Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Nikolai Kretszky Character Analysis

A blonde NKVD soldier who seems to take pleasure in torturing Lina, Elena, and the other deportees. Under circumstances Lina does not fully understand, Elena manages to strike up a friendship with Kretszky. When Elena dies, Kretszky expresses remorse at her loss, recalling how he felt when he lost his own mother. He ultimately defects from the class and alerts higher-ranking officials in the Soviet Union of the horrors in the camps, bringing relief that, although it does not immediately release the prisoners, at least saves them from imminent death.

Nikolai Kretszky Quotes in Between Shades of Gray

The Between Shades of Gray quotes below are all either spoken by Nikolai Kretszky or refer to Nikolai Kretszky. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of Between Shades of Gray published in 2012.
Chapter 51 Quotes

I grabbed our family photo and stuffed it up my dress. I would hide it on the way to the kolkhoz office. Kretszky didn’t notice. He stood motionless, holding his rifle, staring at all the photographs.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Nikolai Kretszky
Related Symbols: Family Photos
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 66 Quotes

Mother grabbed my arm. Pain shot up into my shoulder. She spoke through clenched teeth. “We don’t know. Do you hear me? We don’t know what he is. He’s a boy. He’s just a boy.” Mother let go of my arm. “And I’m not lying with him,” she spat at Jonas. “How dare you imply such a thing.”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas, Nikolai Kretszky
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 82 Quotes

“No, I saw it. She was pretty. Krasivaya.”
No. Not that word. I was supposed to learn it on my own. Not from Kretszky.
“It means beautiful, but with strength,” he slurred. “Unique.”

Related Characters: Nikolai Kretszky (speaker), Lina Vilkas, Elena Vilkas, Andrius Arvydas
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 84 Quotes

“Dr. Samodurov, how did you find us?” I asked him.
“Nikolai Kretszky,” was all he said.

Related Characters: Dr. Samodurov (speaker), Lina Vilkas, Nikolai Kretszky
Page Number: 334
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nikolai Kretszky Character Timeline in Between Shades of Gray

The timeline below shows where the character Nikolai Kretszky appears in Between Shades of Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 35
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...that he has found out the name of the blond guard who oversees the digging: Kretszky. Lina tells Andrius she wants to send a letter to Kostas in the nearby post... (full context)
Chapter 37
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...the commander is just trying to scare them into signing the documents. The blond guard Kretszky helps Lina out of the hole. They dig in silence for the rest of the... (full context)
Chapter 43
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
One day while in the beet field, Kretzsky comes by looking for someone who can draw. Lina is nervous that they have found... (full context)
Chapter 51
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...break up the Christmas Eve celebration to try and intimidate them to sign the documents. Kretszky stands motionless, staring at all the photographs. (full context)
Chapter 54
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The commander tells Kretszky to give Lina bread. Lina protests, since she was supposed to receive more as compensation.... (full context)
Chapter 55
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...the children. A can cuts Lina’s face. When a sack hits Jonas, the officers cheer. Kretszky tells the children he is going to report them for stealing food. They quickly grab... (full context)
Chapter 63
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...and eventually stop and are allowed to relieve themselves in the grass at a field. Kretszky is also on the truck with them. They then stop at a train station and... (full context)
Chapter 65
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...they get off the train, Elena collapses, and others quickly help her up. She sees Kretszky and greets him as “Nikolai.” The deportees lie on the ground until morning, and Jonas... (full context)
Chapter 66
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...to cover up since the guards are watching. Jonas then accuses Elena of sleeping with Kretszky. Elena grabs Lina’s arm painfully and harshly rebukes Jonas for implying such a thing. The... (full context)
Chapter 68
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...one knows where they are going. When they stop to load more supplies, they overhear Kretszky arguing with the commander that he wants to stay off of the barge. However, the... (full context)
Chapter 71
Genocide Theme Icon
...in case the opportunity to steal presents itself. Jonas notices that Elena is talking to Kretszky. (full context)
Chapter 72
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...to feed her children. The polar night begins and the days and nights are freezing. Kretszky sees them, and throws pieces of wood at them to use for firewood. The first... (full context)
Chapter 75
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...survive. When she goes to the wood stacks, she sees Elena talking to Ivanov and Kretszky. Ivanov laughs, mimes shooting a gun to his head, and leaves. Elena flinches and her... (full context)
Chapter 76
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...tries, she can only picture her father’s bloody face through the bathroom hole. She hopes Kretszky had the wrong information, and that there is a mistake. She feels her drawings have... (full context)
Chapter 78
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...all they can do is pray. In the jurta, Elena tells Lina to apologize to Kretszky for saying she hated him. Elena reveals that he once helped her escape from near-rape... (full context)
Chapter 79
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...“doctor,” “medicine,” “mother,” and “please.” She goes to the NKVD barracks in the hopes that Kretszky can help her mother. Ivanov laughs at her and tells her to leave, and takes... (full context)
Chapter 81
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...a funeral procession, and eventually many deportees join in the march and pray for Elena. Kretszky sees the procession and becomes silent when he realizes it is for Elena. (full context)
Chapter 82
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...coming, and Lina goes to steal extra firewood despite the danger this poses. She encounters Kretszky, who is drinking behind the NKVD barracks. Slurring, he tells her that he could tell... (full context)
Chapter 83
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Lina is confused as to why she comforted Kretszky despite her deep hatred of the NKVD. The next day, Kretszky is gone. February arrives,... (full context)
Chapter 84
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...asks how the doctor knew to come to the camp, all he replies is “Nikolai Kretzsky.” (full context)