"What's happening?" Annemarie asked when she and Ellen were alone with Papa in the living room. "Something's wrong. What is it?" Papa's face was troubled. "I wish that I could protect you children from this knowledge," he said quietly.
In this scene, Mr. Johansen is about to explain to Annemarie that the Germans are "relocating" the Jews. Annemarie has already found out that Jewish shops are being closed, but she does not understand the extent to which the Germans are after the Jews. Her father says that he wishes he could "protect [the] children from this knowledge." Mr. Johansen's inability to protect them is a demonstration of the way that war requires young children to be exposed to information they would normally not have to handle. Lack of knowledge is presented as a protection. But Mr. Johansen does not have the power to keep the knowledge from Annemarie. A delicate balance is established between how much a child needs to know in order to act safely and how much the information will destroy the child's trust in the world.