Summary and Analysis
Part 2: The Shoulder Shrug:
100 Percent Pure German Sweat
Later that same day, on Hitler's birthday, Liesel marches with the Hitler Youth divisions and gathers around the bonfire to watch them burn enemy propaganda. A man in a Nazi uniform stands behind a podium and shouts a speech, warning the crowd to protect themselves against those who are destroying Germany. He names Jews and communists, and Liesel thinks of her father, mother, and brother.
With the power of a single word, Kommunisten, Liesel begins to see who took not only her father away but also her mother and brother. This chapter illustrates how a single word can have a powerful impact. The Nazi Party can cheer alongside a pile of burning books, but Liesel will still seek out these words — and the ideas — that the Nazi Party wants to keep out of her mind. The book burning further serves to show how the Nazi Party recognizes the power of words; not only does the man behind the podium invigorate the crowd with his anti-Semitic and anti-communist speech, but he also represents the entire Nazi Party and its attempt to keep people from words and ideas that contradict those of Hitler's regime.