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The Book Thief Glossary

by Markus Zusak

Glossary of Terms

1346 (Year)

Marks the beginning of the European outbreak of the Plague, which at the time killed somewhere between 75-200 million people, perhaps half of the entire European population

79 (Year)

The year Mount Vesuvius, a volcano near Naples, erupted, obliterating the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and suddenly killing perhaps 10,000.

angst

(German) Fear

apfel

(German) Apple

arschgrobbler

(German) Ass-scratcher

arschloch

(German) Asshole

Aryan race

A pseudoscientific categorization of Northern European peoples; the Nazis argued that this race was superior to all others and would dominate the Earth

auch

(German) Also

auf wiedersehen

(German) Goodbye, literally "until we see again"

aufmachen

(German) Open

bahnhof

(German) Train station

bitte

(German) Excuse me; can also mean "you're welcome" or "please"

burgermeister

(German) Mayor

Dachau concentration camp

An infamous concentration camp where about 32,000 prisoners died in total; while Dachau was not an extermination camp per se, about 30,000 Jews were gassed there

danke schön

(German) The German equivalent of "thank you very much"

Deutschland uber Alles

"Germany Above All," a line in the German national anthem and patriotic slogan

dreckiges

(German) Dirty

Duden Dictionary

A German reference dictionary, first published in 1880, that is generally considered to be the standard of German spelling and pronunciation

dummkopf

(German) Stupid head

elend

(German) Misery

Führer

(German) Leader; exclusively refers to Adolf Hitler

frau

(German) Miss

gelegenheit

(German) Opportunity

Gestapo

The Nazi secret police, which was empowered to find and eliminate those accused of treason or hiding Jews

gottverdammt

(German) God-damn it

grotesquerie

The quality of being grotesque or morbid

gut

(German) Good

heil

(German) Hail; used as a Nazi salutation

herr

(German) Mister

himmel

(German) Heaven; also the name of the street the Hubermans live on

Hochdeutsch

(German) High German, standard German speech (as opposed to Low German, which includes dialects and any non-standard speech)

ja

(German) Yes

Jesse Owens

(1913-1980) Black American athlete and record-breaking runner who achieved worldwide fame after winning four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin; Hitler was reportedly embarrassed by the victory of a black athlete, which served to counter Nazi propaganda claiming the superiority of the white "Aryan" race

Juden

(German) Jews

kind

(German) Child

Knoller

A certain pub where Hans Hubermann plays the accordion for money

komm

(German) Come; the form "kommst" means "coming"

Kommunisten

(German) Communists; advocates of the communal ownership of property in a classless and stateless society, an ideal first described in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels; the Soviet Union, with which Nazi Germany was at war from 1941 onward, was a nominally Communist nation, and German Communists were persecuted nearly as badly as the Jews by the Nazis

Kristallnacht

(German) "Crystal night"; a coordinated nationwide attack on all Jews in Germany involving lynchings and mob violence against Jews; so called because of the broken glass of shops owned by Jews

lovelily

In a lovely manner

Luft Schutz Raum (LSR)

(German) Air-Raid Shelter

Luftschutzwart

(German) Air-raid supervisor, generally charged with keeping order in a bomb shelter

maler

(German) Painter

Mein Kampf

(German) "My Struggle"; a book written by Adolf Hitler in which he outlines the views of the Nazi Party and ferociously attacks Jews

nachtrauern

(German) Regret

nein

(German) No

NSDAP

National Socialist German Workers' Party, the Nazi Party

richtig

(German) Correct

saukarl

(German) An insult meaning "pig"; the masculine form of "saumensch"

saumensch

(German) An insult meaning "pig"; the feminine form of "saukarl"

scheisse

(German) Shit

scheisskopf

(German) Shithead

schimpferei

(German) Scolding

schmunzel

(German) Smile

schneidermeister

(German) Master-tailor

schnell

(German) Hurry, as a command

schweigen

(German) Silence

schwein

(German) Swine

scythe

A long, curved tool used to reap crops or cut down grass; popular depictions of Death usually include one

sehr

(German) Very

seig

(German) Victory; when combined with "heil," a Nazi rallying call typically accompanied with the Nazi salute, which is the extension of one's right arm at a 45-degree angle, palm down

sickle

Similar to a scythe, an agricultural tool used to reap or mow; in contrast to a scythe, the blade of a sickle is a curved hook; some depictions of Death include one

strasse

(German) Street

und

(German) And

verstehst

(German) Understand, in the 2nd person

verzeihung

(German) Forgiveness

warte

(German) Wait

watschen

(German) A beating

Weihnachten

(German) Christmas

wort

(German) Word

zufriedenheit

(German) Happiness

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