The Berlin Stories by Christoper Isherwood are two stories set in Berlin in the 1930s. The first story, entitled Mr. Norris Changes Trains, is based on the relationship between William Bradshaw, the protagonist, and Arthur Norris, the mysterious stranger he meets on the train. The story follows their relationship and the gradual development of Norris’ character. Norris is soon revealed to be a communist and ex-convict. His past and his present tend to create financial and political troubles for Norris, especially in the changing climate of the newly Nazi state of Germany.
In one scene Norris is shown to be giving a speech at an underground communist party meeting. His speech is about British Imperialism in Asia, following the general theme of Chinese social problems at the time (53-56). This scene is fascinating as it provides an interesting insight into the communist party in Germany. Despite the increasingly hostile environment for communism under the Nazi government, the leading members are organizing conferences on international problems rather than finding domestic solutions. This provides an insight into their naivety and the relative importance they place on theoretical Marxism, rather than their ability or desire to adapt communism to the German situation. Additionally, this may also provide an example of the inability for the different sections of socialism to work within a domestic framework, forcing them to find a common ground in vague demands for World Revolution. If this is true, it may explain their inability to fully capitalize on their popular support before the Great Depression.