Rudy Steiner is academically and athletically gifted, which attracts the attention of Nazi Party officials, who try to recruit him; when he declines, they take his father, Alex Steiner. He also gets into trouble at the Hitler Youth due to his smart mouth and rebellious behavior. Rudy becomes Liesel's best friend, often accompanying her on her adventures and talking her through her problems, but also causing trouble with Liesel, too. He also teases her, regularly (though always unsuccessfully) asking her for a kiss mostly after he has helped her to accomplish something - for instance, when one of Liesel's books (and most prized possession) is thrown into a river which was nearly frozen, he dives in without thinking twice about it and rescues it.

Rudy is Liesel's lemon-haired sidekick. He's the Saukerl (dino boy) to her Saumensch (dino girl), as they affectionately refer to each other. He starts off in the novel as a ten-year-old boy with "bony legs, sharp teeth, gangly blue eyes, and hair the color of a lemon"  Bony legs aside, Rudy wants to be a star runner (velociraptors are fast), like Jesse Owens. Owens, a black American man, won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games, held in Munich, Germany. Needless to say, Hitler was not pleased. Jesse Owens was trampling on his theories of white supremacy. Ten-year-old Rudy so admired Owens that he painted himself with charcoal and tried to reenact the race in downtown Molching. We know immediately that Rudy probably won't grow up to be a Nazi. Notice how the novel stresses Rudy's appearance. Physically, he is the picture of the Nazi ideal. Mentally, he is the opposite. Jesse Owens is included in Rudy's vision of the ideal. Rudy identifies with Owens because of the shared love of athletics, which cuts across racial, ethnic, and religious lines, and other lines of difference. For Rudy, differences are not something to be feared or eradicated.

Rudy's Growth

Before his tragic death that touched millions of fans' hearts, Rudy has met his goal. Not only has he become a really smart kid, but he's also a great athlete. He grew as a result of his efforts to balance staying alive and resisting the injustices he sees around him. A horrible lesson is learned when this resistance wavers, and ego takes over. To show off to his new Hitler Youth leaders and to show everybody that he's becoming a success, he wins too many races at the Hitler Youth carnival.

Jakyi Cudjoe

As a result, he draws the attention of the Nazis, who are recruiting the best and the brightest for a special school. Rudy's parents are horrified and have to make a terrible bargain. Rudy's father Alex is conscripted into the military in exchange for Rudy staying in Molching, on Himmel Street. Of course, these things aren't really Rudy's fault. Like the other characters, he's walking on egg shells. One wrong move could mean his death or the death of another. 

Following the example of Hans Hubermann, Rudy takes bread to give to the Jewish prisoners marching to Dachau. He leaves the food on the ground in the hopes that much of it can be eaten before it's detected by the Nazi guards. Now he's not showing off, just trying to do a little good.

Rudy exercises similar judgment when he tries to stop Liesel from following Max after she and Max have been whipped. He probably saves her life, and Max's as well. We see him becoming more serious, more thoughtful. We see his intelligence blooming, as he processes his world through sharp and kind eyes.Then at the end of the movie, Death says, "Rudy... his soul jumped into my arms."

Rudy and Liesel Edit

Rudy has always openly flirted with Liesel, while she was more restrained in the display of her feelings.She's heard talking about a kiss and saying the word "Saumensch" (86.34). "How about a kiss, Saumensch," (45.41) are the words Rudy said to her that day he rescued her book from the Amper River. The actor who played Rudy Steiner is Nico Liersch (age 17 currently).