What is Frau Diller's golden rule in The Book Thief?

Frau Diller's golden rule is that shoppers must greet her with "heil Hitler" when they enter her store.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Frau Diller, the "aryan," is a shopkeeper on Himmel Street. She is a devoted Nazi sympathizer. Her "golden rule" is that, in order to be served in her shop, people must greet her with "heil Hitler."

Frau Diller's rule is a kind of passive-aggressive way of enforcing or cultivating Nazi values. This is certainly her intent with Rudy and Liesel, who visit her shop, hoping to buy the candy that she has somehow obtained despite all the rationing and food shortages. It also can be thought of as an attempt to ensure the political appropriateness of her clientele. By requiring that every transaction start with a submissive "heil Hitler," she is making it very clear where her sympathies lie.

In fact, the spirit behind the "heil Hitler" was the only "free thing" people could get in her shop. Diller is a deeply suspicious person, and her forbidding personality casts a kind of pall over the shop that helped discourage even the thought of stealing. So in a sense, the "heil Hitler" she returned to customers was less of a greeting than a kind of free advice: in her shop, one had better be respectful to the Fuhrer, whose portrait overlooked all the goings-on with a smug smile.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on