Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Gauleiter Erich Koch Character Analysis

A high-ranking Nazi official tasked with overlooking East Prussia. A real person, in the book he collaborates with Florian and Dr. Lange to repair and consolidate European art and artifacts stolen by the Nazis. He appears primarily in Florian’s memories of the past for the first two thirds of the novel, but nearly exposes Florian’s true identity in the final chapters. The Blonde Nazi who checks Florian’s papers as he boards the Wilhelm Gustloff is suspicious of Florian, and so sends a wire to Koch verifying that he knows the teenager. Koch responds that he does, but also wants to know where the key to the Amber Room is, causing Florian to fear that Koch will track him down.
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Gauleiter Erich Koch Character Timeline in Salt to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Gauleiter Erich Koch appears in Salt to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
19. Florian
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...Lange was not as wonderful as he seemed. For starters, he collaborated with Gauleiter Erich Koch, a high-ranking Nazi official. Additionally, one day Florian was in a back room and found... (full context)
60. Florian
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
...special envoy carrying a special package. The soldier wonders if Florian is trying to meet Koch, who has signed his papers and will be in Pillau. Florian says he is instead... (full context)
82. Florian
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...later Florian found his unopened letters in Dr. Lange’s drawer. This is when he realized “Koch and Lange weren’t saving the treasures of Europe. They were stealing them. And, unknowingly, I... (full context)
84. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
...and her friends. He also tells her about Florian and his special mission for Gauleiter Koch. Alfred brags, “my catalog of heroics is growing so rapidly I can scarcely keep track.” (full context)
87. Florian
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...becomes that Lange will have found him out. He has a sudden thought that Erich Koch might be waiting on the docks for him. (full context)
109. Florian
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...in the military. Florian gives him the medical testimony, and the forged document from Gauleiter Koch. The soldier is angry that Florian did not provide him with all of his papers... (full context)
118. Joana
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
The blonde Nazi reveals that Florian is a courier for Gauleiter Koch, and that Florian claimed Joana was assigned, by Koch, as his personal nurse. The soldier... (full context)
123. Florian
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...She slaps Florian. She’s angry that he forged a letter, and that he claimed Erich Koch appointed her. She’s also angry that he’s putting her in danger. She remembers Ingrid and... (full context)
124. Joana
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...Florian to tell her the truth. He explains that he isn’t really carrying anything for Koch, but that he is carrying the amber swan. He stole this out of revenge after... (full context)
126. Florian
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Florian wonders if Joana is telling the truth, and if Koch really has been wired. It is now nighttime, and as the ship sleeps, Florian goes... (full context)
128. Joana
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
The blonde Nazi returns to the maternity ward. Koch has written back and has a message for Florian. Curious, Joana asks about it. It... (full context)
132. Florian
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...in the woods. He considers using it to disembark the ship without incident, especially since Koch is looking  for him. (full context)
135. Florian
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
...respective families. They make a plan to meet up later. As she leaves, Joana relays Koch’s message to Florian. He is uneasy. Dr. Lange has died. Florian believes he is next. (full context)