the Anti-Comintern Department. His chief was Regierungsrat [67] Schreckenbach, the head of the Hamburg headquarters of the Foreign Division.
I met Schreckenbach toward the end of March. He was a well-knit man of thirty-eight or thirty-nine, of medium height and dressed in English tweeds. He had sharp gray eyes, smooth, dark-blond hair, and the tanned, healthy face of an outdoor sportsman. His mouth was straight, his nose strong and slightly hooked. Usually he appeared noncommittal, but when he talked, his words came in a tone which I immediately associated with that of a Prussian officer. During the World War, Schreckenbach had been a junior officer aboard a submarine; later he had commanded a submarine chaser, and after the demobilization he had entered the illegal naval intelligence service of the Weimar Republic. Discharged because of his allegiance to Adolf Hitler, Schreckenbach had become a commander of the Elite Guards, and after Hitler’s Blood Purge in June, 1934, he had jumped into the leadership of the Gestapo. As I stood before him in his office, on the top floor of the Gestapo building, his eyes wandered slowly over my convict uniform and, for some reason not known to me, an expression of quiet amusement invaded his face.
"You were a fool," he said, "you should have come over to us in 1923."
"If men knew which army would win," I answered, "there would be no war, Herr Regierungsrat."
I could see that Schreckenbach liked my answer.
"I am glad that you don’t pretend to have become a National Socialist," he said. "Or have you?"
It was a dangerous question. From behind his hand, which held a cigarette, Schreckenbach’s eyes gleamed expectantly. Both a "yes" and a "no" would be equally wrong.
"I am a German," I said. "I prefer to fight with the winning army."
"Once German armies won the battles and lost the war," the Gestapo chief said pensively. Abruptly he added: "It shall never happen again, what?"
"No, sir."
"You have been a ship’s officer?"
"I once officered a Russian vessel," I replied. "I was blacklisted in Germany."
"Blacklists are an invention of . . . Well, we have done away with them. What was your impression of the Russian Bear?"
"A rather unkempt beast, sir," I said.
"Bears can be trained," Schreckenbach observed. "Bears can be very docile. Zuckerbrot and Peitsche (sweets and the whip)—they will accomplish a lot under certain circumstances. Please sit down. Tell me in ten minutes what caused you to break with the Communist International."
For ten minutes I talked rapidly.
"Enough!" Schreckenbach said in his curtest manner.
My heart sank. I thought I had lost, after all.
He picked up a telephone.
"Inspection Six—Kraus. . .. That you, Paul? . . . I’ve talked with our friend . . . Nein, keine Bedenken [68] . . . . Next time you go to Berlin, take him along . . . Heil!"
Schreckenbach rang for a guard.
"Take this prisoner back. Don’t let him be seen by any of the traitors who’re here for examination. I hold you personally responsible."
The Death Head guard slammed his heels together. His right arm flew up.
"Zu Befehl! [69] Heil Hitler!"
"Hitler," Schreckenbach muttered. I was led away.

More days at Gestapo headquarters followed. Warily I was threading my way through the maze of deadly snags. Each night between eight and ten I was shuttled back to jail. I had ceased to regard myself as a human being whose harmless privilege it is to meander, and to make occasional mistakes. Nothing counted but the thoughts and actions that would bring to an end, in one way or another, the insidious war in which I was at once general and meanest soldier. My ability to draw, by a simple request, two hundred dollars from one of the key figures in the Apparat of the Comintern, fascinated the chiefs of the Gestapo. Their respect for the G.P.U. in general, and for Richard Jensen in particular, caused them to see in me a find of rare value. And so I won my almost single-handed battle against all the cunning and the suspicions of the most dreaded police force in the world.
One morning early in April a long, low, open car halted in front of the Hütten jail. In the car were Inspector Kraus and two other Gestapo officials. Kraus entered my cell. Over his arm he carried a civilian overcoat.
"Here, put this over your jailhouse rags," he said. "You’re going to Berlin with us."
Soon we were speeding out of Hamburg at a hundred kilometers an hour. Outside of Spandau, we stopped and the chauffeur distrib­uted sandwiches and coffee, which we consumed at the roadside. At noon we arrived in Berlin. The car came to a stop in the courtyard of the Gestapoamt, the gigantic, newly-built nerve-center of Hitler’s Secret Police. We passed three or four control-stations where Death Head guards examined the credentials of all who came to transact business in this citadel of terror. Inspector Kraus and his companions were required to deposit their identification cards and to sign their names before they were allowed to pass. Elevators whipped us upward.
Kraus led the way through a door, which bore a small sign: Nachrichtendienst—Abteilung 16 F. We passed a large room where men and girls sat behind many radio receiving sets, and crossed another where close to a hundred men sat behind as many small desks. Each desk was equipped with a telephone and a note pad. Sounds resembling the humming of many bees filled this room. We continued through a silent corridor until Inspector Kraus pushed open one of the side doors. A sign on this door said: No Entrance. We were in a small but comfortably furnished office. A middle-aged man with a quiet, friendly face sat in a leather armchair. He drank coffee. Without giving up his comfortable position, he shook hands with Inspector Kraus. After they had exchanged a few words, the man’s eyes turned on me. They were uncanny eyes—cold, greenish. All of a sudden they smiled.
"Never betray a trust," he told me. "Whatever may happen, never betray our trust."
I nodded, facing him squarely.
"When you’re abroad," he continued, "never take up connections with official agencies of the German Reich. Never go to an embassy, never to a consulate. That does not mean that you will work alone. Our eyes, our helpers are everywhere. Never betray our trust. Never go to an embassy or consulate. You know why; you are no greenhorn."
"Yes, sir," I said.
"We are taking a chance with you," the other went on. "We need not discuss the consequences of a violation of our trust. You know them. Do your duty as a German."
A pause followed.
"The details, Herr Oberinspektor," Kraus murmured.
"Oh, yes." The Chief Inspector spoke slowly, almost haltingly:
"We are paying you three hundred marks monthly, in the currency of the country in which you will be at the beginning of each month. For every case when the information you send us results in the arrest of a traitor sent into Germany from abroad, we will pay you a bonus of one hundred marks. This is fair, I believe. Your first assignment will be to insinuate yourself into the counterfeiting Apparat of this man Jensen in Copenhagen. Concretely, we wish to know who uses false passports and under what names. We wish you to obtain samples of rubber and metal stamps used in the Comintern passport-forging center. Aside from that, send us everything you can lay your hands on: Printed matter, codes, correspondence, resolutions, photographs, handwriting samples, samples of writing from their typewriters, addresses, names, meeting-places, data on communication lines and on persons who may be willing to work for us—in short, everything you hear or see anywhere at any time that may be of interest to our office. Further concrete tasks will be given you as soon as you have established yourself. Schreckenbach in Hamburg will arrange with you the details of communication and — if required — supply you with seasoned assistants."
"I’ll do my part to turn your game into a death-dance," I thought.
I clicked my heels. "Very well, sir," I said.
The conference ended soon afterward. Inspector Kraus led me to another part of the building. There a Death Head guard locked me into a small, empty, windowless room.
"Wait," I was told.
A pretty waitress brought me a meal on a black steel tray. I squatted on the floor and ate wolfishly. Later in the afternoon a tailor arrived to take my measurements. I was escorted to a bathroom, from there to a barber shop, and was then subjected to a medical examination. I was given clean underwear, new shoes, a hat, a shirt, two neckties, socks, a well-fitting civilian suit, a topcoat and a raincoat. Nearly three and a half years had passed since I had last worn civilian clothes. Inspector Kraus handed me fifty German marks and the two hundred dollars Richard Jensen had sent from Copenhagen.
"Keep them," he laughed. "Any time you can get money from the Bolsheviks, take it, and keep it." He looked me over from all sides. "The tailor brought you a good piece," he said. "Come on, now—Himmler wants to see you."
I made an effort not to show excitement or apprehension. Kraus strode briskly ahead. The men we passed did not recognize me as a convict; I walked without handcuffs and without a guard. I thought of Heinrich Himmler, the sixth important Nazi in the Reich and the supreme commander of the Nazi police, responsible only to Hitler himself. I had heard much of him during my years in prison. Gestapo agents called him, at times, "potato face." He had the reputation of being the most uncompromising and merciless man among Hitler’s aides. He had bobbed up in the Nazi Party in 1924, in Munich, where he lived at that time as a student of experimental agriculture. He switched to police work two years later, when he became Hitler’s master spy in Captain Röhm’s unruly storm troops. In 1929, he was appointed as leader of the Elite Guards, created by Hitler to act as the Party police and his personal strong-arm brigade. Himmler, among the youngest of the Nazi chieftains, proved his mettle in the blood-night of June 29-30, 1934. He rose rapidly after that mass-slaughter of Nazi dissidents. Elite Guard commander, member of the Reichstag, Prussian State Councillor, Inspector General of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler became in 1936 the Führer of all German police forces. In the years which preceded Hitler’s rise to chancellorship, I had come, in political mass meetings, face to face with most of the prominent Nazi leaders, including Hitler, but Heinrich Himmler I had never seen. He was neither a speaker, nor was he known as a fighter or a man of independent political initiative. In the prisons, Hitler, Göring, Göbbels, Dr. Ley and Walther Darre were hated as formidable foes, but for Himmler we had had only bitter contempt. I recalled all that as I followed Inspector Kraus through red-carpeted corridors, up a flight of stairs, past a barrage of Death Head guards and into a fairly large hall, in the center of which a large bronze eagle perched atop a marble swastika. Here we halted. Six doors opened on this hall, which had the form of a semi-circle. "Himmler is an overambitious brigand," I told myself. "To hell with him!" I felt my abdomen contract as if it were completely empty.
A door opened. A slender man in a dark-gray suit stepped out.

Inspector Kraus saluted. I jumped to attention. The man, walking toward us briskly, motioned us to stop our antics. The man was Himmler.
He had a sallow face, a pointed nose, an irregular chin, and his eyes were dull behind a pince-nez which gave him somehow the expression of a frightened teacher’s pet. His body moved like a whip. His hands were gray and bony. He looked younger than Schreckenbach or Inspector Kraus. He spoke in a low, rather thick voice: "So, da sind Sie!" [70]
"This is our new Vertrauensmann," [71] Inspector Kraus announced, indicating me with a servile grin.
Himmler looked at me for a fraction of a second; after that, he seemed to gaze over my shoulder.
"You came late, but you did come," he said.
"Jawohl," I snapped.
"What was your motive?"
"I realized my mistake and drew the conclusions," I explained. "I thought once that the Hitler movement was the lackey of the rich. Hitler’s achievements have shown me that I was wrong. I became determined to win for myself the right to live in the New Germany."
"He has become quite sensible, it seems," Inspector Kraus said.
Himmler stared past me toward the ceiling. "Das freut mich," he said. "I am glad." He gave a short nod in the general direction of Kraus.
"Thank you," Kraus said. "Heil Hitler!"
"Heil Hitler," I echoed.
Himmler smiled thinly. "Hals und Beinbruch!" He turned and strode away.
"That’s that," Kraus remarked contentedly, as we sauntered past the cordon of Death Head guards. "Now you can have two days to look around in Berlin. One of my young men will be with you. Acclimatize yourself. I’m going back to Hamburg tonight. I’ll see that you and your wife get eight days’ vacation before you start work. Good luck! Don’t let me know what you are doing. Have a good time!"

Two days I roamed through Berlin, with a young Gestapo man as my "guide." I went to theaters, cabarets, a concert, good restaurants, for Hall Eleven and for Tonio. After the two days had passed, I journeyed to Hamburg by train, still under guard.
I met Hertha Jens, who invited me to dinner. She instructed me to leave the following morning for Burhave, a small fishing village on the North Sea Coast, situated between the mouth of the Weser and Jade Bay. On this journey, too, I was accompanied by an unobtrusive, but watchful young man from Inspector Kraus’s office.
We left the modest Burhave railway station and stepped into the sparkling morning. The land was flat, and the first young green thronged out of the earth. We walked along a country lane, past squat, low-walled and high-roofed peasant houses. Birds twittered. Cows dozed in the sunshine. Somewhere a dog barked joyously. A boy amused himself by jumping over hedges, whistling his prowess. A girl called him loudly, but he would not listen. All this, I reflected, had been here through the years. Cows had grazed and boys had jumped over hedges while elsewhere men and women had been bent upon hurting one another, had schemed and struggled, trembled in horror, won bleak triumph or gone to their death.
My young Gestapo companion walked with a springy step. His nostrils drank the flavor of the lowlands. "German earth," he said with simple pride. "Is it not beautiful?"
The road led toward the shore. The peasant houses gave way to the scattered dwellings of fishermen. The wind was tangy. The trees became smaller, twisted and storm-scarred. The smell of mud flats and fish was in the air. In front of us the broad green back of a dyke stretched away in the distance. I smelled the nearness of the sea.
"Someone is waiting for me here?" I asked.
The Gestapo man nodded. A grin spread over his face. "We’ll be there in a couple minutes," he said. "Then you’ll see her."
"I am going to see Firelei," I thought.
We climbed to the top of the dyke. I saw the sea. Low water had bared a strip of sand and a wide expanse of mud flats. Narrow channels criss-crossed the flats. Under the sun the mud gleamed, and crags and busy sea birds left their traces in the wet sand. From far out rolled the low mutter of the surf. We wandered along the dyke. Before us rose a white two-story house, incongruous among the low-crouched cottages of fishermen. It was a hotel, encircled by a garden and many old trees. In front of it, on the seaward side of the dyke, a narrow wharf jutted into the channel. Fishing craft lay moored at the end of the wharf, and brown nets were hoisted to dry in the sun.
"You go ahead alone, now," the Gestapo man said. "I’ll just hang around. Don’t mind me—I’m only doing what I’m ordered to do. Don’t try to skip. I’d hate to shoot at a man in a place like this."
"Don’t worry," I said. "I won’t skip."
The Gestapo man threw himself into the grass. I strode ahead. entered the hotel and stamped on the freshly scrubbed floor. A buxom young woman with a ruddy face and shining blonde hair came from the kitchen.
"Heil Hitler," she said pleasantly. "You are welcome."
"Heil Hitler," I replied, adding: "My wife is here, I believe?’
"Ja! Und ein kleiner Junge! [72] He is a very beautiful child. I have given them the best room we have. You are the first guests I am having this year."
Firelei and our son, Jan, were not in their room. They had gone out to look for shells and to make a campfire of driftwood. I followed the dyke, toward the spot where the smoke from an open fire curved into the blue. I felt the longing to turn and to go away. I found myself wishing that the fire on the beach were still many miles off, far enough away to give me some hours to think. "Go," I told myself, "go forward. You have had years to think, and it availed you nothing." Now the fire was but a hundred paces away. I could see our son running around with great eagerness, collecting wood to feed the fire. Firelei sat by the fire; her gaze went out to the horizon where a passing steamer belched smoke. The smoke was black. Like a sinister flag it stood against the cleanness of the sky.
I halted. Jan, a piece of wood in each hand, was running toward the fire. He stopped suddenly, and peered in my direction. His little arm flew out, pointing. His voice sailed with the wind.
"Mama—there is a man!"
Firelei turned her head slowly. Her slender shape rose from the sand. The wind rippled through her hair and tugged at her coat. She put her right foot forward, and then her left, and I stood still and watched her coming toward me. Jan was running at her side.
"Mama, who is the man?"
"Why—that’s your Papa," Firelei cried joyously.
The child was running ahead now. I gathered him up in my arms and his little face was full of curiosity and wonderment.
"Who am I?" I said hoarsely.
"You are my Papa," chirped Jan. "Have you come with a ship?"
“Yes—with a ship."
"From Africa?"
"Yes—from Africa."
"The lions live in Africa," Jan said importantly. "Mama said your ship might come today if the weather is good. Where is your ship?"
For minutes the highest happiness in the universe was to be at home on the weatherbeaten strip of sand between the dyke and the mud flats of Burhave. Jan clutched my left wrist with both hands. My right arm was around Firelei’s shoulder. So we sauntered toward the crackling fire. Tears of joy were in Firelei’s eyes. "It is so hard to believe that you are here," she said, "that we are all here . . . really here."
We sat in the sand and looked at each other, and then we talked until the fire had burned down. We searched one another, both intent on seeing not the ugliness of the vengeful and malevolent years, but on seeking to resurrect the beautiful hours, to rediscover the traits and nuances each had cherished in the other.
"You have become much quieter," Firelei told me. "Less wild. I must brush away that sadness."
"One cannot brush away all that has happened," I said.
"But one can draw a line—and build anew." Firelei’s voice was gentle and insistent. "Build together," she added.
"Together!" The word slipped from me against my will. It was a gloomy, a bitter word.
"Are you tired? Or have I become an ugly old witch?" Firelei asked.
"You are the best and the most beautiful woman," I said.
"A very foolish woman," Firelei smiled. "But a happy woman. Can’t you see?"
"He came from Africa!" Jan crowed lustily.
"Af-ri-ca," Firelei formed the syllables as if they were music. They reminded me of another day, long ago, but also so near the sea. There had been Firelei, young, bubbling with gayety, spar­kling into the life which then had lain still ahead of her, and of whose hostility and viciousness she had known so little. On that day, Firelei had said: "Sumatra, Madagascar, Oran . . . I like the names so much."
Not far away a man lolled on the slope of the dyke. I pretended not to see him. He was the watcher from Inspector Kraus’s office.
Late at night, after the boy had fallen asleep I told Firelei the details of the campaign which had brought about her release, and mine. She listened, her face tense, her lips set in a hardness I had not encountered in her before. In her the soldier spirit of the fighting years had survived, despite all hardship and folly, despite all suffering and degradation. Nights of questioning, months of solitary confinement, and many more of hard labor in sunless halls had stifled her enthusiasm, but they had not strangled her will to live.
"We cannot give up," she said. "We can never give up! We would be people with empty hands and empty hearts. You can rely on me, and I will rely on you. I have learned that it is fruitless to dream of peace as long as one is alive."
The week passed swiftly. We made resolute efforts to play, and to laugh, but they petered out like artificial streams in a desert. We went on long walks along the dykes and over the meadows and the dunes. We talked of the past, of the prison years; we tried to untangle the present and to penetrate the uncertain and complicated roads of the future. Discreetly trailing us, at a distance of some fifty yards, sauntered Inspector Kraus’s assistant. I could rely on Firelei’s silence. She was sad and disillusioned, but she was neither broken, nor resigned. We spoke of the possibility of immediate flight—and rejected it. Germany was too well guarded; the frontiers were infested with watchers. We would not get far. We would be caught and destroyed.
"You must go out first," Firelei said steadily. "You have work to do. I am sure that you will find a way to bring Jan out, and me, after you have gained a foothold in the organization. Too much has changed. It would be insane to leap into the void before at least one of us had time to explore it."
"Keep silent, and do not lose your faith," I said. "I shall find a way to bring you out of this hellish land. I am sure I shall find a way."
"Why is the water blue?" The clean young voice of Jan, our son, prattled deliciously. "What do the sea-birds cry? Can the stars howl? Why are the fish so shiny? Can boats see? Do fishermen like to drink coffee?" Through many minutes he would stand still, his hands clasped behind him, his eyes, which were Firelei’s eyes, watching men and women unload fish in baskets from a deeply-laden lugger.
The Gestapo ordered Firelei to make her quarters in Blumenthal, a little town on the lower course of the Weser River. Twice daily she was required to report at the local Gestapo office. She was not permitted to leave the town, unless a Gestapo agent accompanied her. She was not permitted to enter the railway station nor the waterfront, nor to send off letters to foreign addresses. We were not allowed to write each other directly; our letters were to pass through the censorship of the Gestapo. But she could be with her child. Within the confines of the town she was allowed to move freely. She could draw, or work in a garden, or idle in the sunlight.
The week’s respite ended. The abyss gaped.

