Amsterdam Section (chapters 1-16)

Some of the questions will be spoilers if you haven’t read the book up to that chapter yet. DO NOT READ THE QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU READ THE CHAPTER unless you don’t care about suspense or surprises.

Enduring Understandings

  • The Germans used gradually tightening restrictions on Jews as a means to efficiently eliminate them from the Netherlands.
  • Even Jews who could see what was happening had very limited options for escape.

Essential Questions

  • How was life in the Netherlands affected by World War II?
  • Why did the Germans move so slowly to remove the Jews from the Netherlands?
  • Why did the Lichtensterns need to keep moving to different apartments?

Discussion Questions and Activities

Chapter 1:


  1. What were the main sources of news in 1940? What are the main sources of news that we use today?
  2. You can read Queen Wilhelmina’s May 10 1940 proclamation here in its entirety.
  3. You can listen to the radio broadcast in Dutch here . (you need to scroll down to number 39 1940-05-10)
  4. Why did she say the attack was a violation of international law and decency?

Queen Wilhelmina’s Proclamation/speech of May 10 Harrisburg Telegraph 10 May 1940Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 2:

  1. Look at a map of Europe from 1940. Find The Netherlands. If you were trying to escape after the invasion, where would you go? What problems might you find there?
  2. Why would the Nazis insist on businesses identifying that the owners were Jewish?
  3. What did Uncle Bobby mean when he said, “If this war goes on, there won’t be so many nice things to eat”?
  4. Tutti asks Uncle Bobby why everyone moved to England. Can you explain why?

Chapter 3:

  1.  Egbert says: “I thought it over long and hard, and I have accepted the job… it’s not because I want to help the Germans, but I felt I had no choice. And I think—I hope—that I might someday be able to do something to stymie them.” What do you think he meant by this?
  2. Egbert tells Heinz about a plan of forced deportations, ghettos and work camps. What do each of these situations mean? What other places in the world or times in history have these concepts have been threatened or used against groups of people?

Chapter 4:

  1. Explain this sentence. “… as he waited, he felt the Nazis tightening their noose around his neck.”
  2. When Jews left Germany as refugees in the early 1930’s the Germans taxed them for emigrating and took most of their property and valuables. This left most refugees extremely poor. What would a refugee need when they come to a new country and don’t have much money?
  3. Why does Heinz want a South American passport?

Chapter 5:

  1. A new German rule says non-Jews can’t work for Jews. Why would the Germans make a rule like that?
  2. Why were Jewish children sent to a Jewish school? Are there other places and times in history that you can think of where governments separated people because of race or religion?

Chapter 6:

  1. Look at the picture of Tutti’s 1st grade class. What do you notice about it? How does it compare to a class photo you might see today? What are the similarities and differences to your own class photos?
  2. Why did the Germans force the Jews to wear the yellow stars?
  3. What would it feel like to wear something that identifies you as having less rights than the general population?
  4. Look at Margret’s identification card. What would it be like today if people’s IDs highlighted their religion or race?

Chapter 7:

  1. Why is Heinz so desperate that he would consider taking his own life and that of his family?
  2. When you get upset, who do you turn to for help?
  3. Suicide is a very serious issue. Many people in the world have suicidal thoughts. Heinz was lucky to have someone like Margret help him through this. There are always resources – family, teachers, clergy, counselors, doctors, and hotlines.
    In the USA there is a national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Chapter 8:

  1. Why did the family move to a smaller apartment?
  2. Why did Uncle Bobby pay to be smuggled?
  3. Have you heard of other times or places where people pay smugglers to take them out of or into a particular country? When? Where?

Chapter 9:

  1. Why were letters censored?
  2. Look closely at Heinz’s Jewish Council registration card. The last line translates as follows: Number of Jewish grandparents according to Article 2 of the Regulations: four. Why do you think the authorities were concerned with the number of Jewish grandparents each person had?
  3. What was the role of the Jewish Council?
  4. Why did the Jews report when the Germans told them too?
  5. One policeman says, “I have my orders.” What do you think of this explanation for helping with the raid?
  6. Look at the picture of Jenny, Flo and Okkie at the cafe in 1933. What do you notice about the setting? The other people?

Chapter 10:

  1. Was Friedrich von Oppenheim a man of good morals? If so, why? If not, why not?  After discussing look at : Friedrich von Oppenheim. Does this change your answers to the questions above?
  2. Class activity – Find an inspiring story of a person who was declared Righteous Among the Nations. Share with the class and share why this person is inspiring to you.

Chapter 11:

  1. If you had to leave your home in a hurry and could only bring what fits in a backpack, what would you bring? Why?
  2. Why do you think the Nazis made the Jews move into particular neighborhoods?

Chapter 12:

Chapter 13:

  1. Why were old people, women, and children the first to be sent away?
  2. If you had to live indoors and couldn’t leave for any reason, what would you miss?

Chapter 14:

  1. If you were living in somebody’s attic, what would you need them to do for you? What parts of your life would be dependent on them?
  2. What would happen if the family was found hiding in the attic? Discuss stories of other Jews hiding in attics in Amsterdam during the Holocaust.

Chapter 15:

  1. Heinz and Margret faced a difficult decision: stay in hiding or turn themselves in. List the pros and cons of each option. Would you have made the same decision they did?
  2. The clerk at the emigration office says: “… I don’t care about passports. I have my orders. You are on the list of people who are supposed to report… All I care about is that the people here in my register are checked off as having been accounted for. Do you understand?” Why do you think he was so focused on his list?

Chapter 16:

  1. Activity: Enlarge this map of Amsterdam from 1940. Can you find all the places Tutti and her family lived? Can you find the route they walked to the Schouwburg? It might be easier to look at Google maps and plug in addresses from the text.
  2. Why was Margret telling the children about the tulips and the birds?
  3. Why did the Nazis use a theater as a deportation center?