The Berlin Boxing Club

02mjp4ggjenb t

Sydney Taylor Award-winning novel Berlin Boxing Club is loosely inspired by the true story of boxer Max Schmeling's experiences following Kristallnacht.

Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin, don't care that Karl has never been in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. And as Max's fame forces him to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Includes an author's note and sources page detailing the factual inspirations behind the novel.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

Curriculet Details
132 Questions
116 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring point of view, conflict, tension, and the author’s use of symbols, motifs, and pacing. Written annotations define historical fiction and describe the use of characterization and tension to advance the plot. Videos and visual annotations explain references to social and political events in Germany during the period from 1935 to 1938. It also includes images that explain the significance of allusions to works of art, literature, and sites in Berlin, Germany. Students will explore the themes of racial and religious identity, acceptance, diversity, and appearance. The Common Core aligned question, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Homework #6

This novel is from the genre historical fiction. In historical fiction, the action takes place in the past. The settings are drawn from history and often contain historical persons. Works in this genre generally portray the manners and social conditions of the persons or times presented in the story. 
The setting of this novel is Germany between the years of 1935 to 1938. Below is an image of a map of Germany. It shows territorial changes between the years of 1935 to 1939. (This annotation contains an image)
In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story. The video explains point of view. What point of view does the narrator use in this text? (This annotation contains a video)
What is the Wolf Pack? 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Why does the Wolf Pack harass the narrator? 
In this text, ghetto refers to the area of a city in Eastern Europe traditionally inhabited by Jews.  

Homework #7

The Iron Cross is the highest German military decoration for bravery. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the narrator see in Franz's eyes? 
Which figure of speech does the narrator use to describe his pain? 

Homework #8

Karl Friedrich May was a popular German writer, noted mainly for adventure novels set in the American Old West and similar books set in the Orient and Middle East. This is the cover of a book the narrator may have read. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the narrator explain his appearance? 
Frau Kressel tends to the narrator's wounds. What does this tell the reader about her feelings for the narrator? 
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the Nazi Party. Under his command, between 1941 and 1945 Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, communists, homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled and members of other groups were targeted and methodically murdered in the largest genocide of the twentieth century.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the narrator's biggest concern? 
What do the narrator and Hildy have to do in preparation for the art gallery exhibit? 
What concerns Hildy and the narrator as they leave the apartment? 

Homework #9

For expressionist artists, art came from within the artist rather than from a depiction of the external visual world. The character of the artist's feelings was the standard for assessing the quality of a work. Grosz's painting "Eclipse of the Sun" is a caricature of Germany's economic self-destruction. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do the modern artists flee Germany? 
Why does Mr. Stern represent Hartzel? 
Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried "Max" Schmeling was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #10

This movie clip shows Anny Ondra in a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Blackmail." It gives you a glimpse of the type of movies Karl would have watched. (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator's name is 
What does Max observe about Karl's bruises? 
Why does this statement concern Karl? 

Homework #11

What is the second painting Max wishes to buy? 
What do you notice about Max from Karl's caricature of him? 
How does Max want to pay for the Grosz portrait? 

Homework #12

Below is an image of the Nollendorfplatz Theater.  (This annotation contains an image)
Define the word "matinee" using the Define feature. At what time of day do Karl and Hildy attend a matinee in this theater?   
Hildy is self-conscious about 
What is the first lesson Max gives Karl? 
Why do you think Mr. Stern's attitude changes when Max leaves? 

Homework #13

Whose voice does Karl recognize coming from the kitchen? 
Use the Define feature to determine the meaning of the word "pensive." What is its meaning in this sentence? 
The way a person acts tells the reader a great deal about his personality. What do we learn about Jakob from the way he responds to his injury? 
How does Uncle Jakob explain his injury? 

Homework #14

Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. What do we learn about Mr. Stern from his conversation with his wife? 
How does Mr. Stern feel about Karl's boxing lessons? 
Foreshadowing gives hints or clues about what may happen later in the book. Can you find an example of foreshadowing in the highlighted text? (This annotation contains a video)
In his caricature of Max, Karl emphasizes his  

Homework #15

Why does Karl set his clock for 5:30 a.m.? 
A writer can describe a character in different ways. Indirect characterization reveals the personality of a character through a character's speech, thoughts, actions, effect on others, or looks. 
Karl describes Herr Koplek using  
Why does Karl look for Herr Koplek? 
What does Karl discover about shoveling coal? 
How does Karl describe Greta? 

