Part 1: 1933, Pages 1-25 Summary
The novel opens with a chapter called "June 1945 I." An unnamed soldier working for the British Army drives a jeep through the streets of Hamburg, which has been devastated by bombing in World War II. He is familiar with the city and it soon becomes clear he grew up there. He steps through the rubble into a cafe he recognizes from his childhood and speaks with the owner. On the wall of the cafe is an old sign that reads "Jews Not Invited." The soldier points to the sign and says to the owner that he has forgotten to take it down. The owner begins unscrewing the sign from the wall as the soldier leaves.
The soldier continues on to the house of a former friend, a boy named Armin. The house stands amid rubble and broken glass. As he looks down at a shard of glass, he is...