Chapter Forty-one - FREEMAN ON A LEASH

I REPORTED TO Regierungsrat Schreckenbach in Hamburg. He gave me a regular German passport in my own name, and a special document, signed by Inspector Kraus, which bore my photograph, the official Gestapo seal, and the legend that I was the German engineer Emil Berg. These were to be my credentials in dealings with Gestapo units operating beyond the German frontiers.
"In hell or high water," Schreckenbach said, "never let these documents fall into enemy hands."
Next, Schreckenbach’s secretary explained to me the intricacies of a code which was based on the letters and numbers of squares on a chess board. I was to use it for the transmission of confidential names and addresses. Then I was introduced to two men who were to act as my couriers between Copenhagen and Hamburg; both were minor officials aboard international Mitropa express trains. Finally an agent from the Finance Department handed me my first month’s pay, and Schreckenbach gave me a cover address in Ham­burg for secret reports and other confidential material, and another address in Copenhagen which was to be used only in acute emergencies. The Hamburg address was Miss Gertrud Schultheiss, 31, Wexstrasse; the address of the Gestapo liaison station in Copen­hagen was Lily de Korte, Osterbrogade.
Came the day of departure, the first week-end in May, 1937. I met Inspector Paul Kraus in a remote restaurant at the edge of the Hamburg Stadtpark. With Kraus, well-fed and obscenely content, was Hertha Jens.
"Remember this," Inspector Kraus said, an ominous rigidity in his sunken eyes: "The Gestapo has a long arm. Don’t try to deceive us. You won’t live long if you do. You may hide in China or in the Brazilian jungle. We’ll find ways to bring you back. I warn you: the Gestapo never jokes."
We rose and shook hands.
Hertha Jens watched me silently, her lips half parted. "Fair winds to you," Inspector Kraus smiled.
They were the same words my mother had used, eighteen years before, when I was hunting for my first outbound ship.

I dispatched a postcard to Richard Jensen, telling him of my coming to Copenhagen. A day later I entrained for Travemünde, a seashore resort near Lübeck. I crossed the Baltic on one of the weekly excursion steamers to Copenhagen. As the ship approached the quay, I discerned the bulky shape of Richard Jensen among the mass of waiting people. Without a mishap I passed the Danish passport inspection. Jensen saw me. He turned and strode out of the harbor. I followed in his tracks. He walked to his car, which was parked on a quiet waterfront street. I jumped in beside him. The car leaped forward.
A tremendous grin spread over Jensen’s titanic face.
"Damn it, you made it," he growled repeatedly, as if he did not trust his own eyes. "How does it feel to have climbed out of a tomb?"
"Not bad," I said.
I relaxed. I was overcome by an indescribable weariness. The high tension of my nerves gave way. I had only one desire—to rest and not to move.
"We will fix you up," Jensen said soothingly. "Very few ever come back from Germany. Damn it, you’ve made it . . ."
I fumbled through my pockets. I drew out my Nazi passport and the Gestapo document which bore the name of Engineer Berg. I handed both to Jensen.
"Keep them," I said. "I don’t want to carry them around with me. It’s better to pose as a simple refugee without papers."
Jensen perused the papers with interest.
"Very, very good," he growled.
We drove through Copenhagen to the suburb of Charlottenlund. The car turned into Ordrupvej and nosed into the gardens stretching across a colony of modern apartment houses.
"I am bringing you to Petra Petersen’s place," Jensen explained.
"You can live there. Keep away from the Party in Copenhagen. We want nobody to know that you are here. Do you know Petra?"
"Yes," I said. I had been at her address in 1933, when it was the temporary hideout of Otto Wilhelm Kuusinen, the leading Finn in the Comintern. Petra Petersen was a G.P.U. operative. She worked in the Copenhagen telegraph building. She was a tall, thin, intelligent, middle-aged woman. She had a peculiar limping gait; she could not bend her left leg at the knee. All these details I enumerated.
"Correct," Jensen said. "Tell me, how is your wife?"
"The Gestapo is holding her as a hostage. We must get her out without delay."
"We’ll fix that," Jensen promised. "Can we still regard her as a good Party member?"
"We’ll see," Jensen growled. "Nothing will happen to her as long as the Gestapo thinks that you’re all right. Did they say any­thing about me?"
Jensen chuckled. "What?"
"Passport counterfeiter-in-chief. They want me to get them imprints of the stamps and seals you use, and the numbers of the passports you fix."
"I’ve a mind to have a special set of stamps made for them," Jensen remarked. "You could send them over, and we’ll keep on using our old stamps. We’ll see. Let’s have a beer first."
He bought a case of beer, which we drank in Petra Petersen’s apartment, while waiting for her return. I remember little of this drinking session.
"We must get Firelei out of Germany," I insisted repeatedly. "We will fix everything, in time," he answered.
We talked about the astonishing successes of the new Popular Front policy of the Comintern in France, Spain, in the Scandinavian countries, in America and elsewhere. In 1933, at the time of my arrest by the Gestapo, the central slogan had been, "the Poor against the Rich"; now it was "Democracy against Fascism." Ostensibly, the Comintern had become respectable in the liberal sense, so respectable that broad strata of intellectuals, writers, artists, teachers, and rich men’s wives had come to regard manifestations of sympathy with the Communist International and the Soviet Union as the badge of true liberalism. It had become a fashionable thing to "participate" in communist endeavors. "We are so respectable," Jensen chuckled, "that everything we do must be done underground; in the freest countries we must work with illegal methods, so as not to give away the show to the Boudoir Bolsheviks. But we will make them walk the plank in good time."
Jensen told me many anecdotes. And then he spoke about the purge. Since the assassination of Sergei Kirov, the Leningrad Party leader and member of the supreme Politbureau in December, 1934, tens of thousands of communists had "walked the plank." By 1937, Stalin’s purge had spread like wildfire from the Soviet Union into the branches of the Comintern; the majority of Communist Party heads abroad were called to Moscow like so many prisoners called by the jailer for questioning. Among many others was also Earl Browder, the American. Moscow probed their loyalty. The willingness of comrade to betray comrade constituted the test. All through the spring and summer of 1937, they passed through Copenhagen on their way to the Red Square, a rather taciturn, bedraggled, apprehensive lot of revolutionists. Those who returned were in high spirits; they had made the grade, they had passed the test, they were feted on their return through Copenhagen because they had convinced the G.P.U. that they believed that Stalin was really the wise and benign father of the oppressed on all continents.
"Everything is going fine," Comrade Jensen concluded, after reviewing the main events of the purge in Soviet Russia. "The Comintern has never been stronger than it is now."
Before Jensen departed, I had fallen asleep. I slept through the rest of the night and through most of the following day. The smell of coffee awoke me. Petra Petersen, home from her office, was stomping around in wine-red pajamas. When she saw that my eyes were open, she sat down at the edge of the couch and ran her firm cool hand over my forehead.
"Comrade, how do you feel?" she said softly.
A day later I met Ernst Wollweber in the offices of the Western Secretariat. Of all the top-ranking German communists I had known, he was the only one who had survived. He had grown fat, and his head was almost bald. The clothes he wore, the restaurants he frequented, and the cars that were at his disposal bespoke his prosperity. But beneath the signs of opulence and good living, he was still the chunky, slow-moving, saturnine ex-mutineer I had known so well in bygone years. His small black eyes gleamed through clouds of cigarette smoke. From his thick lips the words rolled in a sullen growl.
"You have shown resource and skill," he said. "We have attached great importance to Comrade Tonio’s judgment of you. Maybe it was a mistake that we sent you to Germany. You were too well known there—at least on the coast. I am glad you are back. Take a week off and write a report, a detailed report. Omit nothing."
I found my bearings slowly.
The secret headquarters of the Westbureau of the Comintern were situated in Vesterport, the largest and most modern office building in the heart of Copenhagen. They occupied a flight of seven rooms on the third floor. The atmosphere there was that of a prosperous engineering firm. A score of typists, guards and trans­lators, in shifts, remained continuously on duty. The guards—Scandinavians, Letts and Poles—were armed with fountain pens filled with tear gas. A system of warning buzzers had been built into the walls. Conspicuous was only the complete absence of tele­phones. All messages were dispatched by courier. Aside from the front office, the home of the Westbureau was divided into six departments. Head of the Political Department was Kuusinen, who had been Lenin’s personal friend, and who now divided his time between Moscow and the Comintern capital of the West. Chief of the pivotal Organization Department was Wollweber. The Espionage Defense Apparat was led by Michel Avatin, the Lett; and the treasury was in the hands of Richard Jensen, who had become a member of the Copenhagen City Council. In addition, there was attached to the Westbureau a number of Russians with ill-defined functions; one of them, the head of the North American Bureau, posed as a New Zealander named "Richard Rast." The name plate at the main entrance to the offices of the Westbureau bore the legend: A. Selvo & Co., Architects and Engineers. It was but one of nine offices which the Comintern and the G.P.U. maintained in Copenhagen.
May and June passed. The tension created in international communist ranks by the undiminished ferocity of Stalin’s three-year purge was greatly increased by the bloody struggle between G.P.U. troops and Anarchists in Barcelona and other loyalist cities in Catalonia. Mutual distrust among comrades was apparent everywhere; it grew as the successes of the Popular Front policy increased. Old friends studiously shunned one another, and when they met, it was only on official business. Everyone collected "material" against everybody else. In this atmosphere I could not find my place. The Comintern was not what it had been in 1923, and neither was I the same youngster who had stormed police strongholds and fought behind barricades with a gun in my hand. Firelei now meant more to me than Joseph Stalin or the Soviet Constitution.
I had but little work to do. Three times each week I met one or the other of the Gestapo couriers from Hamburg; the reports and the material I handed him for delivery to Kraus and Schreckenbach came to me from Michel Avatin’s department, which supplied me with cautiously assembled misinformation interspersed with mor­sels of industrial and military intelligence from the European hauls of the G.P.U. These morsels were designed to please the Gestapo without impairing Soviet interests. Moreover, the S-Apparat of the Comintern did not hesitate to keep the Gestapo informed of the movements and personnel changes in the rival organizations of the Socialist—or Second—International. By directing the Gestapo’s attention toward the socialists, the Comintern diverted Nazi efforts from the communist machine. The bulk of the contents of the misinformation reports which I handed to the Gestapo couriers came directly from Moscow, brought by the regular weekly Soviet couriers to Copenhagen. The names and addresses of Gestapo agents and relay-stations which I had managed to obtain were put under G.P.U. surveillance. Avatin, his killer instinct aroused, burned to do away with them; but Wollweber cautioned him: Assassinations of Gestapo agents in the Scandinavian countries would inevitably lead to the disruption of the counter-espionage bridge which I had established.

