"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Read and post various viewpoints or search our large archives.

Moderator: Moderator

Forum rules
Be sure to read the Rules/guidelines before you post!
User avatar
Jazz
Member
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:12 pm

"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Jazz » 9 years 8 months ago (Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:54 pm)

I never read the book but I saw the movie in 2008. I went on Wikipedia and saw this:

The premise of the book - that the camp would have a child of Shmuel's age - is, according to critics, an unacceptable fabrication that does not reflect the reality of life in the camps. However, John Boyne stated that some Jews under the age of 18 were sent to work for a few months, and then killed. According to statistics from the Labour Assignment Office, Auschwitz-Birkenau contained 619 living male children from one month to fourteen years old on August 30, 1944. On January 14, 1945, 773 male children were registered as living at the camp. "The oldest children were fifteen, and fifty-two were less than eight years of age." "Some children were employed as camp messengers and were treated as a kind of curiosity, while every day an enormous number of children of all ages were killed in the gas chambers."

Rabbi Benjamin Blech said: "This book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation." His chief complaint is that it supports the idea that ordinary people were unaware of the horrors of the Nazis' mass extermination of Jews. He argues that everyone for miles around could smell the stench of death and expresses doubt that the 8-year-old son of a Nazi official could be unaware of what a Jew is (or whether he himself is one).

He writes, "Note to the reader: There were no 8-year-old Jewish boys in Auschwitz -- the Nazis immediately gassed those not old enough to work. Also, the Auschwitz death camp was surrounded by electric fences, making any attempts to crawl in through a hole impossible."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_in ... ed_Pyjamas

This well-meaning book ends up distorting the Holocaust.

Soon there will be no more eyewitnesses. The Holocaust is inexorably moving from personal testimony to textual narrative.

Survivors, those who clung to life no matter how unbearable so that they could confirm the unimaginable and attest to the unbelievable, are harder to find after more than half a century. It is the written word that will have to substitute for the heart-rending tales of woe shared by those who endured hell on earth. That is, after all, all that will remain of six million victims.

Holocaust authors have a daunting responsibility.

Holocaust authors have a daunting responsibility. They must speak for those who cannot, but whose suffering demands to be remembered and whose deaths cry out for posthumous meaning. Their task transcends the mere recording of history. It is nothing less than a sacred mission. Holocaust literature, like the biblical admonition to remember the crimes of Amalek, deservedly rises to the level of the holy.

For that reason I admire anyone who is courageous enough to attempt to deal with the subject. No, there will never be too many books about this dreadful period we would rather forget. No, we have no right to ignore the past because it is unpleasant or refuse to let reality intrude on our preference for fun and for laughter. And John Boyne is to be commended for tackling a frightening story that needs to be told to teenagers today in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas -- a fictional account of the Nazi era that uses the powerful device of a tale told from the perspective of its nine year old hero.

I came to this book fully prepared to love it. Although the publisher insists that all reviewers not reveal its story, the back cover promises "As memorable an introduction to the subject as The Diary of Anne Frank." And indeed the writing is gripping. The style, sharing with Anne Frank the distinctive voice of youth, is extremely effective. One can readily understand why the book has had such a strong impact on countless readers, become required reading in high school Holocaust courses round the country, and is about to be released as a major motion picture.

And yet…

How should one react to a book that ostensibly seeks to inform while it so blatantly distorts? If it is meant as a way of understanding what actually happened -- and indeed for many students it will be the definitive and perhaps only Holocaust account to which they will be exposed -- how will its inaccuracies affect the way in which readers will remain oblivious to the most important moral message we are to discover in the holocaust's aftermath?

