Self Sacrifice In The Book Thief By Markus Zusak

1428 Words6 Pages
Nazi Germany. To the outside world it may have seemed like one hundred percent of the population was anti-Jew and pro-Hitler. But what most people don’t realize is that there were two sides to this country. One was for Hitler. They were members of the Nazi Party and eager to see the end of “the Jewish problem.” They were the majority. The other side was just regular people, risking their lives to save their Jewish friends. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, does an excellent job of showcasing both sides. This is where self-sacrifice comes into play. Self-sacrifice is one of the main themes throughout The Book Thief.
The theme self-sacrifice is first established in the beginning of The Book Thief. The first example takes place at the start of
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The next example occurs when Max, a young Jewish man, shows up at the Hubermann’s doorstep. On page 196 the text says, “Max made his way to Munich and Molching, and now he sat in a stranger’s kitchen, asking for the help he craved and suffering the condemnation he felt he deserved.” During this period of time, harboring a Jew was incredibly dangerous, as it was punishable by being taken away to labor camps, or worse, getting handed over to Death. The Hubermanns were committing an almost inconceivable act of self-sacrifice by hiding Max. This is furthered when, following Max’s arrival, the Nazi Party begins checking basements to see if they would make a good air raid shelter. For instance, on page 340 the text displays, “As the Nazis progressed down the street, painting the letters LSR on some of the doors, the ball was passed through the air to one of the bigger kids, Klaus Behrig. The boy turned with the ball just as Liesel arrived, and they collided with such force that the game stopped automatically.” When Liesel discovers that the NSAPD is checking houses, she swiftly figures out a way to warn her family, although it could mean injury. She is sacrificing herself so that her family will have a chance to notify Max to hide. To some this may seem like a very small sacrifice, but Liesel is just a young girl and this small sacrifice very well could have been the difference between the Nazis…show more content…
Almost every chapter has an example of it. One of the strongest examples comes on page 394 during the first “parade of Jews.” “The Jew stood before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watched with everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented a piece of bread like magic.” There are thousands of different ways a person could see this. Idiotic, kind, suicidal, beautiful, and thoughtless are all options. However, not a single person could say that it came without consequences. Hans may have done it as reflex, and he may not have realized it as he was giving the bread, but this act no matter what a person calls it was undoubtedly a staggering act of self-sacrifice. Furthermore, on page 418 the reader sees again the love of a parent and how much they would give up for their child. “She wondered how many letters like that were sent out as punishment to Germany’s Hans Hubermanns and Alex Steiners- to those who helped the helpless, and refused to let go of their children. It was a sign of the German army’s growing desperation.” The Nazis are very impressed with both Rudy’s test scores and his olympian like athletic ability. Their desperation leads them to try and draft Rudy into an army camp where he would train until being sent to war. However, when they approach Rudy's parents, his parents say, “No you can’t have him.” Alex Steiner knew that saying “No” would
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