Student Question

Which ten percent of Germans does Hans belong to in The Book Thief?

Quick answer:

Hans is a part of the ten percent of Germans who did not support Hitler.

Expert Answers

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

Hans is part of the ten percent of Germans who did not "unflinching[ly]" support Hitler.

Although the gentle Hans hates Hitler and the Nazi regime, he clearly understands he has to lead a double life. He must pretend to be loyal to the party so that he can survive. He passes this idea of having a hidden inner life and set of beliefs to Liesel. He hits Liesel when she says she hates Hitler. He conveys to her that she can say that in the house, but not in public, because it is too risky. He has her practice saluting Hitler so that she is not seen as a disloyal German. Liesel, who respects Hans, understands that he is not being a hypocrite in doing this, but helping them all to survive.

Hans's actions are realistic within the context of the Nazi police state. No dissent was tolerated, and people were encouraged to report any hints of disloyalty to the Gestapo.

Hans is a humble house painter who can easily blend in with a crowd and go unnoticed. He is "barely visible" to other people, which keeps attention away from his illegal actions, such as harboring a Jewish boy. Like Hitler, he fought in World War I. Because of Hans's persona as a good German and his ability to hide his true feelings, Max is protected.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial