The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Year 8

In chapter eight Bruno writes a letter to his grandmother.

Imagine you are Bruno’s grandmother, Nathalie. Write a letter to Bruno, intended to be read when he is older.

We know that Nathalie is sickened by Ralph’s job; how much does she know of what went on in the concentration camps?

The question of how much ordinary Germans knew about Hitler’s “final solution” is much debated. Use online resources and do research to help you complete the task.

Some examples of online resources:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/feb/17/johnezard

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=236974

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0679772685/qid=1075330351/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-7592414-1779069?v=glance&s=books&tag=5336612429-20

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8 thoughts on “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

  1. Dear Bruno

    I received your letter. Yes, these are difficult times, I agree, and I will try to explain this to you. What is happening in Germany at the moment is something really complicated, something that your father is doing and that all the world is talking about. The people you see, the children you talk about, the ones who seem lifeless, resigned to what is happening, the man you’ve told me about, the Doctor, Pavel, are all people under your Father’s influence.

    I know he would kill me if he knew that I was writing this letter to you, because he would really be capable of it. Those people, the yellow star, means in some way that they are “Inferior” to your father and all the germans. I know you grew up with all those stories that germans are the pure blooded people, and the people who will take the world under their wing, and that will discard anyone who is inferior to them.

    Those people in the huts are just under Ralph’s control. They are to them some sort of game, where all of those lives that you see could have an end, the moment you read this letter. Just be careful you do not get influenced, be careful your father, Kotler or whoever could just get his hands on your way of thinking. No-one, except the high commandants and their families, what really is going on in these camps, how men’s souls are ripped out of them, one by one in those huts. How can a man do this to another man, or how can God let men do these things to each other. These are the two question that you have to ask your father Bruno.

    Don’t get mesmerized if he gets angry or punishes you. He likes what he’s doing. He knows what he’s doing. But when the good will actually triumph, when Auschwitz will be freed, your father locked up in some Russian camp, THEN, you will be confused Bruno, as the men will have their eyes opened to what has happened ever since they put Hitler to power,

    Just carry on and never stop asking questions, but wait for the answer,

    Grandmother

    1. Dear Bruno,

      What a pleasure to hear you, my little boy. I am writing this letter which is to be read when you are older. Your Father and I have different opinions on what is going on in this period in Germany. I want you to read this letter in a few years so that you have understood the situation you lived or will be living in.

      All those numerous people you see from your window unfortunately are not happy farmers who are working in the countryside to send you food, but are all people whose lives have been taken away from. Pavel, the gentile man who helped you when you fell from the swing, was once a doctor. As he told you he once practised this job, but since they have deported him at Auschwitz, his life has changed. All the men, women and children that you see from the window, are forced to work. Some although, can’t resist to the exhousting work and die or are sent to gas cameras.

      Nazist, people who think that aryan Germans are “superior” to Jewish, are acting in this rude way thinking that they can make Germany a powerful single nation. Unfortunately your father is of the same idea and this is why we have had that discussion the last time we saw each other. I think that humans are all of equal dignity and have the same human rights. Just seing my son wearing that uniform and being proud of it made me angry. None has the right to feal superior and kill all those people who have a different opinion. I think everyone can believe in what the like and certainly anyone can force tham to change idea. Differency may be an advantage.

      Just think of all those Germans who perhaps think it in my way and are forced to change opinion if they don’t want to face death. If your father knew I was writing you this, I would be in big danger. Unfortunately people as ignorants or children don’t know what is going on and many times are influenced by someone else’s opinion. Industrial men support Nazist so that their industries can continue to produce and young men, who want to feel superior, brave and powerful, prefer joining Hitler than fighting for a better nation.

      Please Bruno don’t let anyone influence your ideas because I know you are a responsible boy. Try to learn the history you are leaving in and promise me you will work to create an equal and unique country that hasn’t to face etnics problems.

      I count on your help, my sweet Bruno.

      With love,

      Grandmother

  2. Dear Bruno,

    Thanks for the letter you have sent me. I miss you too very much. Reading your letter wasn’t easy for me because I know how difficult it is to be forced to do something against your will. Going to Auschwitz is probably the worst thing your Father could have done for you and for the rest of the family. When you’ll read this letter, most of the people you see from your window will probably be dead and the worst thing is that your father could stop all of this but instead just watches them suffer.

