It’s the saga of a boy getting grown up amid the backdrop of the years that caused the world to witness relentless days of nightmare. Set amid the backdrop of Europe- it is the period story that covers the most turbulent years of not only the European history- but I dare to say world history.
A period story has to strike a knife edge balance between the history and the story line. A bit heavier on the history side-and it is a boring one for most of the readers. If it concentrates more on the story side then history portion is neglected. From this viewpoint, ‘The Triumph of Love and Liberty ‘ by Hugh Franks, has perfectly synchronised between the historical narration and the spontaneous flow of the story.
The timeline of the story is well planned- starting from as early as 1920 and continued towards the end of the second world war- depicting he dark times of the history of the world-portraying events that shook the world. Along with an absorbing story the reader gets a mirror reflection of the rise and fall of the third Reich as seen by the eyes of common citizens- human souls without any ambition, as a bonus.
To little Paul Johnson- beach of his hometown Brighton was a safe haven. He was not a very welcome kid to his parents- neither of them wanted to come to this world. But still he came-thanks to a little error of her mother-and a series of errors continued on the part of their parents in the matter of his upbringings. A neglected child like Paul has to face the inevitable-
“But it was on the beaches that his education began. He started meeting other boys and girls- mainly boys. Most of them come from the slum area of the towns. by the age of ten, Paul had grown into a handsome lad and had become a leader of one of the gangs that the boys used to create on the beaches. And create they did,”
The little menace had not escaped unnoticed by the custodians of law of the town- a report from them was enough to propel the anger of his father. It was all unfair to the young lad-getting punished for a reason he considered was not fault. even the headmaster of his school was unfair- rebuking him for some words he uttered in school. But his reply came promptly
“sir,’ explained Paul ‘ I heard it used many times on the beach by people who seemed angry, and I was angry with Mr. Hicks so I used it too, and…. I heard you use it the other day.’ a dreadful silence followed.’
Well-the world is pretty-pretty unfair! A series of painful events form both sides lead to the expelling of the young Paul-it is temporary end of the school days. It is painful to the boy and the headmaster- but such is the skill of the writer that you can hardly help yourself from bursting out laughing when you will read the ‘pathetic’ story!
The thought of the possible ‘injustice’ awaiting him at home-made our resorted to a desperate bid- harbouring a ship. It was his fortune that he was discovered by Herr Heide- a progressive German businessman off to his homeland after a business trip. Soon he discovered a newfound affection for the man and was reluctant to return to the home from Germany.
There are many things on earth that science fails to explain. A tragic incident fulfilled young Paul’s desire. When her parents are coming o collect him from Heide- a train accident killed him and it was left for Heide to look after Paul.
Memories of beach days are not to be forgotten. The shadow of darker days is looming ahead in Germany and our protagonist found a safe haven under the ideology of Nazism! It was a perfect dream for him-like many of the youth of the contemporary Germany- superiority of the race over other races, the show of strength-all according to the interest of Paul. In a youth camp- he discovered the new found pleasure of sex- and homosexuality too!
“By the last night of the camp, most of the boys and girls had fornicated. Paul and Anna weren’t the exception. Already attracted to each other what else could their young bodies do but- to use the excuse of the camp leader’s encouragement –including in what was after all a very pleasant pastime! Anna had already slept with many boys, so Paul’s inexperience and shyness was quickly overcome by her.
He left the camp with a certificate of efficiency- a much older boy than his years, and with a complete adoration of Hitler and his party.”
This is a turn around of the life of young Paul. Next episodes of the story will show how there is a silent revolution inside his psychological world. He was not prone to attraction of relations- but this ideological brainwashing was enough to erase all marks of emotional attachments. It is now a new Paul- ready to go any length under a call from Nazism!
In between the writer has presented a crafty narration of his school days-when he has already forgotten the aim of education-it is “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” deeply embedded in his brain. So much so that he was ready to leak the secrets of Herr Heidi to the administration of administration. His only weakness was Paula – a British girl with whom he fell in love.
There is an absorbing description of the days of Second World War-the rise and fall of the third Reich! Our boy was an officer of an advancing German regiment. He had seen the days of glory. He had seen the days of disgrace. He had seen Operation Dynamo. He had seen the scorched earth policy of the Russians. He had seen them all. Second World War gave him an experience of hundreds of years.
And amid all the destruction, amid all the ruthlessness- there is blooming of romance.
Where the destiny will take Paul and Paula-two sand grains in this ocean of storm? What future beholds for Heide?
Will love have the power to triumph over the shattering of human lives, values and dignity?
Read to discover the amazing story of a boy in the contemporary backdrop that had once threatened to erase the existence of a race from the world. Read to discover the amazing story of battle that has finally overcame by the indomitable human force.