The Second Ring
Novel by Anthony Kobal
Axel, a German soldier caught up in the horrors of war, after coming from an intellectually stimulating background, becomes a member of the élite Falshirmjäger paratroopers participating in the occupation of Norway, in 1941.
While he has been under the influence of powerful men while rising in the ranks, he finds himself as the leader of a group of men to whom he becomes totally dedicated, both to their development and success.
But a Norwegian national named Klaus claims his attention more and more; the two are drawn together into a bond that surpasses the dedication of a leader and his troops. Axel finds that his attention to Klaus is becoming a near obsession.
The celebrated film director Leni Riefenstahl and her crew film Axel’s division for propaganda purposes. Later, she is also charmed by Klaus, and shoots photographs of him, nude. Axel assists them, his dignity impaired at serving two people so below his rank, but he willingly participates to be closer to Klaus. Fräulein Riefenstahl is amused at the scene, but also senses their plight.
To make matters worse, Bruno, who was Alex’s school-mate and bête-noire, appears as the commander of a communications squadron, higher in rank than Axel, but not part of his division. Bruno, too, is unable to concentrate on his mission, as he watches the developing relationship between Axel and Klaus, and finds a fascination in playing his power against the day-to-day unfolding of the war in Norway.
As the men receive orders to protect a heavy water plant, high on a frozen plateau in northern Norway, Axel manages to use his influence to go on a reconnaissance mission with Klaus, where the two spend a night in a remote inn. There, Axel’s compulsion develops into something more like love.
Completely taken by a man who, by all rights, should be his inferior, Axel is driven to manipulate the forces around him so that his life might be fulfilled living with Klaus.