The Germans conquer Poland in a mere eighteen days.
Papa is worried about his business. He is part owner of a factory that processes furs. He wants to go there to check on it but knows it is dangerous for him, as a Jew, to go out. Jews have already been required to turn in their gold, cars, bicycles and radios to the Germans. Some Jews are being taken away.
In early October, Papa’s sister Anna arrives with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Miriam. She and her family had tried to escape to Warsaw, but the train was attacked by the Germans. Her husband was killed and her son David taken away. Some of the men were massacred.
Anna and Miriam stay at the Weissmanns’ house. The next day, her son arrives; he had survived the massacre.
Arthur goes into town to try to find his girlfriend, Gisa. He returns with the news that outside his girlfriend’s house, the family dog lies dead. The family is nowhere to be found.
The Polish army is no match for the might of the Nazis, and life for the Jews in Bielitz soon becomes a nightmare. The Germans seize whatever they want. Young Gerda is not spared knowledge of what is going on and the terrible danger all Jews in the city and the country as a whole are now facing. She hears the story that her aunt Anna tells, and also of the possible fate suffered by Gisa’s family. (They do, in fact, survive.) Life will never be the same again for her.