Summary and Analysis Part 1: The Grave Digger's Handbook: Growing Up a Saumensch



Liesel has hair that Death calls "a close enough brand of German blond" and brown eyes, which are considered dangerous because, during the time of Nazi Germany, one did not want dark brown eyes. She thinks that maybe she got them from her father, but she does not remember what he looked like. She just knows that he was labeled a Communist, a strange word to her. Also in this chapter, we learn more about Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans loves to smoke, but even more he enjoys rolling his cigarettes. He is a painter and plays the piano accordion. Rosa is harsh and calls Liesel a Saumensch, a girl pig, and does the washing and ironing for five wealthy families in Molching. She is gruff but loves Liesel and asks her to call her Mama and Hans Papa.


With the description of Liesel, Death alludes to the ruling Nazi Party's attempt to create an Aryan race of superior Germans with blond hair and blue eyes. Also, words continue to play a key role in Liesel's life. The word Communist is something that she hears but doesn't understand, but it carries enough power to result in the disappearance of her father. Another word that takes on great import is Saumensch, a name that Rosa calls Liesel when she does something wrong or is bothersome, but over time, Liesel comes to recognize this as a gruff term of endearment. She takes comfort in this in much the same way she takes comfort in Hans's cigarettes and accordion music.