Homework #16

Why do you think Herr Koplek watches while Karl shovels coal? 
Who is Herr Karotte? 
Characters often experience conflict with other characters. Conflict is a type of struggle. The video explains internal and external conflict. Pay attention to the conflicts Karl faces. (This annotation contains a video)
As Herr Munter scans the faces of the students in the auditorium, what type of conflict does Karl experience? 

Homework #17

What does Herr Landsteiner's question reveal about him? 
When Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933, they instituted a series of measures aimed at persecuting Germany’s Jewish citizens. 
What message does the Wolf Pack send by their actions? 

Homework #18

How does Karl's attitude toward Max change? 
What do Karl's thoughts about Frau Kressel suggest about her role in their family? 
This is an image of the Knodel that Frau Kressel prepares for Karl and Hildy. Can you see why the dish is a favorite for the children? (This annotation contains an image)
Why are Hildy and Karl upset? 

Homework #19

Karl experiences different emotions as situations change at school and at home. This interplay of conflicting emotions is called tension. The video explains how authors use tension. As you continue reading, note the tensions in this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Karl question his father about delivering the package? 
What does Karl mean by this statement? 
What does Karl notice about the Countess that shocks him? 
What does the Countess give Karl? 
Why does Karl have so many questions when he leaves the Countess? 
Quiz One 

Homework #21

What other business occupies the building with the Berlin Boxing Club? 
What does the writer achieve by using indirect characterization to describe the two men? 
Use the Define feature to determine the meaning of "protégé." What does Max mean when says Karl is his protégé? 
Writers can use various techniques to provide information about characters.  
What do the extra letters indicate? 
What does Max want Karl to notice about the two boxers? 
Why does Max ask Karl to spar with Johann? 
Why does Neblig whisper to Karl? 
What figure of speech does Karl use to describe his reaction to the men's laughter? 
What life lessons does Karl learn from sparring with Johann? 

Homework #22

Who comes down to the basement while Karl is shoveling coal? 
What surprises Karl about Greta's reaction when he tells her he is training to be a boxer? 
Who secretly watches Karl and Greta as they kiss in the basement? 
Use the Define feature to find the meaning of "yarmulke." Where does Herr Greenberg wear his yarmulke? 
Why does Karl usually hide the fact that he is jewish? 
The title of this chapter is "Pandora's Box." In classical Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on Earth. View the video that explains the origin of Pandora's box. As the story progresses, think about how the myth applies to the relationship between Karl and Greta? (This annotation contains a video)
How does the theme of the myth Pandora's Box relate to this chapter? 

Homework #23

Why doesn't Max intervene when the other members call Karl names? 
Pay attention to Karl's sketches of his hands. Do they look manly?  
Why does Max shove Karl? 
Why do you think Max never discusses politics? 

Homework #24

Who is Karl's best friend at the boxing club? 
This is the cover of a "Joe Palooka" comic book. Does Joe appear to be sensitive and kind? (This annotation contains an image)
Why doesn't Neblig box anymore? 
What do Karl's cartoons tell you about his future plans? 
Why do the members give Karl the nickname the "Punching Bag"? 

Homework #25

Where do Greta and Karl meet? 
How is Karl changing? 
Greta's parents are 

Homework #26

Rembrandt is considered one of the greatest artists in European history. 
Why is it ironic that Karl wants a uniform like Kurt and Hans? 
How does the illustrator contrast the "German" and "Jewish" apples? 
What is the moral of this story? 
What do Karl and Hildy do with The Rotten Apples book? 
Characters who change over the course of a novel are dynamic characters. The video explains the difference between static and dynamic characters. Which type of character is Karl? (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #27

How does the first boy react when Herr Greenberg confronts him? 
Why are the Jewish boxers important to Karl? 
What does Karl cut out of the magazine? 
What attitude does Willy's comment represent? 
What theme does Willy's comment suggest? 

Homework #28

What does Greta give Karl? 
Karl does not want to become a target because of Neblig's stuttering but accepts his offer to be his cornerman. What does this suggest about Karl's maturity? 
Who does Karl look for in the crowd? 
Why does Karl panic when he enters the ring? 
What does Karl see in Strasser's eyes? 

Homework #29

How do Karl's actions convey his victory? 
What does Hildy give Karl for winning his match? 
Pacing is the speed at which the events in a story take place. Watch the video on pacing. Do you think this story is fast-paced? (This annotation contains a video)
Dachau was the first of several Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany intended to hold political prisoners. The image below shows the entrance to Dachau. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Karl's mother want the family to do? 
The tension is building in Karl's life. How does he handle it? 

