The Upstairs Room

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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In the story, The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss, the setting is emphasized. This story takes place during the Holocaust, a very important significant time in history. The Upstairs Room is about the lives of two Jewish sisters during the war, but it focuses on the events happening around them.

During the story, the two sisters, Sini and Annie, went into hiding so they wouldn't be sent to a concentration camp. This showed how at this time all Jews "“ men, women, and children were in danger of being sent away to a concentration camp and fighting for their lives. Sini and Annie were confined to the upstairs of the house in which they were being kept in secrecy. They could never go into town and they usually had to stay in bed when company was over so they didn't make any noise. The lives that these girls were living represented the lives of all Jews in hiding during the Holocaust.

During the war, the German soldiers would go to town and randomly select people off the streets to work for them. Because of this, the family hiding Sini and Annie also had to be careful. They had to limit the times they went to town to buy food and other necessary items. When they did go to town they had to make sure they didn't do anything suspicious to make people wander if they were hiding Jews. They couldn't buy too much food or material for clothes because they didn't before the war and they wanted people to think everything was the same.

In the story one of the major events that took place would be listening to the radio every evening. The family, Sini, and Annie would gather around the radio and listen to hear any new news about the progress of the war. On the radio stories of Hitler would be told. One story mentioned was about the gas chambers at the concentration camps. The broadcaster said that people at the camps were told they were allowed to receive a shower, but instead of water, gas would come out and kill the Jews.

One last important incident that occurred during the Holocaust in the story was house checks by the soldiers. The German soldiers would occasionally invade your house and search it to be sure that you were not hiding anybody. In The Upstairs Room, Sini and Annie had a hiding place in the wall to stay in when the soldiers came for house checks. By reading The Upstairs Room, much can be learned of the many events and things that took place during the Holocaust by the descriptive setting.

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