Have you heard this before?
Just who said this quote? What does it mean?
Researching the Internet: Some people think it is in the Bible or Jesus might have said it. Certainly it became famous through the use recently in the Movie the Godfather.
Well, my first recollection of “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” was through Hungarian History of Matias Corvinus. He was the most famous King of Hungary and several other countries as well in his lifetime.
Matias lived in the 1400’s after a very turbulent history where his brother was murdered and he was imprisoned. Finally, he became king at the tender age of fourteen.
What can a fourteen year old child do in such circumstance with enemies all around and a very weak defence? If he killed his
enemies, this would have only attracted more enemies, making his kingdom weaker. NO- he decided to give his enemies fortresses’ on the boarders of the country by giving them earldoms.
These earls kept the country safe and expending, it kept them alive by defending the boarders. They definitely did not have the time to squabble or to bring down the new king.
The King definitely understood the meaning of “ Keeping your enemies close”.
The second time I heard this saying was when I was 16 on a train trip from Melbourne to Sydney.
I was with my Father on a night train.
My dad was quiet and gentle who appeared on the surface to do whatever Mum asked of him.
Mum was already in Sydney and we were joining her and my brother.
We started talking about the saying “Keep your enemies close” when suddenly, Dad opened up and told me how the saying helped him and his mates during the war.
As always, the war stories were a strong interest to me, so he spent the rest of the journey telling the story of how the saying helped him.
When the German’s ordered all Jewish men to a certain area in Budapest, my dad realised his life was in danger with no way out. One had to be smarter and think outside the square. Being afraid and agreeing with this madness was considered suicide.
If you decided to hide and were found it was instant death.
So how about getting closer to your enemy, as the old saying goes?
They decided to form a “Repair Unit.” They painted a sign saying “Repair Unit” with five friends, followed the German army close and pretended to be a repairer of motor cycles, but in reality they were saving their own lives. Apparently the bikes were always in “a state of repair” and somehow they got away with this crazy idea. Out of the five men only dad knew how to repair the total of two bikes and only one of them spoke German.