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The accordion symbolised the voice of ordinary people. It came to Hans from his friend who died in the first world war. He was unable to speak up against his treatment, but Hans kept the accordion to remember him, and the suffering, by.
Hans uses the accordion to entertain and comfort himself and Liesel during the times of her nightmares. He also uses it to make money, playing in the bars when his painting job does not bring in much work.
When Hans goes to war again, Rosa holds the accordion to her and sleeps over it. She sees the accordion as representing her husband - his positivity and liveliness.
Finally the accordion is the link to Max and his past. As the accordion belonged to Max's father, the debt of gratitude for receiving it belongs to Hans. It is the tenuous bond which brings Max to the Hubermanns' in his time of need.