Review (not rated)
by Your Mum
Having read and finished the reader one gets to know the characters very well. One is absorbed into the motions and the actions of each of the main characters. Throughout the book one can always sense a part of Hanna’s naivety and her simple perspective of life. In this situation there is no right or wrong. Whichever option she took some would sympathise, others wouldn’t.
It is easy for me to argue that she shouldn’t have let those people die – it is the obvious humane answer. But one cannot ignore there was a war on; people were going to die. Hanna thought she was in the right by doing her duty. So did all of her colleagues. The difference between her and her colleagues is that they understood what they had done wrong. She didn’t. I am trying to look at this situation without any hindsight as to what happens but as if I have only read up to this point in the book.
It is incorrect to say following orders is a sufficient excuse for any action. Of course it is. But why? If I was your boss and told you to jump off a cliff would you? I know I wouldn’t, and thus I do not have this feeble excuse for jumping of a cliff. It is a similar scenario. Obviously my version was far more radical and extreme. Hanna knew she was sending these people to die. She says ‘the new ones came, and the old hat to make room for the new ones. So she clearly knew that she was sending these ‘ones’ to their death. My argument is no matter how strongly someone pushes you; you do not break the barrier of life and death.
In a way when Hanna phrased the question to the judge it could be considered the right thing to do. It threw him into an unpleasant position. This didn’t help her legal court case; it put the judge into a situation where whatever the outcome he would seem in the wrong. What it did do however was infuriate the judge giving him a bad view on Hanna. Michael attends as part of a legal seminar, and the discussion of the trial. He understands what is happening and helps explain it to the reader. With his knowledge the reader gets into the situation and can understand what is happening and how it is so difficult. The Judge is sympathetic towards Hanna; he like Michael understands that she doesn’t understand what she is doing wrong or the problems her question could cause her. When she looks at him she tries to communicate with him, she is desperate.
One might argue that Hanna didn't wilfully collaborate with Hitler's genocide and that her decisions were driven only by a desire to hide her secret. I personally would argue this point as my main argument and would say that this alone exonerates Hanna.