Day and night I maneuvered for an opportunity to spirit my wife and child out of Germany. But the comrades whom I approached in this matter shied away. The fear of the Stalin purge filled their heads; it had killed initiative, and it had extinguished comradeship. The Comintern was now infested with a new species of spies. A careless word, spoken to a supposed friend, might be malevolently distorted and reported to the G.P.U.—with a sudden call to Moscow as the result. The G.P.U. held by the necks the communist leaders everywhere, and it was never at a loss to find a way, if need be, of drawing the noose around them.
At the end of June, in a conference with Wollweber, Jensen and Avatin, I requested point-blank that the Comintern courier organization operating in Germany should undertake to smuggle Firelei and our son out of the country.
"It is a small thing to you," I insisted. "It can be done by three or four determined comrades. And to me, this is a big thing."
Almost at once Michel Avatin voiced his readiness for action. To him, every coup against the Gestapo was a feast. Jensen hesitated, waiting for Wollweber’s opinion. The Silesian rejected my plea.
"We cannot afford to risk the liquidation of an excellent line of communication to the Gestapo," he said. "To the contrary. Our contacts must be built up. In the near future, we shall—through you—suggest to the Gestapo a number of reliable comrades as prospects for Gestapo service. The disappearance of Firelei would wreck our chances of planting our operatives there. If that is not clear to you, comrade, then you are no Bolshevik."
I flew up in a wild rage. Ernst Wollweber had married a Nor­wegian girl for whom, it seemed, he had a deep affection. Her name was Sylvia. She was the sister of Arthur Samsing, and a member of the G.P.U. Arthur Samsing had been sent to Russia in 1933, and had not been heard of again. Wollweber’s former mistress, Cilly, had also vanished after her release from a Nazi jail. I men­tioned these facts.
"Comrade Wollweber," I shouted, "were Sylvia in Germany in Firelei’s position, would you still say: ’She must stay there and perish so that a few spies can dig themselves in a little deeper’?"
"That’s not the issue at hand," Wollweber muttered.
After this meeting, walking alone with Avatin through dark streets, I said to the Lett:
"Give me five hundred Danish crowns and a commission to go to Germany for one week."
Avatin halted. His bold head was silhouetted against the lurid light of a street lantern. "You may not come back alive, comrade," he said.
"I must go," I announced.
"You cannot go without Party orders."
"You are my superior," I said stubbornly. "Give me the orders." "The Gestapo are no fools," Avatin warned.
"Remember Malka, your girl," I went on vehemently. "When she was arrested in Poland—what did you do? You flew to Poland, permission or no, to rescue her."
"Shut up!" Avatin cursed in Latvian. "Malka is dead. Don’t speak of her."
"I must rescue Firelei!" I almost screamed.
For a while Avatin deliberated with himself. "I understand," he said finally. "Go to Germany. I shall give you something to deliver to the Gestapo—as protection, just in case of an emergency. Meet me tomorrow morning at six, at the Devil’s Bridge."
We parted.
In a taxi I raced out to Charlottenlund to gather a few necessary things. Petra Petersen was in an amorous embrace with a boy from the Young Communist League; her man-hunger was immense.
"Where are you going?" she cried.
"To Sweden," I answered. "I shall be back in six days."
In the cool morning I met Avatin at the Devil’s Bridge. He handed me money and a package containing the material for the Gestapo. "It is Russian," he said. "Crew lists of Soviet ships. Three years old. They can have them. Bon voyage!"
I boarded the Gjedser-Warnemuende day express. Seven hours later I was on German soil. I did not reach Blumenthal, where Firelei was living with our boy. I had been so excited that I did not realize that I was traveling without a passport until the railroad ferry across the Baltic was well under way. I cursed the laxity of the Danish officials in Gjedser: had they done their duty and de­manded to see my passport, I should have been warned in time.
It was too late to turn about. When the ferry reached Sassnitz, the German terminal on the Island of Rügen, the Gestapo agent on passport duty detained me. There was no other way for me to wriggle out of the situation than to request the agent to telephone Inspector Kraus of the Foreign Division. He telephoned. Hertha Jens was on the wire. She told the frontier agent to let me pass. I now had no choice but to proceed to Gestapo headquarters in Hamburg. Had I not had Avatin’s package to deliver, I would have been lost.
Inspector Kraus received me. I told him that I had been forced to travel without passports because the Danish frontier police were likely to have my name in their list of foreign suspects.
"Where do you keep your Gestapo credentials?" he demanded. "I buried them in a safe place," I answered.
Kraus regarded the record of Soviet ship crews, which I brought him, as an important find. I told him that I had stolen them at the Soviet shipping office in Copenhagen. I did not tell him that they were three years old. He said he would have them translated and checked against the names on the Gestapo suspect lists of Soviet agents.
"Now that you have worked yourself in," he suggested, "we must come sooner or later to arrests. Perhaps I’ll send a few of my young men over to help you in the next few months."
With this I pretended agreement. I was glad to get away from under his eyes.
On the way out, I ran into Magnus, one of the Gestapo men who had arrested me in 1933. He pounded my back and invited me for a drink. We spoke of recent arrests of Czech and Polish spies.
"By the way," he remarked, "we have caught a traitor in our own force. He was working for the Muscovites."
I felt the blood rush to my heart.
"Who?" I inquired, in a voice so low that I did not know whether the word had left my lips or whether it had only been a thought.
"Rudolf Heitman," Magnus said drily. "He worked in the Railroad Control Department. He says he’s innocent, but it won’t help him. We have evidence. We found photographs of certain communist prisoners in his apartment. He stole them from the files. Besides, he spent a lot more money than his salary allowed for. That’s Heitman. He’s going to lose his carrot."
Five days I was held up in Hamburg. They were filled with unbearable suspense. But Heitman betrayed nothing. Nevertheless, he was held for trial by a Special Tribunal.
On the sixth day I received permission to visit Firelei. I reported my defeat to her. The Gestapo knew that I was in Germany, which meant that flight, for the present, was out of question. Firelei was patient and courageous.
"We shall find a way," she said. "We must not lose hope."
A telegram from Inspector Kraus called me back to Hamburg. A mysterious Russian who gave his name as Popoff, had been arrested aboard a train. From a Gestapo photograph I recognized in him a G.P.U. officer I had known as Schmidt.
"Do you know the man?" Schreckenbach asked me.
"No," I replied.
At the station, under the eyes of a Gestapo watcher, I kissed Firelei good-by. It was the last kiss. I did not know that I would never kiss her again.
I returned to Denmark disguised as a member of the crew of the German steamer Jade. The captain was a Nazi. The Gestapo had ordered him to sign me on, and to book me in his log-book as a deserter after I had vanished in Copenhagen. At once I reported the intelligence I had gathered to the Western Secretariat.
Wollweber was undisturbed at the news of Rudolf Heitman’s arrest.
"Heitman was a questionable customer anyway," he remarked. "He had the old spy disease: he worked for both sides. Besides, he has cost us a small fortune."
But the Silesian was greatly perturbed when I told him of Popoff’s arrest in Harburg, and of the suspicions and plans of Schreckenbach. He turned in his chair.
"Comrade Schmidt taken?" he exclaimed in a voice that was half-growl, half-snarl.
I had never seen him so agitated. He paced the office, a truculent and dismayed little man, bald, burly, his eyes glinting, his thumbs hooked in his belt, his teeth chewing an unlighted cigarette to shreds.
"We must do something," he growled. "We must do something. Of course they’ll break him. Anybody can be broken. We’ll have to recall a lot of men before Schmidt is made to tell their names. He should have guts enough to kill himself before he cracks."
"He can’t," I said.
"He’s chained day and night."
I learned that Schmidt-Popoff had become since 1933 one of the most important agents of the Soviet military intelligence in Northern Germany. He had contacts in the navy yards, the railroad centers, the Labor Front, the Lüneburg army training camp, and aboard several German warships. Nine other trained operatives were working under Popoff’s direction. Secret photographic ateliers in Stettin and Hanover were at his disposal. It had taken many months of painstaking effort to build up this organization. If Popoff talked, the whole Soviet espionage network north of Berlin would be blasted. If Popoff’s aides were recalled, their lives would be saved, but it would mean the abandonment of important positions in Germany.
Wollweber muttered, "No, no, no! We cannot dissolve our German set-up without a stiff fight." Abruptly he added: "What guarantee have we that this comrade has not given things away already?"
"Popoff looked strong," I said. "But Schreckenbach will crush him. It’ll take him weeks, but he’ll crush him."
"Any comrade who falls asleep on a train ought to be shot."
Wollweber crouched in a corner of his office, his thick neck thrust forward, pondering. "Get me Avatin," he finally ordered. "I want to see him at five. Tell Jensen to instruct all groups to suspend temporarily all communications with the North German Apparat. Notify Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, Basle, Strasbourg, Paris, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Antwerp, Brussels and Danzig."
"All right."
By five o’clock that afternoon Richard Jensen had dispatched couriers to Berlin, Hamburg and Stettin, and coded messages to all other points. The head of the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. in Paris was informed. Through prearranged messages, Popoff’s aides in Germany were warned to change their addresses and passports immediately, and to stop all operations until further notice, but to remain at their posts. A courier had been sent to Stockholm to recall the agent in charge of the Swedish section; this agent, a Russian of German extraction, was to go to Germany to prepare for the continuation of the work previously attended to by Popoff. At five o’clock Wollweber, Avatin, Jensen, I, and a smooth-looking man whom I now met for the first time, gathered in a private dining room of the Hotel d’Angleterre, opposite the Royal Opera House. Wollweber and Avatin had their plans already worked out.
The Silesian spoke with precision. He instructed me to report to the Gestapo that Popoff was only a minor courier, and that it would take me some days to collect more detailed information about the captured Russian. Furthermore, he indicated that a way had to be found to lure a man from Schreckenbach’s corps out of Germany. Wollweber proposed to lure him either to France or Denmark, with the aid of a bait that would greatly whet the Gestapo’s appetite. Once the Gestapo operative was outside of Germany, it would be Avatin’s job to seize him and ship him, alive, to Leningrad—to be held as a hostage for Popoff.
"Once we have the scoundrel in our hands," Wollweber con­cluded, "we can telephone Schreckenbach and let him know that his agent will fare exactly as Popoff fares in Germany. They’ll leave Popoff alone. Then we negotiate. We send him a passport to prove that he’s Popoff. We’ll agree to put Schreckenbach’s man on a German ship in Leningrad, provided that Popoff is put aboard a Soviet steamer in Hamburg. We swap prisoners—and keep our German Apparat intact."
"Why not grab one of the Gestapo fellows who are in Copenhagen right now?" Jensen suggested.
"Small fry," Wollweber muttered. "We want a brigand from headquarters."
Avatin’s eyes lit up. His willingness to help an important colleague equaled his cold hatred for policemen. He shrank from nothing. "Good," he said. "Let’s go."
The fifth man in our council voiced hesitations. He was a member of the Soviet consulate in Copenhagen. He pointed out that an unforeseen mistake could cause trouble with the Danish authorities. It would not only endanger diplomatic relations, but also the whole Copenhagen Apparat of the G.P.U. and the Comintern. Wollweber, without uttering a word, stared the Russian into submission.
"We’ll do it right here in Denmark," he said to the consular agent. "You will then be good enough to undertake the palaver with Schreckenbach. You will also request Leningrad to put the right boys on the next two or three ships that come here."
The vision of the tortured Popoff haunted me. The chance of aiding in the dispatch of a Gestapo agent to his doom was difficult to resist. But what of Firelei? I pointed out that the abduction of a Nazi in Copenhagen would probably disrupt my line of contact with the Gestapo. "Firelei, too, is a comrade," I said.
"We’ll be careful," Wollweber promised. "It need not be Copenhagen. Why not Sonderburg?"
Jensen grinned. "Sonderburg is a good place," he said.
"The Party comes first." Avatin pressed the words through his teeth. "We must rescue Popoff before he goes to the dogs."
The Party comes first! Mountains of wrecked lives are buried beneath that epitaph! When a man belonged to the Party, he really belonged to it, body and spirit, without reserve. Despite the cyni­cism which grows in the hearts of men who have devoted their lives to the cause—we loved our Party, and we were proud of its power, proud of our own serfdom, because we had given it all our youth, all our hopes, all the enthusiasm and selflessness which we had once possessed.
Wollweber glowered. "Comrade Firelei is a Bolshevik, too," he said, giving my own words a sardonic and threatening twist. "It so happens that we cannot do without your help."
"I was thinking of that," I said sarcastically.
"Does that mean that you are ready to sacrifice Comrade Popoff and the Apparat to avert a hypothetical danger from your kin?"
I sensed the hidden menace in this sally.
"After all," Wollweber went on in a friendlier tone, "it is not at all certain that the Gestapo will connect you with the disappearance of one of their agents."
I replied, "You know better, Comrade Ernst. Schreckenbach is no fool."
Wollweber grinned. When he grinned, his masklike face became an ugly grimace. He was incapable of mirth which was not saturated with contempt.
"Are you afraid?" he growled.
"Then let’s go ahead with the job."
The reports which I sent, under instructions from the Westbureau, to the headquarters of the Auslandsabteilung of the Gestapo of Hamburg contained misinformation calculated to throw the Gestapo off the tracks of Comintern and G.P.U. men actually working in Germany. The Nazi secret police received the names of known Communists who were at that time in the Soviet Union as the names of agents operating on German soil. Faked lists of German members of the International Brigade in Spain were given to Schreckenbach as copies of genuine recruiting files. When the Comintern concentrated its forces in the Rhineland, the Gestapo got a report that Bolshevist conspiracy was in the making in Silesia. Communists arrested in Germany were denounced as traitors by the Comintern to ease the lot of the imprisoned men. I sent the Gestapo false codes, carefully prepared bogus letters allegedly stolen from Comintern files, and old passports discarded by Richard Jensen as useless; false lists of shipping contacts, reports of the Moscow show trials, and many other items of supposedly secret character. Once in a while the Westbureau interlaced this maze of faked information with facts which would check with evidence known to be already in the possession of Schreckenbach and his aides. We invented meaningless terms, such as DUNS, REPS, etc., and imparted to them a mysterious significance. All this was done with greatest care, and the Gestapo seemed to swallow it all. But now I was to use our carefully-built up channel of misinformation to lure one of Hitler’s man hunters across the frontier to Danish soil.
A special Nazi courier who maintained contact between myself and Schreckenbach operated under the guise of a sleeping-car porter on the night express Hamburg-Copenhagen. I met him every Tuesday and Friday morning in obscure little restaurants in the vicinity of Soederport. He brought me instructions and money and conveyed back to Schreckenbach whatever material I had to give him. This Gestapo courier, a slight man with a small black mustache and horn-rimmed glasses, used the name of Petersen. Occasionally he brought me in contact with other Gestapo agents active in Copenhagen and elsewhere.
Four days after I had met Wollweber and Avatin at the Hotel d’Angleterre, I contacted Petersen. He came out of the yard where the train by which he had arrived from Hamburg was being cleaned. He walked slowly ahead of me, and I followed him. After he had made sure that he was not observed by any third person, he slipped into a basement restaurant, where I joined him.
Petersen handed me a list of instructions from Schreckenbach. The Gestapo wanted me to investigate a number of persons in Danish and Swedish towns who had been anonymously denounced as having contact with anti-Nazi elements in Germany. He also showed me a number of photographs of men who had been caught smuggling a truckload of revolutionary pamphlets across the French-German border, wanting to know if I could identify any of the captured smugglers.
I handed him the usual report which had been concocted the previous day at the headquarters of the Western Secretariat. Then, following instructions from Wollweber, I said:
"Listen, I’ve got something much bigger. Wollweber is going tomorrow on a conference tour through Denmark. Sunday he’ll be in Aarhus, Monday in Esbjerg, Tuesday in Sonderburg."
Petersen quietly made notes. "What of it?" he demanded.
"What of it?" I repeated. "I said Wollweber will be in Sonder­burg on Tuesday. Sonderburg is less than ten kilometers from the German frontier."
I could see the excitement mounting inside Petersen. His eyes shone bright, his face grew pale, and his hands became restless. He steadied his hands around the beer glass.
"Wollweber in Sonderburg," he mumbled.
"All Schreckenbach has to do is to send one or two of his young men to Sonderburg with a speedboat or a good car. Pounce on Wollweber and carry him off to hell."
"Is he going to be alone?" Petersen inquired cautiously.
"He’ll have a translator with him, an old idiot. Tell Schreckenbach not to send too many men. Wollweber is an old wolf. He’ll fly off at the slightest suspicion. Wollweber is short, thick, smokes too much. He can’t fight. He can’t run fast. He’s a cinch."
"Where’s the meeting?"
"Probably in Bork’s tavern. Halfway between Sonderburg station and the waterfront."
Petersen emptied his beer. "Wollweber can be abducted," he announced calmly.
Petersen did not wait in Copenhagen for the departure of his train. Still in his Mitropa porter’s uniform, he jumped into a taxi and took the first plane to Berlin.
By Tuesday morning Avatin had made his preparations. He had sent two of his men to Sonderburg immediately after Petersen’s departure. They were to watch the station and the steamer landing for Gestapo arrivals. Most of the faces of men working in Schreck­enbach’s division were known to us. They had been photographed by G.P.U. men when entering and leaving their offices in Hamburg and Berlin. Comrades, released from German camps, had later identified many of the enlarged photos as pictures of Gestapo agents who had questioned them.
Tuesday morning Avatin himself, accompanied by men he had recalled from Sweden and Norway, proceded to Sonderburg. The most reliable comrades of the Sonderburg Party local had been mobilized to aid the G.P.U. expedition. All of Avatin’s aides were armed.
Of course, Ernst Wollweber did not budge from his Copenhagen abode. In his apartment on Oerensudsvej he discussed with Jensen, in my presence, the possibilities of shipping the prospective hostage to Russia. They had under consideration the Soviet steamer Lena, and the Danish steamers E. M. Dalgas and Ask, the crews of which had already shown their mettle in previous enterprises.
Hour after hour we waited for Avatin’s message from Sonderburg, telling us that he had seized his man.
A half hour before midnight Avatin’s message arrived. The telegram read: "Meat shipment delayed." It meant that no abduction had taken place.
I was vastly relieved. Jensen, who had been playing chess, cursed violently. He scattered his chessmen all over the floor. Woll­weber stopped his pacing. He sat down at a table and, began devising another scheme to kidnap a Gestapo man before Popoff would give up resistance in the Fuhlsbüttel dungeon.
Next morning I met Avatin at the Nordland Hotel on Vester­brogade. I asked him what had happened in Sonderburg.
He gave a harsh laugh. "Nothing," he said. "Only Wollweber was much too big a fish to make a good decoy. Sonderburg was full of Gestapo men. All Flensburg Fjord was lined with storm troopers. The whole Hamburg Rollkommando was on the spot, a steamer, cars, a dozen motorcycles. Inspector Kraus was there. Everybody was there except Schreckenbach himself. Soon the Kingdom of Denmark is going to be a Nazi colony."
"That was to be expected," I observed. "They’ve had bad experi­ences with Wollweber."
Avatin studied his hands. Ruefully he said, "Sorry I didn’t take a couple of machine guns down to Sonderburg. In all the village just three policemen were on duty."
After a consultation with Wollweber, I sent a coded letter to Schreckenbach, explaining that the sudden influx of German stalwarts in the sleepy town of Sonderburg had caused the local Party committee to warn Wollweber that "something was rotten in Denmark."
At my next rendezvous with Petersen I was astonished to hear that Inspector Kraus of the Hamburg Gestapo, who had led the invasion of Sonderburg, had detailed two Nazi police agents to take permanent quarters in Copenhagen to track down a radio station maintained by the G.P.U. to receive information flashed by Soviet spies in Germany. I knew of no such radio station in Germany. But it struck me that Popoff must have known, and I feared that Popoff had begun to talk. Petersen refused to reveal the whereabouts of the two Gestapo operatives. We learned their names weeks later, through a waiter in Cafe Helmerhus, which the two Nazis frequented. They were Herrmann Teege and L. Brauch, both of Schreckenbach’s Inspektion 6.
In accordance with a plan worked out by the Westbureau, I mentioned to Petersen that I had seen a package of forged passports in the apartment of a Party member, and that these passports were to be used by German communists within the next three months. Petersen duly reported this piece of news to Schreckenbach in Hamburg. A day later I received a short letter from Inspector Kraus, asking if the "children could be photographed." At once I informed Avatin that the Gestapo was anxious to have photo­static copies of the imaginary passports.
"Splendid! Tell the Gestapo to send one of their bandits with a camera." Avatin only showed his cruel little grin.
Came Friday. On the same night express with Petersen came a man whom Petersen introduced to me as Oskar. Oskar was tall, thin, blond, about thirty-six, elegantly dressed and apparently perfectly at ease. He was the agent Schreckenbach had sent to photo­graph the passports. From the minute he stepped out of the railway depot he was under surveillance of Avatin’s guerrillas.
Oskar spoke briskly. He wanted me to bring the passports to the apartment of a young lady he said he knew, Lily de Korte, on the top floor of an apartment house on Osterbrogade. I replied that it was too risky to remove the passports from their present hiding-place, but that I would meet him after dark in the vicinity of the house in which the passports had been hidden. He could then photo­graph them in a hotel room. Oskar agreed. Before we parted, I asked him about Popoff. Oskar ran a finger around his neck.
"By and by his head will come off," he said.
I do not know if Popoff lost his life or not. The life of Firelei was worth more to me than the life of Popoff. I accused myself of allowing my love for my wife and child to make me waver in my life-long commitment to Stalin’s cause. On that Friday in Septem­ber I began to hate the movement I served, hate its hypocrisy, hate the brigands who led it. I could have warned Oskar, and could have betrayed Stalinism to save my luckless family. Yet I did not do it.
Between ten and eleven three G.P.U. men under Avatin slugged Oskar in one of the dark side streets which run off Holmbladsgade. They carried him into a taxicab, driven by a Party member, and brought him to one of the week-end houses which the Comintern maintains as emergency retreats in the outskirts of Copenhagen. There Oskar was kept a prisoner, chained hand and foot, as Popoff was chained in Fuhlsbüttel prison. On the night of October 10, Oskar again was slugged unconscious by his G.P.U. keepers and carried aboard the Soviet steamer Kama in the harbor of Copenhagen. On October 11, the S.S. Kama steamed seaward, bound for Archangelsk.

