Gather Yourselves Together discussion

April > Part 2

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message 1: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments Wow, part 2 was great. When Liesel discovered what had probably happened to her mother, I think my heart broke. I did not see that coming. I probably should have, I guess. I don't know too much about what the Nazis did to Communists during WWII. Does anyone have any insight?

message 2: by Becca (new)

Becca | 160 comments The part that broke my heart was when Liesel's Papa slapped her for saying she hated Hitler. It just goes to show how series things were. He hated Hitler himself, but he knew what could happen to Liesel and the rest of the family if she was heard saying that.

message 3: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments Oh, that was sad too. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place where saying that could get you thrown in jail or worse. I'm glad I didn't live there/then.

message 4: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
Sorry I haven't been posting. After my IEP on Friday, I will be much more active.

It is sad and odd to think that this only happened 70ish years ago. It seems unimaginable that people could honestly believe in this madness. As I read, it seems like a story and then every once in awhile it's like a slap in the face when I once again come back to earth and realize, Oh wait, this really happened.

message 5: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
Well, you know what I mean. It IS a story, but it's rooted in a truthful past.

message 6: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments I do know what you mean. I was just reading this really horrible book about slavery and thinking how awful it was that people would do that to other people. But then you see the horrible things that people are still doing to each other even today.

message 7: by Erich (last edited May 14, 2009 10:47PM) (new)

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann (erichfranzlinnerguzmann) | 81 comments This book comes really close to home. Not in a way that I have actually ever been through anything like that, but just the stories that I have heard from my Grandparents who actually did live through it as children just like the Book Thief did.

My grandparent where LDS and Hitler didn't like them in the same way he didn't like the Jews. It was a little easier for them to hide from the Nazi's though because they didn't stand out like the Jews did. They did however have to hide from the Soviet’s also, which was definitely harder. The stories I had been told though was that not all the Nazi’s and Communist’s were bad to them. I was told a story by my grandmother once that a soldier from the Red Army had been going door to door looking for food and they got to my Grandma’s house and saw that there was no food and they were starving and even though my Grandmother was considered the enemy the Soviet soldier gave her some of his bread instead. There are good people on both sides that didn’t want to fight but really had no other choice. Look at the options that Papa has during The Book Thief; he was ostracized for not being part of the party and probably would be killed if he didn’t join. I have many pictures of men along the walls of my house of family that had been killed during the war. My Grandma’s 17 year old brother got hit with a grenade and he told my grandma several times that he would never pull the trigger on someone because he didn’t believe in Hitler’s war, but the Nazi’s dragged him off and forced him. It was brutal and I think this book does a good job of showing the innocent people that were effected by the war. Just think though 60 million people had lost their lives and most of Europe and large parts of Asia lay in ruins and I would bet that a very few were actually evil people.

I find it pretty funny though how the author writes little parts of the book in German and then repeats it in English. I don't know how many times I heard that growing up, ha! Meine Mutter “my Mother” und meine oma und mein opa, would always say something to me in German and then would just say the same thing in English, haha. Every time I read that in this book I laugh. Especially when they swear in an endearing way, I heard that all too often, such as, meine kleine Scheiße, haha.

I’m not too sure what the Nazi’s did to the Communist’s exactly and I guess it depends on the year also. Maybe it only happened when the German’s actually invaded the Soviet’s in 1941. The Germans called it Unternehmen Barbarossa “Operation Barbarossa”, because before that Germany and the Soviet Union had a pact, it was called The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which was ostensibly a non-aggression pact but secret protocols outlined an agreement between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union on the division of the border states between them and both invaded Poland in 1939. It kind of appears to me that the Soviet Union and Germany just feed off each other by destroying country after country all over Europe and other parts of the world. They both seemed like they wanted world dominance. I know that the book Mein Kampf "My Struggle or My Fight" that is mentioned numerous times in the book already, Hitler made his intentions clear in the book in 1925 to invade the Soviet Union, based on his assertion that the German people needed Lebensraum ("living space", i.e. land and raw materials) and that it should be sought in the east. The Nazi racial ideology cast the Soviet Union as populated by "untermenschen" ethnic Slavs ruled by their "Jewish Bolshevik" masters. Stalin’s contributed to the Nazi’s justification of their assault and to their faith in success because during the late 1930’s, Stalin had killed or incarcerated millions of citizens during the Great Purge, including large numbers of competent and experienced military officers, leaving the Red Army weakened and leaderless. If Stalin wasn’t just as evil I don’t think Hitler would have ever dared to invade the Red Army.

I know I didn’t really answer your question Meredith but I hope it helps you understand a little bit about the Communist’s and the Nazi’s a little bit better. :)

Oh, and sorry I didn’t mean for this to be a history lesson. I better get back to work :)

message 8: by Becca (new)

Becca | 160 comments Eric-
Thanks for the history lesson, I really enjoyed learning a little more about all this.

My husband's Great Uncle was in a concentration camp and His Grandma had to cross the boarder in the middle of the night to escape Checklosovakia during the war. They were political refuges not religious. I have never felt comfortable asking them anything about it. I bet they have great stories though.

message 9: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments That does help Eric, thanks. That's a very fascinating history. And it makes me even more curious to find out more about the history.

That's one reason I like historical fiction so much (although I rarely read it. I'm not sure why). It teaches me so much about history and always leaves me hungry for more information.

Thanks for sharing that.

message 10: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
Yes, thanks Eric. It is interesting to hear first (or second) hand accounts of what happened.

And Becca, you should make Todd ask them about it. I know just the other day, Eric's mother was saying that she was disappointed that she didn't learn more about her parent's life in Germany and what they went through.

message 11: by Becca (new)

Becca | 160 comments Tiff-
After I wrote the comment I remembered that Todd has some stuff on tape about his grandparents. (them telling stories of their lives and stuff) I am going to try and find it (then try to find a tape player, if they even exist still) and listen to it.
His Gma is dead, so I don't think she will respond if I ask her info now. I will talk to Todd about his Great Uncle and see what we can do.

message 12: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments That's cool. If you need a working tape player, I totally have one. And then you could maybe get them transferred onto CD. I don't know how, but Shay did it for me once, so I know it's possible.

message 13: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
That's really cool. I would like to hear them if you ever do find them.

message 14: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 58 comments Alrighty, I've read enough that I can add some cents (possibly even MORE than two cents worth). I like Death. He seems very wise and insightful, particularly about people. I guess that makes sense considering that he sees people during their most raw and vulnerable moments. Anyway, I'm liking it a lot, but it's one that I almost dread to keep going with because you just know that your heart is going to hurt and you can't even tell yourself it's all pretend.

message 15: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments Definitely, Chels. I'm really close to the end, and I'm not sure if I want to finish. I mean, I do, but I'm so worried about what's going to happen.

message 16: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments Still love the sensual stuff--"smell of pea soup, something burning, and confrontation." So cool. Also, the description--the speaker's uniform was so shiny that "the iron was practically still on it."

I must say Death is the coolest part about this book--his insights into the absurd cruelty of humans. It's flat out creepy to examine the events of the story through a child's perspective. So much more powerful. But I still don't connect much with Liesel. By far the most powerful moment of this section was when Papa slapped her--I absolutely loved and hated that moment. But why? Not because I felt badly for Liesel. I felt badly for Papa. I knew how much he hated having to do such a thing, but if Liesel is alive at the end of this book (and I have a feeling that the closing moment will be Death taking her away), it will be because of that moment. Cruel to be kind and all that. My favorite element of stories such as this is wondering, what would I have done? Could I live with knowing my own cruelty? Or would I rather die for a principle?

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