Norway, 1942. The Germans have entered as occupiers, intent on getting to England via the Norwegian coast. The paratroopers, the Fallschirmjägers–an elite group of men who were treated at home like Norse gods coming down from the sky, landed onto the frozen landscape. Some Norwegians chose to collaborate in the hopes of being treated better; some chose to fight in the resistance.
Of special interest to the Wehrmacht was a little-known factory in the province of Telemark, the Norsk Hydro plant, which produced heavy water. Once a product associated with fertilizer, heavy water was also used to cool down uranium in a controlled nuclear reaction.
With the dramatic backdrop of the Occupation of Norway during the Second World War, two men find a strange bond as they balance duty and desire.
The Second Ring, by Anthony Kobal, is a first-person M/M narrative taken from history, illuminated by two characters. One, Axel, a German soldier, and Klaus, a Norwegian, who is a member of the Nasjonal Samling, men who collaborated with the occupiers in the hopes of having a better life by siding with those whom they perceived to be the “winners.”
In the early 1940’s, Norway was a logical place for the Germans to occupy. First, its coast faced England, where they wanted to strike next. The Norwegian people appeared to be almost 100% Aryan, which was something they appreciated. But more than that, there was a little-known factory in the Telemark district that was producing deuterium oxide, or heavy water, that was critical for its use in developing atomic weapons. Heavy water, D2O, is water in which both hydrogen atoms have been replaced with deuterium, the isotope of hydrogen containing one proton and one neutron. It is not bomb-material, itself. Either heavy water or pure graphite is used in moderating a reactor, allowing it to operate with natural uranium as its fuel. But heavy water takes a long time to make, and the Germans were impatient.
At this point in the war, it seemed as though Germany could not be stopped. They had invaded Poland and France, and had unleashed an élite group of paratroopers, the Fallschirmjägers, as precursors to invasion. Axel has quickly made it through the ranks in this group of men who fall from the skies, and is eager to make his mark in this country. A refined person of aristocratic tastes, he would be happier to engage the locals on a cultural level than that of an occupier. But Klaus captures his attention, and things quickly change.