Chapter Forty-two – ABDUCTED

I WAS DETERMINED TO SEVER all further connections with the Gestapo. But Firelei’s perilous position in Germany compelled me to execute my plan with the utmost caution. Without first consulting the Westbureau, I let the Gestapo’s regular couriers wait vainly for my appearance at our regular rendezvous. A week passed. Schreckenbach’s messengers, unable to contact me in Copenhagen, returned to Hamburg empty-handed.
Schreckenbach, not hearing from his agent, Oskar, nor from me, dispatched a night letter to a cover address in Copenhagen, with which, at the advice of Jensen, I had supplied the Gestapo for use in emergencies. Unknown to the Gestapo, such letters went through Jensen’s hands before they were given to me. Richard Jensen was disturbed. The Gestapo wanted to know why I had not met its regular couriers. It also wanted to know what had happened to Oskar.
I scribbled a hasty-looking note to the effect that I was on my way to the Soviet Union to attend a military school,—aware of the Gestapo’s keen interest in this field. This note I sent to Petrolevics, the Comintern liaison agent in Riga, with instructions to mail it to Schreckenbach’s cover address in Hamburg. This gave the note the appearance of having been mailed en route to Moscow. The Gestapo would not expect me to write reports from Russia, and would understand my silence in the future. And Firelei, I calculated, would not have to fear retaliatory measures.
On a morning in October I was called to a conference with Wollweber and Kuusinen in a restaurant near the Thorvaldsen Museum. They ordered me to continue my work for the Comintern inside Hitler’s Secret Police. Brusquely I told them that I had burned my bridges, that I was through with that assignment.
"I have told the Gestapo that I went to Russia," I explained. "As far as they are concerned, I have vanished."
Kuusinen smiled enigmatically.
"Well," he suggested, "after a few days you will write to the Gestapo that you have returned from Moscow and are now back in Copenhagen."
The next instant I stood in open mutiny against two of the most powerful figures in the Soviet Secret Service and the Comintern, both of which had by 1937 become thoroughly interlocked.
"Give me four men from Comrade Avatin’s Apparat to ma­neuver my wife and child out of Germany," I demanded. "It has been done before; it can be done for me."
"You will not—"
"No," I interrupted. "I refuse!"
Kuusinen shrank back. He was frightened. He had always had the reputation of being a coward. My fists, after all, were still those of a sailor. He—Kuusinen—had never done an honest day’s work since he had left the workers of Finland at the mercy of General Mannerheim, while he, their leader, had salvaged his skin by fleeing to Russia, to seek the Kremlin’s forgiveness by writing documents of self-humiliation. Those were my thoughts.
Wollweber remarked that I sought to use the Westbureau as a means for the solution of my private difficulties.
"Private difficulties!" I snarled into Wollweber’s face. "The thousands of comrades in the Nazi concentration camps would like to hear that! The ones who had their heads chopped off, the ones who were hanged, cut to pieces, beaten to death. The ones who died with the cry, ’Long live the Communist Party!’ They all would like to hear that—the attitude of Comrade Wollweber, their leader, who sits on safe ground on a salary of six hundred dollars a month."
Kuusinen had jumped up and decamped during my tirade. Wollweber stood his ground.
"Calm yourself," he growled.
"I am calm."
"You are burned out; you need a rest."
"I am not burned out and I don’t need a rest," I countered. "Only I’m disgusted at playing ball with the Gestapo. Give me the job of cutting the throat of one of the Nazi sadists, and I’ll do it, even if it will cost me my life. Give me any other function, and I’ll carry it out. But don’t expect me to be the hangman of Comrade Firelei and my son."
Wollweber said stonily, "The Secretariat will consider your request."
I had made powerful enemies. From that day on I became in the eyes of Kuusinen and Wollweber and their legion of henchmen a Bolshevik in whom they no longer could place absolute trust. It was no secret in our ranks that Stalin’s quiet method of eliminating —by intrigue, calumny and cold murder—all rivals and subalterns who still retained a spirit of independence had long been adopted also by his leading genuflectors throughout the Soviet network. Only those who succeeded in finding "wreckers" and "Trotskyite reptiles" among their closest friends could be sure of saving their jobs and budgets and lives. No longer as in the past, were antag­onisms ironed out in stormy sessions. Straightforward talk was shunned like the pest. Instead, intrigues were spun, secret denunci­ations were written to influential friends in Moscow, G.P.U. ter­rorists were brought into play. Old, long-tested comrades were weeded out without apparent reason, and ruthless unknown new­comers took over the jobs of the purged. The bold revolutionary enthusiasm of bygone years had degenerated into sly cunning, cau­tious wriggling, snake-like assaults. No one in the higher Party circles believed that the "confessions" of the Bolshevik Old Guard in the Moscow show trials were true; yet everyone pretended to be convinced of the villainy of those who were once Lenin’s aides, The Comintern echoed the Kremlin’s shouts: "Destroy the heretics! Shoot them down like mad dogs!"

I did not have to wait long. To Petra Petersen’s apartment, where I had been isolated as if I had the cholera, came Richard Jensen’s son, Martin, with orders from the Westbureau.
"Go to the Soviet consul to get your sailing papers for Russia!"
"I want to see Wollweber," I demanded.
"Comrade Wollweber has gone to Paris."
"Then I must see Kuusinen or Avatin."
"Kuusinen went to Moscow," Martin Jensen said. "Avatin has business in Sweden."
"And what is my business in the Soviet Union?"
"A tour of inspection through the International Clubs—Leningrad, Black Sea ports, Vladivostok."
"All right. I can’t go today; it’s too late."
"Go early tomorrow."
For several days I deliberated on what I should do. "Is this the end?" I asked myself. "The miserable end?" Except Petra Petersen, I saw no one. My former friends shunned me. No one west of Leningrad, it seemed, dared to exchange a friendly word with one who had challenged Ernst Wollweber and his ilk. And Wollweber, I realized, feared me—for I was a spokesman for the multitude of silenced revolutionists who had been thrown into Hitler’s maw for no good purpose. Faces trooped through my mind, the faces of men and women who had been sent in cold blood to prison and death because they were obstacles in the Silesian’s path to total power. I decided to give battle. The chance for a counter-thrust came when I heard from Petra Petersen that an important emis­sary of the Soviet Government had come by plane from Paris to Copenhagen to discuss with Jensen the chartering of Scandinavian vessels to carry war supplies to the ports of Loyalist Spain. This emissary was Leo Haikiss. I accosted him, as if by chance, in the Soviet consulate.
Haikiss had been one of the founders of the Leningrad Tcheka in the initial stages of the Revolution. In the early twenties he had become the propaganda chief of the Comintern in Central Europe, operating from Berlin with Bela Kun and Karl Radek. Later he was attached to the Soviet embassy in Mexico, from which position he directed G.P.U. activities in Central and South America. He appeared in Spain in 1936, together with A. Vronsky, G.P.U. head of the so-called "motorized death" detachments in Madrid, and later became Soviet Ambassador there.
Haikiss, who had a brief glimpse of me in Berlin years before, began to ask me questions. He was particularly interested in Ges­tapo activities in Spain, the surrender of captured German anti-Nazis by General Franco to the Gestapo, and the doings of Com­intern "activist" groups formed in German seaports to create sabotage acts and diversions against Nazi war shipments for the Spanish rebel army. We talked about the work of the Western Secretariat, and suddenly Haikiss astonished me with the remark: "Wollweber—hm, he is a bandit."
I told Haikiss that I had mutinied against Wollweber, and that I suspected Wollweber of having arranged for my trip to the Soviet Union for the purpose of getting me out of the way.
"This Wollweber," Leo Haikiss said slowly. "What is his background? Can you tell me of his private affairs? Or little oppor­tunistic mistakes in his past? Manuilsky in Moscow is his good friend, and, to a lesser degree, Comrade Molotov. He will not deal with Dimitrov. Could it be that Wollweber is a secret friend of the Gestapo?"
Haikiss was a high official of the G.P.U. He was the superior of Avatin. The Western Secretariat had no jurisdiction over him. They were rivals. In Spain, I knew, the Comintern had fared badly at the hands of the G.P.U. Even such powerful figures as Heinz Neumann and Bela Kun had been carried off to Russia to face the firing squad. Haikiss, like all of his colleagues, collected "material" against all possible rivals. I felt that he had some hidden reason to break Wollweber. So had I.
"I know the names of nineteen comrades who were practically surrendered by Wollweber to the Gestapo," I said. "More than ten of them have been executed."
"How are the relations between Wollweber and Kuusinen?"
"Not of the best; they are too different, and they fear each other."
Haikiss regarded me out of narrowed eyes. His long yellow fingers were never at rest.
"And Avatin?" he inquired.
"Avatin is no intriguer. He is too much of a man of action."
"A very useful comrade," Haikiss observed. Briskly he went on: "Very well! You are not going to the Soviet Union. I will speak with an important comrade when I come to Moscow. Perhaps we shall need you in Spain. Why should you go to Russia when every able comrade is needed abroad?"
"I’d be happy if you will explain this to Comrade Wollweber," I said.
"Not Wollweber. . . . I shall see Kuusinen and have a talk with Avatin."
"All right."
"Would you agree to have your family go to the Soviet Union?"
"Yes," I said. "Anything—to get them out of Germany."
"Khorosho!” [73] You can write me a report on Ernst Wollweber," Haikiss went on. "I do not want a diplomatic report. I want a report that comes from the heart. The comrades in Moscow dis­tinguish between diplomatic reports and honest reports. Remember that Wollweber is a bandit. He drinks. He spends much money with women. In international questions he is a brazen nincompoop. Write in detail and sign your name. Retain no copy. I shall take the original to Moscow."
"Very well."
I wrote the report. Leo Haikiss took it with him to Moscow. I did not know then that he, too, was destined to vanish, like so many others, in Stalin’s Great Purge after the Spanish adventure had ended in dismal defeat.
Two eventless weeks passed. During this time I saw neither Wollweber nor any other member of the Western Secretariat. I was without papers and almost without money. I spent much of my time in writing a description of life in the German prisons. One night I surprised Petra Petersen as she rummaged through my writings. I asked her if she had been assigned to spy on me. She answered arrogantly. I was so wrought up that I threatened to give her a whipping. She broke down immediately. She explained that she had been ordered by Jensen to make copies of "my letters to Moscow."
However, the command that I should go to Russia seemed to have been dropped. Once each week Martin Jensen appeared, and paid me fifteen kroner as my allowance for food. On his second visit, he told me that a rumor had come from Germany that Schreckenbach had put me down on his casualty list. He believed, apparently, that I had blundered, and that I had been taken to Russia together with Oskar. "For the moment," I thought, "Firelei will be safe from Gestapo reprisals—provided that the Gestapo receives no report that I am still outside of the Soviet Union."
In November I received an order to proceed to Antwerp, to take charge of the Comintern communication bureau in that port. Jensen’s workshop supplied me with a Swiss passport. Armed with this and a sum of money in American dollars, I boarded the westbound express to Esbjerg. I rejoiced. I believed that I had won at least my first round in my campaign against Wollweber. The Comintern was still mother, fatherland and home to me. I had traveled too far to turn back, to conceive of a life outside the Party. Moreover, as the head of the Antwerp Apparat, I felt sure that I would find a way of spiriting Firelei and Jan out of the talons of the Gestapo.
In Esbjerg, on the west coast of Jutland, I spoke to a young girl comrade who had escaped from Germany as stowaway in the chain locker of the steamship Phoenix. She betrayed the jumpy nerves of all those who have had a taste of Nazi concentration camp life; at the slightest unexpected noise she would leap from her chair and seemed to draw the air through her nostrils like a terrified animal sensing the nearness of the hunters. I gave her money to go to Copenhagen and report to Richard Jensen. Next day I boarded the steamer P.A. Bernstorff for France. In spite of the fact that I had passed through Esbjerg at other times with other passports, the state police in that port stamped without a murmur the new docu­ment I showed them.
There were other Comintern agents among the P.A. Bernstorff’s passengers, bound for Paris, Marseilles, Spain—but all of us pre­tended not to know one another. The Gestapo knew that the Bernstorff was a Comintern ship, and we had to reckon with the eventuality that Schreckenbach had at least one spy among the pas­sengers or crew.
A shadow was cast over my newly-won though questionable freedom by the fate of the man whom I was to succeed as liaison chief in Antwerp. My predecessor’s name was Franz Richter. He had been a servant of the cause since 1919, and a graduate of the Lenin School. Until the summer of 1931, he had been the secretary of the Hamburg International Club. He had had a wife and two children. He then served in the Leningrad Party machine, and was later appointed to the Antwerp post. The G.P.U. accused him of complicity with Piatakov, a leading Russian Bolshevik who was shot after a show trial in Moscow. Richter was lured aboard a Soviet vessel of the Smolny class—and disappeared. He never reached Leningrad; the ship on which he was held prisoner had to pass the Kiel Canal, where the Gestapo was on duty. Richter was either surrendered to the Nazi police, or he was murdered aboard the Russian vessel and buried in the North Sea.
I knew that the G.P.U. did not hesitate to deliver recalcitrant communists to the Gestapo. This practice bolstered the position of Soviet spies in Himmler’s force. There was no more effective method of consolidating a G.P.U. spy’s reputation in the Gestapo than to maneuver—through him—a wanted anti-Nazi into Hitler’s dungeons; for the Gestapo chiefs based the value of a secret operative on the results he obtained. Promotion in the Nazi police would be his reward.

