John Boyne’s novel ‘The young in the strip Pyjamas’ was very first published in 2006 and adapted into a best-selling film two years later. It is an global best-seller and also as of 2016 it had actually sold 7 million copies. Teachers across the UK use it as a tool to teach about the Holocaust in both history and English lessons.

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Many human being who have read the publication or watched the film adaptation think that the is a true story based on real people and real events. However, that is important to know that the book is a job-related of fiction. The occasions portrayed can never have actually happened. In this blog I synopsis some the the book’s historical inaccuracies and stereotypical portrayals of significant characters that aid to perpetuate danger myths around the Holocaust.



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Bruno is the key character in the book. The is a young German young whose father, a high-ranking Nazi, bring away a brand-new job meaning the household have to relocate to a new place. Bruno is ripe years old however doesn’t seem to be conscious of the war about him, that the Jews are or even who Adolf Hitler is. Together a young German boy, and also the son of a an elderly SS officer, Bruno would have been, by law, a member the the Hitler Youth. The would have actually attended a German institution where students regularly swore oaths to Hitler and also where antisemitic propaganda infiltrated every part of the curriculum. Kids were taught the the war was something to be proud of together it supposed that Germany would end up being a good power when more.

Bruno’s characterisation perpetuates the belief that most German civilians to be ignorant of what to be happening approximately them. In reality the general public in Germany and also in occupied Europe to be well aware that Jewish human being were gift persecuted, required to emigrate and also eventually deported. There were also many that knew that Jewish people were being killed. Plenty of Germans profited native the Holocaust as Jewish properties and belongings to be ‘Aryanised’, which intended they to be taken from their Jewish owners and given rather to ‘ethnic’ Germans. A minority of German civilians stood up to Nazi ideology. Nazi authorities stamped the end resistance come the program quickly and brutally.



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Shmuel is a young Jewish boy that Bruno meets whilst exploring near his new home. The very first time lock meet, Shmuel is behind the barbed cable of a concentration camp. End the food of the story the two boys produce a friendship in spite of being be separate by the barbed wire fence.

As one audience we learn a lot around Bruno, for this reason he i do not care a real little boy in our imaginations. However, Shmuel is only ever depicted as a one-dimensional victim. Shmuel has actually no personality or individuality, so the audience doesn’t build an emotional connection with him. This way it is harder for the reader to empathise v Shmuel and his situation.

Shmuel’s characterisation portrays Jewish victims together passive and also unresisting. However, Jewish resistance did exist both in and also outside the concentration and also death camps. In ~ Auschwitz-Birkenau a team of Sonderkommando (Jewish prisoners required to do the terrible work the herding people into the gas chambers, climate removing the dead bodies) successfully regulated to blow up one of the crematoria and kill a number of guards. It is necessary that people understand that Jewish people did no go to their deaths there is no trying to save themselves.

Shmuel’s story is also historically inaccurate. For reader of the book it is clear the the camp is probably the Auschwitz concentration camp complex as Bruno calls it ‘Out-With’. If a young boy favor Shmuel had entered Auschwitz-Birkenau climate it is an extremely likely the would have been sent out straight come the gas chambers ~ above arrival, just like the bulk of youngsters who come there, together the Nazis didn’t think about them useful as forced labour. A small variety of children were chosen for medical experimentation yet these children were kept away native the key camp. Also if Shmuel had been selected for forced labour he would certainly not have had the possibility to spend most of his days sitting on the suburbs of the camp.

The Ending

The story’s conclusion leaves many readers upset. Bruno digs a tunnel under the wire, crawls into the camp, climate he and also Shmuel go trying to find Shmuel’s missing father. Both boys space swept increase in a group of detainees being required to the gas chamber, where all of them are murdered. The emotional focus of the story is ~ above Bruno’s family and also their distress as they realise what has happened to their son. The reader’s attention remains with the suffer of the concentration camp commandant and also his wife whose son has actually been eliminated in what is shown as a tragic accident.

Because the focus of the story remains on Bruno’s family, the book does not connect with the main tragedy the the Holocaust: the none that the world in the gas room should have actually been there. Due to the way in i m sorry Shmuel’s personality is illustrated in the novel, his character doesn’t interact the reader’s sympathy in the means that Bruno does. Shmuel represents the 1.5 million youngsters murdered by the Nazi program in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in the death camps of occupied Europe and in the killing fields where countless civilians were shot into mass graves, yet the reader’s sympathy is directed in the direction of a Nazi concentration camp commandant and his family.

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What are the alternatives?

Some educators will certainly argue that ‘The boy in the stripe Pyjamas’ helps raise awareness that the Holocaust in human being who would not otherwise it is in interested, and there is possibly some truth in that. However, in an educational context it is important yet that this book is only used as a piece of fiction and that teachers do clear to young people that in the history the publication is not factual. There are an extremely many survivor accounts of the Holocaust that are obtainable to young people, or novels that are much more accurately based in fact and less problematic from a historical and also ethical suggest of view, the teachers could use in the classroom. Our finding out programme because that children and young people is based on the life stories of 16 children and young world who escaped or made it through the Holocaust. Below are some of the alternative publications we imply teachers look at into.

Survivors that the Holocaust: this graphic novel through Huddersfield-based Fettle computer animation is based on the real-life testimony of 6 survivors all of whom also feature in the ‘Through our Eyes’ exhibition. The book was painstakingly researched but is available for young people. The publication is based on a collection of award-winning animations developed in partnership through the BBC.

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

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

The Diary the a Young Girl by ann Frank is the most famed piece of creating by a victim of the Holocaust. Anne is a genuine child writing about her real experiences life under Nazi dominance whilst in hiding in Amsterdam. Over there are likewise versions accessible that are suitable for main school students.

Once by Morris Gleitzman speak the story the a young Jewish boy’s find for his parents. The novel is told with Felix’s eyes so the atrocities the witnesses in Nazi inhabited Poland space told indigenous a child’s perspective.

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

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