The Song Before It Is Sung : On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel. Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.