What does Death reveal in regards to the war and the situation in Germany in The Book Thief?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Death reveals that, due to the devastation of World War II (and the behavior of the Nazis), the situation in Germany is very grave.  In short, death is everywhere.  In fact, death becomes a main theme of the book in the same way that Death is a very important character (the narrator).

The two parts of your question are linked.  The situation in Germany is a direct result of World War II and the Nazi regime.  Death reveals that he needs both a “mop” and a “broom” in order to collect all of the souls leaving their bodies due to the amount of death in the concentration camps and in the bombing raids.  In regards to the Nazi treatment of the Jews, Death is sure to tell us that there are vast numbers of ways the Jewish people die.  The Jews die by the thousands within the concentration camps (one of which is located near Liesel’s town).  The Jews die on trains headed to those concentration camps.  The Jews die if they are caught in homes where they are hiding.  However, it is not only the Jewish people being killed. 

The situation in Germany becomes worse as the war progresses due to the bombing raids of the Allies.  Suddenly, it is not just the Jewish people who are dying, but any Germans in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Near the end of the book, Liesel and everyone in her town are hurried into bomb shelters.  Then, of course, there is the climax of the book where Liesel is one of the lone survivors of a bombing raid.  Rudy, Rosa, Hans, and most of her neighbors are killed. 

Death, as a character, is required to be most everywhere in Germany just as the theme of death is everywhere in The Book Thief.