The Book Thief – Part One – Growing Up A Saumensch

Growing Up A Saumensch

I’m not entirely sure of the German-English translation, but it is safe to say it is an expletive, like calling someone a pig/cow, if you are German and can explain this better, please do.

I quite like the fact that each ‘chapter’ flow quite smoothly and are a complete continuation from the previous chapter, instead of feeling a bit like we have missed something.

So the Book Thief will grow to have 14 books, 10 are important to her and 6 of those were stolen and the other 4 were given to her through some other means. Books are amazing and extremely powerful, it is no wonder that dictatorships try to control the literature that is in the region.

She has brown eyes, which for some insane reason (cough-Hitler-cough) is dangerous in Germany. I really don’t get the idea about ‘Aryan Race’, wasn’t it all about blue eyes and blonde hair, well I didn’t think Hitler himself met that criteria, which makes it an odd idea to put in place. I think that war in general is over nothing, sometimes a couple of square kilometers, usually even less. It is crazy, millions of risk their lives fighting, thousands upon thousands die or get wounded and usually the outcome is nothing, it doesn’t make sense. If people actually thought about it all they would think that what they were about to do or were doing was insane, people need to learn the lesson that war is never the answer, or have we all forgotten that ‘violence is not the answer’.

A Strange Word


For a second I thought that this is a mistake (not by the editors/author but because it is through the eyes of a young girl who doesn’t know everything, similar to what occurs in The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas), but I think from my Google searches that it is possible Kommunist is Communist in German (?????). Of course it is obvious it has some connection to a Communist or is Communist, not sure exactly what that is though. Was the word brought up constantly because people wanted to know if her father was a Communist and supported Communism?

I wonder what the adequate depth of a basement is to survive a bomb back in those days, and what would be considered adequate protection from our more ‘modern’ bombs today.

Ah we have a translation of the German profanities. Saumensch refers to a pig (sau) being castigating, berating or plain humiliating a female, so not the best word to be used. Saukerl (said ‘saukairl’) is for a male. And Arschloch simply means arsehole for both sexes.  And we now know that Rosa isn’t so lovely and loves to be profane, not really the best way to show love and kindness. Her husband on the other hand seems much nicer.

Some Facts About Hans Hubermann

He loved to smoke. The main thing he enjoyed about smoking was the rolling. He was a painter by trade and played the piano accordion. This came in handy, especially in winter, when he could make a little money playing in the pubs of Molching, like the Knoller. He had already cheated me {forgot Death narrates} in one world war, but would later be put into another (as a perverse kind of reward) where he would somehow manage to avoid me again.

War affected everyone in those days and continues to affect us all, I hope governments realise (and I commend the US for cutting back this year in their military spending) that if you didn’t spend so much on the military you might actually HAVE money to spend. I bet it is too much to ask that all the money spent on war could be spent on famine or global warming or providing clean water to everyone, a bit too hopeful. Also does anyone even roll cigarettes these days (though of course smoking is bad so don’t do it!)?

It is interesting that some people nearly ‘fill up the room’ while others are hardly even there at all. And sometimes it is the quiet, shy ones you need to watch instead of the loud, boisterous, bossy ones.

Some Facts About Rosa Hubermann

She was five foot one inch tall and wore her browny-grey strands of elastic hair in a bun. To supplement the Hubermann income, she did the washing and ironing for five of the wealthier households in Molching. Her cooking was atrocious. She possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met. But she did love Liesel Meminger. Her way of showing it just happened to be strange. It involved bashing her with wooden spoon and words, at various intervals.

Ah the perverse form of love that shows it self in child abuse both physically and verbally (and emotionally too). I’m sure she does love Liesel but sometimes does it kill to show it? AHAHA after TWO WEEKS Liesel had a bath, I don’t know if that is tremendously bad for those times as it is for ours (though unless you are like a young adult, usually male, then it is the norm to go weeks without a shower, apparently) and Rosa hugged her, which shows her love. It must be so confusing and weird to call someone else your ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ if they aren’t your ‘real’ parents. And it seems that even Rosa’s husband isn’t immune to her verbal abuse, I wonder if she does love him, and this is how she shows it.

I’ve passed 100 views, it’s not all that much, but it is a milestone!!!!! So thank-you! (Edit 31/1/14: I can’t believe that I thought 100 views was worth mentioning! In fact, this post alone has now had over 1800 views, so that 100 is certainly looking mighty small!)


6 thoughts on “The Book Thief – Part One – Growing Up A Saumensch

  1. I’m not finished with the book yet but i’m blown away by the writer taking on the narritive of the Angel of Death. I have never read a book that takes so many turns between the writer and the characters in the book. this is one in a million. Thanks Markus Zusak. Well done my friend! xo Mo

  2. In German, Sau means pig, Mensch means human and Kerl means guy.
    The words Saumensch, Saukerl or things like Sauhund (pig dog) are used by older people. My friend Leonie’s grandmother Marianne often uses Saukerl or Sauhund, in a kind way, for example, when Hildi (her dog) does something she shouldn’t or when her husband does’t agree with Marianne.
    That’s also the reason why Leonie started calling me Sauhund and I do the same to her.
    It’s not nice to say it to people you aren’t familiar with but under your family and friends, it’s totally okay, if they know it’s meant in a loving way.

  3. Hannah’s definitions are accurate, but the use of those words certainly are not like that generally culture-wide in German culture and in my family and other German families I knew. German language is usually direct and exact, not using opposites or euphemisms or such. Up is up, down is down; red is red, not blue; Toilet is toilet, not bathroom; pooping is pooping, “not going to washroom”; Loved one is Schatz or Liebling, NOT Saumensch or Sauhund. Sauhund was an expression in response to someone who was being absolutely revolting, like defecating in the open space in public or doing something absolutely rude to someone on purpose.

    In the movie, I think the adoptive mother’s gruffness and the term “Sauhund” was used as a smoke-screen to enable their love at the core of their being to survive in the political environment of Fascist Europe of those times. It was illustrated quite clearly as well, when Liesel privately discovered that her school-teacher was her biological mother, and they had to make a show of cold hard discipline when she had to go back in with her classmates. Their outer toughness was their gold heart’s shield against merciless social political environment.

  4. OOPS, I missed one point I was going to make, they used the term Saumensch instead of Sauhund as I imagine Saumensch reminds me, or perhaps intentionally ALLUDES to, the proverb of the prodigal son from the bible, that despite everything, regardless of everything else, durable & unconditional love and acceptance at the core exist and always will. Saumensch in the movie totally makes sense, whereas Sauhund would miss the mark, be off, and not make sense at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s