Audio

Narrator reads extract from The Trial: Who could these men be? What authority did they represent?

K lived in a country with a legal constitution. There was a universal peace. All the laws were in force. Who dared seize him in his own dwelling? Where was the judge he had never seen? Where was the high court?

He raised his hands. But the hands of one of the partners were already at K's throat, while the other thrust the knife into his heart and turned it there twice.

Narrator: Joseph K., the hero of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial, goes to his death never knowing what his offense might have been, his enemy nothing less than the unbridled, irrational, and emotionless power of a modern totalitarian state. We have in this century too often seen in reality this legalized nightmare occur, a nightmare that we now call Kafkaesque—with secret policemen, street thugs, and concentration camps—where death can become an industry of the state.

It is fitting that Kafka, the prophet of this horror, should have been born a Jew. For the Jews were to experience the first half of the twentieth century as a Kafkaesque ordeal, a time that promised freedom and liberty for European Jews but that brought them to the brink of annihilation.

Title super: Out of the Ashes

In this final version, the Kafka extract is tight and appropriate to the subject of Hitler's Germany. Furthermore, the narration flows on smoothly, enlarging the topic of "the legalized nightmare" that exactly describes the condition of the Jews and others in Germany in the 1930s. The final narration indicates the promise of freedom and liberty suggested in the first draft, but it then points to the impending Holocaust.

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