Bloom asked:

On page 101, the judge says, "there are matters one simply cannot get drawn into, that one must distance oneself from, if the price is not life and limb." What does this mean? "if the price is not life and limb"?

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Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I took it to mean there are situations you shouldn't involve yourself in, unless you are forced to (because of a hefty price like protecting your life and self-defense.)
Ted I believe this quote is in reference to the character Hanna Smitz asking the judge at her trial what she should have done–'should I not have joined Siemens?' The judge is saying unless one's life is in peril, one should never be party to an organization such as the Waffen SS (or any immoral structure). Hanna seems to have voluntarily left Siemens (a civilian manufacturer) for a job in a military arm of the Nazi government. Doing this, she became culpable for horrendous deeds perpetrated in Auschwitz and elsewhere while she was present.

The interesting thing about this point and the book/film in general is we must ask ourselves how aware of these things could Hanna have been? She was illiterate and apparently uneducated. Did she know that what the Nazi administration was doing was wrong? It's interesting because the author has chosen a character whose obvious flaws permit us to empathize with her. And yet she worked for the SS, which was an abhorrent organization that committed some of the foulest deeds of the twentieth century. I think he chose this character because much of the western world tends to–myself included–whitewash Germans with the deeds of the Nazis. The book addresses this point, ie didn't everyone of that generation know what was happening in Germany? It's hard not to broadly assign blame and rightly so. The Nazi machine was a behemoth with plenty of moving parts with many many roles that supported it.

But then he isolates this one character and makes her the idol of a love-sick teenager. In his puppy eyes she is beautiful and we see through those eyes before ever learning of her awful past. It's rife with contradictions. Hanna could have released the Jewish prisoners from the burning church but chose not to supersede the authority above her. When she first finds the protagonist sick in the street, she takes care of him and mothers him. This leads to an affair that becomes the love of the protagonist's life. To me, the point of the book is raising those contradictions. Seeking justice for the holocaust is ultimately unsatisfying. For every Goring tried in Nuremberg, thousands of men and women went unpunished. That said, Hanna was a Nazi but was she malicious? Was it her intent to inflict harm? These are the questions the author leaves us with.
Williams There are things one ought not to think about, ought not to associate oneself with, things that should not be forget, but things that should not be present in our all-day life. The protagonist tries to understand the situation Hanna was in by visiting a concentration camp and the misery which can still be felt on such places and he realises that he can't "understand" Hanna AND on the other hand judge her.

"life and limb" shows that there are things can threaten you in a physical and psychological dimension you ought not to be in contact with (being "guilty" of Hanna's crime).
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