英文小说连载《朗读者The Reader》Part 2 Chapter 9_高考英语复习方法_高考总复习-查字典高考网

英文小说连载《朗读者The Reader》Part 2 Chapter 9

发布时间: 2019-01-07   来源:查字典高考网

W HY DID you not unlock the doors? The presiding judge put the question to one defendant after another. One after the other, they gave the same answer. They couldnt unlock the doors. Why? They had been wounded when the bombs hit the priests house. Or they had been in shock as a result of the bombardment. Or they had been busy after the bombs hit, with the wounded guard contingent, pulling them out of the rubble, bandaging them, taking care of them. They had not thought about the church, had not seen the fire in the church, had not heard the screams from the church.

The judge made the same statement to one defendant after another. The record indicated otherwise. This was deliberately phrased with caution. To say that the record found in the SS archives said otherwise would be wrong. But it was true that it suggested something different. It listed the names of those who had been killed in the priests house and those who had been wounded, those who had brought the wounded to a field hospital in a truck, and those who had accompanied the truck in a jeep. It indicated that the women guards had stayed behind to wait out the end of the fires, to prevent any of them from spreading and to prevent any attempts to escape under the cover of the flames. It referred to the death of the prisoners.

The fact that the names of the defendants appeared nowhere in the report suggested that the defendants were among the female guards who had remained behind. That these guards had remained behind to prevent attempts at escape indicated that the affair didnt end with the rescue of the wounded from the priests house and the departure of the transport to the field hospital. The guards who remained behind, the report indicated, had allowed the fire to rage in the church and had kept the church doors locked. Among the guards who remained behind, the report indicated, were the defendants.

No, said one defendant after the other, that is not the way it was. The report was wrong. That much was evident from the fact that it mentioned the obligation of the guards to prevent the fires from spreading. How could they have carried out that responsibility? It was ridiculous, as was the other responsibility of preventing attempted escapes under the cover of the fires. Attempted escapes? By the time they no longer had to worry about their own people and could worry about the others, the prisoners, there was no one left to escape. No, the report completely ignored what they had done and achieved and suffered that night. How could such a false report have been filed? They didnt know.

Until it was the turn of the plump and vicious defendant. She knew. Ask that one there! She pointed at Hanna. She wrote the report. Shes the guilty one, she did it all, and she wanted to use the report to cover it up and drag us into it.

The judge asked Hanna. But it was his last question. His first was Why did you not unlock the doors?

We were . . . we had . . . Hanna was groping for the answer. We didnt have any alternative.

You had no alternative?

Some of us were dead, and the others had left. They said they were taking the wounded to the field hospital and would come back, but they knew they werent coming back, and so did we. Perhaps they didnt even go to the hospital, the wounded were not that badly hurt. We would have gone with them, but they said they needed the room for the wounded, and anyway they didnt . . . they werent keen to have so many women along. I dont know where they went.

What did you do?

We didnt know what to do. It all happened so fast, with the priests house burning and the church spire, and the men and the cart were there one minute and gone the next, and suddenly we were alone with the women in the church. They left behind some weapons, but we didnt know how to use them, and even if we had, what good would it have done, since we were only a handful of women? How could we have guarded all those women? A line like that is very long, even if you keep it as tight together as possible, and to guard such a long column, you need far more people than we had. Hanna paused. Then the screaming began and got worse and worse. If we had opened the doors and they had all come rushing out . . .

The judge waited a moment. Were you afraid? Were you afraid the prisoners would overpower you?

That they would . . . no, but how could we have restored order? There would have been chaos, and we had no way to handle that. And if theyd tried to escape . . .

Once again the judge waited, but Hanna didnt finish the sentence. Were you afraid that if they escaped, you would be arrested, convicted, shot?

We couldnt just let them escape! We were responsible for them . . . I mean, we had guarded them the whole time, in the camp and on the march, that was the point, that we had to guard them and not let them escape. Thats why we didnt know what to do. We also had no idea how many of the women would survive the next few days. So many had died already, and the ones who were still alive were so weak . . .

Hanna realized that what she was saying wasnt doing her case any good. But she couldnt say anything else. She could only try to say what she was saying better, to describe it better and explain it. But the more she said, the worse it looked for her. Because she was at her wits end, she turned to the judge again.

What would you have done?

But this time she knew she would get no answer. She wasnt expecting one. Nobody was. The judge shook his head silently.

Not that it was impossible to imagine the confusion and helplessness Hanna described. The night, the cold, the snow, the fire, the screaming of the women in the church, the sudden departure of the people who had commanded and escorted the female guardshow could the situation have been easy? But could an acknowledgment that the situation had been hard be any mitigation for what the defendants had done or not done? As if it had been a car accident on a lonely road on a cold winter night, with injuries and totaled vehicles, and no one knowing what to do? Or as if it had been a conflict between two equally compelling duties that required action? That is how one could imagine what Hanna was describing, but nobody was willing to look at it in such terms.

Did you write the report?

We all discussed what we should write. We didnt want to hang any of the blame on the ones who had left. But we didnt want to attract charges that we had done anything wrong either.

So youre saying you talked it through together. Who wrote it?

You! The other defendant pointed at Hanna.

No, I didnt write it. Does it matter who did?

A prosecutor suggested that an expert be called to compare the handwriting in the report and the handwriting of the defendant Schmitz.

My handwriting? You want my handwriting? . . .

The judge, the prosecutor, and Hannas lawyer discussed whether a persons handwriting retains its character over more than fifteen years and can be identified. Hanna listened and tried several times to say or ask something, and was becoming increasingly alarmed. Then she said, You dont have to call an expert. I admit I wrote the report.