I left the P.A. Bernstorff in Dunkerque, and contacted Manau­tines, the resident liaison agent, an unkempt but able ruffian, who had his office in the Salle d’Avenir.
"How goes our drive in France?" I asked him.
"Superb," he replied, kissing his fingertips. "The Front Populaire has put the government of Paris at our mercy. Three more years of such progress and Red banners will flutter atop the Hotel de Ville."
Manautines escorted me to a seashore point near the border. A Party member living there put two bicycles at our disposal, and we entered Belgium by little-frequented paths, twice wading through shallow ditches. Once a frontier guard stopped us.
"Halt! Where are you going?"
"We are sick of French cigarettes," Manautines cried. "Your Belgian weed is better and cheaper."
The guard took us for smugglers. He grinned and waved us on. Tobacco smugglers were liked in the Flemish border villages. They boosted business, and they always had money to spend.
Manautines left me at Ostend. "Bonne brigandage," he laughed. "I have a girl here, a buxom Belgian mare. Also, I want to buy cigarettes. You know, a little money on the side in these times of decreasing budgets. Au revoir. I shall report to Copenhagen that you have passed here in prime condition."
From Ostend I took the train to Ghent. Avatin’s representative in Ghent, an important post because this old city is a training cen­ter for the feared Belgian gendarmerie and also a center for Comin­tern contacts to England, was Verkeest, a grizzled fighter, consist­ing of little more than skin and bones, who had somehow man­aged to become a member of the town parliament and of the gov­ernment harbor commission. Verkeest had trouble, however, with the police. Ever since the second officer of a British weekly tramp had been found mysteriously drowned in the harbor of Ghent, the police had harassed Comrade Verkeest.
"Wherever I move," he complained, "they follow me. But they are as stupid as they are dogged. They rent an apartment opposite from mine, and watch the door from the windows vis-a-vis. Every time I take a field glass and scrutinize the house on the other side of the street, I see a gendarme lurking behind the curtains."
"Why don’t you disappear?" I suggested. "Have yourself re­placed by a comrade not known in Ghent?"
Verkeest spat at the wall. He shook his meager body disdain­fully.
"Every gendarme in this town is my personal enemy," he explained. "I am an old man. I have a head of iron. For twenty years I have fought the gendarmes of Ghent. I would be unhappy with­out gendarmes around me. Please do not report my quandary to Copenhagen."
I respected the old fighter’s wish. A day later I arrived in Ant­werp. I found the communist communications Apparat in hideous disorder. Since Comrade Richter’s death voyage, our special units had been in the hands of Le Minter, a French Bolshevik of good intentions, but of bad habits and limited capabilities. Le Minter had lost the rest of Richter’s budget in a card game in a Chinaman’s den on Brouversvliet; an agent supposed to go to Freetown, Sierra Leone, had been shipped by Le Minter to Kingston, Jamaica. "I thought Kingston was on the West African coast, so I shipped the comrade there because I had no direct boat to Freetown," Le Minter explained. Propaganda in Malay language, printed in Len­ingrad and forwarded to Le Minter for transport to Singapore, had been dumped expeditiously into the oily waters of Siberia Dock. Besides, Le Minter collected commissions from a number of French and Flemish prostitutes for sending to them customers from incoming ships. The Comintern transport file, which listed the names of more than five hundred vessels, noted the political attitudes of their crews, contained the names of Party members aboard, etc., had been neglected for weeks.
"You can go to the devil," I told Le Minter. "I have a good mind to ship you off to Russia. You’d make a good pick-and-shovel man for the Tcheka mud-brigades on the White Sea Canal."
Le Minter grew shaky. The contortions on his sallow face showed how he squirmed inside. "Mon dieu, camarade," he mut­tered. "I am a seasoned fox, but I am a stranger in this beastly northern country. Wine is prohibitive. Nothing but bock beer and potatoes. I am a child of the south. I have innumerable friends along the Mediterranean." Striking his chest, he concluded dramatically: "I may even go to Spain. My life-blood, like yours, belongs to the world revolution."
I dispatched Le Minter to Marseilles to assume a minor function in the Comintern Bureau which, from 10 Rue Fauchier, directed communist activities on the North African coast and the Near East. I selected as my chief assistant, to succeed Le Minter, a certain Le Marec, a Frenchman who had become my friend during the French river strike of 1933. In a note sent to Maurice Thorez, the leader of the French Communist Party, I wrote: "I need Le Marec. Please free him from other work." Thorez replied immedi­ately: "Dear Friend, Le Marec is a devil. I am glad you are taking him off my hands. There are good devils and bad devils. Le Marec is a good devil." I found Le Marec a tireless worker, but he perfectly fitted the description of the ghoul who appears, I believe, in Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities.
Among the various emissaries who came to Antwerp to be smuggled to various destinations by the maritime courier system of the Comintern was a young Japanese whose Party name was Hito. He had come from Moscow, equipped with proper creden­tials, and his destination was Honolulu, Hawaii.
"How much money have you?" I asked.
"Forty dollars," Hito replied.
"No budget?"
"Oh, yes! Got budget—but my travel allowance is forty dollars, no more."
It was a difficult order. No ships sailed directly between Continental ports and the Hawaiian Islands. I decided to ship Hito by way of the United States or Panama.
I had known him since 1932. He was the son of a well-to-do merchant in Yokohama. In 1930 his family had sent him to study at the Paris university. His father had granted him a liberal monthly allowance. While in Paris, Hito fell in with one of the Comintern talent scouts who combed the French and German universities for Japanese and Chinese students. As a result, Hito had studied in Moscow instead of Paris. Two years later, Dimitrov had sent him to Hamburg to set up propaganda nuclei aboard Japanese ships. Young Hito had brought with him the most complete Lenin­ist library that could be found in Hamburg. He had taken quarters in the home of a Mrs. Renscher and her two daughters. By Janu­ary, 1933, both Olga and Bianca Renscher were pregnant. Hitler came to power, and Hito decamped, abandoning his library and his girls. During all this time Hito’s father in Yokohama had been left in the belief that his son was a student in Paris; with the regularity of a clock Hito’s allowance had continued to arrive in Paris from Yokohama.
"Where have you been since 1933?" I inquired.
"I was very busy," Hito replied.
I finally shipped him out aboard the Westernland. It was the last service which I rendered to the Comintern and Stalin.
Once only did I write Firelei from Antwerp, using a cover ad­dress we had arranged during our last meeting.
Her answer was brief: "Don’t write—the danger is great." Another note followed. "Wait," she wrote me. "I shall tell you when the time is ripe."
East of Antwerp lay Germany. More than ever my homeland resembled the jaws of a giant trap. Alone, I realized, I could do nothing. As long as I remained a part of the Comintern, there was hope for rescue.
Fate decided otherwise.
An old personal friend, the Marine Engineer Hans Krause, had been arrested by the G.P.U. in Spain. I received the intelligence through one of the recruiting agents for the International Brigade. Krause was a veteran in the service of the Profintern. He had con­ducted an arms shipment from Marseilles to Valencia, and had then volunteered for the front. He had been wounded in action. For reasons of its own, the G.P.U. had seized him in the hospital and thrown him into one of the private jails it maintained on Spanish soil. The accusation brought against Krause was the usual one: "Trotskyism and espionage in behalf of General Franco and the Gestapo." The charge was absurd. I knew that Hans Krause was no more a Gestapo spy than Stalin was an agent of the Bank of England. Krause’s wife, a Flemish girl who worked in Antwerp in a secretarial position, showed me a letter from her husband which a fellow prisoner had smuggled out of jail. It was a bitter, heart-breaking letter.
"Do something," she pleaded.
Only one man I knew had the power to save Hans Krause. That man was Edo Fimmen, the Secretary General of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. For a decade Moscow had struggled to conquer or to destroy Fimmen’s organization of mil­lions. Now, since the new policy of the Comintern required the simulation of friendship toward socialist leaders, Moscow might be glad, I calculated, to put Edo Fimmen under obligation by doing him a favor. He was too formidable a personality in the European labor movement to be ignored if he expressed an interest in the fate of Hans Krause. Fimmen, whose organizations in Germany had been smashed, had nevertheless many powerful friends in Holland, England, Belgium, Scandinavia and Spain.
I knew that Edo Fimmen came to Antwerp once each fortnight to confer with his Belgian assistants in a stronghold of the Belgian Social Democratic Party, the Transport House on the Paardemarkt. It was here that I met him. Fimmen, who made his headquarters in Amsterdam, was a Dutchman, robust of figure, cultured, ruddy and full of vitality in spite of his age, and his fine warrior head was topped by a thick white mane.
He promised to intervene in behalf of Hans Krause; he seemed to disregard the fact that Krause and I, as communists, had been his consistent enemies in earlier years. When I left Fimmen, he shook my hand vigorously.
"Some day, perhaps, we can all work together," he said, while an expectant smile played about his mouth.
Eventually, Hans Krause was saved from the G.P.U. firing squad.
Shortly after my meeting with Fimmen, I became aware that I was being watched. I recognized at once that my shadowers were not Belgian policemen. One evening, when one of them was again close upon my heels, I whirled around and confronted him.
"What are you—G.P.U. or Gestapo?" I snapped.
"I am a comrade," the man said sheepishly. It was an eloquent answer.
Two days later a courier conveyed to me the order to meet one of the leading agents of the Comintern in Paris. No one else was to be informed that I was going to France.
I took the train from Antwerp to Courtrai, changing cars at Ghent. From Courtrai I proceeded by tramcar to Menin, a Belgian village directly on the border. From Menin, led by a Party mem­ber stationed there to handle the clandestine border traffic, I crossed to the French village of Halluin. Because of the proximity of the Maginot Line extension, the French authorities kept a strict watch on strangers. However, all went well. From Halluin to Tourcoing I went by trolley. A local electric train brought me from Tour­coing to Lille. In Lille I boarded the North Express for Paris.
A courier met me at the Gare du Nord. In a taxi we sped down the Boulevard de Magenta, across the Place de la République, con­tinuing along the Boulevard Voltaire. I wondered where we were going. My courier said nothing. One never knew in this year of purges from which side the insidious thrust would come.
The taxi stopped in front of an obscure little restaurant on the right bank of the Seine. At a corner table, behind a frugal French breakfast, sat a man I knew well. "Meet Monsieur Maurice," the courier mumbled before he vanished.
"Maurice" was really Adolf Deter, a former member of the Prussian Diet, and at one time head of Profintern operations in Germany; he had engineered the Berlin traffic strike which helped decisively to break the government of Chancellor von Papen, and later he had become a boss behind the huge strikes which brought France to the edge of civil war. Comrade Deter had grown paunchy in exile. A chill grin hovered on his fat round face.
"I have a message from Comrade Wollweber," Deter said softly. "It was better not to give it to you in writing. We need you for a special transaction."
"What is it?" I asked.
"We want to send a comrade to Germany, to Hamburg. We want to make absolutely sure that this comrade arrives in Hamburg. He will contact you in Antwerp. You will put him aboard a boat to Hamburg."
"All right," I said. "There are two good steamers each week." Deter looked at me obliquely. His thick fingers toyed with the ash tray.
He spoke as if he considered every word as a valuable object. "I have said that this is a special business. I hope you will under­stand. This comrade who will call on you is not to go to Hamburg on one of our regular ships. He is not to come in contact with any of our confidential Antwerp addresses. He is not to be given any confidential addresses we might have in Germany. He has no passport except an old German document issued under his right name. As soon as he is on the way to Germany, you must send me a card giving the name of the ship and the date of its arrival in Ham­burg. Is that clear to you?"
"Perfectly clear," I muttered. "In other words, this comrade is to be liquidated."
Deter winced. "I wish you’d be a little more diplomatic," he said peevishly.
"Why not tell him to go to Russia or Spain?"
"We need him in Germany," Deter said with an air of finality.
This, I reflected, was a case of delivering a communist functionary to the Gestapo. A comrade who for some reason had earned the enmity or the distrust of Deter, Wollweber and their higher‑ups was about to be sold to Hitler’s secret police to strengthen the precarious perch of Comintern and G.P.U. spies operating inside the Gestapo. One of the latter would undoubtedly deliver this comrade, I thought. A spy who caused the capture of a known communist agent would become, in the eyes of Schreckenbach, a most reliable spy.
"Who is the man?" I demanded.
"You know him: Karl Saar."
I controlled myself. Deter could not see what was in my head.
I knew Karl Saar. He was short, blond, in his early thirties, agile as a panther and brimming with energy. He was a fanatic. In December, 1932, he had come from Moscow, a graduate of a Soviet military school. Less than a year later the Gestapo had captured him. Karl Saar was sent to prison. In March, 1936, on a prisoners’ transport from Hamburg to Western Germany, he had seized a million-to-one chance, and escaped.
"What is wrong with Comrade Saar?" I demanded.
"He is a dangerous opportunist," Deter said vaguely, adding the warning: "We want no hitch in this. The affair must click. Saar is a danger to the Party."
"Is it a trap?" I thought. "Was all this merely devised as a test of my loyalty? Or do they really want me to send a comrade to his death?"
"All right," I said coldly.

I met Karl Saar in Antwerp. In a blue suit, much too large for him, he looked rather thin and emaciated, but his facial expression bore all the marks of his old determination. Had we met in prison, where speaking was prohibited, we should have connived to ex­change views and tales of our experiences for hours; but now, with the whole world to move in, we were held back by a wall of utmost reserve. Above us both stood that great, intangible menace which makes men realize their utter physical insecurity from one day to the next.
"Listen, Karl," I told him. "Don’t go to Germany."
"Have you received countermanding orders?"
"You haven’t a chance to leave Germany alive, Karl."
He gave me an astonished look. "I know very well that nine out of ten who go never come back," he said.
"This is different," I warned him. "It’s worse. Murder. A trap."
"What’s the matter with you?"
The shabby furniture about us seemed to swing and reel. "I have instructions to send you to Germany in such a way that the Gestapo will stand on the wharf when your steamer arrives," I ex­plained. "You’re slated for liquidation."
"By whom?"
"I cannot tell you."
After that exclamation, Karl Saar was silent for a whole minute. He shoved his hands under his belt and I could see that he was thinking. We stared at one another like two animals in a cage. Finally he said, "Why should they want to liquidate me?" "I don’t know, Karl."
Karl Saar said viciously: "What is your game?"
I pretended not to hear. "I can give you $100," I said. "You can go anywhere you like. There are ships to South America, to Mexico, to New York."
"I am not going to run away," Comrade Saar said.
"Were you a Nazi spy," I continued, "I’d drive a knife between your ribs and be done with it. It seems that most of us who come alive out of Germany, like you or I, are suspected of grubbing for the Nazis. I know what you think. You think that the worst a man can be called is that he is a coward. But this is not a question of courage or cowardice. It is a rotten game, Karl. From what I heard the Comintern considers you a political corpse. Why—I don’t know. I won’t ask. You’re finished if you go to Germany. It’s all I can tell you."
At this point Karl Saar laughed harshly:
"Do you still believe in world revolution?"
"No," I said.
"Neither do I," he echoed.
"Then why . . ."
"We’ve chosen our side. The Party must live."
"Do you remember," I continued quietly, "how comrades bled to death in Camp Fuhlsbüttel? How spilled blood screamed from the mattresses? the walls? the floors and even the ceilings? How we sang the funeral march in the middle of the night from cell to cell? How you yelled from the window: ’High the banners! They died for the revolution!’? How the whole prison roared: ’Rache! Rache!? How the guards started shooting at the win­dows?"
Karl Saar snarled. "Why do you tell me all this?"
I spoke for half an hour. I felt that it was not I who had spoken. It was Hans Krause speaking from the G.P.U. jail in Spain, com­rades speaking from the cellars of the Lubianka in the heart of Moscow, comrades speaking from the bitter wastes of the Soloviet­sky Islands, comrades speaking from the bottom of the North Sea, speaking from countless graves in the Soviet Fatherland, in Germany, the Balkans, in Spain, in all the world—comrades betrayed and crushed by the cause whose loyal soldiers they had been.
"No, Karl," I said, "they did not die for the world revolution; they only thought they did; they died to gratify the lust for power of the Stalin clique; they died because they had been made to be­lieve that it was more honorable to be a stinking corpse than a living thing outside the Party."
I sagged into a chair, exhausted.
Karl Saar looked like a ghost. A fanatic pride shone in his eyes. "I am going to Germany," he said.
"Anything else I can do for you?"
He hesitated. "Tonight I’d like to sleep with a girl," he said.
Together we went out. I called up Adele, the young Jewess who helped me with the registration of ship movements. She knew that comrades who went to Germany almost never returned. She met Karl at the foot of Antwerp’s lone skyscraper. Together they walked away, he seemingly unconcerned, she with a little self-satisfied sway of her body.
That night I went to Brussels Party headquarters. Comrade de Buck, the Belgian Party chief, was away. The best document the Party Apparat had on hand was a carte d’identité of a local com­munist who resembled Karl Saar. With such a paper I decided not to send Karl to Germany by ship. Through the Brussels Party machine I arranged for a guide who knew the border country. Next morning he and Karl Saar departed for the German frontier. I sent a telegram to Adolf Deter in Paris, informing him that Karl had left for Hamburg aboard the steamer Adolph Kirsten. Barely twenty-four hours later I received a telegram which called me to Copenhagen. Its contents were so worded as to make me think that it had been sent by Leo Haikiss.
Late in December, 1937, I took passage to Esbjerg. The towers of Antwerp sank away astern; the steamer pitched in the green North Sea.

