Summer of My German Soldier: Chapters 7-10
Chapter Seven begins with Patty looking out of the window of her hide-out. She sees a man with dark hair running below the railway embankment and recognizes him as Anton. She runs after him, shouting his name, and he looks pleased when he sees her. She reaches him and does not let go of his hand until the train passes.
The narrative shifts to the family eating a meal and Patty wishing that Anton could join them and be ‘invisible to everyone but me’. Her parents argue and Patty rushes off to vomit in the toilet. When her parents retire to bed, Patty gets up to collect some food for Anton. Her father wakes up and calls for her to eat her food and come back to bed, as this is the reason she gives for being up so late. She unpacks the food and does as she is told.
In Chapter Eight, Patty arises when she hears her father leave the house. She glimpses the newspaper and reads about the FBI capture of the eight Nazis. She worries about the item as it states that any person acting as a spy in wartime ‘shall suffer death’ and thinks this may apply to her for hiding Anton. She then reads about a soldier killed in the war and how he is regarded as a patriot for helping his country.
Whilst Ruth vacuums, Patty packs food and coffee for Anton and takes it to the hide-out (which is where she has left him). As he eats, he talks about his father and how the war started for him in the early 1930s. He was a history professor at the University of Göttingen. The president called him in to reprimand him for making jokes about Hitler sleeping with a doll. Furthermore, he was warned against making similar remarks again as the president would report him for treason. Not long after, in the summer of 1933, students and the S.S. stormed the university and burned books. Anton describes his father as choosing ‘acquiescence and life rather than resistance and death’.
Patty then enquires how Anton escaped from the prison camp and he explains how he pretended initially that he was wealthy; his excellent English allowed him to be believed and he claimed to have had an English governess. He bought the fake diamond pin from Patty in order to capitalize on this myth and bribed a guard with the supposed diamonds.
Anton then asks Patty why she has helped him and wonders if it is because she has German ancestry. He presumes this because her surname is Bergen. He wonders if her father is secretly sympathetic to the Nazi cause. He laughs when she says no, her family is Jewish. She tells him she took the risk to help him as she does not want anything terrible to happen to him.
When Patty goes on to Main Street in Chapter Nine, she notices there is more excitement than usual and it transpires that everybody knows about Anton’s escape. Some of the men wonder if he was planning to join the eight captured saboteurs and think he must have had help, but not from a guard as they are ‘good clean Americans’. Mr. Blakey also says he thinks there is a Nazi underground movement in the country.
Inside the store, the FBI question Patty’s father and ask if he remembers Reiker (Anton). He recalls him being in the store, but can offer no help. When they show the photograph to Sister Parker, she remembers Patty talking and laughing with him. Patty begins to cry when questioned about Anton and her father becomes angry with the FBI. He tells them to search his house, top and bottom, to prove his daughter would never help a Nazi. Pierce (one of the FBI men) calms the situation and says Reiker may pose a threat to national security. She answers his questions, but does not mention the diamond pin. The importance of the situation is enhanced by the 12 o’clock news when they hear that 15 spies have been rounded up by the FBI, and then Anton’s escape from the prison camp is mentioned.
A female reporter (Charlene Madlee) enters the store and asks for directions to the sheriff. Patty shows her the way and they start chatting; Patty asks Charlene how she became a reporter and tells her that she likes to read dictionaries. She then gives her directions to the prison camp and comes with her in the car. Charlene says this can be her first assignment and must write down anything relevant to the escape when they talk to the Commandant.
He informs them the dogs could not trace Reiker as none of his belongings could be found and he had had three men sitting on his bed so that he could read their fortunes. The doctor explains to them that Reiker has ‘a toughness of mind’ as he refused to believe in the Nazi doctrine. Both the doctor and the Commandant believe he escaped to find freedom and not to help the saboteurs.
Charlene drops Patty off at the store in Chapter Ten and says she will send her an autographed copy of the story. She also says she will show Patty around the newspaper offices when she next visits her grandmother. Patty enters the store as Anton has advised her to remain ‘visible’ and act as she usually does. However, her father tells her to go home as there is a criminal on the loose.
At home, she takes Anton more food and some clothes including an unopened shirt she bought her father a year ago for father’s day. She recalls the excitement of buying it and having his initials (H.B.) ironed on to it. She imagined her father’s excitement and how he would treat her like a long-lost daughter. Instead, he just thanked her and put it aside. By contrast, Anton is pleased with his gift.
She tells Anton about the events of the day and he is surprised at the fuss his escape has caused. He understands the situation when she informs him of the captured saboteurs and how people think his escape may be related. He says he will tell his family of her kindness when he returns home and she hopes he will take her with him.
When she leaves the hide-out, Freddy comes over to talk to her. She thinks of him as ‘simple’ and likes him because he does not laugh at her. She sees that they are both outcasts. Her mother and father drive up unexpectedly and her father shouts at her for disobeying him. He then beats her and Anton runs up to protect her. Patty is horrified he will be caught and screams ‘no’. Anton returns to his hiding place unseen by her father.
The rising sense of paranoia in the town is described in Chapter Nine as the assumption is made that the escaped prisoner (Anton) is in cahoots with the saboteurs. Allusions to blind patriotism are also made when the same men dismiss the idea that guards could have helped him, as these are all ‘good clean Americans’. This ignorance is contrasted with the details Anton gives of his educated background, but there is also a parallel as the story of his father’s plight in Nazi Germany demonstrates the dangers of such blind patriotism. We are told that the fears of being seen as a traitor were one element in allowing the Nazis to have such dictatorial powers.
When Patty gives Anton a shirt she bought for her father, she symbolically rejects her father in favor of him. Anton’s friendship is brief, but he is clearly concerned for her as, at the end of Chapter Ten, he risks his freedom to help her.