The Word Wall
Out of the Fire and Into Book Heaven
Hidden Secrets in the Basement
Fashion: On the Streets of Himmel
Fall/ Winter 1942 ON THE COVER 4 The Word Wall 5 Out of the Fire and Into Book Heaven 7 Hidden Secrets in the Basement IN THIS ISSUE 2 Letter from the Editor 8 Racing to the Finish 9 Recipes by Rosa 12 On the Streets of Himmel
Letter from the Editor I am proud to introduce the very first edition of Himmel Magazine! This magazine chronicles major events in my life as I grow up in the city of Munich, Germany. By reading this magazine you will be able to learn more about my complicated but loving family, my amazing best friend, how I earned the title “The Book Thief”, and so much more. I will give you all a little background on myself. I used to live with my mom, dad, and younger brother, but when I was very young, my dad was taken away. I really don’t know why, but my guesses are because he was a communist and not too many people around these parts like the idea of communism. My mom, no longer being able to take care of my brother and myself, decided to send us to Munich, Germany to foster parents that would take great care of us. While on the train with my mom and brother, my brother passed away. In that very moment, my world was completely shaken and destroyed. I had no idea how I would make it without my little brother. Now I would have to live alone with these new strange foster parents. My brother was buried in a small town on the way to Munich, and it was there, at the burial site, that I picked up my first book. I don’t know why I did it. Maybe it was because it was the last thing left that would help remember him, but for whatever reason I’m glad that I did it. This book unlocked the door to the amazing world of words, which I am completely fascinated by. I love words, and I hope that you love them too. I really do hope that you enjoy reading my magazine!
Yours truly, Liesel Meminger
Accordion Jews Reading
The Word Wall Adjusting to life with my new foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubberman, wasn’t easy at first. For one, I still wanted to live with my mother. I didn’t want her to leave me in that house alone with these new strange people. I hoped and prayed that she would come back, tell me that giving me up was a mistake, and take me back home, but she never did. Second, my new foster mother was really mean. She always yelled at me and called me bad names, and she even forced me to take a bath against my own will. Through all of this, I came to understand that my foster parents did actually love and care about me. I used to have nightmares every night. In them, I would see my brother’s face on the train. He was dead. I would wake up screaming, and my foster father Hans, whom I called Papa, would always come to my room to comfort me. He would sit in a little chair in the corner of my room and stay there all night to make sure that I was okay.
One night, after having a nightmare and wetting the bed, Papa came to help me change my sheets. While pulling the covers off, a small black book that I had picked up from the snow at my brother’s burial site fell out. The title of the book was The Grave Diggers Handbook, and it was dropped by the grave digger at the burial site. This book meant a lot to me because it was the last thing I had to remember my brother and the last thing that I had to remember my mother. It was also the first book that I stole, giving me the tile “The Book Thief” . That night, when the book fell out, Papa asked me if I would like to read it. Not knowing how to read and being curious of what all of the bunched up letters were, I told him yes. He opened the book and began reading. This was the best night of my life. Reading at night became our usual. After having nightmares, and wetting my sheets, Papa would come in, help me change my sheets,
and begin reading The Grave Digger’s Handbook. It was during these times, that he would teach me to read and write. He would give me the book and tell me to read. Whenever I came across a word that I didn’t know, we would go down to the basement and paint it on the wall. This would come to be our word wall. Over time, the word wall was filled with not only words from The Grave Diggers Handbook, but also words from The Shoulder Shrug, Faust Dog, The Lighthouse, and many more books. Whenever I learned the words, Papa would cover the wall with a fresh coat of paint and we would start all over again. I really do miss those nights with Papa, learning how to read and write. It was during the reading lessons at night that the door to the amazing world of words was unlocked, and my Papa held the key. I can now read and write very well, and I give all of the credit to Papa.
Out of the Fire and Into Book Heaven
When I was ten years old, I had to join a group called BDM, which stood for Bund Deutscher Madchen or Band of German girls. It was a part of the Hitler Youth Program, and it involved a brown uniform and many “heil Hitler”s. On April 20, 1940, Hitler’s Birthday, there was a celebratory fire in the town square in honor of Hitler. All of the local Youth divisions were to attend. People were to bring books, propaganda, newspapers, flags, and posters that went against the ideas of Hitler and the Nazi Party. That night, many people lined the streets and yelled, “Heil Hitler!” I searched for my friend Rudy Steiner in the crowd and realized that they had already started the fire. I never found Rudy that night, but I did find out about the word “communism”. It was the reason my father was missing, the reason my mother was suffering, and the reason my brother was dead and it was all because of the Führer. I later found my father when it was over, and we decided to go home. Papa stopped to talk to one of his friends on the way, and I turned to the pile of smoke and ashes and realized that all of the books had not burned. I wondered over to the pile and found three unburned books. When the men responsible for clearing the ashes had their backs turned, I reached into the pile and pulled out a book titled The Shoulder Shrug. It was the second book that I had stolen, and I was truly beginning to live up to my nickname.