It is less than a two-minute walk from the steamer-landing in Esbjerg to the North Sea terminal of the Copenhagen express. The passport inspection was carried out by officers I had not seen before. I avoided it by walking through the little gate marked "Scandinavians Only." I was halfway between the quay and the station-platform when a burly man in a thick gray sweater stopped me.
"Follow me," he said. "I come from Jensen."
Quickly I gave Richard Jensen’s password for December: "Does he have coffee?"
"Aye, the best coffee in Copenhagen," he growled in answer.
At first I thought Jensen was waiting with special orders for me in one of the waterfront cafes. But the man in the sweater led me to a waiting car. It was an open car with Copenhagen license plates. In it sat two younger men whom I recognized as members of the S-Apparat.
"Step in," the sweatered man said.
"Where are we going to?"
"Why not by train? The roads are bad in the winter."
One of the men in the car answered impatiently. "Why so much talk? Let’s go. Our orders are to take you to Copenhagen in this automobile. Why? Detectives might be on the train."
That was a feeble excuse. It occurred to me that I was being taken by car to prevent me from communicating with someone on the train. The harbor of Esbjerg was no place to pick a fight. I was known to the Danish authorities as a Comintern agent. It was unwise to risk arrest with a false passport in my pocket. Something, I felt, had gone askew.
I slipped into the front seat. One of the young Danes drove. The other one sat in the back, both hands buried in his overcoat pockets. I tried to joke about their mysterious behavior. They were unresponsive. The burly man in the sweater saw us off.
We drove through the town, past farmhouses and fields, and out into the open heath-like country. The man behind me never took his hands out of his pockets. I turned on him abruptly.
"What have you got in your pockets? All the gold from Spain?" He said stolidly, "No, I have a gun in my pocket."
Halfway across Jutland we almost ran over an enormous hog which had blundered on the road. The car swerved wildly, ripping through a patch of low underbrush. It regained the road, gather­ing speed.
"You two are fools," I said. "You with your guns. I could just grab the wheel and wreck the car. Who told you to take guns? Comrade Jensen?"
The two were silent. The man behind me began to whistle the Soviet aviation march. When I started to sing the words, he stopped whistling. We drove for fourteen hours, leaving the car only twice for coffee and sandwiches on the Fredericia and Korsor fer­ries. At four in the morning we entered Copenhagen. Even at that hour the center of the city was filled with gayety and light. Prosti­tutes in fur coats huddled in the doorways of Vesterbrogade. The car squealed to a stop in front of Richard Jensen’s home. In the passage, lined with show-windows, which led to Jensen’s door, one of Avatin’s men lounged. He jerked his head toward the stairway.
"They’re waiting for you," he said.
"What’s up?"
"I don’t know. A palaver, I suppose, like many others."
Going up the stairway I stamped noisily over steps and land­ing. The sounds of my footfalls reverberated through the house. "I don’t know what will happen up there," I thought, "but it cannot harm to let the other tenants know that men are tramping up to the Jensen apartment hours before dawn."
The guard behind me muttered, "You walk like an earthquake. Cut it out."
"Hold your tongue," I countered. "I walk as I like."
I was ushered into Jensen’s study. Jensen, hair disheveled, his huge form wrapped in a dressing gown, nodded a greeting. We did not shake hands. His face was gray and grim under the electric lights. With him were four young men, a German, a Lett and two Scandinavians,—G.P.U. aides on Avatin’s force. They had been drinking beer. A thin fog of tobacco smoke eddied under the ceiling.
"Sit down," I was told.
Jensen telephoned. He called the number of the Nordland Hotel, only a few houses away. His voice was a short, indistinct rumble. In a few minutes Jensen’s son, Martin, appeared. On his heels, squat, dark, truculent, Ernst Wollweber walked into the apartment.
From the dining-room two guards brought in a large table. Wollweber sat down at one end of the table, I at the other. Between us, on both sides of the table, the guards took their place.
I knew now that I had to expect an inquisition. The old symp­toms appeared. My stomach contracted, all muscles grew taut, I was ready to fight, and yet I sat very still, waiting. Jensen took a volume from his bookshelf and slid it toward me across the table. It was the official Soviet report of the Piatakov-Smirnov trial. I brushed it aside.
"Leave out the monkey-business," I said.
Wollweber reached into his pocket. Then he spoke. When Wollweber spoke, his lips were drawn back and he showed his tobacco-stained teeth. His eyes became narrow slits alive with black fire. He had the habit of throwing each word like a rock at his listeners, then jerking forth a rapid sentence or two to amplify what he had said. He was not the same Ernst Wollweber who, nineteen years before, had doused the fires and hoisted the first Red banner over the Kaiser’s navy.
"Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin and the other traitors," he said, "have always maintained that they were the staunchest supporters of Lenin. Yet, in every acute crisis they turned against Lenin. Such types may be of some use to the revolutionary movement, but in no circumstances can they be entrusted with key positions."
I agreed. Wollweber continued:
"Bitter experience has shown us that every former comrade who was caught conspiring against the Party must, as a matter of neces­sity, wind up in the camp of Fascism, an ally of Hitler and the counter-revolution."
"Concretely," I said, "what are the denunciations against me and who made them?"
"There are no denunciations," Wollweber growled. "There are charges. Comrade Dimitrov in Moscow is in possession of a report signed by you in which you accuse the Western Secretariat of the Communist International of having uselessly sacrificed able comrades on wild-goose chases in Germany."
"I did not accuse the Western Secretariat," I cried hotly. "I accused Comrade Ernst Wollweber. I maintain this accusation."
Wollweber hunched his shoulders. Jensen leaned back with a sneer, half-incredulous, half-contemptuous.
"Names," Jensen rumbled.
"You have them. They are in my report to Moscow. The Comrades Walter Duddins, Funk, Fiete Dettman, Claus, Robert Stamm. The Swedish Comrades Persson and Mineur. The Reichstag Dep­uty Comrade Maddalena. The Comrades Säfkow and Hans Kosch­nik. The women Comrades Firelei, Cilly, Lilo Herrman. There are more. You have them on your list."
"You are too clever," Wollweber interrupted me. "None of the comrades you name are available to corroborate your statements."
"No, they are in prison. Claus, Stamm, Lilo had their heads cut off. They must have felt fine about being butchered! Before they went, they talked through the walls, through air shafts, in church, in notes pinned on broomsticks and handed from window to window. In the prison camps, the name of Ernst Wollweber smells of carrion."
"Rigmarole," growled Wollweber, "all this is open for later dis­cussion. I have here another report. It comes from Holland. Here you are definitely accused of shady transactions with such counter­revolutionary wolves as the renegade Hans Krause, with the Social­ist Fascist Edo Fimmen, with Franco spies, with a long gallery of other political adventurers."
I felt as if someone had hit me on the head with a hammer.
"Comrade Krause is no renegade," I said sullenly. "He went to Spain to demonstrate that the rumors against him were false. He was wounded at the front. I considered it my duty to—"
"Excuses!" Wollweber burst in. "True Bolsheviki have never grubbed around for excuses. They admit their mistakes, and let the Party decide."
"All right. I demand a hearing before the Control Commission."
"This is the Control Commission," Jensen said. "You will have time to talk later."
Then came the most shattering shock I had experienced in all my years of devotion to the Comintern.
"Finally," Wollweber said with great calmness, his outstretched arm pointing at me across the table, "the Party accuses you of having deliberately organized acts of sabotage against the Apparat in Hitler Germany."
"I think you are crazy," I shot at him.
Wollweber gave me a sardonic smile.
"Do you consider Comrade Karl Saar an unflinching Bolshevik?"
"I most certainly do."
"Here is a letter from Comrade Karl Saar," Ernst Wollweber spoke without emotion. "It is in code. Here is a decoded typewrit­ten copy. A painful letter—a document! We learn that you have offered Karl Saar money to desert the Comintern. The money you offered was Comintern money."
There was a long silence. Jensen drew a geometric pattern on the fly-leaf of a book. Wollweber smoked. The guards sat im­mobile, but tensely attentive. I wondered what would happen if I simply stood up and walked out of Jensen’s apartment. I could think of no place to go.
At six o’clock Avatin arrived, roughly clad as always, in a stiff brown suit of Russian manufacture. He flashed a smile of recogni­tion at me. With Avatin a smile meant nothing. He could smile at a man one minute, and kill him the next. Accompanying Avatin was Inge, a stenographer, a handsome athletic blonde and the wife of Martin Jensen.
"You may now speak in your defense," Wollweber announced. "We give you half an hour."
I spoke of the stormy years of 1923 and of my part in the prep­aration and execution of the October uprising in Hamburg. I had done the hardest work that was required of the rank and file. I had fought for the revolution with arms in my hands. I spoke of my work for the Comintern in America, in Hawaii, in Belgium and Holland and France, in Switzerland and Norway, in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia, in Singapore and Shanghai and Eng­land. I spoke of the jails and prisons, of the Nazi horror camps, where I had suffered and continued to fight for the Party, for the revolution, for seven years. Before I had said half of what I had intended to say, my time was up. Even in this situation I was too disciplined to break the rules made by those who had been my superiors. Inge, Martin Jensen’s wife, had stenographed what I had said. Had I harangued a stone wall, I should have found no more response. Then I realized my mistake: I should not have defended myself—I should have attacked . . . or bowed my head, proclaimed myself guilty, and cringed for mercy.
Then Wollweber spoke. No one in the room believed his accusations. Least of all did he believe them himself. His object was to make me crawl in self-abasement. He was not sure that I would crawl. Had he been sure, he would have chosen a larger audience.
"What are you going to do with me?" I interrupted him.
"We will send you to Spain or to the Soviet Union," he answered bluntly.
"To be shot?"
"We shoot no one without good cause," Wollweber growled.
"I know that," I replied.
Wollweber rose, and with a curt nod toward Avatin and Jensen, he left the room. I never saw him again. Richard Jensen offered me a bottle of beer. Avatin gave a signal to two of his helpers. They put on their overcoats and stepped up to me. One I did not know. The other was Ignace Scharnetzki, a native of Poland, a stocky man with a round stubborn face.
"You come with us now," he said.
"Where to?"
"Never mind!"
Avatin intervened. "We have been good friends," he said. "What I tell you is the truth: You will live in a country place. Until your case has been decided, you are relieved of all your duties."
"I am a prisoner?"
"You come with us now," Scharnetzki repeated softly.
It was morning. I followed the G.P.U. men’s orders without resistance. I marched down the stairs into a waiting car. On my right sat Scharnetzki. On my left was a lanky Dane. Both had their pistols drawn. Martin Jensen drove. The car leaped forward. Large numbers of young men and girls were riding to work on their bicycles. Traffic grew thinner as the car neared the city limits. I felt like a man in a trance. I lit a cigarette and closed my eyes.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a stretch of open sea to the left.
We were speeding south.

Chapter Forty-three – FLIGHT

IN THE SPEEDING CAR, my abductors felt ill at ease. Normally, they would have taken orders from me, and carried them out. I did not quite know whether I should take these early-morning events as a melodramatic farce, or whether they heralded a bullet in the back of my head. I decided to wait. But as mile after mile of open countryside flew by, my apprehension grew.
"Danish beer is the best beer in the world," I said, for no ap­parent reason.
Martin Jensen stirred in his seat. "You asked for trouble," he grumbled. "And now you got it."
"Danish beer is good beer," Scharnetzki agreed.
"I think you boys are scared," I said. "You are wondering why I sit still and do nothing. Why should I? I’ve traveled clear around the world for the Comintern when you fellows were still thinking that Lenin was a bugbear."
"We’re scared of nothing," Martin Jensen grumbled.
Ahead of us a policeman patrolled the sidewalk of a village street. As our car whisked past him, Scharnetzki pressed his gun into my side. The policeman did not even turn his head.
"You should be ashamed of yourself," I told Scharnetzki.
He did not answer. I thought of making a sudden grab for his pistol. If a fight broke out in the car, they would have to stop. They would never dare to shoot in broad daylight, with houses nearby. We would probably all be arrested and questioned; the press would get our pictures, and the Gestapo would learn that I had not gone to the Soviet Union. Schreckenbach and Kraus would not hesitate to take a swift revenge on me. And Firelei would be their first victim.
The road skirted Kjoege Bay. The roadhouses, full of light and gayety at night, lay dismal in the morning. The beaches, where bunting fluttered lustily over crowded tent colonies in the summer, were haunts of desolation. Clumps of frozen weed and patches of ice littered the shore. Where girls in sun-suits had romped and shouted, a broad-hipped woman in a man’s greatcoat warmed her hands over a puny fire. Far out, a fisherman’s craft crawled sea­ward. Gulls sailed over a fish wharf, screaming for loot.
No, it would not do to fight and run. I had no real urge to run away from the Comintern. Besides, strong as I was, Martin Jensen had the strength to strangle me with his bare hands. I decided to wait. "Will it be Spain or the Soviet Union?" I thought. Hitherto I had regarded every voyage to Russia as a glorious adventure. The news of the heroic defense of Madrid, and of the battle of Guadalajara, had filled me with a huge and savage joy. Now the fires had burned down. The Soviet Union had become to me a strangely sinister country. Emptiness, dull and painful emptiness, en­gulfed me.
The car rattled off the highway into a labyrinth of dirt roads, amid swampy meadows hard under the cold. It jolted, paused, and crawled on. Scattered over the level stretch of land were little wooden country-houses, tumbledown shacks, boats pulled up un­der the shelter of makeshift sheds. Ahead I saw a white flagpole protruding above a tall hedge. Coming nearer, I saw that the hedge concealed a fence, seven feet high. A moment later we had passed through a narrow gate to the inside of this fence.
There was a one-story cottage. Green paint was peeling from the outside timbers. On three sides old planks had been nailed over the windows. The fourth side fronted the Baltic Sea. On this side the surrounding fence was lower. There was a porch opening on an unkempt meadow. The meadow was littered with debris. A rickety boat landing jutted out at the far end. A mile offshore, a long low sandbank shouldered out of the sea.
"Here we are," Martin Jensen boomed. "Ho, Christiansen, here’s a guest for you!"
A massive individual in dungarees and a leather jacket shambled out of the cottage. He had a barrel chest and a bristly face. He was Sven Christiansen, who had been a whaler in his youth and whom I had met several times when he helped Julius Vanman smuggle Comintern contraband, alive and otherwise, between Denmark and Sweden across Oeresund. Christiansen had also worked in South American mines. He had the reputation of being an expert in the handling of explosives. For this reason Avatin had selected him for the G.P.U. Apparat. Sven Christiansen was like a peasant—gruff, good-natured, patient,—absolutely loyal, and unmerciful toward anyone whom he considered an enemy of the revolution.
"Good you come," Christiansen said, "a fellow gets so god-damn lonely out here."
I was hustled into the cottage.
"Hands up," Martin Jensen commanded. His enormous hands were feeling their way down my person, patting, searching.
"Keep your paws off," I protested. "Who do you think you are? Gestapo?"
"No," he grinned. "But just the same—hold still."
He took my watch, fountain pen, note paper and the two passports I carried. He even took away my penknife. He counted over the money he found, sixteen kroner, returned six to me, and kept ten.
"I don’t like it," I said.
"I don’t, either," he answered. "But Comrade Avatin holds me responsible for you."
"What are your orders?"
"Orders? To hold you here in good health till your business is cleared up in Moscow."
"Give me back my pen and paper."
"What for?" he demanded.
"I want to write a letter. I want Comrade Dimitrov to see both sides of this thing."
"I have to see Avatin about that," Martin Jensen said.
"Do you think I’m a Trotskyist? A Japanese spy? A Gestapo agent?"
Martin Jensen made a gesture of dismissal. "I think nothing," he said. "I know nothing. All I know is that you can become damned dangerous if what Comrade Wollweber said about you is true. All I tell you is that you’d better start no trouble."
"Do you think I couldn’t break out of this dump if I had a mind to?"
Martin Jensen said stolidly, "Maybe you could."
"Well, what then?"
"We are all decent comrades here," Martin said.
Christiansen nodded. "Damn right we are."
"If you run, we might shoot," Martin Jensen continued. "First time you try a break, we’re going to tie you up. After that you stay tied up, like it or not. Maybe Moscow says you’re all right. If Moscow says you’re all right, we’ll all have a big celebration. We’ll all laugh like hell."
Fire roared in the small cast-iron stove in the room which fronted the sea. It was the largest room in the cottage. Adjoining it was a kitchen and two smaller rooms. The windows of the smaller rooms were boarded up solidly. In the large front room lived Sven Christiansen and Martin Jensen. In the small room at the opposite end of the house lived Scharnetzki and the lanky, taciturn Dane. The small, connecting room was reserved for me. Each of its two doors opened thus on the quarters of my guards. But for kerosene lanterns dangling from rafters, the two smaller rooms would have been in permanent darkness.
My "prison cell" contained a camp bed, a collapsible table and a chair with broken legs. The blankets smelled of sweat and grime. Stacked up in a corner was a large pile of old newspapers and mag­azines. I saw that little spy-holes had been drilled through both doors, and that the doors could be secured from the outside with strong copper chains. The unpainted boards which shut off the window were covered with scribblings in pencil: "Red Front forever!", lines from the Internationale, a few unintelligible words in Latvian or Russian, "No pasaran," a love song, obscene drawings, a caricature of Hitler, "Max Jahnke"—a name, and half obliterated from scrapings with a knife, "Down with Stalin!"
The words "Max Jahnke" electrified me. They were followed by the figure "1936." I knew his story. Until 1931, Max Jahnke had been a leader of the Red Seamen’s Union in Germany. He had been a grizzled and hard rebel, slow-moving, pig-headed, efficient. When the Comintern launched the international strike of German seamen in October, 1931, Max Jahnke came into deadly conflict with the Party high command. One of the most powerful figures in the Communist Party of Germany, Herrmann Schubert, Reichs­tag member, had demanded that Jahnke lead the striking seamen in Hamburg into clashes with the police. The Party needed corpses to give this strike a "political character." Jahnke had refused to spill the blood of German mariners; at a conference of seamen’s delegates, he defended his standpoint and attacked Herrmann Schubert. At the next opportunity the Party stripped Jahnke of his power. Jahnke struck back in an unforgivable way: He supplied the socialist press with incriminating documents from secret Party files. A year later, the G.P.U. succeeded in luring him aboard a Russian ship under the pretext that Sovtorgflot—the Soviet Ship­ping Trust—had requested Jahnke’s advice on a technical question, for the German had been a marine engineer of long experience. Jahnke was spirited to Russia, but managed to escape. He was re­captured by the G.P.U. in 1936. And in the spring of 1937 the staunch old trade unionist was turned over by the Soviet govern­ment to the Gestapo in exchange for one Eugen Priess, a captured Soviet spy.
A vast shame gripped me when I thought of Jahnke. My devo­tion to the Comintern had once made me view Jahnke as a danger to Party unity. When the howl went up: "Away with Max Jahnke!" I, too, had said: "Jahnke has become an enemy of the cause. He is a comrade no more."
The shadow of Max Jahnke haunted me for hours and days. In the confines of that evil-smelling room, he seemed to be walking silently at my side, to and fro, up and down, walking, walking, chuckling in his bearish fashion, "Well, my boy, what do you say now?" Mechanically I paid Max Jahnke a futile tribute. In his honor I began to hum the funeral march for those who had fallen for the revolution. The "revolution" had sold him to the Gestapo. Today, somewhere in Germany, he may still be alive, his heart a curse, mute and immense, against the treachery of Stalin and his hangmen.

