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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and the Holocaust Essay

Author John Boyne published his infamous novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. John Boyne was born in Dublin, Ireland. Boyne attended Trinity College in Dublin where he first studied English Literature and then proceeded to the University of East Anglia in Norwich where he then studied creative writing. He began his published writing career in the year two-thousand with his first published book The Thief of Time.

Though The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas separates itself from Boyne’s traditional style of writing by having being written for a younger audience, it was the book that took John Boyne’s career to the successful point it is now at. Using his father’s date of birth as the same for both Shmuel and Bruno, Boyne could further relate the two boys to a familiar story. Demonstrating the truly catastrophic events of the Holocaust in a fictional novel, Boyne captures the torment that two young boys face in a time where their innocence is taken away by one of the most evil acts of humanity.

The Holocaust caused the lives of six million Jews to be lost, and the faith of the survivors. The Nazi Germans called this systematic mass killing “the final solution to the Jewish question. ” In nineteen-thirty-three, Anti-Semitism reached its’ peak in Germany “…destruction, which was launched with torchlight parades and accented by speeches that proclaimed the death of “Jewish intellectualism” and the purification of German culture. Thus, writings by such Jewish intellectuals as Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud fueled the huge bonfires.

Also engulfed in flames was the work of Heinrich Heine, a German poet of Jewish origin. A century earlier Heine had stated, “Where books are burned, in the end people will be burned. ” …. his statement would become [true], specifically for the European Jews who found themselves under Nazi domination during the Third Reich. ” (The Holocaust Chronicles 53) By July of nineteen-thirty-three, twenty-five thousand Jews amongst other “unfit” German citizens had been sent to concentration camps or jail.

Democracy in Germany had disappeared under Adolf Hitler’s new command with the Nazi Party being the only legal political party. Hitler began a propaganda that the Jew was a threat to the German race, unequal, and inferior, that it must be eliminated in order to restore the power lost during and after the First World War Jewish businesses were boycotted, German citizens began discriminating Jews, physically harming them and humiliating them.

Later, German Nazis demanded that all non-Aryan subjects shall retire, “…any person who had a Jewish parent or grandparent was “non-Aryan. ” (54) The Jews were then places in ghettos, where the living conditions were poor and a preview of their upcoming fate was shown. Forced to wear David’s star as an embroidered badge on their clothing to symbolize their faith, the Jews were publicly isolated for the German citizens to see and attack.

This would’ve made many of the Jews feel ashamed and directed them to lose faith in the God they had previously loved and lived by, as that same faith in the religion was what caused their cruel misfortune. Religion is seen repeatedly in both Night by Elie Wiesel and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. In Boyne’s work, the two main characters, Bruno and Shmuel, are two nine year old boys who are unfortunately wrapped up in the horrid events that took place during the years of the Holocaust. Bruno’s father is a high ranking officer working for the S.

S during the period of the Nazi Party’s ruling in Germany. He doesn’t show clear understanding of what’s going on and what his father is doing, with help of constant deceit from his parents, his sister and instructor, Bruno still sees no difference between him and Shmuel, who is a Jewish prisoner of a concentration camp. Though there is no difference in the two boys, society, family and religion tells them otherwise, and yet their friendship is unbreakable. “We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me.

We’re supposed to be enemies, did you know that? ” (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas 118) Having been disciplined by society to believe in a concept of inequality between the pure German race and the Jewish people, the friendship between Bruno and Shmuel becomes a significantly touching plot, not in the sense that it shouldn’t or couldn’t be, but in a way that demonstrates the innocence that adults tried to deprive from their children, and the loving bond that brings two boys who are meant enemies together, it makes them equal.

Religion isn’t understood, hatred isn’t understood and evil acts are not understood; for once, the naive minds of innocence that cannot understand the plot Hitler formed are perfectly right by the similarity of not understanding their nonexistent “differences. ” Both the real events of World War II and the fictional events within the novel feature a lot of deceit. Propaganda was used by the governments of every country involved in the war as well as within Germany against the Jews.

This form of subtle manipulation was successful as it used citizens’ issues and fears to provide an excuse for the events occurring. Hitler used slogans and made powerful speeches throughout his dictatorship that convinced the Germans to believe that the Jewish people really were a threat that Germany had to repel. By blaming their economical issues on the Jews, the Germans had more of a reason to desire the exeunt of their race entirely. “’Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people…

Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea. ’ Adolf Hitler wrote these words in his book Mein Kampf, in which he first advocated the use of propaganda to spread the ideals of National Socialism — among them racism, antisemitism,. ” ( http://www. ushmm. org ) The novel also shows a pattern of deceit, where Bruno is lied to by his parents when he asks what is behind the fence.

Bruno also lies when he denies knowing Shmuel, an act of fear that resurfaces the idea that he is still a child with no desire to be punished. Deceit is a tendency that was believed to be necessary by the furor, Adolf Hitler, in order to proceed with the Final Solution while having his citizens and the rest of the world blind, as they believed his idea was only beneficial to Germany. Hitler and the Nazi Party would have not succeeded had they always been truthful to not only the people within their own borders, but the people outside of them too.

It was necessary to deceit in order to succeed, or what he planned to be a success. In Bruno’s case, that same deceit provided him with the loyalty and love to Shmuel to be his friend until death. The accounted Jewish casualties that took place under the furor, Adolf Hitler and commander Heimrich Himmler are an approximate six million, completely exterminating the trace of each and every Jewish family in Germany, for even those who survived left immediately after the Russians set them free from the concentration camps in nineteen-forty-five.

Survivors who have testimonies of their experience in the camps, the ghettos, and those who escaped still try to make sense of what happened in the twelve year long battle for survival. Emotionally, they have wounds that will never fully heal over. Mentally, they withhold memories that could only be imagined as the most vivid of nightmares to those of us who didn’t live through the terrorizing events. Spiritually, they are finally free to believe, if they can and most do. They speak of the Holocaust as a test from God, another reason to show their faith to the world.

Eliezer Wiesel said in Night, “That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write and to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal. ” Evidently, families were lost and lives were separated, an emotional devastation that one may never come to comprehend. In both of the works, family is demonstrated to be a significant factor. Elie, in Night, speaks fondly of the love for his father and the absolute loss of himself after the loss of his father.

In The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Bruno’s mother reveals a love for her family so deep that she becomes despaired with the facts of her husband’s work. Shmuel sacrifices himself, at the side of his best friend, Bruno, to find his father and endanger his own life to save one of a family members’. This was the case for each person who died and survived the Holocaust. “If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example. ” (Anne Frank)


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