10 SEPTEMBER 1948, Page 28

How Long the Night. By Lina Haag. Translated by E.

W. Dickes and Arnold Bender. (Gollancz. 7s. 6d.) " WE are told," the dust-jacket admits frankly, " that ' nobody wants to read' a book of this type in 1948." "A book of this type " is an atrocity story of prisons and concentration camps tinder the Third Reich. Frau Haag is the wife of a Corn- inunist member of the Diet who spends seven years, with torture, in concentration camps ; and she herself is 'imprisoned for three years. The book is written in the highly artificial form of a letter to her husband, so that she is constantly telling him things he knows already. Also-it is (no doubt justifiably) hysterical in tone ; and the translators have not spared the abuse. Frau Haag stresses the shetplike response to Nazism of the German people ; their indifference to what was going on in the camps ; the fear and utter confusion of the law when one organisation was intriguing against another and one man against another. She again makes it clear how the new " bosses " were just the little men, the ordinary lower middle-class, who were drunk with their power. She has an interview with Himmler and sees him as " a respectable schoolmaster . . . a little stupid and unhealthy." The book, with its pictures of physical degradation and its screaming bitterness is not pleasant reading, nor perhaps is it apposite today except as a reminder of the intolerable physical vacuum of Germany before and during the war. It is, however, an historical document in its way, adding more evidence to the already familiar story of corruption, sadism and abject misery.