This rotten old cottage, I felt, had many secrets. It was not an honest jail, like the blood-spattered cells of a Gestapo Polizeigefängnis [74]. It was dishonest, full of sham and stealthiness, creeping with the specters of comrade betrayed by comrade. I caught myself wondering how many hundreds of comrades in the Soviet prison camps had begun their journey from just such little houses as the one in which I now was held captive. No one, outside of the Kremlin or the Lubianka, would know their number. Not even Ernst Wollweber or Avatin.
I knew too much and had to be destroyed. To my ears, that phrase sounded silly. I knew what had happened to Richter and Bandura; to Bela Kun, Heinz Neumann, Hans Kippenberger, Dombal; to Schubert, Remmele, Max Hölz, Samsing and many, many others. Dead, exiled, drowned, buried alive. I could not bring myself to believe that anything like that could happen to me.
I had no feud with the Comintern. But neither had the others I named. It was not only a feud between individual rebels and the International. It was, as often as not, a war between conscientious proletarian internationalists and the bureaucratic clique that fol­lowed Stalin. The clique always won. Its creed was the G.P.U. If Stalin commanded Dimitrov to hoist the swastika over the Comintern building in Moscow, Dimitrov would do it. If Stalin told Wollweber to publish a pamphlet proclaiming that Lenin was a pickpocket—Wollweber would do it. The years had utterly changed the Comintern. The revolutionary vanguard was now no more than a poisoned dagger in Stalin’s hands.
I struggled with myself. I cursed myself as a weakling in a frantic search for excuses to justify my crumbling faith. At eight­een, I had felt like a giant. At twenty-one, it was simple: "Pitch the grenade into the face of the counter-revolution!" At twenty-two, I had circled the globe in Comintern service, gaunt, hungry, fierce—and proud of it! At twenty-nine, the police departments of half a dozen nations hunted me as the Comintern’s chief trouble­maker on the waterfronts of Europe. At thirty-one, I was at work transforming Hitler’s prisons into schools of proletarian interna­tionalism. And now, at thirty-three, I found myself asking: "Has all this been a falsehood, a fraud, a dismal spook?"
No man can strip himself of his skin.
In a desperate mood I turned to half-forgotten fundamentals. Marx, Engels, Lenin. Even Hegel. "Dialectic materialism is the philosophy of Marxism." "The history of mankind is a history of class war." "Revolutions are the locomotives of history." There was Karl Marx’s law of accumulation of capital. . . . "Capitalism in a cul de sac. . . . Creates its own gravediggers. . . . Proletarian dictatorship follows the complete destruction of the bourgeois state. . . . The land to the peasants. . . . The industries to the workers. . . . Nothing to lose but chains, and a world to gain. . . . A world of freedom, bread, dignity. . . ." What was wrong with that?
"The triumph of socialism in the Soviet Union is the guarantee for the victory of socialism in the whole world."
Question: Who is the father of all the oppressed? Who is the greatest living statesman?
Answer: Comrade Stalin.
Three bloody words leered at me from the pine boards of my cell: "Down with Stalin!"
Somewhere in Germany was Firelei, living in insecurity from day to day, waiting, waiting for the moment when she could tell me: "Now, come, come quickly, they have relaxed their watchful­ness!" Her message would go to Antwerp. It would never reach me. She would wait . . . wait in vain, abandoned, cheated, utterly betrayed. I remembered our first meeting on the wharves of Ant­werp. She had drawn the stern of a barge, with a husky woman nursing her child, a string of fluttering laundry, and a barking dog. "A ship must have a name," I had told her. "It’s Oran." We had been very happy together, and Firelei had built castles in the air. I had destroyed those castles, one after another, until nothing had been left, nothing. . . . From the winterly reaches of the Baltic the wind came pounding in, whistling and wailing through the cracks of the fence. A voice was in the wind, the voice of Firelei.
"What have you done with me?" it asked me again and again.
My guards were optimistic. They sat in the overheated east room, which faced the Kjoege Bay, talking loudly. Martin Jensen’s basso expounded the official version of the execution of Tukha­chevsky and the other Soviet generals. The Red Army general­issimo was an agent of the German general staff! And Trotsky and Zinoviev had hired Dora Kaplan (who made her attempt in 1918) to shoot Lenin! With the traitors out of the way, Stalin’s next job would be the liquidation of Hitlerism in Germany. A Soviet Germany would mean a Soviet Europe. The G.P.U. would machine-gun the Nazi leaders wholesale in their own prison camps. The rotten democracies of the West would fall like ripe corpses before the Stalinist hurricane. The workers would be free. They would build a workers’ world under Stalin’s guidance. Stalin, the dynamo of world revolution. Whoever opposed Stalin was plainly a lackey of Fascism, had forfeited even his right to breathe.
The hours were long. I began to sing every battle-song of the revolution I knew. I knew many. I sang until my voice was hoarse.

"Forward, to sun and to freedom,
Brothers, march on toward light. . . .

At the end I sang the Internationale, the national anthem of the Soviet Union, which is also the anthem of Communist Parties the world around. My guards were suddenly silent. I heard Scharnetz­ki’s voice say: "Comrades—rise!"
I felt like a drowning man struggling toward land that was many miles away. The icy night air filtered through the boarded window. It was late at night. I stood in the middle of the dark room and howled like a melancholy wolf:

"Death to hangmen, kings and traitors. . . ."

Martin Jensen unlocked the door and his thick head appeared outlined against the yellow light of a kerosene lantern behind him.
"Now you better keep quiet," he said. "This is no insane asylum."
"You go to hell," I told him.
"If you start shouting in the night, I’ll have to hit you on the head."
"Let me out of here."
Martin Jensen was irritated. "You are a real pest. I can’t let you out till Comrade Avatin tells me you’re all right."
I said derisively: "You’re making the grade, Martin. By-and-by you’ll get a job as a jailer in the Butirky. Four hundred rubles and padded shoes."
The faces of Christiansen and Scharnetzki bobbed up in the doorway.
"I don’t want a goddamn jailer’s job," Martin Jensen said sullenly.
Christiansen intervened. "Listen, comrade," he said to me, "I know how you feel. But this is not a very strong house. It can be wrecked with a few good kicks. I only want to tell you not to start wrecking the house. First thing you know you’ll have handcuffs round your wrists and a towel round your month."
In a rage I picked up the chair and hurled it at Christiansen. He ducked, caught the chair and hurled it back at me. Pieces of wood flew about as it struck the wall. An instant later Martin Jensen had his arm around my throat and his knee in the small of my back.
"Leave him alone," Christiansen muttered.
Reluctantly, Martin Jensen let go.
"If you were a Gestapo man," he growled, "I’d put you in irons and dump a pail of ice water over you. Trouble with you is, you might be all right."
Christiansen laughed. "Nothing like ice water to make a man shut up. You know Oskar, the photographer guy? Well, every night around eleven he got the ice water cure."
The lanky Dane, whose name I did not know, swung his arms in an ape-like fashion. His mirthless half-smile told me that he was no tyro in Avatin’s force. Such men were dead set on doing their duty. I knew their type. They were equally immune against terror and bribes.
"Get out, all of you," I said. "I want to sleep."
I did not sleep. Through the spy-hole in the door I watched Martin Jensen and Christiansen stretch out on their beds. Schar­netzki and the Dane kept watch. The Dane sat by the stove, smok­ing and reading, a pot of coffee at his side. Scharnetzki put on gloves, a muffler and a soldier’s greatcoat and went out to patrol the space between the cottage and the fence. His crunching steps went around the house. At intervals he stopped, and I heard him flap his arms against his sides to warm up. Once he came in for coffee and to look into my room.
"Still here," he whispered.
"Chase yourself," I snarled back.
After two hours Scharnetzki sat by the stove and the Dane patrolled outside. The Dane hummed marching tunes. At times he cursed softly and broke into a trot. But he did not come in for coffee. Scharnetzki ate sandwiches. After that he cleaned his nails with a screwdriver. Later he pulled out a blue handkerchief and began to polish his gun. Whenever he heard me move, he was at my door with two quick strides, peering in.
"Ah, still here?" he would ask.
I could not sleep. Things came trooping into my head, happen­ings of the past, vague plans, faces of enemies and friends, some silent in unknown graves, others tottering as yet toward weary disillusion—or sudden destruction, and still others—the hard, cau­tious cynics, prowling for high rank and power.
I fingered over every inch of wall in my room. I tried to find a plank which could be lifted out of the floor. I climbed on a rafter and pushed hard against the roof. The wood was old, but solid. It would never give way without making a great noise. What if I broke out of the house? On one side was the Baltic Sea. On three sides was the fence. The gate in the fence was ramshackle enough, but it would be locked. They would be atop of me before I could climb the fence or kick in the gate.
I hoisted myself up on the window. There was a crack, almost an inch wide, between the casing and the topmost board. I could see the outside through this crack, the night, the silhouettes of other houses a little way off, dim light in a window or two. The dis­covery that people lived nearby astonished me. The nearest house, I judged, was sixty yards away. Two hundred yards further on ran a highway. The headlight reflections of passing cars now and then streaked through the night.
A large house loomed in the distance, surrounded by strings of colored light bulbs. A roadhouse. Five hundred yards away, per­haps. What if I shouted? Shouted for people to hear? It was a ridiculous thing to shout for help. I had never shouted for help in all my life.
I fought the urge to escape. It would not be an escape from my proletarian guards. It would be an escape from the Comintern, an admission that I feared the Comintern, an admission of guilt. A miserable declaration of bankruptcy!
The window faced north. In the north lay Copenhagen. Above Copenhagen, the sky was a lurid glow, as though the city were on fire. The night was cold.
I heard the chain rattle on the other side of my door. Scharnetzki barged into the room. Around the house the Dane came running. "Get down from that window," Scharnetzki said menacingly. I got down quietly. "I can’t sleep," I said. "The blankets stink." "Nothing wrong with the blankets," Scharnetzki said.
The Dane stood glowering. From their cots Martin Jensen and Christiansen growled questions.
So passed my first night as a captive of the G.P.U.

Nearly three weeks I remained cooped up in my ludicrous prison, somewhere on the coast between Copenhagen and Kjoege. I waited for a decision, but no decision, it seemed, was made. More and more I came to the conclusion that Wollweber was determined to keep me here until spring and the breaking up of the ice in the harbor of Leningrad would herald the resumption of Soviet ship­ping on the Baltic Sea.
Each afternoon between four and six, Richard Jensen drove out from the city. Each afternoon he brought a case of beer and two hundred cigarettes. He was friendly enough. Sometimes, when I spoke to him, he seemed a bit ashamed. I could drink and smoke as much as I wanted.
Each evening, before he departed, Richard Jensen said to me: "Inside a week your troubles will be straightened out."
I demanded to see Wollweber.
"Wollweber has gone away," Jensen said.
It was a ruse, I knew. Wollweber lurked somewhere in Copen­hagen, directing the show from behind the scenes.
"When I see Wollweber again," I said, "I’m going to punch his head off."
Jensen merely laughed, "Many have said that. Nobody’s ever done it."
"I think you’re scared of Wollweber," I told Jensen. "Wollweber is a very good comrade," Jensen said.
"Get me out of here," I demanded, during another of Jensen’s visits. "Or give me some work to do. Translations, articles or something."
"You are too impatient," Jensen said. "Why don’t you take a rest? Most comrades would be damn glad to have such a long rest."
"To hell with rest."
"All right, what can I get you?"
"Get me the latest Runa and the Imprecorr." (Respectively, the confidential and public news bulletins of the Comintern, published in Basle.)
"Orders are to give you no current material," Richard Jensen explained, adding soothingly: "I can get you good whiskey. A sailor comrade smuggled it for me from London."
"No," I said. "I don’t want whiskey. But you can get me a girl. Your Tchekists out here are not very good company. They make me think of chained dogs."
Richard Jensen snapped, "Never call them Tchekists. The Party won’t like it."
"All right: the Comrades from the S-Apparat."
"You want a girl?"
"Yes, I want a girl."
Late that night the gate in the fence creaked open, and a small car drove in. A woman entered the house. In a subdued voice, she spoke to my jailers. I recognized her by her footsteps. She was Petra Petersen, the G.P.U. operative in the Copenhagen telegraph building, and my former hostess. Without preliminaries she stomped into my room.
"I’ve taken a night off to give you company," she announced cheerily.
"You’ve come to do some more spying?" I countered.
Petra sat down on the cot. "Oh, forget this foolishness," she said.
"I don’t want to spy. -What is there to spy? I just came back from my vacation. I have been in Moscow. I heard you were here, so I came to see you."
"For old friendship’s sake?" I asked sarcastically.
She ignored the thrust. "When have you last been in the Soviet Union?" she inquired.
"Six years ago."
"You wouldn’t recognize the country if you went there now," she continued amiably. "It has forged forward and upward. The people have become really modern in their ways of living. I have seen the new subway in Moscow. It is more beautiful even than the Paris Metro. And for the children the Soviet Union has become a veritable paradise."
"And the G.P.U. has become a veritable humane society," I added.
"You are ill," Petra Petersen said. "You should go to the Soviet Union to recover."
I stood in front of her and grasped her shoulders. "Listen," I whispered. "I want to write a letter to my wife. Get me paper and a pencil. I want you to take that letter out with you and mail it. Don’t mail it from Copenhagen. Send it to Leningrad and have it mailed from there. Will you do that for me?"
"Of course."
Her response had come too quickly.
"Leave me alone," I said. "Go away. You make me sick." "Why?"
"How can I trust you?"
"If you trust no one, you are lost," Petra said softly.
"Go away!"
She departed. The night was quiet. I thought of escape. I thought of a conversation I had once had with a group of exiled German comrades in Rotterdam. We had spoken of an anti-Fascist’s ways of escape in the event of his abduction by Gestapo raiders outside of Germany. Most had spoken of suicide. But one had said:
"If they kept me aboard a ship or inside a house, I’d move heaven and earth to set the ship or the house afire."
The sentence became static in my mind. Fire. Smoke and flames attract other people and other ships. Fire exerts a strong fascination on the minds of men. When man first made a fire, and scurried to feed it and keep it alive, civilization began.
"I must make a fire," I thought. "Every castaway makes a fire, if he can, to attract the attention of passing ships.
"You are crazy," I told myself. "Perhaps everything will end all right. . . . Don’t be like a hysterical old woman. Sleep!"
Sleep was far away. My brain continued to chew on the idea of making a fire. "When?" I thought. "Tonight?" I forced myself to lie still. "Not this night," I murmured to myself. "Wait. Wait until there is no other way."
Next morning I pretended to be calm. The house was old, and the timbers and planks were dry. I made my preparations quietly.
Early one morning in the last week of January, 1938, I heard a car drive up and stop outside of the fence. The gate creaked. A hand unfastened the chain from the front door of my room. In the doorway stood Richard Jensen.
"Good morning," he said. "Dress yourself."
"What’s up?" I demanded.
"You are leaving today."
"Where for?"
"The Soviet Union."
I rose and slipped into my clothes. "So you are going to put me on ice?" I asked.
"That depends on yourself," Jensen answered. "I only carry out instructions."
"Who gave the instructions?"
"The Control Commission."
"That is Wollweber?"
"The Control Commission," Jensen repeated stolidly.
"All right," I said.
I stepped out of the room. Martin Jensen had gone to town on the previous evening to have a night with Inge, his wife. He had not returned. Scharnetzki and Christiansen, both wearing hats and overcoats, stood on the porch.
"By what route am I going?" I demanded.
"By ship," Jensen said. "There is a steamer going out this afternoon."
"You know as well as I that there are no ships in winter," I replied.
Jensen was silent.
"You better get ready," Scharnetzki said sullenly.
"Take your time," Jensen said in a conciliatory tone. "Go to Moscow and straighten things out with the Comintern. It is the best way for you."
"All right," I said. "I’m going to have a shave, first."
I stepped back into the halt-darkness of my prison chamber. Every fiber, every nerve, every drop of blood in me was in a raging tumult. The tenseness seemed to lift me off the floor. I felt a monstrous strength, a deadly excitement which was far different from the emotion I had experienced in the early morning hours of a day in October, 1923, when the smashing of street lights gave the signal to storm the enemy forts, to annihilate and destroy, to kill and rage forward to victory. It was as if I were about to raise my fist, and with it a dagger, to drive it into the throat of my mother who had become a viper. "You Comintern. . . . You false mother. . . . You—you viper!" My heart was a mute snarl.
The kerosene container of the lamp which dangled from the ceiling was full. Two beer bottles filled with kerosene lay under my mattress. I drew them out. I took a cigarette and lit a match. Outside, Jensen was talking to the others. In quick succession I smashed the bottles on the floor. I dropped the brightly burning match into the spilled kerosene. A little yellow flame licked up­ward, crawled across one of the scarred boards, licked avidly, grew brighter, and was fringed with a ghostly blue. An instant later I was tearing the lamp from the ceiling. Someone was running toward my room. The flames blazed up now. While I bolted from the room, I hurled the lamp against the wall.
"Fire!" I yelled. "Fire! Fire! Fire!"
Jensen was cursing. The G.P.U. men ran out of the house. In two leaps I was among them. I plunged across the enclosure and out through the open gate. On the other side of the road stood a car.
"Fire!" I yelled at the top of my voice. "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" Scharnetzki was two paces away from me. He shouted some­thing, his coarse face distorted.
"Fire!" I yelled. "Fire!"
Men came running out of the nearest houses—workers with disheveled hair, some still tightening their belts as they ran. A few women followed.
"Fire!" I yelled. "Fire!"
Thick smoke poured from the roof of Richard Jensen’s cottage. Smoke curled through the boarded windows. On the porch the flames crackled lustily. People clustered on the road. Others ran to and fro. Someone was shouting for pails and water. Jensen stag­gered around the tall outside hedge, followed by the lanky Dane who seemed to ask his chief for advice. Near me stood Christiansen and Scharnetzki, watching me, but not daring to come closer. Through the commotion sounded Jensen’s deep laughter. "Ah, it is an old shack, anyway," he exclaimed.
I turned and walked rapidly down the lane. I reached the con­crete highway and turned north, toward Copenhagen. I passed the roadhouse whose colored lights I had seen night after night through the cracks of my boarded window. Its name was Jaegerkroen—Hunter’s Resting Place. Some twenty paces behind me strode Scharnetzki and Christiansen. I entered the grounds of Jaegerkroen, as if I intended to walk into the inn. Scharnetzki paused on the highway. Christiansen turned and ran back toward the burning house. "I must move on," I thought. "He is going for the car."
I struck out toward Copenhagen on the middle of the highway. Each time a car approached, I halted and raised both hands. Two cars sped by, a third . . . fourth . . . a fifth. The sixth car stopped and the door swung open. Its driver was an elderly man, going to work.
"Where are you going?"
"To Copenhagen," I said.
"There is a fire here?" he asked.
"Yes, a fire," I answered. "Sailors had a party there. They got drunk."
The man chuckled.
I did not remain in Copenhagen. I obeyed my urge to put the greatest possible distance between myself and the man hunters of Michel Avatin. He, who had been my friend for many years, would know no mercy now. I had six kroner. I entered a bath­house and bathed. In a barber shop on the eastern outskirts of Copenhagen I stopped to be shaved and to have my hair cut. Then I bought a large breakfast. In a short street flanked by tenement houses I stole a bicycle which leaned against a wall near a door­way. With three kroner and eighty oere in my pockets I rode east­ward along the highway which led to Roskilde and Korsoer. I had no passport nor any other document of identification.
I crossed the Large Belt with the aid of a comrade who was a sailor aboard the ferry. In seven hours I traversed the Island of Fyn. Another ferry carried me to Fredericia. A night I rested in the quarters of the Salvation Army. On the following day I rode across Jutland to the port Esbjerg. I arrived in Esbjerg with one kroner in my pocket.
The steamer P.A. Bernstorff lay at her pier. I boarded her and spoke to the leader of the communist ship unit. He knew me well from previous trips. He had, of course, no inkling of my real status.
"Comrade," I said. "You must arrange for my passage. I have official business in France."
The comrade was a sailor, and an honest revolutionist. He fed me and kept me hidden in his cabin, which he shared with another Party member. Thirty-six hours after the P.A. Bernstorff steamed out of the harbor of Esbjerg, I strode ashore in Dunkerque. I went to the Salle d’Avenir and spoke to Comrade Manautines, the liaison agent of the G.P.U. in Dunkerque.
"Comrade," I said. "I have urgent business in Paris."
Manautines lent me a hundred francs and saw me aboard a train to Paris. When I shook hands with him, I shook hands with the Comintern. Tears were in my eyes, and a lump in my throat.
"Au diable," said Manautines, "you are upset."
Ten hours later I picked my way through the surge and clangor of the Gare du Nord in Paris.
In Paris I wrote a letter to Richard Jensen, for transmission to his superiors in the Comintern. "The Gestapo believes," I wrote, "that I am in Russia; the lives of my wife and child depend on the continuance of this belief. I beg you to maintain silence as to my whereabouts, and I, also, shall maintain silence."
I could not stay in Paris. The G.P.U. had spread the alarm. Men and women who had been my comrades were now duty-bound to hunt me down as an enemy of Stalin and his clique. One day I slipped away from two G.P.U. men who had shadowed me in the vicinity of the Place de Combat. The same night I left Paris.
I continued to wander from one country to another, alone now. In Antwerp I called on Edo Fimmen, the Dutchman, who had been my enemy, but had become my friend. He saw that I was ill, and in despair.
"Will you work in my organization?" he asked.
I declined. "If you will help," I said, "you may find me a ship. I am going back to sea, where I started."
Edo Fimmen was like a father to legions of sailors. Overnight he found me a ship, bound westward over the Atlantic to pack sugar from the West Indies. The G.P.U. had traced me from Paris to Antwerp; but by the time their man-hunters arrived, I had al­ready put out to sea. Once more I was a sailor before the mast. None of my shipmates knew whence I came, or where I was going. It was a sheer delight to walk again over a heaving deck, to sink my hands once more into a pot of tar. To Firelei I could not write. "It is best," I thought. "As time goes on, the Gestapo will believe that you have died somewhere in Russia, and then they will let Firelei go on her way."
But the G.P.U. and the Comintern gave me no peace anywhere. In the end, Ernst Wollweber had his revenge. Long after my flight from Copenhagen, a friend in Antwerp sent me a package. It con­tained copies of communist newspapers from various countries, ranging from the Pacific Coast to Scandinavia. I unfolded the papers. I was surprised to see a picture of myself on the front page of each publication. It was the same—the photograph that had appeared on my Gestapo credentials—which I had surrendered to Comrade Jensen upon my arrival in Copenhagen from Hitler’s prisons. It bore the caption: "On the watch! Gestapo!"
I recognized, in a flash, the craftiness with which this betrayal had been engineered. I had eluded the G.P.U. assassins, had van­ished from their horizon, and now they struck back in a most foul and underhanded manner. From the photographs of myself which they had in their files, they chose the one that would unfailingly render me and my family fair game for every totalitarian sleuth and man hunter on earth. The publication of this picture was a three-fold betrayal: It aspired to tar-and-feather me publicly in the eyes of labor leaders everywhere; it was calculated to prove to the Gestapo chiefs that I had deceived them; and it was designed to make the police departments of all countries do the work of the G.P.U.—to track me down and to deliver me to Germany, the Gestapo, and death.
The articles which accompanied my picture in the communist press vilified me as "one of the most important spies of the Gestapo." There was no word about my lifetime of service to the communist cause, no word about the years I had spent in the torture-chambers of the Gestapo. But there was word that I had just been "discovered in Paris." Thus, the G.P.U. made it appear that it had not even heard of my existence before its agents "discovered" me fifteen years after I had entered the Soviet service.
This treachery recalled other things to my mind. I remembered the day in Schreckenbach’s office when he gave me the Gestapo credentials, and I remembered his words, "In hell or high water, never let these documents fall into enemy hands." I remembered the day when I had entrusted these same documents to Richard Jensen, and how he had perused them and growled, "Very, very good." And I also remembered Inspector Kraus’s menacing voice saying: "Don’t try to deceive us. You won’t live long if you do. I warn you—the Gestapo never jokes."
This world-wide defamation in the Comintern press could have but one meaning. It was not just another call to Stalin’s men to seek me out and to destroy me. No, this was more: These papers and that picture of me would find their way into the offices of every secret service. They would also come to Hamburg and Berlin. Hertha Jens and Inspector Kraus would scrutinize them, and so would Schreckenbach and Heinrich Himmler. They would know that I had surrendered their secrets to enemy hands. They would know that I had not perished in Russia. They would blame me for having had a hand in the disappearance of their agent, Oskar. They would know that I had duped them. They would realize what game I had played with them.
They did.
In July, 1938, I received the intelligence that Firelei had been seized and thrown into the Horror Camp Fuhlsbüttel.
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.



