When Helmuth’s mother and grandparents back Hitler, believing that he will restore their national honor and strengthen the faltering economy, Helmuth continues to respect them despite his questioning of Hitler’s motives. Herr Vinke, Helmuth’s middle-school teacher, is outspoken in his support of Hitler. Helmuth first internalizes Herr Vinke’s comments, hoping to be seen as loyal, but he later questions the teacher, and this leads to Helmuth being perceived as a troublemaker.
When Helmuth’s mother dates and eventually marries Hugo, a highly regarded SS officer, Helmuth thinks Hugo is morally corrupt, but he maintains a respectful attitude toward his stepfather. He eventually is adopted by Hugo and even takes his surname. When Helmuth and his friends are interrogated for their alleged distribution of propaganda, Helmuth willingly cooperates with the SS, although he tries his best to avoid implicating his friends.