Werner and his fellow soldiers travel east from Germany, toward Russia. From the train, he sees trees and snow, but almost no human beings. His captain refuses to believe that Werner is 18, and mocks him for being puny. Nevertheless, he shows Werner his radio equipment and tells him that he’ll be in charge of all of it. At the end of his first day stationed on the Russian front, Werner notices a big man who looks oddly familiar—it’s the assistant from the Institute, Volkheimer.
It’s extraordinarily lucky that Werner has been assigned to Volkheimer’s unit, since it means that he’ll have a friend looking out for him at least. It’s possible that Volkheimer has arranged for Werner to be sent to his division—but it’s also possible that this is a random coincidence. The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was the beginning of the end for Hitler, as he extended his troops too far and became embroiled in conflicts on all fronts. The harsh Russian winter also killed many German troops. It is into this cruel, unforgiving environment that Werner is now heading.