The Reader

Question: Why did the young Michael withdraw just before meeting Hanna in the prison? Was it because it was too painful for him to meet his love face-to-face when she was in such a pathetic situation? OR, was it because he didn't want to let her know that he could discover her secret (as his original intention to meet was to seek her permission to expose it in court), which could break her much more than the trial, as that's what she has been hiding for many many years?

Question: How was Kate Winslet allowed to work as a guard at Auschwitz? I thought only men were allowed.

raph

Chosen answer: "The Aufseherinnen (German for "female overseer) were female guards in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. Of the 55,000 guards who served in Nazi concentration camps, about 3,700 were women. In 1942, the first female guards arrived at Auschwitz and Majdanek from Ravensbrück. The year after, the Nazis began conscripting women because of a guard shortage." - source: Wikipedia, "Female Guards in Nazi Concentration Camps".

Michael Albert

Question: At the trial, first, we are told that all the women died in the church, but then a woman survived - we are not told how - and she appears to be quite old; then we are told that her granddaughter wrote the book about it. Was the granddaughter in the church, as well, and survived somehow? I'm confused.

kh1616

Chosen answer: There were two survivors: a woman and her daughter, who was named Ilana. It was Ilana's memoirs of her and her mother's experience in the camp that were published. Ilana, the daughter, may have helped with the actual writing based on her mother's memories (since Ilana's own memories could be bleak, as she was just a child).

raywest Premium member

Question: When Hannah has her back to the camera, as she fills the bath, naked, we can see about 3-4 red long to medium scars/wounds. Is there any reason for these scars/wounds?

kh1616

Answer: Those weren't scars. They were very superficial marks like she'd scratched her back.

Chosen answer: She was apparently brutalized while she was at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

raywest Premium member

Question: When Michael & Hannah begin their affair Michael is 15 years old - in the courtroom scenes, the judge states that Hannah is now 43 years old and also states that the events at Auschwitz took place 20 years prior, which would've made her 23 at the time of Auschwitz and possibly around 23 when she left Michael - meaning that when they had the affair she was only about 7 years his senior. Therefore, when she's 43 in court, that makes him 36 years old when he's at university watching the court proceedings - but surely that's too old for what the film is trying to portray? It seems like he's in his 20's when he's at uni. I don't get it. Surely they couldn't have gotten their timelines so incorrect?

ljpom1

Chosen answer: Where do you figure she was 23 when she left Michael? She had been working at the dispatch office for several years before she meet Michael (as indicated in the scene where her boss promotes her for her long service) -- so this is years after she was at Auschwitz. So she was in her mid-30s when she began the one-year affair with 15-year-old Michael. Then, while at university about 8 years later (when she is in her early 40s), he attends her trial. The timeline is fine.

MovieFan612

Answer: It is confusing in the movie because it seems like she went from the ticket taking job to the SS job after refusing the office job promotion, which would require literacy. When actually her SS job was prior to the ticket taker job. Was muddled in the movie.

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Quotes

Michael: I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, it will give it spice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you ended it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.

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Mistakes

During the seminar, Professor Rohl tells students that only 19 workers of Auschwitz were sentenced (in 1966). During the first trial of Nazis from Auschwitz, 39 were sentenced, including 23 persons condemned to death. The trial was in 1947 in Krakow.

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