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Unformatted text preview: hich she currently held ownership. There
was a swell in her chest as the people clapped them on. Some kids waved to their parents, but only briefly—it
was an explicit instruction that they march straight and don’t look or wave to the crowd.
When Rudy’s group came into the square and was instructed to halt, there was a discrepancy. Tommy Müller.
The rest of the regiment stopped marching and Tommy plowed directly into the boy in front of him.
“Dummkopf !” the boy spat before turning around.
“I’m sorry,” said Tommy, arms held apologetically out. His face tripped over itself. “I couldn’t hear.” It was
only a small moment, but it was also a preview of troubles to come. For Tommy. For Rudy.
At the end of the marching, the Hitler Youth divisions were allowed to disperse. It would have been near
impossible to keep them all together as the bonfire burned in their eyes and excited them. Together, they cried
one united “heil Hitler” and were free to wander. Liesel looked for Rudy, but once the crowd of children
scattered, she was caught inside a mess of uniforms and high-pitched words. Kids calling out to other kids.
By four-thirty, the air had cooled considerably.
People joked that they needed warming up. “That’s all this trash is good for anyway.”
Carts were used to wheel it all in. It was dumped in the middle of the town square and dowsed with something
sweet. Books and paper and other material would slide or tumble down, only to be thrown back onto the pile.
From further away, it looked like something volcanic. Or something grotesque and alien that had somehow
landed miraculously in the middle of town and needed to be snuffed out, and fast.
The applied smell leaned toward the crowd, who were kept at a good distance. There were well in excess of a
thousand people, on the ground, on the town hall steps, on the rooftops that surrounded the square.
When Liesel tried to make her way through, a crackling sound prompted her to think that the fire had already
begun. It hadn’t. The sound was kinetic humans, flowing, charging up.
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- Winter '13