Homework #30

Mrs. Stern's behavior is likely the result of  
Karl earns the members' respect because of his hard work and determination. 
Karl's most challenging fight is with 

Homework #31

Why do you think Herr Boch is no longer a member of the faculty? 
Karl, unlike Kurt and Hans, understands the seriousness of Principal Munter's words. What is Principal Munter saying? 
Why does the principal call the Jewish boys to the front of the auditorium? 
Should Karl have gone back to help Benjamin? 

Homework #32

The Torah is the books of Jewish scriptures and other sacred Jewish writings. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Karl stand out from the other students? 
The Nazis want a nation of people whose blood is "pure" and beliefs align with their regime. 
Who is Bertram Heigel? 
How does Bertram know Karl's father? 
What does Bertram's story reveal about Karl's father? 
How do Karl's feelings for his father change? 

Homework #33

Why does Max's behavior mystify Karl? 
The photograph of Jacobs and Schmeling saluting together makes them appear to be 
This song and video highlight the Brown Bomber's career. What additional information does the song give about Joe Louis's career? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Max mean by this statement? 
What insight does Karl gain as he studies the photograph of Joe Louis? 

Homework #34

Why does Karl draw a picture of the Eiffel Tower on Greta's card? 
Who attacks Greta? 
How does Greta's sixteenth birthday turn "sour"? 

Homework #35

Damocles is a figure featured in a single moral anecdote commonly referred to as "the Sword of Damocles," an allusion to imminent and ever-present peril faced by those in positions of power. (This annotation contains an image)
Why are Karl and his family afraid when someone knocks on the door? 
What attitude does Dirks convey in his response to Karl? 
Why does Dirks visit the Sterns' apartment? 
We learn more about Karl's father from his reaction to Dirks. Is Mr. Stern a dynamic or static character? 
How does Karl respond to living in the basement? 
Why is it important for Mr. Stern to leave the door ajar? 

Homework #36

How does living in the gallery affect Karl's mom? 
This is an image of Duchamp's work "Fountain". Can you see why it might trigger humorous discussion among the family members? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the Stern family have no communication with Uncle Jakob? 
Why does Karl's father refuse to visit Uncle Jakob at Dachau? 
Why does Karl's father think Lutz may be willing to help them? 
What news does Lutz bring the family? 
Quiz Two 

Homework #37

What does Rebecca say that Uncle Jakob believed? 
The term "Red" is associated with Communism because the five-pointed red star is a symbol of Communism.  (This annotation contains an image)
What does "seeing red" mean for Karl? 
Why is Karl upset when he sees Gertz? 

Homework #38

How do the Nazis use Max's fight with Joe Louis to perpetuate their beliefs? 
Why does Worjyk think Joe Louis might win the fight? 
Karl admits that he is conflicted in his feelings about the match. How are his views about Jews and "inferior" races changing? 
What point of view does the commentator express? 
The speaker refers to mongrel races, or people of mixed blood. Why is ironic that he makes this comment to Karl? 
Why does Karl express concern when he realizes that Neblig removed his clothes? 

Homework #39

How is Max's victory a victory for Germany? 
How are Karl's feelings toward Max changing? 
Watch the video of Jesse Owens' Olympic performance. Can you see why the German sportswriters admired Owens' accomplishments? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Karl's father sell the tickets to the Olympic games? 

Homework #40

During the Olympics, why do restaurants and businesses take down the signs reading they do not serve Jews? 
How have things changed for Herr Greenberg? 
Where is Karl's mom when he gets home? 
Why do the boys from the Hitler Youth throw rotten eggs at Hildy? 
Hildy's experiences as a Jew are different from Karl's because she looks Jewish. 
What does Hildy think the rings in her hair represent? 
Why does Karl feel weak even though he has become physically strong? 

Homework #41

What is the message of the cartoon Karl draws Hildy? 
What news does Worjyk give Karl? 
What disturbs Karl about Max's refusal to preside over the youth tournament? 
What do Neblig and Worjyk give Karl before he steps into the ring? 
Why is Gertz Diener a threat to Karl? 
Why is Karl nervous about fighting Gertz? 
Karl realizes that Gertz has not changed: he is unable to confront Karl without the strength of the Wolf Pack. 
What do Franz tell the judges? 
What insight into the novel did the video give you?  
View the video to review the key themes of the novel. Do the boxing lessons help Karl create a new identity? (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #42

Karl makes a delivery to the Mitte district of Berlin. The image below shows people coming from work on Unter den Linden.  (This annotation contains an image)
What upsets Karl as he peers into the window of an ice-cream shop? 
Karl confronts Greta and her friend. Why do you think Greta refuses to look at Karl? 

