We learn that Rolf Carle is Austrian when he tries to sing a lullaby to Azucena. During WWII, the Russians liberated Austria and Nazi concentration camps located there. The Russians made Rolf bury the dead bodies at a concentration camp. Rolf wants to share his memory with Azucena, but doesn’t think she can understand the horrors that he has seen. The narrator recounts Rolf’s emotions when he says, “Why should he describe to her how the naked bodies piled like a mountain of firewood resembled fragile china? How could he tell this dying child about ovens and gallows?” The image of the stacked bodies in the concentration camp mirrors the 20,000 or more dead buried under the mud and rock. Rolf relives his memories, and after “Azucena had surrendered her fear to him . . . it had obliged Rolf to confront his own.”
Azucena’s tragic experience reminds Rolf of his own life, and at the end of the story, he is left to deal with both the death of Azucena and his past.