The Book Thief

by: Markus Zusak

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
“They were French, they were Jews, and they were you.”

Part Six ends with this quote, which comes just after Death has interrupted his story of Liesel to show the situation across Europe, where Jews are dying in the gas chambers of concentration camps. Up to this point the narrative has mainly concerned non-Jewish Germans in Liesel’s neighborhood, with a few references to the war outside Germany. Liesel is still leading a relatively untroubled life, playing soccer and running around with her friends. But Death deviates from Liesel’s story specifically to remind the reader that these atrocities were occurring, indicating that it’s necessary not to forget these horrors were occurring even if Liesel’s life was carrying on normally at the time. Moreover, by telling the reader that the people dying in the concentration camps were “you,” meaning the reader, he makes clear that they were no different from the reader. The technique implicates the reader in their suffering, even though it occurred in a different time and place, and in doing so makes that suffering feel urgent and immediate rather than distant.