“The boy in the Striped Pyjamas” was set during a horrific era in world history. It is set in what is now known as “The Holocaust”, which describes the mass murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany during Word War II.
Both the novel and the film are told from Bruno’s perspective, a German boy, who is still young enough to not be brainwashed by anti-Semitism and Nazi propaganda.
The Death Toll
The word Holocaust is the term generally used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II by Nazi Germany.
It is important to note that Germany was also responsible for the deaths of other minority groups including, Romani, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other political and religious opponents.
This means that the total number of Holocaust victims would be between 11 million and 17 million people.
Concentration & Extermination Camps
Germany maintained concentration camps throughout WWII.
Were generally used to house political prisoners and opponents of the regime, however numbers dramatically grew and extermination camps were built for the sole purpose of carrying out the extermination of the Jewish people.
Extermination camps included Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Millions of prisoners died in the concentration camps through mistreatment, disease, starvation, and overwork, or were executed as unfit for labor.
Prisoners were often transported in inhumane conditions by rail freight cars, in which many died before reaching their destination.
The prisoners were confined to the rail cars, often for days or weeks, without food or water.
Many died of dehydration in the intense heat of summer or froze to death in winter.
Concentration camps also existed in Germany itself, and while they were not specifically designed for systematic extermination, many of their prisoners perished because of harsh conditions or were executed.
Concentration camps: Prisons set up by German Nazis where Jews and other people considered “undesirable” were starved, tortured, killed, or left to die of disease.
Discrimination: treating people differently because they belong to a certain race, religion, gender, or other group.
Gas Chambers: buildings constructed to allow poisonous gas to be used for the extermination of Jews and others during the Holocaust.
Holocaust: refers to the mass killing by German Nazis of six million Jews in Europe during World War 2.
Prejudice: biased attitude toward individuals based solely on their race, religion, nationality, or other characteristic.
Propaganda: information purposely distorted to sway people’s thinking in a particular direction.
Shoah: the Hebrew word for “tragedy” that is used to refer to the Holocaust.
Fatherland: is the nation of one's "fathers", "forefathers" or "patriarchs” (head of the family/group). German Nazis believed they could create a new “Fatherland” made up of blonde haired and blue eyed people.
Auschwitz: a Nazi concentration camp for Jews in South Western Poland during World War 2. It is the supposed setting of the novel, referred to by Bruno as “Out-With”.