Without giving away the plot, it is enough to tell you that Bruno, the nine-year-old son of the Nazi Commandant at Auschwitz (never identified by that name, but rather as "Out-With" -- a lame pun I think out of place in context) lives within yards of the concentration camp his father oversees and actually believes that its inhabitants who wear striped pajamas -- oh, how lucky, he thinks, to be able to be so comfortably dressed --spend their time on vacation drinking in cafes on the premises while their children are happily playing games all day long even as he envies them their carefree lives and friendships! And, oh yes, this son of a Nazi in the mid 1940's does not know what a Jew is, and whether he is one too! And after a year of surreptitious meetings with a same-aged nine-year-old Jewish boy who somehow manages every day to find time to meet him at an unobserved fence (!) (Note to the reader: There were no nine-year-old Jewish boys in Auschwitz -- the Nazis immediately gassed those not old enough to work) Bruno still doesn't have a clue about what is going on inside this hell -- this after supposedly sharing an intimate friendship with someone surrounded by torture and death every waking moment!

According to the book's premise, it was possible to live in the immediate proximity of Auschwitz and simply not know -- the defense of those Germans who denied their complicity.

Do you see the most egregious part of this picture? As Elie Wiesel put it, the cruelest lesson of the Holocaust was not man's capacity for inhumanity -- but the far more prevalent and dangerous capacity for indifference. There were millions who knew and did nothing. There were "good people" who watched -- as if passivity in the face of evil was sinless. If there is to be a moral we must exact from the Holocaust it is the "never again" that must henceforth be applied to our cowardice to intervene, our failure to react when evildoers rush in to fill the ethical vacuum.

Yet if we were to believe the premise of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, it was possible to live in the immediate proximity of Auschwitz and simply not know -- the very defense of all those Germans after the war who chose to deny their complicity.

True, Bruno in the story was but a boy. But I have spoken to Auschwitz survivors. They tell me how the stench of burning human flesh and the ashes of corpses from the crematoria filled the air for miles around. The trains traveling with human cargo stacked like cordwood screaming for water as they died standing in their natural wastes without even room to fall to the ground were witnessed throughout every countryside. Nobody, not even little German children who were weaned on hatred of the Jews as subhuman vermin could have been unaware of "The Final Solution." And to suggest that Bruno simply had no idea what was happening in the camp his father directed yards from his home is to allow the myth that those who were not directly involved can claim innocence.

But it's only a fable, a story, and stories don't have to be factually accurate. It's just a naive little boy who makes mistaken assumptions. However that misses the point. This is a story that is supposed to convey truths about one of the most horrendous eras of history. It is meant to lead us to judgments about these events that will determine what lessons we ultimately learn from them.

So what will the students studying this as required reading take away from it? The camps certainly weren't that bad if youngsters like Shmuley, Bruno's friend, were able to walk about freely, have clandestine meetings at a fence (non-electrified, it appears) which even allows for crawling underneath it, never reveals the constant presence of death, and survives without being forced into full-time labor. And as for those people in the striped pajamas -- why if you only saw them from a distance you would never know these weren't happy masqueraders!

My Auschwitz friend read the book at my urging. He wept, and begged me tell everyone that this book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation. No one may dare alter the truths of the Holocaust, no matter how noble his motives.

The Holocaust is simply too grim a subject for Grimm fairytales.


http://www.aish.com/ci/a/48965671.html

Vortigern
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:48 am

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Vortigern » 9 years 8 months ago (Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:18 am)

The orginal boys in striped pyjamas are surely those in this Soviet photo of children at Auschwitz

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=h ... 03&bih=541

which crops up reguularly whenever the Holocaust is mentioned in U.K. media. I assume the kids were bussed in, some of them look well fed. Does anyone know more on the history of this image?

SevenUp
Valued contributor
Valued contributor
Posts: 255
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:54 pm

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby SevenUp » 9 years 8 months ago (Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:31 pm)

Vortigern wrote:The orginal boys in striped pyjamas are surely those in this Soviet photo of children at Auschwitz

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=h ... 03&bih=541

which crops up reguularly whenever the Holocaust is mentioned in U.K. media. I assume the kids were bussed in, some of them look well fed. Does anyone know more on the history of this image?


You can also find it on this page ....

http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/our_collections/auschwitz/index.asp

Six of the children showed up for a reunion in 2005 !

User avatar
Hannover
Valuable asset
Valuable asset
Posts: 10304
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2002 7:53 pm

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Hannover » 9 years 8 months ago (Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:57 pm)

Like the rest of the impossible gassing tales, the pathetic 'children' canard is easily shot down. Here is just one photo of the many:

Healthy Jewish children alive in the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) upon Soviet arrival. Still from a postwar Soviet film.
Image

According to the unsupportable 'holocaust' story line these kids would all have been dead ... if the lies were true.

