One of the characters that appears briefly but has great significance in the novel is Nicholas. He tells Juliet about Kristalnacht, when almost all his family was killed. Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and German civilians. Estimates of the number of fatalities caused by the pogrom have varied. Early reports estimated that 91 Jewish people were murdered during the attacks. Modern analysis of German scholarly sources by historians puts the number much higher.
NIcholas and his mother are sent to Dachau concentration camp. Dachau concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria.