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'In this paper I argue that Markus Zusak's The Book Thief allows for the personal and collective exculpation of the common or ‘ordinary’ citizens of Germany who lived through the Third Reich. By drawing on the German historian Martin Broszat and his historiographical study of ‘everyday’ life under Nazi rule, I establish that the novel creates a number of contentious themes. First, it suggests that the Nazis were a group who resided on the periphery of German society, and that the rise of Hitler's Third Reich was unpopular among the general German population. Second, while Germans later became victims of Allied bombings and/or Russian invasion, the population was also victim to the nation's political situation. In arguing that German citizens were victims of the Nazis, The Book Thief separates a supposed ‘demonic’ social minority from the ‘everyday’ working class. Depicting the German lower classes as innocent bystanders or victims, the book allows its readers and, in particular, its German readers, to reflect upon this tumultuous historical period with some cultural and social moral fortitude intact. Furthermore, the paper suggests that this novel is just one example of a corpus of Australian texts that have, in recent years, reconfigured traditional literary representations of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.'

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Last amended 8 Apr 2016 14:20:13
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