How Old Is Max In The Book Thief?

This blog post will discuss the character Max Vandenburg from Markus Zusak’s novel The Book Thief. We will discuss how old Max is, what his character is like, and how he fits into the story.

Checkout this video:


Max Vandenburg is a complicated character in The Book Thief, and his age is no exception. Though he’s only briefly mentioned in the novel, his backstory is revealed through Liesel’s memories and dream sequences. In this guide, we’ll break down everything we know about Max’s age in The Book Thief.

Max is first introduced in the novel as an adult man, though his exact age is not given. He’s been living in the Hubermann household for some time when Liesel first meets him, and he’s already well-known and liked by the people of Molching. Given that he’s an adult man with a full beard, we can assume that he’s at least 18 years old.

However, it’s later revealed that Max was only 16 when he arrived at the Hubermann house. This means that he’s actually only two years older than Liesel herself. This makes sense when you consider how childlike Max behaves at times – he loves playing with children, making up stories, and drawing pictures. He also seems to have difficulty understanding adult concepts like war and death.

So, how did Max end up being two years older than he actually is? It all has to do with his time spent in hiding during the Nazi regime. When Max first went into hiding, he was only 14 years old. But because of the stressful conditions he was living in – constantly moving from place to place, never staying in one place for too long – his body aged more quickly than it should have. By the time he arrived at the Hubermann house, he looked and behaved like a much older man.

This aging process is also evident in Max’s dreams about his time in hiding. In these dreams, Max frequently refers to himself as an old man even though he’s technically still a teenager. It’s clear that the stress of his situation has caused him to age both physically and emotionally beyond his years.


Max Vandenburg is a Jew who is hiding from the Nazis in the Hubermann household. He is 31 years old when he first comes to hide with the Hubermanns.

Max’s Age in the Book

Max’s age is never given in the book, but we can make an educated guess based on the time period in which the story is set. The book starts in February of 1939, and Max’s birthday is in September. This would make him about 9 years old when the book begins.

The Significance of Max’s Age

Max’s age is not actually mentioned in the book, but we can make an educated guess based on the clues provided. We know that Max is an older man, because he talks about being in World War I and he also mentions that he was a prisoner in a concentration camp during World War II. Based on these clues, we can assume that Max is at least in his 60s, if not older.

Why is Max’s age significant? One reason is that it helps to set the timeframe for the story. The book covers a span of years from around 1939 to around 1943, and since we know that Max is an elderly man, we can assume that he was born well before 1939. This means that he would have lived through many major historical events, including both World Wars. This gives him a unique perspective on the events of the story.

Another reason why Max’s age is significant is because it helps to explain his relationship with Liesel. Liesel is only a child when she meets Max, and she looks up to him as a father figure. This makes sense given the fact that Max is much older than her and has lived through so much more than she has.

Themes and Symbols

The Book Thief is a historical fiction novel set in Germany during World War II. The protagonist, Liesel Meminger, is a young girl who is sent to live with a foster family, the Hubermanns, in the small town of molching. Liesel steals books to quench her thirst for knowledge and shares them with the Jewish man hiding in her cellar, Max Vandenberg. The Hubermanns risk their lives to protect Max from the Nazi regime.

The themes of The Book Thief include the power of words, the dangers of totalitarianism, and the importance of family. The symbols in the novel include books, bombs, and contrasts between light and dark.

Max Vandenberg is 19 years old when he arrives at the Hubermanns’ house. He is 21 years old when he leaves Molching at the end of the novel.


The consensus seems to be that Max Vandenburg is around 30 years old when he first meets Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief. This would make him born around 1909, give or take a few years.

Scroll to Top