Friedrich is a young Jewish boy growing up in an apartment house in Germany with the narrator as his neighbor and friend. Though the story is told by his Christian friend, Friedrich is the protagonist. His friend tells of the persecution of the Jews through Friedrich's eyes. Friedrich is forced to switch to a Jewish school, and is thrown out of swimming pools and movie theaters. An angry mob went to Friedrich's house and one of them killed his mother, and his father gets fired and has an emotional breakdown. (See Pogrom). Friedrich then finds a girlfriend, Helga, and really likes her. Soon he cannot see her anymore or she would be sent to a concentration camp. Friedrich and his father are forced to do whatever they can to make money to survive. Then Friedrich helps his father hide a rabbi in their house, but soon Friedrich's father and the rabbi get arrested, and Herr Schneider is deported. Then an air raid begins. Friedrich begs to come in the air raid shelter, but is kicked out by the landlord/air-raid warden, Herr Resch. After the raid, Friedrich's friend, his family, Herr Resch and his wife, return to the house. There they find the garden-gnome Polycarp who 'survived' the raid with only the tip of his hat broken by shrapnel. Herr Resch remarks that it is fixable. After checking out the area surrounding the house, the group notices Friedrich on the stoop. At first they think that he is passed out, but when the landlord decides to get rid of him by kicking him they realize that Friedrich was killed by shrapnel. The landlord then remarks that Friedrich has died a better death than was expected.
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“If you need a certain vitality you can only supply it yourself, or there comes a point, anyway, when no ones actions but your own seem dramatically convincing and justifiable in the plot that the number of your days concocts.”
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