The Book Thief

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I found that “The Book Thief” portrayed perfectly one of the greatest casualties of war – the truth. Markus Zusak writes about a young girl – Liesel Meminger – who is initially illiterate, however she realizes the importance and power behind words and stories and she hungers for them. She steals books in an effort to understand and eventually, under the tutelage of Hans Hubermann – her papa – she is able to immerse herself in the new ideas and truths conveyed in these stories. I believe Liesel Meminger being a book thief is very significant in this context. During Nazi Germany, Hitler had terrorized and destroyed people and nations with his words, convincing others of his anti-Semitic and anti-communist perspectives, murdering millions of Jews as a result. Throughout the novel Liesel becomes increasingly aware of the effect the Fuhrer’s words had on the war and finally understands that it was in fact the driving force behind the war. In what I believe was an attempt to try and restore understanding of the truth, as Hitler destroyed with his words, Liesel was stealing them back.

In this novel, I believe that the effect of war was quite specific. War had the ability to suppress the truth by providing the people with only one side of the story, and because war is the conflict between peoples this oppression was accepted by those who believed in this side of the story whole heartedly, and forced upon those who were unable to understand any better or those too powerless to do anything if they believed in the contrary. However, Liesel Meminger was able to uncover the truth the war hid and realize the power words could have on a nation.

During Hitler’s dictatorship, propaganda was constantly being released speaking in favour of the Fuhrer’s ideals. The novel shows that these words and stories published in the newspapers were enough to convince a nation to follow Hitler, with few exceptions. For a while in the novel, we are told of Liesel complying with the rules

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