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Hans Hubermann is only ever harsh to Liesel on two occasions, the first being when she says, “‘I hate the Führer’” (115).He sympathizes with the sentiment, but knows if the wrong person heard those words, they would put Liesel in danger.When Liesel arrives at her new school, she cannot read or write, and is ridiculed by her teachers and by her fellow students.
If people cannot articulate their hatred toward their leader, for fear of personal harm, that leader can use their silence as an indicator of consent, and can feel secure in his position because without words, no one can challenge him.
The second time Hans is harsh to Liesel is when he tells her how important it is to keep Max a secret; he threatens to burn her books.
These few assigned labels proliferate, gathering increasingly negative connotations, until a single word carries thousands of words worth of cultivated hatred and fear.
Much of Hitler's power as a leader is derived from his skill with words.
Hans, in refusing to use or accept the slurs, refuses to acknowledge this power, and weakens its effect.
His refusal also makes it clear his actions will not be influenced by propaganda, and are therefore unpredictable, risky.
For these women, words are inadequate to describe their grief.
Liesel, at her lowest moment, asks, “‘What good are the words? On the other hand, people can be powerless without words.
These labels were powerful enough to dehumanize the Jewish people, lessening others’ moral turmoil regarding crimes against them. Hans puts himself at risk when he paints over a slur on a Jewish shop.
There is inherent power in the act of naming; the Nazis claimed this power over the Jews by propagating derogatory names.