Answers 1Add Yours
Part Four provides this flashback in order to help us better understand his character. Part Four of the novel solves the question of whether or not Hans is a coward. We learn that Hans' life is miraculously saved by a Jew in World War I, and for the rest of his life Hans is gracious to Jews despite the threat of imprisonment in a concentration camp for helping them in the wake of Kristallnacht -- indeed, Hans is lucky that he is not taken away for vandalizing a Nazi Party office. Risking his life to hide Max is Hans' courageous payback for Max's father Erik's good deed. Hans feels guilty over the fact that Erik, who had a son, died while childless Hans survived. By caring for Max, who still suffers from the loss of his father at a young age, Hans performs an important fatherly duty.