Hanna’s Past

Metal Clock (c) cema

Hanna is accused in the second part of the book, The Reader, because she worked for the SS at the end of the Second World War. She was assigned in Auschwitz in spring 1944 and in a small camp near Krakow in the winter of 1944-45. At the end of the war, she has been in Kassel. During her time as a camp supervisor, she always had her favorites of the inmates read to her from books. She justifies this by saying that these people would have been too weak to work and she made their last time a bit better. In a book written by a woman who has survived the concentration camp, Hanna is described as young, beautiful, and efficient, but a cruel and uncontrolled guard who was often called “Mare”. One day, the church with many women and children burns down because no one opened the door.

Hanna’s reason for making these people burn is that opening the door would be too much chaos that they would have not gotten back under control. Her commission to guard these people was more important to her than saving their lives. After the church was burned down, a report on the work of the guards was written, playing a big role during the trial.

3 thoughts on “Hanna’s Past”

  1. It’s important to note that the justification behind Hanna’s used of girls to read to her in the camps isn’t one she herself mentions – as is implied here. It is never brought up at any point in the novel by Hanna – and seems to be Michael’s own conjecture.

  2. It is worth mentioning that Hanna is accused of writing the report by the others guards. She admits to writing the report however Michael learns later on that this could not be true as she is illiterate.


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