(To enable the reader to identify the more active individuals, generally unknown to the American public, as they appear in this narrative.)

ANDREE, EDGAR, a Belgian, leader of communist military units in Germany, symbol of terror to Hitler’s storm troops until seized by the Gestapo—the Nazi secret police. He died heroically under the headsman’s ax for a cause in which he had ceased to believe.

ANDRESEN, KITTY, Norwegian girl courier in the Soviet secret service, who exploited her acquaintance with King Haakon to rescue the author from jail.

AVATIN, MICHEL, alias Lambert, of Latvian origin, master-spy and executioner abroad for the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. (secret service) of the Soviet government. A fearless and incorruptible revolutionist, Avatin murdered in cold blood because of his fanatical loyalty to the communist cause and regime.

BANDURA, ALEXANDER, Ukrainian rebel and anarchist, king of the Antwerp waterfront, who waged single-handed war against capitalist and Soviet influences until kidnaped and spirited away to Russia by the G.P.U.

CANCE, M. and MME., resident agents of the G.P.U. at Le Havre for many years.

CILLY, Danish girl of striking appearance, who served as operative of the G.P.U. in England, France, Germany, Belgium and Denmark. She outwitted the Nazi secret police, severed all connections with Moscow, and retired from all political activity.

DETTMER, JOHNNY, German revolutionary buccaneer, gun-runner and leader of Red Assault Guards. Seized, broken and beheaded by the Nazis.

DIMITROV, GEORGI, Bulgarian revolutionist, now secretary-general of the Comintern (Communist International) in Moscow. A central figure in the famous Reichstag Fire Trial, for years he was the director of the Comintern for Western Europe and the Americas, operating from Berlin under numerous aliases.

EWERT, ARTHUR, alias Berger, German communist, leading Comintern agent in Germany, France and South America. Ostracized and abandoned by Stalin, Ewert has been in a Brazilian prison for years.

FIRELEI (pronounced Fee-re-lie), German art student who became the author’s wife after embracing communism. Eventually the Nazi secret police took her life to avenge the author’s escape.

GETSY, Russian agent in charge of G.P.U. operations on the Pacific Coast of the United States a decade ago.

GINSBURG, ROGER WALTER, general agent of the G.P.U. in Paris, France.

GOREV-SKOBLEVSKI, ranking Soviet general secretly stationed in Germany in the early. twenties, in charge of preparations for a revolt, seized and condemned to death in Germany, but later released in exchange for German hostages held in Russia.

GUSHI, Russian girl operating under Getsy for the G.P.U. in California.

HALVORSEN, DR. ARNE, resident general agent of the G.P.U. in Norway.

HARDY, GEORGE, British agent of the Comintern who had carried out important missions in the United States, China, Germany and other parts of the world.

HEITMAN, RUDOLF, German agent of the G.P.U. who managed to become an official of the Gestapo upon orders from Moscow.

HOLSTEIN, MARTIN, Nazi spy in the leadership of the German Communist Party.

JENS, HERTHA, assistant and mistress to Inspector Paul Kraus of the Gestapo, a statuesque peasant girl who before Hitler’s rise to power had been confidential secretary to communist leaders in Hamburg.

JENSEN, RICHARD, giant Dane, conspirator of the first rank, member of the City Council of Copenhagen, for years the chief agent of the Soviet secret service for all of Scandinavia.

KOMMISSARENKO, Russian agent and one of Stalin’s most trusted deputies in all operations of the G.P.U. on the seven seas.

KRAUS, PAUL, Hamburg director of the Foreign Division of the Gestapo in charge of a world-wide network of agents and man hunters.

KUUSINEN, OTTO WILHELM, Finnish communist leader, secretary of the Comintern, director of its Western Bureau in Copenhagen. Stalin appointed him Premier of Finnish Soviet government when the invasion of Finland was launched.

LOSOVSKY, A. D., also S. A., chief of the Profintern (the Red International of Labor Unions) in Moscow, more recently Vice-Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

MARX, HUGO, resident agent of the G.P.U. in Hamburg.

MINK, GEORGE, chieftain of the G.P.U. on the American water­front, with a long record of operations in Germany, Spain and Den­mark.

NEUMANN, HEINZ, son of a wealthy grain dealer in Berlin, favorite of Stalin, Reichstag deputy, organizer of revolts in Germany and China, executed in Moscow during the great purge.

POPOVICS, ALEXANDER, Rumanian revolutionist, operated under­ground printing plants in Germany until seized by the Gestapo.

RADAM, Inspector of the Nazi secret police in Hamburg, notorious as an extorter of confessions from Hitler’s hardiest foes.

SCHRECKENBACH, head of the Foreign Division of the Nazi secret police and most trusted aide of Heinrich Himmler.

SVENSSON, HAROLD, Swedish customs officer who was in the secret service of the G.P.U. at Göteborg, Sweden.

WALTER, ALBERT, German sailor who joined Lenin’s forces early and became in time the chief of the maritime division of the Comin­tern, directing Moscow’s operations in the navies and the merchant fleets of the world. For years Walter was the author’s immediate superior. Deeply attached to his aged mother, Walter—to save her life—turned traitor to the Soviet cause when he was seized by the Nazis.

WEISS, ILJA, Hungarian terrorist and waterfront organizer for the Comintern in various ports of the Old World.

WOLLWEBER, ERNST, one of the most remarkable conspirators of our time, the son of a Silesian miner who became the ringleader of a mutiny in the Kaiser’s navy at the end of the World War. One of the members of the inner circle ruling the Communist Party of Germany, Wollweber was later elected deputy of the Prussian Diet and of the German Reichstag, serving as one of Stalin’s most power­ful underground chieftains in Western Europe.

- we have taken the liberty of adding these translation-footnotes to the original text.

- click on a note number to return to the original position in the text.

Out of the Night - Kindle version
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[1Was willst du?” = What do you want?

[2va banque” = go for the bank.

[3Kleinholz” = kindling.

[4“Neuer Deutscher Verlag” = New German Publishing House.

[5cadres” = middle-level leaders.

[6Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen . . .” = That’s the sailors’ love.

[7Kommunisten in den Reichstag! Tod dem Faschismus!” = Communists in Parliament! Death to Fascism!

[8"Die Strasse frei,
"Dem braunen Battaillonen . . ."

The streets free,
To the brown battalions . . .

[9Wie Sie wollen” = As you wish.

[10dreckigen Hunde” = dirty dogs.

[11Herrlichkeit” = magnificence.

[12Gauleitung” = district leader.

[13Das Spiel ist aus!"” = the game is up!

[14Kulturverband” = cultural association.

[15Deutsch-Schwedische Reichsvereinigung” = “Royal German-Swedish Union”

[16Nur kaltes Blut, mein Junge,” = Only cold blood, my boy.

[17charivari” = hullabaloo, tumult.

[18“der hat seine Sache ganz gut gemacht.” = he has done his job very well.

[19"Hals und Beinbruch” = Break a neck and leg! (= Good luck!)

[20Tote auf Urlaub” = the dead on holiday.

[21"Raus! Auf ihn!" = Get out! At him!

[22Stadthaus” = Town Hall.

[23Wird gemacht” = Will be done.

[24Inspektion 6—Zutritt Verboten” = Inspection 6—entry forbidden.

[25Fahndungskommando” = Search Unit.

[26Ist das Arschloch noch lebendig?” = Is that ass-hole still alive?

[27"Drei Lilien, drei Lilien,
"Die pflanzt ich auf ein Grab, jufalleraaa . .. "

“Three lilies, three lilies,
I planted them on a grave, jufalleraaa . . .”

[28"Um den Juden auszuroden,
Schneide man ihm ab die Hoden—
Und den weiblichen Semiten,
Solite man das Ding vernieten . . ."

To rub out the Jew
One cuts off his balls
And to the female Semite,
One should rivet up the Thing.

[29Wartezimmer” = Waiting room.

[30mein Junge” = my boy.

[31“Diese Weiber!” = this woman!

[32Ja, sowas das ist herrlich,
Ja, sowas das ist schön,
Ja, sowas hat man lange nicht
In Ko-La-Fu gesehen.

Yes, such a thing is splendid,
Yes, such a thing is nice,
Yes, such a thing one has not for a long time
seen in Ko-La-Fu.

[33“Konzentrations Lager Fuhlsbüttel.” = Concentration Camp Fuhlsbüttel.

[34Will jemand einen krepierten Juden sehen?” = Does anyone want to see a croaked Jew?

[35Hauptbahnhof” = central railway station.

[36Gymnasium” = high school.

[37Wohlfahrt” = Welfare Services.

[38Staffelführer” = Squadron Leader.

[39Hoch das Bein, der Göring braucht Soldaten!" = Leg up! Göring needs soldiers!

[40“Sauhund!” = pig-bitch.

[41Verfluchtes Schwein” = damned pig.

[42Dann wehen Hitlerfahnen über allen Strassen,
Dann bricht der Tag der deutschen Freiheit an . . .

Then the Hitler flag will float over all the streets
Then the dawn will shine on German freedom . . .

[43"Hoch wehen Sovietfahnen über Barrikaden,
So bricht der Tag der roten Freiheit an . . .

Soviet flags float high over barricades,
And the dawn shines on red freedom . . .

[44Lauf , du Drecksack!” = run, you scumbag!

[45Am Brunnen vor dem Tore,
Da steht ein Lindenbaum;
lch träumt in seinem Schatten
So manchen sü-ssen Traum . . .

At the fountain in front of the gate,
Stands a linden tree
I dreamt in its shade
so many a sweet dream . . .

[46Morgen-roo-ot, Morgen-roo-ot,
Leuchtest mir zum frühen Too-od.

Red sky in the morning, red sky,
Light up for me the early death.

[47Schutzhaftgefangenen” = prisoners.

[48“Nilpferdpeitsche“ = hippopotamus whip.

[49Sturmführer” = Storm-troop Leader.

[50Arbeitskommando” = work squadron

[51Sachen herausnehmen. Nachtlicht” = Affairs to be taken away. Night lights.

[52Zuchthaus” = jail.

[53Nieder mit Hitler!” = Down with Hitler!

[54"Fahrewohl, du grüne Erde . . ." = Farewell, green earth.

[55“Sünderbank” = sinner’s bench, the accused-persons bench.

[56Nachrichtendienst” = information service.

[57Gedanken und Erinnerungen” = Thoughts and Memories.

[58S’ist in Ordnung” = all is in order.

[59Weltanschauung” = world outlook, ideology.

[60Lagerkommandant” = Camp Commander.

[61Kerl” = guy.

[62Staatsfeind” = enemy of the state.

[63Links um! Abteilung, marsch!” = About left! Section, march!

[64Puppe” = doll.

[65"Weltkenntnis" = knowledge of the world.

[66"Län­deramt" = regional bureau.

[67"Regierungsrat" = senior civil servant.

[68"Nein, keine Bedenken" = No, no reserves.

[69"Zu Befehl!" = at your orders!

[70"So, da sind Sie!" = so, there you are!

[71Vertrauensmann" = man of confidence, liaison officer.

[72"Ja! Und ein kleiner Junge!" = Yes! And a small boy!

[73Khorosho!” = good!

[74Polizeigefängnis” = police prison.