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Prison of Night and Fog Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Prison of Night and Fog


Under the influence of the Nationalist Socialism Party and protected by her Uncle Dolf, Gretchen Muller falls in love with a Jewish boy and learns that her favored Uncle Dolf is not who he seems. Invited for dessert and tea with Uncle Dolf, Gretchen is going to be late because her brother, Reinhard and his best friend Kurt stop to assault a Jewish man in the streets of Berlin. Gretchen begs the boys to stop, leaving her best friend, Eva Braun in the car. Gretchen needed Reinhard to realize that they must keep a clean image for the Fuhrer. After the assault, Gretchen aids the Jewish man and later admonishes herself for doing so. At the café, where the group were to meet with Uncle Dolf, Reinhard tells the Fuhrer of his sisters actions. The next day to her mother, Reinhard calls her a ‘Jew Lover.' Gretchen knows she is not a Jew lover.
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Gretchen lives in a boarding house where her mother runs the home. Needing many hands and unable to afford employees, Gretchen helps her mother and attends school. She dreams of being a doctor one day but her dreams melt away when her mother forces to get a fulltime job to bring in more money. Fleeing to Uncle Dolf for help, he persuades her to take a job in his office under Heinrich Himmler.

Daniel, a Jewish reporter, worked for a newspaper that wanted to expose Adolph Hitler for his plans for the future of Jewish German's, approached Gretchen and told her, her father's death was not an accident and he was going to prove it. Gretchen cannot believe a Jew, can she? After all, her family was the favored family of Adolph Hitler for the sacrifice her father gave by giving his own life to protect his.

Agreeing to meet with Daniel, she realizes there are some truths to his story. Gretchen also finds that she actually likes Daniel, a Jew. From there, Gretchen lives a double life: the favored honorary niece of Adolph Hitler and a detective trying to find the true cause of her father's death. As Daniel meets with perspective informants, Gretchen continues working for Himmler as a secretary which will eventually allow her to have access to highly classified documents.

In the meantime, Reinhard is moving up within the ranks of the Nationalist Socialism Party, disappearing for days at a time. Wanting to find out what he was up to, Gretchen breaks into his room and finds newspapers clippings under the floor boards of Jewish murders. Understanding her brother must have been a part of these terrible actions, she is terrified. Upon returning from his trip, Reinhard beats Gretchen within an inch of her life. Scared, she runs to Uncle Dolf only to be told that Reinhard is the man of the family and can punish her any way he saw fit. This is when Gretchen's fears of Hitler are solidified. Turned away from her girlfriends, she runs to Daniel where he allows her to stay, against the feelings of his cousins who live with him.

Dr. Whitestone, a clinical psychiatrist, rents a room at the boarding house. He is on a mission to study Adolph Hitler.   Dr. Whitestone and Gretchen become friends and he sees the same traits in Reinhard as he does in Hitler: a classic psychopath. Dr. Whitestone eventually leaves the boarding house but warns Gretchen to be careful. It was during her visits with Dr. Whitestone that Gretchen decides to become a psychiatrist to 'cure the mind instead of the body'.

Searching her home, Gretchen finds hidden documents from a psychiatrist that her mother and father had taken Reinhard to when he was young. That psychiatrist also diagnosed Reinhard as a classic psychopath.   Gretchen realized Daniel's love is only the love she can trust. Her mother ignored her brother's violent behavior; Hitler turned his back on her as did her girlfriends. Also, when she tried to tell Eva of Hitler's actions, she realizes that Eva is in love with him. Both Daniel and Gretchen want to confront her mother regarding the doctor's papers and do so, but not in the way they had planned. As Gretchen's mother defends the actions of herself by accepting and loving Reinhard, Reinhard attacks both Gretchen and Daniel with a knife. They barely escaped with their lives while Reinhard runs out into the night.

Soon, Gretchen and Daniel have all the documentation needed to prove her father's death was not an accident. Her father, who knew Hitler was mentally ill, begged him not to allow his nerves to show on a night when they were going to attempt to over throw the existing government. Because he did this, Hitler allowed him to walk close to him and shot him in the back before policemen bullets tore through his chest, knocking in front of Hitler, protecting him.

Geli, also one of Gretchen's close friends, and Hitler's niece, is found dead under mysterious circumstances. Suicide was mentioned. When Gretchen arrives at Geli's house, she is contained in one of Hitler's rooms where she finds drawings of herself, Eva and Geli that Hitler illustrated. Upset and angry, she reveals the truth to Hitler of what she knew of her father's murder and she escapes from his protection guard.

While searching for the truth of her father's death, Gretchen and Daniel also learned Hitler's ultimate plan for the Jews: annihilation. Wanting to bring this information to the public, Daniel meets with an informant at a highly populated rally. Gretchen is kidnapped by her brother and Kurt. Reinhard wants to turn his sister into the Nationalist party to prove his loyalty to Hitler, however, Hitler has other plans.

Hitler sends Himmler to murder Gretchen and then her brother. Gretchen escaped from Himmler only to be kidnapped again by her brother. Himmler shoots and kills Kurt and wounds her brother. Gretchen escaped and makes it to the rally where Daniel is. Gaining Daniel's attention, they attempt to flee through the ensuing mob only to be ripped apart. Reinhard grabs hold of Gretchen once again only to be murdered in the furious mob. Daniel, who is wounded, escapes with Gretchen by getting onto a train only to jump off near the town of Dachau. Hoping to have allies in her grandparents, they walk to their farm only to be met by her mother. Gretchen's mother gives them all of her money so they can escape, asking Daniel to take care of her daughter, even though she doesn't understand their love for one another because she doesn't understand Jews.
Best part of story, including ending: I loved this story due to the authentic time period, the highly riveting plot and the fact that Gretchen realized that Jewish people were the same as herself.

Best scene in story: Escaping through Berlin with Nazi's chasing Gretchen and a wounded Daniel was riveting. I sat on the edge of my seat hoping they would escape.

Opinion about the main character: What I loved most about Gretchen was that she was so easy to love and understand. I was moved by her thoughts and feelings throughout the story.

The review of this Book prepared by Karenann Knotoff a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Prison of Night and Fog

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Conflict:    -   Holocaust

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   blue collar Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   German

Setting

City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Anne Blankman Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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