The Book Thief Character List 📖

Markus Zusak wrote ‘The Book Thief’ to show the hardship people encountered during World War II in a small town in Germany.

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

There are many characters in the book, notably, Death, Liesel, Han and Rosa Hubermann, Mr. Rudy, Max, and others, with each playing intrinsic parts to The Book Thief.

The Book Thief Character List


The narrator of The Book Thief, Death is at first sarcastic, with a darkly wry sense of humor. Death expresses tiredness and remorse as the novel progresses. This is because he had to collect so many souls as the war increased. Death is the collector of souls, and when it comes it is arrayed in any or all the world’s colors. Death insists that it definitely can be cheerful and even affable to the reader, but also relates that it most certainly cannot be nice. Sometimes Death is “compelled” to take action in sympathy with the human story.

Liesel Meminger

Liesel is the protagonist of The Book Thief, who changes to a lovely person from the initial angry, distrusting character. With brown eyes and blonde hair, Liesel is an adopted girl on the edge of adolescence who became emboldened by the books she was reading. Much later she has got a strong personal moral code and is not afraid to enforce it even at the danger to herself. She was adopted by the Hubermanns when her brother dies, her biological father left them because he was a Communist, and her mother was forced to send her to a foster home to avoid Nazi persecution.

The “book thief” in the title refers to Liesel because she is fascinated by the power of words to change worlds. She stole books from a gravedigger, a bonfire, and later the mayor’s wife, Ilsa Herman.

Hans Hubermann

Hans is Liesel’s foster father, papa and husband of Rosa Hubermann. He is gentle and calm with Liesel, and is the first person to win her trust. He is always motivated to help others, always kind and gentle with people. He has good strong moral and ethical principles and he doesn’t like deviating from them. He always put others first sometimes to his own detriment.

Rosa Hubermann

Rosa is Liesel’s foster mother, mama. Unlike her husband, Rosa’s first appearance is that of a cold, sharp-tongued, and impatient woman. The Book Thief story reveals her kindness when she took in Max and her treatment of Liesel in spite of her tough exterior.

Max Vandenburg

This is the Hubermann’s secret roommate. When Max comes to hide in the Hubermanns’ house, he is weak, cautious, and withdrawn. As he grows stronger, he reveals his intense hatred towards Hitler, and this became his motivation to stay alive no matter the odds. He understands Liesel and her experiences most of all, and it’s no wonder the two become not just friends but soul mates.

Alex Steiner

Alex is Rudy’s father. Alex’s inability to sacrifice his son to the Nazi training camp results in his being drafted into the army. At the end of The Book Thief, he is filled with remorse for having survived the war while his family died.

Rudy Steiner

Rudy is Liesel’s best friend. Rudy is quite the physical embodiment of the perfect Aryan specimen with his blond hair, blue eyes, and athletic and intellectual talents. However, he has surprising sensitivity and compassion as shown by his love for Liesel and being always there for her.

Ilsa Hermann

Ilsa is the mayor’s wife. She was so shattered by the Death of her son at the start of the book, that she can barely function as a person. As soon as she begins interacting with Liesel, she opens up and shows sensitivity and concern.

Frau Holtzapfel

The Hubermanns’ neighbor is Frau. Initially, she was mean and uncharitable, as she had an ongoing feud with Rosa Hubermann. She was also rude to Liesel, but she turns out to be extremely vulnerable after the Death of her son.

Frau Diller

The owner of the candy store is Frau Diller. She is one of the most patriotic figures in The Book Thief, follows the rules, and has a mean, ungenerous character. She signifies the Hitler idea of the “good” German who blindly follows orders.


Who is Max to Liesel?

Max Vandenburg is Liesel’s friend who was known as the Jewish fist-fighter. He was accepted by the Hubermanns, Liesel’s foster parents, and hidden in their basement. Earlier on during the first world war, Max’s father saved Hans’s life, and later Hans tries to save Max’s life, which put the Hubermanns’ lives in great danger. In many ways, Max and Liesel are similar.

Why does Liesel get into a fight?

Liesel Meminger got into a fight at school. Their teacher gave them a reading test in school. A classmate complained that Lieseil was not reading loud enough and the teacher said that Liesel cannot read. She says she can and rather than read, she recites parts of The Gravedigger Handbook. Because Liesel couldn’t read a book in class, she was taunted by her schoolmates later that day in the schoolyard. She was angry and so she fought Ludwig Schmeikl and pummeled him in a fight. She also beats up Tommy Müller, too, because she sees him standing there and smiling.

Is Rosa Hubermann abusive?

Rosa Hubermann is Liesel’s foster mother. At first in The Book Thief, she seemed to be a mean and abusive woman. She sounded like a woman we should not trust with Liesel as she was abusive with her wooden spoons and her constant scolding and criticism. However, when Max, we now see the soft and loving side of her. Her former behavior might be due to stress and the situation of her society.

Who is Viktor Chemmel?

Viktor Chemmel is the second leader of the gang that steals fruit. He is the successor to Arthur Berg who is the leader of the group of thieves. He is cruel to the others, a bully, and is nothing like his predecessor, Arthur Berg. In the book, he almost chokes Rudy and steals Liesel’s book, throwing it in the Amper River. Happily, Rudy rescues it for her.

What happens when Liesel turns 10?

It was sometime in February, according to the story when Liesel turned ten. Her foster parents the Hubermanns celebrated her birthday for her. They gave her a damaged doll, a brown uniform, and is enrolled in the Hitler Youth. In the Hitler Youth Liesel learned how to march, sew and roll bandages and also how to say ‘heil Hitler,’ or salute Hitler.

Ugo Juliet
About Ugo Juliet
Ugo Juliet is a passionate lover of books. For over 10 years, she has written books and articles for various organizations. She continues with her passion for literature as an expert analyst on Book Analysis.
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