John Boyne’s novel ‘The young in the stripe Pyjamas’ was an initial published in 2006 and adjusted into a best-selling film 2 years later. That is an international best-seller and as of 2016 it had actually sold 7 million copies. Teachers throughout the UK use it as a device to teach around the Holocaust in both background and English lessons.

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Many human being who have actually read the publication or watched the movie adaptation believe that the is a true story based upon real people and real events. However, it is crucial to recognize that the book is a work-related of fiction. The occasions portrayed could never have happened. In this blog I overview some of the book’s historical inaccuracies and stereotypical portrayals of major characters that aid to perpetuate dangerous myths about the Holocaust.



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Bruno is the key character in the book. He is a young German boy whose father, a high-ranking Nazi, bring away a new job definition the family have to move to a brand-new place. Bruno is nine years old but doesn’t seem come be mindful of the war around him, who the Jews room or even who Adolf Hitler is. As a young German boy, and also the boy of a senior SS officer, Bruno would have been, by law, a member the the Hitler Youth. He would have attended a German school where students regularly swore oaths to Hitler and also where antisemitic propaganda infiltrated every part of the curriculum. Kids were taught that the war was something to it is in proud of as it expected that Germany would come to be a an excellent power as soon as more.

Bruno’s characterisation perpetuates the id that most German civilians to be ignorant the what was happening around them. In reality the general public in Germany and in lived in Europe to be well conscious that Jewish civilization were being persecuted, required to emigrate and eventually deported. There were likewise many who knew the Jewish people were gift killed. Many Germans profited native the Holocaust as Jewish properties and belongings to be ‘Aryanised’, which supposed they to be taken from your Jewish owners and also given instead to ‘ethnic’ Germans. A decimal of German civilians stood up to Nazi ideology. Nazi authorities stamped out resistance come the routine quickly and brutally.



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Shmuel is a young Jewish boy that Bruno meets whilst experimenting near his new home. The an initial time lock meet, Shmuel is behind the barbed wire of a concentration camp. Over the food of the story the 2 boys create a friendship regardless of being be separated by the barbed cable fence.

As one audience we discover a lot around Bruno, so he becomes a real small boy in our imaginations. However, Shmuel is just ever portrayed as a one-dimensional victim. Shmuel has actually no personality or individuality, so the audience doesn’t develop an emotional link with him. This means it is harder for the leader to empathise through Shmuel and his situation.

Shmuel’s characterisation portrays Jewish victims together passive and also unresisting. However, Jewish resistance walk exist both in and also outside the concentration and also death camps. In ~ Auschwitz-Birkenau a team of Sonderkommando (Jewish prisoners compelled to do the devastating work of herding people into the gas chambers, then removing the dead bodies) successfully managed to punch up among the crematoria and also kill a number of guards. That is necessary that human being understand the Jewish human being did no go to your deaths there is no trying to save themselves.

Shmuel’s story is also historically inaccurate. For reader of the publication it is clear the the camp is more than likely the Auschwitz concentration camp complicated as Bruno calls the ‘Out-With’. If a young boy prefer Shmuel had gotten in Auschwitz-Birkenau climate it is really likely that would have been sent straight to the gas chambers top top arrival, as with the bulk of children who come there, together the Nazis didn’t think about them beneficial as compelled labour. A small number of children were favored for medical experimentation however these kids were retained away native the key camp. Even if Shmuel had actually been selected for compelled labour he would not have had the possibility to spend most of his days sit on the outskirts of the camp.

The Ending

The story’s conclusion leaves many readers upset. Bruno digs a tunnel under the wire, crawls into the camp, then he and Shmuel go in search of Shmuel’s lacking father. Both boys space swept up in a team of prisoners being taken to the gas chamber, where every one of them space murdered. The emotional emphasis of the story is on Bruno’s family and also their distress together they realise what has happened to your son. The reader’s attention stays with the suffer of the concentration camp commandant and his mam whose son has actually been killed in what is shown as a disastrous accident.

Because the focus of the story stays on Bruno’s family, the publication does not connect with the key tragedy of the Holocaust: the none of the people in the gas room should have actually been there. Because of the method in i beg your pardon Shmuel’s personality is illustrated in the novel, his character doesn’t connect the reader’s sympathy in the method that Bruno does. Shmuel represents the 1.5 million youngsters murdered through the Nazi program in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in the fatality camps of populated Europe and also in the killing areas where numerous civilians to be shot right into mass graves, however the reader’s sympathy is directed towards a Nazi concentration camp commandant and his family.

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What space the alternatives?

Some educators will argue that ‘The boy in the striped Pyjamas’ helps raise awareness of the Holocaust in people who would certainly not otherwise be interested, and there is probably some truth in that. However, in an educational paper definition it is important however that this publication is only offered as a piece of fiction and also that teachers make clear come young human being that in the history the book is not factual. Over there are an extremely many survivor account of the Holocaust the are available to young people, or novels the are more accurately based in fact and also less problem from a historical and also ethical suggest of view, that teachers could use in the classroom. Our discovering programme because that children and also young human being is based upon the life stories of 16 children and also young human being who escaped or made it through the Holocaust. Here are several of the alternative publications we suggest teachers look into.

Survivors that the Holocaust: this graphic novel by Huddersfield-based Fettle computer animation is based on the real-life testimony of 6 survivors every one of whom likewise feature in the ‘Through our Eyes’ exhibition. The book was painstakingly researched however is easily accessible for young people. The book is based on a collection of award-winning animations created in partnership v the BBC.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr: the award-winning writer and also illustrator the The Tiger who concerned Tea and the Mog story was born right into German Jewish family who fled Germany in 1933 and also came come the UK in 1936. This semi-autobiographical publication gives a childs-eye see of the second World War.

Hitler’s Canary by Sandi Toksvig is based on Sandi’s family experience. In Denmark the Danish population came together and also were may be to conserve the bulk of Danish Jews by helping them flee come neutral Sweden or hiding them within Denmark, this is the story of one families function in the rescue.

The Diary the a Young Girl by ann Frank is the most well known piece of composing by a victim that the Holocaust. Anne is a actual child writing about her actual experiences life under Nazi dominion whilst in hiding in Amsterdam. There are additionally versions accessible that are suitable for main school students.

Once by Morris Gleitzman tells the story of a young Jewish boy’s search for his parents. The novel is told through Felix’s eyes so the atrocities he witnesses in Nazi occupied Poland room told indigenous a child’s perspective.

We have actually first-hand filmed survivor testimony on our website that is easily accessible to usage for free, this can be found here.

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