Part 3: Mein Kampf
The Way home
Out of guilt, Liesel showed The Shoulder Shrug to her papa on their way home. Hans – despite being worried of its supposedly anti-Nazi content – made a light joke about it.That was when he came up with an idea. He made Liesel promised that if he would ever ask her to keep a secret, she would do it, in exchange for not telling Rosa about the stolen book. A few days later, Hans gathered a dozen cigarettes and what precious little money he had to trade for a used copy of Mein Kampf. On his way back, he overheard a group of men talking behind his back about how he would never get into the party. Hans, however, did not seem to care much.
The Mayor’s Library
Liesel became very paranoid with the fact that the mayor’s wife caught her red-handed. She refused to pick the laundry from the mayor’s house until Rosa forced her to. For insurance, she asked Rudy to go with her. Surprisingly, the mayor’s wife said nothing about her crime, which convinced Liesel that maybe she got away with it. She didn’t.
After a few weeks, on one regular laundry pick-up, the mayor’s wife greeted her with a tower of books instead of laundry bag. Predictably, Liesel was tempted into going inside, where she found her personal heaven: a library. Fascinated and overwhelmed, she ran her hand along the shelves and offered the mayor’s wife to put the books back into their place. When it was time to go, it took her three attempts to leave the place. On her way back, she mentally cursed herself for not showing any gratitude to the mayor’s wife and therefore, decided to run back to deliver her late ‘Thank you.’
Enter the Struggler
For the first time, the focus of the story shifted. In Stuttgart, a Jew named Max hid in a dark storage room. He was staving, he lost track of time and he afraid to sleep. A friend briefly entered and gave Max a bag of food and a book secretly containing a fake identity card, map, key, and directions. He promised to be back in a few days before leaving Max in the dark again. While painfully eating the given food, Max imagined having to beg a stranger he was to travel to – Hans Hubermann.
The Attributes of summer
In 1940, there were four attributes that concerned Liesel:
- Reading The Shoulder Shrug. The book was obviously banned due to having a Jewish protagonist. After her nightmare, she and Hans would make their way through the book.
- Reading in the mayor’s library. She would read many books at a time, memorizing a few paragraphs from each. Once, she saw a childishly-written name inside the cover of a picture book: Johann Hermann. Johann was the mayor’s son who froze to death in 1918. Feeling that it was inappropriate to ask, Liesel apologized to Ilsa, the mayor’s wife, who apparently still suffered from the loss.
- Playing Himmel Street soccer and, meanwhile, attempt to apologize to Tommy Muminger, the innocent bystander she unintentionally beat up.
- Seeking for golden opportunity for stealing. Liesel and Rudy, both starved for decent food, joined a gang led by Arthur Berg. Liesel was recognized for beating up one of the members’ brother, while Rudy was recognized for his Jesse Owens imitation. Later on, the gang performed a robbery where Liesel and Rudy received a dozen apples. Their reward was split in half and eaten in one afternoon. As a result, Liesel got sick afterward.
The Aryan Shopkeeper
On a particularly happy day, Liesel and Rudy found a coin on the street. Despite their hope, it was enough to buy only a single candy. Unable to divide it in half, they traded it between each other; ten sucks each until the candy was finished.
The Struggler, Continued
The focus was shifted back to Max Vandenburg. After a week and a half worth of waiting, Walter Kugler returned to Max as promised. Walter got a call to the war front, and therefore it was their last meeting. He gave Max a train ticket to Munich, slipping it into the book he previously gave – Mein Kampf. On November 3rd, Max made it to the station and boarded a train with a poor collection of shaving materials and chunk of guilt.
Back to Liesel, her mama just lost another washing client, leaving them only two customers remained. As Liesel and Rudy progressed on with their robbery, their greatest opportunity arrived. They robbed a classmate, who carried food to the priests every Friday by his bicycle. With a trap, they knocked him off his bike and managed to steal several broken eggs, bread and a ham. They then loyally gave the food to Arthur, who cooked and shared them between their members. Six days later, the gang attempted to steal some potato, but this time, the farmer was armed with an ax. During their escape, Rudy was caught on the fence. Liesel ran back for him, as well as Arthur, despite his previous claim of leaving him behind. A few weeks after the incident, Arthur moved to Cologne and gave a bag of chestnuts to Liesel as a parting gift. She and Rudy ate one each, and then sold the rest door to door. As revenge, they used all the money buying mixed candy from Frau Diller, who previously gave them only one piece.
Arthur was never seen again by his gang members, but he was seen by Death, who came to pick up his sister.
The Struggler, Concluded
With guilt eating away his heart, Max Vandenburg arrived on the Hubermann’s front steps.