    I know you think your father is a honorable man but what he’s doing now isn’t honorable at all! It’s time for you to know what those camps are and what happen in them.

    The people you see from your window are normal people just as me and you but they are Jews and they are considered “inferior” for this. Just because they believe in something different doesn’t make them inferior at all but some Germans think that only “pure blooded” people should live in Germany. I really can’t understand what a pure blooded person looks like and who has decided they are superior to some people in some way. Anyways, unfortunately, the people in the huts are forced by people such as your father, to go in camps like the one that you have seen where they are forced to work and then they are killed in some of the most brutal ways.

    You grew up in a world full of stories where Germany and the Germans believe they’ll actually control the world one day and this is extremely wrong because we are all equal and we should all respect each other for who we are.

    People,such as your father, who think that by killing people will lead Germany to success are totally wrong and maybe one day they will notice that what they have done is horrible and they’ll be sorry for the rest of their lives. Just promise me you’ll never commit a such error as the one your father has done and do not ever let anyone influence your way of thinking. Killing innocent people is just a way to show how cruel a person with the wrong ideas can be.

    Just remember my words and maybe one day the world will be a better place to live in.

    With love,

    Grandmother

  3. Dear Bruno,

    I have seen the letter you have sent me and I wanted to say that difficult times are common to everyone but we must hold on and try to defeat them.

    Now that you’ve grown I presume you have understood what have happened around us. Our country have seen many wars and the brutal actions that have caused the death of innocent people. Your father has been a very powerful figure to our country. He was considered an important man that have helped in changing many aspects of our nation. I remember that, when you were little, you didn’t know how to respond to teachers that asked you what work did your father do. You didn’t know because anyone told you the real situations. Now you have grown and you’re a young man.

    Bruno, you have understood everything now. I wanted to tell you what I think of the bad things people did to that poor people. I know that if I tell you this wouldn’t be under a good light but I want you to know what I think and what I feel is right.

    The Jewish were persecuted for a long, long time. They were brought to those areas called: concentration camps. Your father worked as the commandant of the Nazi group and knew very well the leader of everything: Hitler. The ordinary Germans had different views of the Hitler’s Holocaust. The maximum percent of the population did know about the evolving terror of Hitler’s Holocaust. They knew concentration camps were full of Jewish people who were treated as animals and objects. They knew that they were being killed out of hand.

    Your father was the one who made it all of this possible. They felt superior, pure blooded people. They felt the need to eliminate minor categories. I would like that you, Bruno, will never look back the atrocities your father did, but think and reflect about the persecutions and the assassinations of those poor men. You have to understand that, what have happened in the past is an enormous error. We have to live in a better world without wars. We have to live in a world where people don’t have to feel superior but equal.

    Your mind is yours, so you have to think what are the good thing to do. You mustn’t be influenced by those people who want to impose wrong ideas. You have to think with your head and try to make a change to the things you believe are wrong. Promise me you will think about my words and will react.

    Love from
    Your Grandmother

  4. Dear Bruno,
    I have received your letter and I miss you too, i also wanted you to stay in Berlin, together with all the family.

    Now that you are older I can explain you all about your father’s job, which was not as you thought.
    When you were a little boy your mother used to say you that your father’s job was very important and that the “fury” had big things in mind for him.Do you remember all the times I used to argue with your father? It was because your father did a job I didn’t approve.

    The “fury”, as you pronounced it, was called Hitler and he was the boss of the nazi regime, he was against the jews and he did a lot of horrible things to them, even if they were innocent. Your father worked for him and he also was part of the nazi regime, it is for this reason that I was very concerned about your father’s work.
    it is very difficult to imagine that my son, which I tried to grow up in the best way possible, could do such horrible things to people who had done nothing bad.

    I can imagine that in this moment you are very shocked, but I had to say you all of these thing because you have the right to know. Ay those times everybody knew about the holoucaust, but you were too little to come to know about it. Everyone was terrified about Hitler which dictated Germany and influenced all of the people with his ideology of the inferiority of jews.

