“Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” a fable World War II

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Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”
A Fable

World War II

  • The Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933

  • Persecution and exodus of Germany's 525,000 Jews began almost immediately.

  • Hitler had been open about his hatred of Jews, and gave ample warning of his intention to drive them from Germany's political, intellectual, and cultural life.

  • The war took place between 1939 – 1945 and included most of the world’s nations.

Timeline of World War II


  • Hitler invades Poland on 1st September. Britain and France declare war on Germany two days later.


  • Rationing starts in the UK.

  • German 'Blitzkrieg' (extreme bombing) overwhelms Belgium, Holland and France.

  • Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain.

  • British Expeditionary Force evacuated from Dunkirk.

  • British victory in Battle of Britain forces Hitler to postpone invasion plans.


  • Hitler begins Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia.

  • The Blitz continues against Britain's major cities.

  • Allies take Tobruk in North Africa, and resist German attacks.

  • Japan attacks Pearl Harbour, and the US enters the war.

Timeline Continued


  • Germany suffers setbacks at Stalingrad and El Alamein.

  • Singapore falls to the Japanese in February - around 25,000 prisoners taken.

  • American naval victory at Battle of Midway, in June, marks turning point in Pacific War.

  • Mass murder of Jewish people at Auschwitz begins.


  • Surrender at Stalingrad marks Germany's first major defeat.

  • Allied victory in North Africa enables invasion of Italy to be launched.

  • Italy surrenders, but Germany takes over the battle.

  • British and Indian forces fight Japanese in Burma.


  • Allies land at Anzio and bomb monastery at Monte Cassino.

  • Soviet offensive gathers pace in Eastern Europe.

  • D Day: The Allied invasion of France. Paris is liberated in August.

  • Guam liberated by the US Okinawa, and Iwo Jima bombed.


  • Auschwitz liberated by Soviet troops.

  • Russians reach Berlin: Hitler commits suicide and Germany surrenders on 7 May.

  • Truman becomes President of the US on Roosevelt's death, and Attlee replaces Churchill.

Who were the Nazis?

  • A man named Adolf Hitler formed a party named the Nazis.

  • They were all members of the National Socialist Party in Germany.

  • Party came together about 1920 by a group of men (including Adolf Hitler).

  • Hitler rose to leadership of the party, and then became the Fuehrer of all Germany in 1933.

  • His dictatorship lasted 12 years until the end of WW2.

  • Committed suicide with his wife, Eva Braun, on April 30, 1945.

The World at War and the Text

“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.

  • Genocide: the intentional killing of people who belong to a particular race, religion, culture, or other group.

  • 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”.

The entrance to Auschwitz.


  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is based on a work of historical fiction by Irish novelist John Boyne.

  • Presents a child's point of view of the Holocaust.

  • Relationship between the two boys demonstrates the absurdity of judgments based on blood line.


  • Not intended to reflect historical accuracy.

  • Illuminates the following points about the events of the European theatre in WW II:

  • The disregard for the plight of the Jews by common German people during the Holocaust;

  • The denial process applied to the immorality of what Germany was doing to the Jews;

  •  The propaganda used in educating German children, including the propagation of anti-Semitism;

  •  The existence and suppression of dissenting points of view

  • The callous and casual manner in which the Germans developed more efficient killing methods;

  • The ironies involved in the failure to adhere to well-developed standards of ethics, such as in the treatment of children.


  • 1943

  • Begins in Berlin, Germany

  • Continues at Auschwitz, outside of Krakow, Poland


  • An Innocent Perspective

  • The Essence of Friendship

  • Acts of Humanity

  • Obedience and Conformity

  • Prejudice and Discrimination


  • Bruno, the novel’s protagonist, is told that he will be moving in one day.

  • Imagine that you are given 24 hours notice to plan and pack a suitcase for the move.

  • How would you feel? How would you prepare?

  • Who would you call?

  • What would you take? What would you leave behind?

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