Liesel marches with the rest of the youth and can't help feeling proud. Everything goes smoothly except for Tommy Müller, who crashes into the boy in front of him. After the marching, the children disperse to get ready for the bonfire. It gets cold and people joke about warming themselves up by burning the "trash." Carts wheel in the material and make a huge pile. Liesel feels that the burning is wrong, because her books are so precious to her, but she can't help wanting to see some destruction – like most humans.
Tommy's physical disabilities will come up again later. This book burning gives a glimpse into how an entire nation could be swept up in such hateful ideas – there is a natural mob mentality for humans, and a fascination with the spectacle of destruction. Even Liesel, who loves books more than anything, can't help wanting to see them burn when it is made into such an event.
A man on a podium salutes Hitler and then gives a speech about the evils of Communists and Jews. When Liesel hears this she realizes why her family has been destroyed, and she feels sick. She tries to escape the crowd but then the man lights the pile on fire, and everyone cheers as the words start to burn.
Liesel discovers that it was Nazi ideology is what tore her family apart. She starts to connect Hitler with the tragedies in her life. She has no concept of what Communism or Judaism is, but she understands hate and suffering.
Ludwig Schmeikl finds Liesel and helps her through the crowd. He has broken his ankle in the confusion and pushing, and his expression is like a hurt animal. Finally they find a resting place, and they apologize to each other for their fight in the school-yard.
Liesel apologizing to Ludwig and forgiving him is a mature act that shows she is learning from Hans's example. In the midst of such an inhuman event as a book burning, this is a small moment of compassion.