Homework #44

Karl's training regimen has become a part of him. 
According to Karl's mother, what does it take to be great? 
Karl acknowledges that he does not understand his father. His mother helps him understand why his father acts the way he does. 
Picasso was one of the greatest and most influential artists of the twentieth century. The image below is a Picasso painting of a woman reading a book. Does the woman in this painting fit Karl's description? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Karl's father want to sell the Picasso? 
Why do you think Karl reacts instinctively to Kerner's appraisal of him? 
Why does Kerner think he has an advantage over Stern? 
The image below shows Museum Island. The museum complex itself is considered a work of art. (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #45

Who sends Karl a package? 
Why does Karl identify with Superman? 

Homework #46

In Karl's cartoon, what makes The Mongrel strong and intelligent? 
What is the Nazi attitude toward anyone who is not of the Aryan race? 
What does the letter reveal about Worjyk? 
Who does Neblig suggest Karl ask for help? 
A symbol is an object, person, or idea that represents something else. The video explains the use of symbolism. What does Ross symbolize for Karl? (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #47

Karl is referring to a racial ideology that claimed that the Aryan race was a "master race." The master race was said to be the most pure stock of the Aryan race, which was narrowly defined by the Nazis as being identical with the larger Caucasian race. 
Why does Karl stay at home with his family to listen to the fight on the radio? 
Karl listens to the announcer as Joe Louis brings Max to his knees. The video shows the fight between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis. Why does Karl find it hard to accept Max's defeat? (This annotation contains a video)
The men do not attack Karl because he does not look Jewish. What theme does this support in the text? 

Homework #48

Why do the Nazis treat Max differently after the fight with Joe Louis? 
Remember that this novel is from the genre of historical fiction. Actual historical events and people are woven into the story. 
Why do Karl's parents argue? 
Why does Lutz come to the family's gallery? 
These incidents occur on Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, and were triggered by the death of vom Rath by Grynszpan, a Jew. 
What happens to Karl's father? 

Homework #49

What does this say about appearances? 
How does Mr. Stern react after the break-in at the gallery? 
What does Hartzel's fear indicate about the state of Germany at this time? 
What do Mr. Stern's words suggest? 

Homework #50

How do Karl's actions in this situation show that he is changing? 
Who does Karl ask for help? 
What reality of Karl and Hildy's lives do the Countess' words reveal? 
Why do you think Kurt doesn't tell his friends that Karl is a Jew? 
The changes the Countess makes to his apartment represent 
Blood is a recurring motif in this book. A motif is as an image, sound, action or other figures that have a symbolic significance and contributes toward the development of theme. (This annotation contains a video)
The Countess plays a recording by 
What does Karl mean by this statement? 

Homework #51

What is ironic about this situation? 
Appearances or things not being the way they seem is another motif of this novel.  
How does Karl get the hotel attendant to call Max's room? 
How does Max's appearance affect Karl? 
What does Max discuss with the men in the other room? 
Why does Karl blame Max for what is happening with the Jews? 
What does Karl say Max should do? 
Why does Max want Karl to understand the importance of a feint? 

Homework #52

What does the Countess give Hildy? 
Hildy is not deceived by the Countess' appearance. Why is it significant that his appearance does not effect her acceptance of him? 
What causes Hildy and Karl to panic? 
The two maids differ in their views about Jews. Why is that important? 

Homework #53

Why might it be dangerous to take Hildy with them? 
Who does Karl find in the gallery? 
What doesn't Karl's mother leave the gallery immediately? 
How does this incident support the motif of appearances? 

Homework #54

What is ironic about Mr. Stern's situation? 
What plans does Rebecca make for Karl and Hildy? 
Where does the family get the money to pay for the trip? 
What attitude does the officer convey? 
The short officer really wants the autograph for  
What changes the officers' attitude toward Karl and his family? 
What is Max trying to tell Karl? 
Max recognizes that you should not stereotype an entire race of people. 
Why is special about the works of art in the books Karl's mother gives him? 
What does Karl realize when he examines the sketch of Max? 
View the book review of "The Berlin Boxing Club." How is the book both tragic and triumphant? (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz Three