by Nadra Enzi
The following is an excerpt from the book Secret Rescuers: Batman and Other Mystery-Men Behind Enemy Lines in World War Two (1960), as told by a retired United States Army and Defense Intelligence Agency veteran who asked to have his name withheld. This excerpt is from Chapter 25, entitled, “On a Dark Night.”
October 13th, 1944, in Occupied Europe:
“It’s a little early for Halloween, isn’t it?” asked the masked man who saved my bacon a lifetime ago.
Batman exploded forward and landed a right hook, the impact of which even I felt from feet away in the chair where I was handcuffed. The big SS officer’s body shuddered before falling, and it didn’t take the world’s greatest detective to guess that he probably didn’t survive the blow.
Cursing in German, his partner quickly grabbed for his holster, the same one that held the Luger he’d pistol-whipped me with before his buddy took over the chores.
A whistling set of bolas wrapped around his thick neck, causing him to wildly clutch his throat before falling face-first to the floor, which did not make a pretty sound!
My last interrogator pitched a throwing knife, which my rescuer dodged, nailing the thrower between the eyes with one of his batarangs. The sickening crunch made me think of a Major League fastball smashing into some poor SOB.
I’m a Gotham City boy born and raised, so imagine my surprise when our resident caped crusader was sent in to save me!
I knew the lethal rough stuff that saved my life must have been Bats’ contribution to the war effort. Before the war he didn’t kill. Neither did I, for that matter. Before Pearl Harbor, I was a rookie Gotham City Police Academy graduate who was inspired by guess who to become a cop.
Batman picked my cuffs locks, slapped me on the back, and handed me a silencer-fitted pistol tucked in his belt.
“Never liked these. Too dangerous,” he said. Despite my pain, I had to laugh.
We sprinted past some guards sprawled all over the hallway of the safe house. From my rescuer’s handiwork, it was unlikely they’d ever “Seig Heil!” again.
Batman helped me into his bat-gyro, and off we flew into the night, one slightly worse for wear military intelligence officer and the mystery-man who was probably the best civilian intelligence agent of the Second World War.
I can only attest to what I saw with my own eyes, but from what I could tell, Batman did use lethal force on this occasion in order to save my life. To my knowledge, Batman never killed before or afterward in the line of duty. Although very grim in his first year, in no time at all he became this larger-than-life, swashbuckling figure who urged Gothamites to protect each other against enemies foreign and — too often — domestic.
I appreciate his sacrifice by forcing himself to take lives after a career dedicated to preserving life, even those of the costumed nutcases and gangsters he fought.
For my money, Batman deserved a Medal of Honor for what he did during the war. Now that we can talk about it, it’s time the country knew how many veterans’ lives he and his allies saved behind the lines in rescue missions like mine.