At Parson’s Nose we make classics more accessible. With that in mind, let us offer some background to Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor.

On June 28, 1919, the Allied Powers signed The Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, in Louis XIV’s Hall of Mirrors.

Treaty of Versailles
Signing of Treaty of Versailles 1919

In May of that year, Woodrow Wilson had been confined to his bed with influenza. In his debilitated state he was unable to deter French Premier Clemenceau and Britain’s David Lloyd George from inflicting their revenge on Germany. As a result, U.S. delegation returned to America with little hope of either the treaty, or democracy in Germany, succeeding. A demagogue’s rise was inevitable. Adolf Hitler‘s appearance was timed perfectly. He used Germany’s ensuing havoc and confusion to bring his National Socialism to power, and the world to a new conflagration, within twenty years.

Young Hitler 1928

How to destroy a democracy in ten steps:

  1. Find a devastated people, with spirit, hope, and means of living removed.
  2. Fuel their growing fear, anger and insecurity.
  3. Give them scapegoats, with specific targets for their frustration.
  4. Denigrate traditional institutions as being inferior, unworthy.
  5. Develop their longing for imagined historical superiority.
  6. Convince them they are in the majority.
  7. Change inconvenient facts.
  8. Offer “a new beginning”. Encourage nationalism. Discourage multiculturalism. Avoid referring to “democracy”.
  9. Reward loyalty. Call them “winners”.
  10. Berate negative responses as being unpatriotic. Call them “losers”.

The Author: Katherine Kressmann Taylor

In 1938 “the woman who jolted America”, Kathrine Kressmann Taylor, published “Address Unknown”, written in the form of twelve letters between two German friends, in STORY magazine, sounding the alarm to a sleeping America of the dangerous rise of fascism in Europe.

“I wanted to write about what the Nazis were doing and show the American public what happens to real, living, people swept up in a warped ideology.”

“This modern story is perfection itself. It is the most effective indictment of Nazism to appear in fiction.”- New York Times Book Review 1938

For our podcasts about Kathrine Kressmann Taylor and “Address Unknown”, please go to our PNT Radio Theater Web Page. – LD