As the Nazis take over Austria, Estella is witness of horrible events.
First, she goes to have a class with her teacher, Dr Zaslavsky, in his apartment, which is a bit out of the ordinary. After the class Estella realises she has left her scarf behind when she is on her way home. She decides to return to the apartment. The door is ajar, and even though she rings the bell, nobody answers. She decides to go in, and then she notices a oscillating shadow, and in a room she finds Dr Zaslavisky hanging from the ceiling. Naturally, Estella is distraught and calls a neighbour who tells her not to worry and she will call the police. Estella is told that this is the path many Jews are taking: suicide. They know what is going to happen, and they prefer a quick way out than the indignity and suffering they know will follow.
That night she is supposed to meet Harri for the last time as he is going to America the next day. When she gets to the attic room Harri lives in, Eva, his mother, opens the door. She tells her that the police and the SS have arrested Harri, and even though she has gone to the place where they have the arrested people, she has been unable to find out anything or see her son. Estella promises she will do what she can.
She returns home and goes to talk to Rainer. She tells him about Harri, and pleads for help. Rainer shocks her by telling her that he knew what she has been up to all this time. He knows about her spying on her, and they finally talk about Estella being his daughter. Estella tries to beg for help, but Rainer refuses. In fact, he admits that he is responsible for Harri’s arrest as he thinks Estella shouldn’t get involved with him, so he just wanted to get rid of him.
There is nothing else she can do. So she returns to talk to Eva. Then they hear the sound of a lorry, followed by steps and loud thumps on her door. They know they’ve come for Eva, Lotte, and the grandfather. So Estella makes a decision; she will take Lotte through the back door, and then she will try to get herself and Lotte to England. She does that, and she hides Lotte in her room while she goes to talk to Frank Reece. The man tells her it is very dangerous, but Estella is adamant. The man suggest the girl be included in Estella’s passport as her daughter, and she appear as a married woman. The passport will be ready the next day, and Estella and Lotte will travel to Switzerland and from there to England.
Estella returns to the apartment, and while she is comforting Lotte, Marthe appears, discovering them. Estella thinks this is the end, especially as Marthe sounds so bitter about what she thinks is a betrayal of their trust. Marthe knows about Estella being Rainer’s daughter. Estella realises that there is nothing to do. Yet, Marthe surprises her. She tells her that she can’t do harm to a little girl when she lost a baby girl years ago. So she reaches an agreement with Estella. She’ll keep the girl hidden and the next day they will go. So this is what happens, and in the last chapter we see Estella and Lotte travelling to freedom.
It is a sad story. I am sorry for Harri, and the end of the love story between him and Estella. Poor Estella has had to put up with so much in such a short time and at such a young age that I feel that in the end she can’t let herself mourn her lost love. I am glad that at least she manages to save Lotte, who I think was a very clever, sweet little girl.