The book was so hot, but I didn’t want anyone to see it, so I stuffed it under my shirt. This turned out to be abig mistake because it burned my skin. Even though it burned, I was thrilled to have a new book. I did, however, feel like I was being watched. I turned around, and sure enough, there was a shadow behind me. Someone was there watching me, and that someone was the mayor’s wife Ilsa Hermann. My foster mother Rosa Huberman, whom I called Mama, did laundry for several people in town, Ilsa being one of them. The next day, Mama told me to go deliver the washing to Mrs. Hermann. Afraid to go alone because I knew that she saw me, I asked my best friend Rudy to come along with me. When we walked up to her door, she took her clothes
and gave me the money, not saying anything to neither me nor Rudy. A feeling of relief washed over me at that moment. Maybe she hadn’t seen me after all. One day, however, Rudy could not come, and I had to go pick up the washing alone. That day, when I got to the house, Ilsa answered the door, and said, “Wait.” I was so scared. I didn’t know what she was doing, but I figured she was just going to get the washing. She came back with a stack of books and told me to come in. She led me to a chestnut door and asked me if I was ready to enter. I didn’t know what to think or what she was going to do to me, but I told her that I was ready. She turned the knob, and I was immediately in heaven.
The room was beautiful, filled with more books than I had ever seen in my life. “Can I?” I asked her as I stepped into the room. She nodded. I was overwhelmed by the number of books in the room, and I wanted to touch each and every one of them. I used both of my hands and touched as many as I could. It was amazing! I didn’t take a book with me that day, but later on I would come back and spend much time reading in Ilsa Hermman’s library. The woman remained a mystery to me, but I was very thankful that she opened up her library to me. It was in that very room that I found much joy, happiness, excitement, sadness, and adventure reading Ilsa Hermann’s books.
Hidden Secrets in the Basement
Growing up during World War II is difficult. My family has to be on constant lookout for bomb raids and hope that Papa doesn’t get called to serve in the war. About a month ago, our lives became even more difficult when an enemy of Hitler arrived at our house – a Jew. His name is Max Vandenburg, and his father saved my Papa’s life. Papa fought in World War I along with Max’s father, and when looking for recruits to write letters, instead of fighting on the battlefield, Max’s father volunteered Papa. This is what saved my Papa’s life, and Papa felt as if he needed to return the favor. Max, being a Jew, came to seek refuge at our house, because of all the horrible things that are happening to the Jews right now. Knowing that we could be in huge trouble with the Nazi Police and even worse, Hitler himself, we knew that we had to create a safe hiding spot for Max and not let anyone know about it. We found that place in our basement. We set up a mattress behind the stairs of the basement and covered the area with a sheet. We put paint cans by the sheet to make it look like a pile of junk was behind the sheet and it was very effective. We even had a Nazi officer unexpectedly visit the basement one day, and he didn’t even notice. You can be we were relieved.
Max and I grew very close, and I found out that we had a lot in common. We both enjoyed reading and writing and we both had nightmares. These were just a few of the many things that we had in common. Since he spent all of his time in the basement, I would come and tell him about the weather and paint a picture of the sky for him. I brought him newspapers because he liked to do crossword puzzles. I even brought him snow during the winter and made a snowman for him in the basement. I am so thankful that I was able to make such a great friend. We had so many great times together, and I am so sad that he had to leave. I will always cherish the book that he wrote for me, The Word Shaker.
Racing to the Finish
I was able to sit down with my best friend Rudy Steiner, aka the next Jesse Owens, after winning gold in almost all of his races in the track and field events. This is what he had to say: Q: How did you feel when you were out there racing against all of the other guys? A: Honestly I was pretty nervous, but I was determined to win the gold. I wanted to prove to everyone, especially my previous Hitler Youth Leader that I could do it that I could win. Q: How did you prepare yourself for the events? A: I trained and trained and trained. I saw what Jesse Owens did in the Olympics, and I wanted to be just like him, so when I trained I pretended that I was Jesse Owens, going for the gold. Q: What advice would you give to those who want to win gold just like you? A: I would tell them to stay focused. You have to be focused and determined and train whenever you have the opportunity. Whenever I had free time, I came to the track and ran.
Recipes by Rosa My Mama is famous for her delectable pea soup. These are some of her recipes: GREEN PEA SOUP Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 medium leek, root trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (white and green parts only) 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed 2 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth or 1 cup low-sodium store-bought vegetable broth mixed with 1 1/2 cups water 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed 3 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 1/2 pounds of peas in their pods) or 1 (16-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)
Instructions 1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the leek, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. 2. Add the broth, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and measured pepper and bring to a boil. Add the peas and bring to a boil agai n. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes. 3. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves, and stir to combine. Let sit uncovered until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. 4. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and cover ing the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan (if serving warm) or a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. If serving warm, reheat over low heat. If serving cold, let cool to room temperature, cover, then refrigerate until cold. Top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche, if desired.
SPLIT PEA SOUP Ingredients
1 cup chopped yellow onions 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/8 cup good olive oil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 -1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots) 1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled (3 small) 1 pound dried split green peas 8 cups chicken stock or water
Instructions In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam while cooking. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the peas are soft. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.
On the Streets of Himmel
“ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE…” -Death
IN THEATERS NEXT FALL