At the very beginning of the First World War, when many folk in Germany still had enough to eat, there lived three hungry sisters. Sofie, the oldest, had restless gray eyes, the color of the ocean on a stormy day. Amalia's eyes were the steady brown of newly plowed potato fields. Dora's shone blue as the Virgin Mary's robes.
At ages nine, eight, and seven these girls didn't have to be told the world was dangerous. They knew from their mother's worried face and how she said it would be only for a short while but they had to be good, no trouble to anyone, and spend their days locked safely in the room rented from Frau Becker-a tight white room with a bed, a chamber pot, some crates that served as table and chairs, one high shelf, a plain wooden crucifix, and the necessary nearness of sisters.