Werner looks at Bernd the engineer, horrified. Volkheimer is trying to free everyone from the ruins of the hotel—he’s trying to hack through a huge pile of debris in the hopes of making it to the passageway back to street level. Werner stares up at the ceiling and imagines the tons of weight pushing down on them right now. He considers himself, Bernd, and Volkheimer, and wonders if it wouldn’t be fairer if they died after all—perhaps they “have reparations to make.”
We still aren’t sure exactly what has transpired between these 1944 sections and the “backstory” sections (now 1940-41), but Werner has clearly been in the army for some time by now, and has undoubtedly witnessed scenes of great carnage (and maybe even participated in them). Doerr knows that we know about the Holocaust, and the other actions of the German army during World War II—as a result, we can only assume the worst for Werner.