Page 77. " Like cigarettes and kerosene. "
Kerosene Lamp
Public DomainKerosene Lamp - Credit: В. Журов (VladimirZhV)

Kerosene is another name for paraffin. It was a popular fuel for lamps before electricity became widespread, because it was cheap and plentiful.

 

Page 78. " The German invasion of Poland had begun "

German Army in Warsaw, 1939
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGerman Army in Warsaw, 1939 - Credit: Deutsches Bundesarchiv
Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later, after Hitler failed to heed a demand to call off the invasion.

By mid-October, Poland’s land had been divided between Germany, the Soviet Union, Slovakia and Lithuania.

Page 80. " Watschen = a good hiding "

Corporal punishment in Germany’s schools was common until the 1970s. It was not completely outlawed until 1983.

Page 90. " They enjoyed a good book-burning all right "

Nazi Book Burning
Public DomainNazi Book Burning
Book-burnings began to take place in 1933, organized by the Nazi-controlled Press and Propaganda office of the German Student’s Union. On May 10th, thousands of nationalist students in university towns across Germany took to the streets to demonstrate against “un-German” literature, culminating in a mass burning of all such books. This paved the way for total Nazi control in press, publishing and radio.

 

Page 94. " When school broke up briefly for Weihnachten "
Christmas Eve
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeChristmas Eve - Credit: Kumpfel
Weihnachten is Christmas. The main celebrations occur on Christmas Eve (Heiligabend: Holy Night) when a special meal is cooked and presents are exchanged (bescherung).
Page 94. " Faust the Dog by Mattheus Ottleberg and The Lighthouse by Ingrid Rippinstein "

These are sadly both fictitious books.