Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief”, is a story, narrated by Death, is about the life and experiences of a girl named Liesel, and how she lives her life during the period of WWII, also known as the Holocaust. Liesel starts off as a young child who has a brother and mother. Her brother dies, and she is quickly moved into the care of a foster family — the Hubermanns. In her new home, she learns about the war, and learns how to keep secrets… secrets of a Jewish “fugitive” hiding in their basement. Should she be unable to stay silent, the Führer will silence everyone she loves. And yet, as in all wars, life goes on. Liesel makes friends, finds that she loves her new family, and most importantly… learns to read, and learns the potential of words. The author shows us that words hold remarkable power, and how they can manipulate and divide people, or connect and join them together.
The most prominent example of the influence of words is Führer and his quite literal conquest of Germany and the world through the use of this weapon. Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man who seeks refuge in Liesel’s home, writes the book The Word Shaker, to emphasize his thoughts on Adolf Hitler. It states, “The young man wandered around for quite some time, thinking, planning, and figuring out exactly how to make the world his. Then one day, out of nowhere, it struck him—the perfect plan … “Words!” He grinned. … Yes the Führer decided that he would rule the world with words.” (Zusak 445) And so he did. Adolf Hitler brainwashed people, and massacred Jews—through the use of words. Eventually, Hitler’s conniving plan to use words marked an unforgettable event in history; the Holocaust. Hitler manipulated Germany to make decisions and commit actions that were morally wrong. In this way, Hitler ended up using the power of words to create one of largest genocides in the history of mankind.
Another example, though less obvious, is during the air raids. When all the frightened civilians of the neighborhood rush to the closest bomb shelter—in this case the Fiedlers basement, Liesel reading words from the Whistler was what prevent mass panic during those fearful and anxious moments. Originally, children were crying and wailing and adults were petrified or expressing their fear in some other manner. At the sound of Liesel’s voice, “… a quietness started bleeding through the crowded basement…. She didn’t dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out…. For at least twenty minutes, she handed out the story. The youngest kids were soothed by her voice, and everyone else saw visions of the whistler running from the crime scene.” (Zusak 381).