Characters: The Book Thief (and Friends)

Primary Characters

  • Liesel Meminger is the book thief. She is 9 years old at the beginning of the story, when after the death of her brother she is taken in by the Hubermann family.
  • Hans Hubermann is Liesel’s foster father. Once a reluctant soldier during World War I, he is a house painter and accordionist. He teaches Liesel to read.
  • Rosa Hubermann is Liesel’s foster mother. She washes and irons clothing for the wealthy people of Molching.
  • Rudy Steiner is Liesel’s neighbor and eventual best friend. He is one of six children and is obsessed with American track athlete Jesse Owens.
  • Max Vandenburg is a young Jewish man who changes the Hubermanns’ lives.
  • Death is the sympathetic narrator of Liesel’s story. Death’s duty is to carry the souls of the dead away.

Secondary Characters

(listed in alphabetical order by last name)

  • Klaus Behrig is a neighborhood boy. Liesel runs into him on purpose during a game of soccer.
  • Arthur Berg is the leader of a group of young thieves who steal food. He shows kindness to Liesel and Rudy, and proves to be fair.
  • Viktor Chemmel is Arthur Berg’s successor as leader of the group of thieves. He is cruel to the others.
  • Franz Deutscher is Rudy’s sadistic Hitler Youth leader.
  • Frau Diller is the owner of the corner shop and a fervent Nazi sympathizer. One must say “Heil Hitler” in order to be served in her shop.
  • Wolfgang Edel is a Nazi Party acquaintance of Hans.
  • The Fielders are a family that lives six houses down from the Memingers. Their basement serves as a bomb shelter during air raids.
  • Rolf Fischer is a Nazi who sees Hans painting Joel Kleinman’s door.
  • Wenzel Gruber is the first boy Max fought with as a child.
  • Fritz Hammer is an older neighborhood boy who introduces Liesel and Rudy to the gang of thieves.
  • Herr Heckenstaller is a supervising teacher who oversees the humiliating medical examination of Rudy and other boys who are being considered for elite Nazi schools.
  • Frau Heinrich is the woman from the foster care agency who brings Liesel to the Hubermann home.
  • Heinz Hermann is the mayor of the town of Molching.
  • Ilsa Hermann is the wife of the mayor of Molching. Her son, Johannes Hermann, was killed in World War I and she mourns his death with her silence. She introduces Liesel to her library.
  • Frau Holtzapfel is the Hubermanns’ hostile neighbor. She spits on their door every time she walks past.
  • Michael Holtzapfel is Frau Holtzapfel’s son who returns from the war injured.
  • Robert Holtzapfel is Michael’s brother. He never returns from the war.
  • Hans Hubermann, Jr. is the Hubermanns’ grown son. He is a Nazi Party member who believes his father is a coward for not supporting Hitler.
  • Trudy Hubermann is the Hubermanns’ grown daughter. She is a live-in housemaid for a wealthy Munich family.
  • The Jensons are a family that use the Fielders’ basement during air raids.
  • Joel Kleinmann is a Jewish shopkeeper whose store door is defaced, then repainted by Hans Hubermann.
  • Walter Kugler is Max Vandenberg’s friend, with whom he used to fight in his youth. Walter helps Max hide from the Nazis before he goes to the Hubermann home.
  • Thomas Mamer is a grocer who calls for police when Rudy steals the largest potato. Teacher Herr Link defends Rudy.
  • Paula Meminger is Liesel’s mother, who gives her up into foster care. Her husband was taken away for being a communist and Paula awaits the same fate.
  • Werner Meminger is Liesel’s brother.
  • Harald Mollenhauer is a neighborhood boy and a leader in the Himmel street soccer games.
  • Tommy Müller is Liesel and Rudy’s classmate whom Liesel beats up after misunderstanding his reaction to her being teased. He has chronic ear infections, twitches a lot and is not athletically inclined.
  • Frau Olendrich is Liesel and Rudy’s teacher.
  • Pfiffikus is an old man who likes to whistle. The children taunt him and he taunts them back.
  • Andy Schmeikl is Ludwig’s older brother and also a member of the group of thieves.
  • Ludwig Schmeikl is a student in Liesel’s class. He makes fun of her for not being able to read, and Liesel beats him up.
  • Boris Schipper is an Air Raid Special Unit sergeant during World War I. Hans Hubermann is a member of his unit.
  • Stephan Schneider is Hans’ sergeant during World War I.
  • Jürgen Schwarz and Olaf Spiegel are fellow school boys who are examined by Herr Heckenstaller.
  • Sister Maria is Liesel’s teacher who doles out corporal punishment.
  • Alex Steiner is Rudy’s father. He owns a tailor shop and is a member of the Nazi Party but does not hate Jews.
  • Barbara Steiner is Rudy’s mother.
  • Kurt Steiner is Rudy’s older brother. Rudy’s other siblings are Emma, Bettina, Karin and Anna-Marie.
  • Otto Sturm is a somewhat wealthy boy who is targeted by Arthur’s gang and is knocked off his bicycle by Liesel and Rudy.
  • Erik Vandenberg is Hans’ German Jewish friend and fellow World War I soldier. He is also Max’s father.
  • Ernst Vogel, the Pfaffelhürvers, Helena Schmidt and the Weingartners are Rosa Hubermann’s washing/ironing customers. Ernst was the first of the customers to tell Rosa he wouldn’t be able to use her services any longer.
  • Dieter Westheimer is the owner of a bar called the Knoller.
  • Reinhold Zucker is an Air Raid Special Unit member who trades seats with Hans on a truck.

Content last updated: October 31, 2012

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