having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy
Unlike the haughty or disdainful attitude of Kirsti or the sneering, scornful, and contemptuous attitudes of the soldiers (all the adjectives are semi-synonymous), Ellen is neither a somewhat spoiled five-year-old who doesn't know any better nor an armed invader of a country whose king had surrendered. Rather, Ellen is joking with Annemarie and repeating a role she'd performed in a school play.
Ellen stood on tiptoe again, and made an imperious gesture with her arm.
Compare to the synonymous "stern." "Harsh" also means "unkind or cruel or uncivil"--these adjectives apply less to the street soldiers who are simply doing their job and more to the soldiers who pound on the door at four in the morning, order Annemarie and Ellen out of bed, suggest that Mrs. Johansen had an affair with the milkman, and tear Lise's photograph in half to throw on the floor and grind with his boots.
These three uniformed men were different from the ones on the street corners. The street soldiers were often young, sometimes ill at ease, and Annemarie remembered how the Giraffe had, for a moment, let his harsh pose slip and had smiled at Kirsti.
"Tense" also means "in a state of physical or nervous strain"--both definitions apply to the parents; while their faces are physically rigid ("fixed and unmoving") in an attempt not to reveal Ellen as the daughter of the Jewish Rosens, they are also nervous about what could happen if the soldiers were to discover the truth.
Her parents were standing beside each other, their faces tense, but Kirsti was nowhere in sight.
"Apparently" also means "unmistakably"--since "it" refers to a kitten whom the girls do not know and who is acting the opposite of its feelings, they cannot unmistakably figure out it is pleased to have playmates. They can assume that's the case from its sudden appearance and following of them, and they can confirm later when the kitten purrs at being held in Ellen's arms.
It pretended to ignore the girls, but looked back often to be certain that they were still there, apparently pleased to have playmates.
Annemarie is trying to joke with her question and her mother laughs in her response: "They relocate all the farmers' butter, right into the stomach of their army!" But both realize that there is nothing funny about the relocation of the Jews, which as Mama's words suggest, does not simply mean moving into a new place.
“Don’t tell me the soldiers try to—what’s the word?—relocate butter, too?”
a mental representation of some haunting experience
Suddenly, here in this sunlit kitchen, with cream in a pitcher and a bird in the apple tree beside the door--and out in the Kattegat, where Uncle Henrik, surrounded by bright blue sky and water, pulled in his nets filled with shiny silver fish—suddenly the specter of guns and grim-faced soldiers seemed nothing more than a ghost story, a joke with which to frighten children in the dark.