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Written by Callie Labrador
Evilness of the German Regime
The Germans committed many atrocities in Poland and three different heinous actions are perpetrated on the Balicki family alone; Joseph Balicki is arrested and thrown into a camp for doing nothing more than turning a portrait of Adolf Hitler to the wall. Despite the fact that three children would be left parent-less the Germans took Margrit Balicki to work in a slave camp, subsequently setting fire to the family home believing the children to be inside. They were actually well known for setting fire to homes with families still living in them. The fact that so many orphaned children were living on the streets in Warsaw is also a testament to the barbaric way in which the Germans cared nothing for the people in the cities they have invaded.
After the family are reunited it is apparent that Margrit has had a very hard time at the labor camp, as her hair has turned white; Edek too has suffered enormously.
Hope is a theme throughout the novel and it is the underlying factor that keeps the children alive in the most difficult of circumstances. They hope they will be reunited with their parents, Ruth and Bronia hope to find their brother, and the journey to Switzerland is made in hope of a better life and of being with their parents again. Even their new life is inspired by hope for a better day.
Family is a constant theme in the novel and even the people affected by meeting the children are reminded of their own family. Everything that happens in the novel is driven by family; Joseph escapes from his imprisonment to go and find his wife and children. Ruth is wise beyond her years and acts as a mother to her siblings and is determined to keep them together. When they meet Kurt Wolff and his wife, the couple want to adopt the children even though they know they are intent on finding their real parents, the Wolffs identify with Edek and Jan as they had sons themselves. The importance of family is a major theme throughout the novel.
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