A lean and encroachingly holding story of the anything-but-demilitarized Germany of today which walks quietly in the footsteps of Berthold Bloch, a journalist for Lutheran papers and a man of pacifist convictions who lives quietly with his wife and three children. Now, surprisingly after many years, there's his reunion with Reisdorf, a Colonel and still in the uniform he had intended to abandon. Reisdorf had played chess with Bloch all through their term in a Russian penal camp and had saved his life three times. The breaking of a news story puts Bloch under the even closer surveillance of a Captain Streich, who had been ""taking care"" of him; he becomes a security risk; and even the warnings of his friend Reisdorf cannot save either of them (Reisdorf, however, is a willing victim) as once again the knee-jerk reflexes and the clicking of the iron heels become manifest. The gravamen of Mr. Fischer's indictment is that there can be no ""forgiveness of guilt without punishment. . . that's like a check without a signature."" The book has a certain authority as it flashes the acronyms and insignia of the Bundswehr -- achtung.