In chapter 9 of The Devil's Arithmetic, a group of Nazi soldiers arrives in the village just as Hannah is beginning to realize where, or rather when, she is. As Hannah comes to understand that they are on the eve of the Holocaust, she panics and tries to warn those around her that the Nazis are on a mission to exterminate all of Europe's Jews. She is met with incredulity by Rabbi Boruch, Shmuel, Yitzchak, and the others.
After a brief conversation with the Nazi officer, Shmuel informs them that the Nazis want to relocate the village immediately. Rumor is that they want to move the villagers closer to the cities for the duration of the war. Yitzchak is surprised to hear this. He says that he thought that their village was too remote to be of any concern to the Nazis.
"I heard that too," Yitzchak added. "Government
policy. They have been settling villages closer to the big
cities. I thought out here they would leave us alone" (66).
This episode illustrates how many of the Jews of occupied Europe had little idea what was about to happen to them, even as the Holocaust was beginning. It was inconceivable to them that such a terrible event could actually come to pass. Hannah witnesses this to her great frustration and horror as her warnings are all dismissed by the other villagers. Everyone seems to believe the promises of the Nazis that they will be treated well. They also recognize that they have no choice, given that the soldiers are armed.