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Written by Nicola Francisc
The first impression the reader has about the Weissmann family is that of a united family. The Weissmanns are the epitome of unity and balance. The image of the Weissmann family is important because it doesn’t refer only to a single family, but rather is represents the Jewish community that became more and more united as the time passed and as they encountered more difficulties.
In the first chapter of the novel, the narrator describes the way the German population from Birlitz reacted when the German forces entered the city. While for the Polish and Jewish population the entry of the German forces where something they feared of, the Germans hanged German and Nazis flags in the city. This image created in the beginning of the novel, of a happy German population, is put side to side with a scared Polish and Jewish population that was well aware that they will have to suffer as a result of the German invasion.
Towards the beginning of the novel, the narrator creates the image of an idyllic place from the description offered on a vacation spot the Weissmann visited. The description offered is put side to side with the image of a prejudiced Poland that suffered as a result of the German occupation. The image transmits the idea of pre-war happiness that the family experienced before the arrival of the Germans.
The yellow star begins to be used as a sign to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews. Probably the most predominant image in the whole novel is that of the Yellow star on armbands and used by Jews all over Poland. The star meant that the Jews will be treated much more different than all the other people around them and also that they will have to suffer because of it. For the Jews living in Poland, the Yellow star on their arms meant sometimes a death sentence.
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They learn that the war is just beginning. The Germans have invaded Russia, and the former Russian-controlled parts of Poland, including Lwow, have been taken by Germany. Gerda worries for her family and especially Arthur.