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Road to Freedom

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  • PROLOGUE 1947

  • Narrator

    Early one morning, a bent and solitary man made his way down a road that ran through a quiet corner of Germany.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in Road to Freedom
  • The gray dirt of this road had been carved out of the turf one footstep, one hoof print, one turn of a wheel at a time, until it attained a life of its own amid the canvas of earth and sky, and the trees that bound each to the other.

  • Paved by the history of the men and beasts that had walked it for centuries, collecting the drama of a thousand journeys, it hid its stories in its gentle rises and low dips.

  • For long years, the peace of this land had been a rare thing, and like all rare things, those elements of its making guarded it with jealousy.

  • Narrator

    The man walked wrapped in a Wehrmacht greatcoat a size too large, his shadow stretched behind him as he walked into the rising sun.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in Road to Freedom
  • He wore the coat as a matter of convenience, finding this easier than carrying it in the short period of time before the summer day grew too warm.

  • Sweat had already begun to chill his forehead in the cool air.

  • An overnight train had brought him to the town he sought, but no buses came this far into the countryside.

  • The best he had been able to manage were vague directions from a sleepy shopkeeper, just opening for the day:

  • Profile Picture of Sleepy Shopkeeper in Road to Freedom

    Sleepy Shopkeeper

    “Head down this road out of town about three, four miles, and turn right when you come to a crossroads with a big tree on one corner.

  • It’s a few more miles beyond that, give or take.”

  • Narrator

    No one offered him a ride, and he had no money to make it worth someone’s trouble.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in Road to Freedom
  • So he walked.

  • A couple of miles out of town, he found himself lost in a maze of dirt roads, with trees big and small flanking crossroads and side roads and rutted paths that crisscrossed the main road.

  • Still, he was determined to keep at it until he found someone who could get him oriented again, and if night fell, he’d settle under a good tree.

  • He had long since learned how to sleep on the ground.

  • Narrator

    He walked on, not knowing how long, knowing only when the scant breakfast he’d eaten had worn off and pain flared in his right leg.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in Road to Freedom
  • He knew hunger well and could push it down.

  • The pain, however, mattered more.