Yet while he lives among us without laying too much stress on his official position, he is something quite different from the ordinary citizen. When a delegation comes to him with a request, he stands there like the wall of the world. Behind him is nothingness, one imagines hearing voices whispering in the background, but this is probably a delusion; after all, he represents the end of all things, at least for us. At these receptions he really was worth seeing.
Let us assume, like Conrado, that this is a translation of Kafka. It feels as if it could describe Herr Klamm, a featureless bureaucrat with great but undefined power. Klamm is the antihero of Kafka’s novel, “The Castle”. The word Klam means things such as deception or illusion, in Czech. In German, Klamm has connotations of feelingless, numbing. Kafka knew both German and Czech.
This leads us to the meaning, which may be that the man in the quotation was a powerful bureaucratic delusion, but one that absorbed all hope for the future, and denied all possibility of progress.