In The Silver Sword, the Polish capital city of Warsaw is presented as a terrible place, a place of unimaginable death and destruction. When Joseph returns there after his escape from a Nazi prison camp, it's completely unrecognizable. The city has been ravaged by the destruction and chaos of war. Everywhere Joseph looks, there is nothing but ruined buildings and starving people with haggard faces doing whatever they can to survive amidst all the rubble.
Joseph's home is just one of many completely destroyed by the Germans. It's now nothing more than a heap of rubble. Yet among all the debris, he manages to find the little silver sword that he'd given his wife for her birthday. The silver sword is an important symbol as it represents the hope that still exists despite the horrors of war.