Chapter 1 Summary
Walter von Ulrich and his English wife Maud live in Berlin, Germany, in 1933, as the Nazis are rising to power. Their son, Erik, echoes the racist views of chancellor Adolf Hitler. Walter is disturbed that Maud, who is a columnist for a socialist newspaper, has written an article critical of Hitler. Maud takes her daughter, Carla, to her office for the day. When Hitler’s Brownshirts attack the building, Carla saves the day by pulling the fire alarm. The reporters and staff are able to escape as the Nazis shut down the paper. Out on the street, Maud and Carla meet their old friends, Ethel Leckwith and her son, Lloyd.
That evening, Lloyd and Ethel join the von Ulrichs for dinner at the restaurant owned by Robert von Ulrich, Walter’s cousin. They discuss their past, as well as Germany’s future, though they are interrupted by Thomas Macke, now of the Gestapo but previously the von Ulrichs’ gardener. After dinner, they see that the Reichstag, Germany’s seat of power, is on fire. Lloyd goes inside and sees Adolf Hitler, who is blaming the fire on the Communists. Lloyd reports this to his mother and the von Ulrichs, stating that there is going to be a purge of the non-Nazis. Macke looks into the file on Robert von Ulrich, who had humiliated him at the restaurant.
At a rally for the Social Democrats, Walter and Maud are joined once again by Ethel and Lloyd. Also present are Werner Franck, the son of Maud’s friend Monika, and Volodya Peshkov, the son of Grigori Peshkov, a Communist. The Brownshirts invade the rally, but the Socialists fight back. Werner curses the Nazis, even though his father is a Nazi sympathizer, and thinks about joining the Communists with Volodya. Erik, Walter and Maud’s son, joins the Hitler Youth, though his sister, Carla, tells him he will put the whole family in danger. When the Ulrichs’ maid, Ada, goes into labor, Erik goes for a Jewish doctor. Ada gives birth to Kurt, who is born with birth...
(The entire section is 504 words.)