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Liesel stares at the mound of burned books while she waits on the church steps for Hans.
When Hans arrives, he asks her what's bothering her.
She's been putting things together in her mind. Here's the way she adds up the situation: The word communist + a large bonfire + a collection of dead letters + the suffering of her mother + the death of her brother = the Führer (19.10)
The Führer—Adolph Hitler—is the "they" (19.12) that Rosa was talking about. (See the end of Chapter 15.)
She asks Hans if her mother's a Communist.
Hans doesn't know—he hasn't met her mother.
She asks Hans if Hitler made her mother disappear.
Hans says, "I think he might have, yes" (19.16).
Liesel says, "I hate the Führer. […] I hate him" (19.17).
Hans wants to hug Liesel and say he's sorry about what's happened to her and her family.
But, he does something else. He slaps her face.
Being hit by Hans is far worse than being hit by Rosa and the nuns at school.
Hans tells her it's okay to say it when she's home, but nowhere else.
Soon, Hans will have to give Liesel a follow-up lecture and a much stronger one.
Hans and Liesel make themselves salute and say, "Heil Hitler" (19.31).
They sit on the steps for about fifteen minutes.
In a few more minutes, "the gates of thievery would open just a crack, and Liesel Meminger […] would squeeze through" (19.36).