The Book Thief
The Book Thief Chapter 71 Summary
The Snows of Stalingrad
- It's mid-January, 1943.
- When Liesel goes to Frau Holtzapfel's house to read to her, a man answers the door.
- She doesn't think he's one of her sons, because he looks too old and not like the picture Liesel's seen.
- One of his hands is covered in bandages, and Liesel can see blood seeping through.
- He tells Liesel to come later, or, better yet, he'll come to her house.
- When he comes, she asks him about his hand.
- Explosives took three of his fingers in Stalingrad, Russia, where he was fighting for Germany.
- He tells Liesel how much colder and snowier it is there than her in Molching, and it's cold here in Molching.
- He has trouble lighting a cigarette.
- Liesel lights it for him, after he gives her some tips.
- He introduces himself to her. He's Michael Holtzapfel, Frau Holtzapfel's son.
- He's come to see if Liesel will read to his mother now.
- Rosa appears and is shocked to see him. She's known him all his life.
- He blurts out that his brother has died.
- Rosa is visibly stunned.
- She says she's sorry, and then Michael asks to take Liesel to read to his mother.
- Rosa agrees.
- Michael tells her that he's seen her son, alive, in Stalingrad.
- Before she can get into a long conversation with him about it, he tries to hurry out.
- Liesel isn't sure she should leave Rosa, but Rosa tells her to go.
- Michael tells Liesel that his hand just keeps bleeding, no matter what he does.
- Frau Holtzapfel has a tear-stained face, and Liesel reads to her.
- Death knows about this scene, because he reads about it in Liesel's book (The Book Thief).
- He knows how Robert Holtzapfel died, because he was there at the hospital in Stalingrad, where Michael watched Robert take his last breath.
- Roberts legs "were blown off at the shins" (72.43) on January 5, 1943.
- Dead Germans and Russians were everywhere.
- Death was there too.
- Death saw Robert, but didn't take him until three days later in the hospital.
- The sky was like one of Hans drop sheets, but full of red.
- Now Liesel reads to Frau Holtzapfel while she cries, and her living son "shivers" (72.67).
- Liesel is glad she's "good for something in the aftermath of the snows of Stalingrad" (72.69).
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