The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a fiction movie and book. It takes place in Auschwitz during World War II. Bruno’s father was in charge of the camp and was promoted commander by Adolf Hitler. After they move from their home in Berlin to Auschwitz, Bruno unintentionally befriends the “enemy,” Shmuel. Shmuel is a Jew and is inside the camp, they play and talk with an electric fence between them.
I love Bruno’s character. He loves adventures and wants to be an explorer, and while watching the film/reading the book, I realized that people are never bred racist, or more specifically antisemite, but nurtured that way. For example, Bruno, he was born into an important Nazi family and yet he befriended a Jew and after finding out about Shmuel’s religion, continued to talk to him.
I can’t even express in words how much I loved Shmuel, even though I knew he was a fictional character, just knowing there were kids such as him who were treated so poorly breaks my heart. It makes me realize that as humans, even when we claim that we are smarter than any animal, can turn into animals. The way people tortured these people, is just inhumane. Shmuel, I believe, is what innocent looks like.
In the story, you can see how things brainwash children. Gretel, Bruno’s older sister, is a great example. Although she is twelve and only three years older than Bruno, she talked like her father and believed that Jews were the enemy. I didn’t hate her character simply because it was a good example of how brainwashing works. By reading books about the bad influences of the Jews and constantly being told by her surrounding adults that they are less than her, she was brainwashed.
The mother, Elsa, never seemed to fully be supportive of this movement, but kept quiet since her husband was commander of the camp. But after finding out the thing they do to the Jews there, she finally loses it. And she is right to do so. But the father, Ralf, still sees the Jews as a “less than,” and continues to ignore the fact that they are people, too. His character, I truly despised. Sitting at his office and commanding to kill of hundreds of Jews at a time, that’s what really upset me, because I know that there was a person like that back during the second world war.
I love this story and recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read the book or watched the movie. It really opens your eyes. I think the message John Boyne tried to express is that people are never born with hatred, but nurtured that way.