    I can’t say that your father was a good person because he wasn’t but i can say that he educated you verygood and that you don’t have to remember his as a ” bad dad who killed jews for no reason” but as a ” person who was influenced by the stupid and crazy ideology of Hitler”.

    I hope you understood what was going on and that you will learn to accept what your father did.

    with love, your grandmother.

  5. Dear Bruno,

    How are things going in your new home? Please, you mustn’t read further from this point until you feel completely mature and responsible. Now, you’re probably desperate to continue reading and I’m sure that the young explorer inside you would tell you to go on, but I hope that your obedience and faith for your grandmother with prevail.

    If you are reading this letter, you will probably have already given an answer to many of the questions that have worried you in the last few months. Perhaps it’s time that your grandmother gives you an explanation to all of this. You see those people beyond the fence? Well, look at them closely: they are working under the boiling sun, their skin is pale and dirty, their movements are slow and weary… Come even closer and you will notice scars. Look at them in the eyes: all that you will find will be a feeling of tiredness. Ask them their names, and they won’t be able to respond. Do they look as if they were enjoying themselves? Not at all.

    At the beginning, I didn’t even have a clue that all of this was happening, but then signs were fixed on poles, posters were hung on walls, leaflets were spread around and on the newspaper I could see pictures of Hitler, Ralph and other soldiers, and I could read about a “magnificent plan for power”. In fact, I have to tell you that your father is unfortunately one of those men who are carrying out the destruction of all those people in their striped pajamas. Of course, he had always been a generous man, and yes, I’m sure he’s doing all of this for the family, but there is no reasonable explanation that could justify his actions. If my research is right, your father is one of the causes for the melancholic view from your bedroom’s window.

    I’m going to tell you more. I think that those people who “live” beyond the fence all belong to the same nationality and I’m concerned that that is the reason for which they are stuck behind all of that barbed wire. In the last few days, in the news they have been talking about a “united nation”, about a “Germany with Germans”, about “pure blooded people”, and this increased my preoccupation. What is all of this about anyway?

    Another certitude is that Hitler is organizing this. I can’t stand that your father is following that beast’s footsteps! If that man had never come to power, nowadays people wouldn’t certainly be suffering. However, he is the country’s leader and we can’t change this, nor you father’s ridiculous ideas.

    How I wish I knew more about what was going on…

    Please, no matter what happens, keep in mind that every single human being has feelings and that we all have a right to live our lives.

    Your Grandmother,

    Nathalie

  6. Dear Bruno,
    I am really sad too. The house here at Berlin is empty without you, and I really don’t like what it is happening at Out-With.. Your dad does terrible things, and I write to you what all this is.
    Before you was born, there was crisis in Germany. People were getting poor, and at the elections they started to like some really bad people who were very nationalist, so much that they hated other countries. Your dad was and is still one of these horrible people, which do terrible things to people. These horrible people are called Nazis, and they hate one religion called Hebraic, which is very similar to ours. They get these Hebraic people, make them wear an armband to recognize them, they get all their belongings, they destroy their houses, they get their dresses, their personal belongings and even their hair. These people, with nothing left, are made to wear a striped pyjama and a cloth cap. Men are made to work all day to create weapons for the war, and women and children are collected in “concentration camps” , which are like the one which you se from your window , and they are sad, because they have nothing, and they are gave almost nothing to eat, that’s why they are so skinny and desperate.
    Your dad is the boss of this horrible place that you see from your window. I really hope that all this finishes too, and I hope that you and Gretel come here at Berlin with me and grandfather.
    Your loving grandmother,
    Nathalie
    (Francesco Galletto)

