It is confirmed. Eliza and Klaudia are the same person. Klaudia simply left her old life behind when she went to university. She changed her name, dyed her blonde hair, and even invented a life as an orphan. The novel moves back between the present and past, and we understand why Klaudia is doing this.
The excitement of going to high school and befriending Amber is soon dampened when it is her turn to invite Klaudia over. She does so when she knows her father will be out of the house, but to her chagrin Otto returns when she is with Amber. So Amber discovers that the caretaker is Klaudia’s dad. From then on neither Amber nor anybody else wants to be Klaudia’s friend. So she becomes lonely.
That is not her only problem. One of the boys in the year above Shane Steves keeps harassing him. Shane is a bully who claims his heroes are Hitler and his men. So first he presses her to go to a gathering of the National Front. Shane keeps saying that being the daughter of a Nazi, she has to make her father proud. Then he keeps leaving books in her desk and even engraves a swastika on the wooden surface of the desk. The worst part comes when he and his friends ambush her, and Shane forces her to spray-paint the names of Nazis on the wall and at the same time Shane touches her sexually. I feel so sorry for Klaudia because she doesn’t even feel free to talk to her parents. Her mother is the only one who she is closest to, but I guess she is too afraid to tell her anything.
Then around Christmas as Klaudia is trying to find the presents that her mother usually hides in her wardrobe. As she goes through the wardrobes, she finds three medals with a swastika on them, so Klaudia realises that it is true. Her father used to be a Nazi, and one who was honoured with medals. Then she goes to the library for some information about the Nazis, and in one of the books she finds her father’s name, and there is a photograph of him in his uniform with two other, aiming his guns at a poor woman kneeling before them. Klaudia is horrified.
All this causes what happens next as she goes to university, and invents a new persona. Things become more complex when she falls in love with Cosmo. Klaudia/Eliza is totally smitten, and the problem arises when Cosmo tells her that she should meet his grandmother, who is not only a Jew but was in a concentration camp during the war. This information upsets Klaudia, and she can’t stop thinking about the two parts of her life that seemed incompatible.
Klaudia/Eliza goes to Paris to visit a friend for a few days, and when she calls home, she tells her father that she would be home for Christmas Eve. When she gets home, there is bad news. Her mother has died. A car ran her over, and she died in hospital. Klaudia is very sad as she stays with her father, but she looks after him, making sure he has food and his clothes are washed. Klaudia thinks about her lies, and in a way I think she feels guilty of what has happened to her mother. It is then that she decides that she will tell Cosmo everything, and there won’t be Eliza anymore. I wonder if she will really do that. Will she tell Cosmo about her father being a Nazi? Is he the man who asks the narrator in the prologue to kill someone? Will Cosmo ask Klaudia to kill her own father? That is terrible. Nobody should ask something so horrible from someone you love, especially as Otto is Klaudia’s father. I can’t condone what the man did during the war, but having his daughter kill him is not right at all.
Apart from Klaudia, we also see the life Otto and his brother Ernst had as they were children in Germany. We learn that the two brothers were foundlings, and the Meyer family took them in. Yet, they weren’t kind to them, and Otto often had the marks on his body from the beatings Mr Meyer gave him. Then both Otto and Ernst joined the German Youth, for younger boys who couldn’t get into the Hitler Youth until they were fourteen. They had to prove they were properly Aryan, and the men running the group even had to check they weren’t circumcised to prove they weren’t Jews. In her recollections Ernst tells us that what they wanted was to count for something and belong. I don’t think they knew what they were getting themselves into, but this is the kind of thing they were used to, and they felt it was a good thing to do something for the homeland. It is interesting how we get to have a whole picture. I don’t think all Germans were wicked, but there is a justification about the way some of them acted. It doesn’t mean their actions in the war were justified, but we can understand that not everything is black or white.