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Unformatted text preview: ruffled uniform and rescued him from the broken plane. The crowd played
with the silence as I made my way through. I jostled free.
Above me, the sky eclipsed—just a last moment of darkness— and I swear I could see a black signature in the
shape of a swastika. It loitered untidily above.
“Heil Hitler,” I said, but I was well into the trees by then. Behind me, a teddy bear rested on the shoulder of a
corpse. A lemon candle stood below the branches. The pilot’s soul was in my arms.
It’s probably fair to say that in all the years of Hitler’s reign, no person was able to serve the Führer as loyally
as me. A human doesn’t have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I
have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I’m always
finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can
be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die. HOMECOMING
It was a time of bleeders and broken planes and teddy bears, but the first quarter of 1943 was to finish on a
positive note for the book thief.
At the beginning of April, Hans Hubermann’s plaster was trimmed to the knee and he boarded a train for
Munich. He would be given a week of rest and recreation at home before joining the ranks of army pen pushers
in the city. He would help with the paperwork on the cleanup of Munich’s factories, houses, churches, and
hospitals. Time would tell if he would be sent out to do the repair work. That all depended on his leg and the
state of the city.
It was dark when he arrived home. It was a day later than expected, as the train was delayed due to an air-raid
scare. He stood at the door of 33 Himmel Street and made a fist.
Four years earlier, Liesel Meminger was coaxed through that doorway when she showed up for the first time.
Max Vandenburg had stood there with a key biting into his hand. Now it was Hans Hubermann’s turn. He
knocked four times and the book thief answer...
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- Winter '13