night of the long knives
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night of the long knivesa treacherous betrayal or ruthless action.
Night of the long knives is especially associated with the massacre of the Brownshirts on Hitler's orders in 1934 . Traditionally, the phrase referred to the legendary massacre of the Britons by Hengist in 472 , described by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae. In Britain it has been particularly used of the occasion in 1962 on which Harold Macmillan dismissed a third of his cabinet at the same time, of which the Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe remarked ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life’.