Part 2: Chapter 1:
Gerda and the others in the truck, including Llse, are transferred to a train, which travels north for about fifty miles until it reaches Sosnowitz. They are marched to a building that houses the Militz, a Jewish auxiliary force set up by the Nazis. Young Jewish men were conscripted to serve in it. Gerda writes a letter to Arthur and then falls asleep.
In the morning she looks outside and sees many Jews moving around. She recalls that she has been told that Sosnowitz is the largest Jewish community in Germany. There are shops and factories where Jews work. Gerda wants to contact Abek’s parents, who live in Sosnowitz. Feeling bold, she barges into the Commander’s office, and asks for a permit to visit her relatives in town. She adds that she has no money or other valuables to pay for it. The Commander, perhaps taken aback by her audacity, issues her with a permit. Gerda leaves the office, surprised that she had been able to show such strength, and feeling that she now has the courage to go on.
Gerda is still only eighteen and has been forcibly separated from her parents and must now face the perils of life under the Nazis alone. Once again she affirms her will to live: “Now I have to live,” she says, “because I am alone and nothing can hurt me anymore.”
This chapter suggests what people can be capable of under difficult and frightening circumstances. Gerda shows amazing courage in getting what she wants from the Commander, a courage which she may never have realized she possessed. “I hardly knew myself,” she says. She will continue to need all the courage she can muster over the next few years.