    Dear Bruno,
    It has been ages since I last heard from you. I’ve never understand where Out-with is, but I think you probably confused with Auschwitz.
    People in Auschwitz are really bizarre and, if I would be you, I would be also really afraid. I don’t like what is happening in Out-with too. Your dad is the manager of all the SS, people who kill lots of Jewish(in the huge camp you see from your window) because they think that they are inferior. Now I am going to tell you a little bit how the story went…
    Many years ago, people started voting –in Germany- fascists and Nazis, thinking that they could improve our lives, but they didn’t. Your dad has been, and is still now one of these horrible people which kills poor and innocent Jewish because he hates their religion, the Hebraic (very similar to Christian). When people enter enormous buildings called HUT, soldiers put in these rooms containing lots of Jewish a strange gas which kills all of the above. This is why, from the window you can see all the smoke , coming out from gigantic chimneys.
    I miss you a lot. All your friends (Daniel, Karl, Martin) continue asking me about you and I don’t know what sort of information to give them. I also hope that you and Gretel return here at Berlin at soon as possible to act with me.
    Love,
    Nathalie.
    (Emanuele Angi)

    Dear Bruno,
    Please do not open this letter until you understand why you’ve come to live at Out-With. The truth about your father’s work is devastating, so be prepared for the hard and painful truth.
    As you know, your father works for the führer, the leader of our terrible, disgraceful country. He has a bad relationship with Jewish people, and blames them for all of Germany’s problems. So innocent children, adults, grandmothers and grandfathers and anyone else who is a Jew is being killed, including the people currently being held imprisoned behind the fence near your house.
    I’ve tried to convince your father to set them free, to stop executing them, but he won’t listen to me, so I was hoping that maybe you could reason with him, tell him that what he is doing is wrong.
    Love,
    Grandma.
    (Kalyan Wessendorp)

    Dear Grandma,
    How are you and Grandpa? Are you going to visit us soon? Here it’s really horrible! I wish we would have never come here, I nearly wish Father would have never been promoted to Commandant. But that wouldn’t be a nice thing to think about Father… Anyway, I really hope that this is all an enormous misunderstanding, that Father finally understands it and that we return to Berlin.
    There in Berlin, there had been shops with bright store fronts and fruit and vegetable stalls with large trays piled high with cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers and corn. Here there is none of this, when I close my eyes everything around me just feels empty and cold, as if it is the loneliest place of all.
    I was really astonished to see the new house for the first time; it all seemed to be the exact opposite of the one in Berlin. There are no other houses near it, it’s surrounded by complete emptiness, and there isn’t even one café! The house has only three floors: the top floor where there are three bedrooms and only one bathroom, the ground floor with the kitchen, the dining room and the new Out Of Bounds At All Times office of Father, and the basement, where the servants sleep.
    Outside, there is the garden with some flowers planted all in straight rows, a bench with a plaque on it which faces the house and not the road (a bit strange I think) and further away there is a very, very, very high, wired fence and on its other side there are some huts (or at least I think they are huts) in which some people who are always dressed in striped pyjamas (also very strange).
    I really miss you Grandma, I miss your plays, always different and, obviously, always wonderful, I miss your beautiful and melodic voice singing to us at parties, but I especially miss staying with you. I hope that soon enough Father will understand what a tremendous mistake he did, making us move to Out-With, and we’ll all be together again, just like before this terrible nightmare.
    Your loving grandson,
    Bruno
    (Giulia Spigai)

  7. Dear Bruno,

    I’m happy you found my letter now that you’re older and you can understand better what happened during your childhood.
    I am aware that you hate the place in which you have lived for many years and I agree with you that it’s the worst place to live in for a boy of your age, but make a sacrifice for your father. He has grown you for all these years to become a fantastic lad and we are all proud of you!

    I believe your father’s job is one of the worst jobs existing and I am sure you agree with me. I don’t really know how much you are informed about the camps which surrounded your house, so I will talk a bit about what was going on there. There was a man called Adolf Hitler (the Fury) who dictated Germany in that time. He hated people who belonged to a religion called ‘Judaism’ so he created these concentration camps for these naive people. In these camps, he killed with lethal gases the jewish and he used the excuse of the war to justify his terrible crime.

    I’m not really sure how much the Germans in that time knew about what was happening but I don’t think much because, as we know, we all discovered this after the war. I believe some of them knew something but they were forced to don’t speak if they wanted to live. However, I hope you don’t agree with Hitler’s theories and I hope you think that we are all equal and no race is superior with another.

    I hope you have understood,

    your Grandma.

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