Franz Wolff is again the main character of the book in that we see him from the perspective of family and colleagues in his extraordinary journey through life. The book centres upon his youth and his SS membership and wounding in the Leningrad campaign. Later on we see him in his life following the war when he tries and fails to contact Elena, his lover from the camp. Finally we see him in his post-war trial.
In TIA, we see Franz's story filled in by his parents. We see that he was spoiled as a youth and allowed to run wild, despite the entreaties of a father who has commercial and family ties with Jewish businessmen. We then see him after the camp desparately trying to find Elena only to find out that she has left for Israel and married. He is brought to this realization by a brutal letter from one of Elena's relatives who advises suicide. Finally, as a middle aged man he is forced to confront his past in the post war trial. At last, he gets to see his lover when she returns to testify in his favor. However, he finally understands that his past is gone when Elena avoids all eye contact.
In Truth in Ash, we find Franz desperate to re-connect with his lover, but now the shoes are on the other foot. He is now a Prisoner of War confined to the camp and in danger of falling into the hands of the Russians. He is rejected by Elena who chooses to flee a destroyed and corrupt Europe to a life with her new husband in Israel. In the 1970s, Franz's past comes back to haunt him and he finds himself in a highly public and political trial. His former protectees now show their real sentiment by condemning and conspiring against him. It is also a severe breach of trust to testify for a Nazi guard and many are intimidated by this fact. Elena bravely returns to testify in his favour. She is then followed by others who testify allowing Franz to secure release.