What is the setting of The Book Thief?

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The setting for The Book Thief is a sad, bleak neighborhood on Himmel Street.  Himmel Street is located in the fictional town of Molching, Germany.  According to the novel Molching was located close to Munich, Germany.  The story starts in 1939 at the beginning of World War II and the story continues on into the war years.  Nine-year-old Liesel Meminger lives in the deserted neighborhood.  All of the Jewish people are gone and their stores, homes, and neighborhoods have been burned to the ground.  The Hubermans are suffering and struggling to make ends meet. Rosa does laundry and Hans is a painter.

“The story is set in Germany during World War II. Liesel's father was taken away because of suspicions that he was a communist. At the beginning of the story, Liesel is on a train with her mother and brother; during the journey, Liesel's little brother dies.”

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The Book Thief begins with the introductory narration by Death. The narrative starts on a train in January 1939 travelling to the fictional town of Molching, Germany. However, the rest of the setting pays close attention to the actual historical events in Germany at the time it is set, which is during World War II. More specifically or more intimately, the setting of the story in this fictional town is the Hubermann household. This becomes Liesel's new home, so Hans and Rosa essentially become her foster parents. The war plays a major role in the novel, having first ripped Liesel's family apart then brings her together with the Hubermanns, Rudy, and Max. It is an interesting viewpoint of World War II because it is told by Death but through the eyes of a child. It's also interesting because it is told in the setting and perspective of German citizens during World War II, so we see the dichotomy of those who oppose the Nazis (like Hans) and those who support them (like Frau Diller and Hans Junior).

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What was the setting of The Book Thief based on?  

The Book Thief is based on the world of Nazi Germany during World War II, as researched by the book's author, Markus Zuzak. Much of the novel takes place in the town of Molching, Germany, where the main character, a young girl named Liesel, is sent to live with foster parents after her father is accused of being a communist. Molching is a fictional setting, but a town called Olching in Germany, which was near the Dachau concentration camp, may be the place Zuzak had in mind. The story adheres to the real situation in Germany at the time: persecution of Jews and communists, hunger, heavy Allied bombing of German cities, and severe penalties for even small acts of kindness to those deemed enemies of the state. 

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