Pushing aside the Nazi: personal and cultural exculpation and the everyday German in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief

Shields, Kirril (2016) Pushing aside the Nazi: personal and cultural exculpation and the everyday German in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, 30 1: 1-15. doi:10.1080/23256249.2016.1125593


Author Shields, Kirril
Title Pushing aside the Nazi: personal and cultural exculpation and the everyday German in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief
Formatted title
Pushing aside the Nazi: personal and cultural exculpation and the everyday German in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief
Journal name Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2325-6257
2325-6249
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/23256249.2016.1125593
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 30
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
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.
Keyword Holocaust literature
Australian literature
Alltagsgeschichte
Cultural memory
German cultural memory
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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Created: Thu, 17 Mar 2016, 22:47:22 EST by Jenny Hearn on behalf of School of Communication and Arts