The Book Thief

The world can be a cruel place, but there are those select few people who make the world just a little bit better. Hans Hubermann, a character from the novel, The Book Thief, displays his true act of kindness towards multiple characters during the horrific time of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Hans’ portrayal of kindness of varying degrees whether it was minimal or extreme, was so powerful that it transformed the lives of people around him. Hans Hubermann is a patient, and gentle man, who shows his true character in trying circumstances.

His first encounter of displaying kindness was when he adopted a little girl, Liesel Meminger, whose family had suffered under the harsh treatment of Nazi power. Liesel is a reserved and distraught girl, but soon feels welcomed by her new family. Hans’ quiet and gentle demeanor and soft silver eyes are what Liesel finds comforting about her stepfather. Liesel and Hans built a strong relationship through their love of words. In the late hours some nights when Liesel had nightmares about her family, Hans comforted her and began teaching her how to read and write on small scraps of sandpaper.

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They would stay up for hours scribbling the alphabet on the scraps of paper no bigger than size of one’s hand, with just a small candle lighting up the room. Hans is the perfect father figure for Liesel, by his commitment to her education and teaching her to think for herself, especially during troubled times in their country. Max Vandenburg, is a Jewish man who went into hiding for two years during the Nazi’s start of concentration camps. When Max stepped out of his storage unit, he was hit with the bitter cold weather of Germany and its dark feeling of emptiness. When Max first approached Hans’ house he was greeted by a fence and quaint home, connected to all the other homes on the street, much different than his dark and gloomy storage unit.

He looked down the street noticing how the houses seemed like they went for miles and miles. Max entered the home of the Hubermanns and felt a sense of warmness flow through his body. He gazed around the house taking in all the family pictures and comforting atmosphere, making him reflect back on his own family. Hans had Max stay in the cold and damp basement during the day where he felt utterly secluded from the outside world, but safe from terrifying Nazi soldiers. When Max arrived, his gaunt like face, pale complexion, and skinny figure portrayed his struggle of trying to stay alive during the two years in hiding, where he had very little food or daylight. Due to Max’s deteriorating condition, Hans gave Max food, that was really supposed to be for his family, but was soon scarfed down by the hungry man.

The soup they fed him was a very tasteless and muddy looking soup, with a smell as foul as rotten eggs. Hans gave him a bed, much more comfortable than sleeping on a cold cement floor in the basement. Max began interacting with the family at the dinner table talking about certain topics, and then would descend back down into the darkness of the basement. Hans’ sacrifice for a Jewish man is very risky but, was no trouble to him, because of how compassionate he is as a person. Hans has a deep sympathy for the jews during the gruesome time of the Holocaust.

Every few weeks, the Nazi soldiers would have the deprived Jewish prisoners parade through their hometown and citizens were able to watch the appalling treatment, the jews were experiencing, whether it was their scrawny figures, bony faces, or disgusting clothes. Watching the saddened prisoners shuffle their feet along, and hearing the clanking of the chains around their ankles and hands triggered something deep inside Hans. During one of the parades, Hans runs over to one of the Jewish men and gave him a crusty piece of bread, because he witnessed how weak and hungry he looked. Hans was whipped vigorously in the middle of the street by a Nazi soldier, in front of the other Jews and citizens, showing what happens when you help a Jew. Hans may have done a small act of kindness, but to the Jewish man, it impacted him greatly.

Hans wants to ease the suffering of the helpless man, which reminds him of Max, and disagrees with the harsh treatment that humans inflict upon other humans. Hans Hubermann represents a kind hearted person in any action he does, and displays how one character could impact the life of another. The Holocaust was a terrifying event for the Jewish race, and Hans’ kindness towards two Jewish men was completely selfless of him. His warm, inviting appearance is what makes him the character he is, and allows him to portray his kindness in all aspects of his life.