This is too easy.

- Hannover
If it can't happen as alleged, then it didn't.

Inquisitive
Valued contributor
Valued contributor
Posts: 288
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 11:02 am

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Inquisitive » 9 years 8 months ago (Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:19 am)

I couldn't copy the pictures for some reason. Posting the site instead: http://megamata.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16
A total of about 7,000 prisoners were liberated in Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Monowitz. The Red Army also freed about 500 prisoners in several sub-camps.
The last general roll call in Auschwitz held on January 17, 1945 (10 days before liberation) reported 67,012 prisoners

*In 10 days the Nazi's exterminated over 60,000 people without a trace?
Of the more than 230,000 children whom the Germans deported to Auschwitz, 700 were alive at liberation.

*Caption below picture. (please view site) Interestingly there's a nun further down the line of children with no explanation as to why she is there.
Another picture below that shows the kids tattoos.Some of them show their inside lower arms, some their elbows. Why would the Germans so well known for efficiency put these marks all over the place making it harder to identify the kids? I'm guessing the kids didn't get enough direction from the cameramen to know which part of their arms to hold up.

As Hannover so rightly states it IS too easy making it doubly aggravating to realize how much we have been or were "re-educated".

User avatar
Hektor
Valuable asset
Valuable asset
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:59 am

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Hektor » 5 years 11 months ago (Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:21 am)

SevenUp wrote:...

You can also find it on this page ....

http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/our_collections/auschwitz/index.asp

Six of the children showed up for a reunion in 2005 !

There is a recent report in the Mirror about this as well:
Image

Image

Image

Image

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news ... mp-5050083

I think that refutes the claim sometimes made that these children "weren't Jewish".

Reviso
Valued contributor
Valued contributor
Posts: 346
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:21 pm

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Reviso » 5 years 11 months ago (Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:18 am)

Note that the critical elements were several times removed from the Wikipedia article. For example :
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... =475737655
R.

User avatar
Hektor
Valuable asset
Valuable asset
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:59 am

Re: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Postby Hektor » 5 years 11 months ago (Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:44 pm)

Reviso wrote:Note that the critical elements were several times removed from the Wikipedia article. For example :
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... =475737655
R.

Notably the German wiki article doesn't even mention that controversy.

It's advisable to propose edits first in the "criticism" section of an article.

[text added by Moderator 1/1/15]
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: Difference between revisions
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Revision as of 10:30, 8 February 2012 (edit)
Thincat (talk | contribs)
(I am restoring the plot information which was removed withoiut explanation. I have no idea whether the information is aprpriate but my earlier edit may have disguised the previous removal)
← Previous edit

Revision as of 12:27, 8 February 2012 (edit) (undo)
Escape Orbit (talk | contribs)
(This is messed up. I've already removed this unsourced chunk of synthesis and replaced it with cited criticism)
Next edit →
Line 43: Line 43:

In an [[epilogue]], Bruno's family spent several months at their home trying to find Bruno, before his mother and Gretel return to Berlin, only to discover he is not there as they had expected. A year afterwards, his father returns to the spot that the soldiers found Bruno's clothes (the same spot Bruno spent the last year of his life) and, after a brief inspection, discovers that the fence is not properly attached at the base and can form a gap big enough for a boy of Bruno's size to fit through. Using this information, his father eventually pieces together that they gassed Bruno to death. Several months later, the [[Red Army]] arrives to [[liberty|liberate]] the camp and orders Bruno's father to go with them. He goes without complaint, because "he didn't really mind what they did to him any more".

In an [[epilogue]], Bruno's family spent several months at their home trying to find Bruno, before his mother and Gretel return to Berlin, only to discover he is not there as they had expected. A year afterwards, his father returns to the spot that the soldiers found Bruno's clothes (the same spot Bruno spent the last year of his life) and, after a brief inspection, discovers that the fence is not properly attached at the base and can form a gap big enough for a boy of Bruno's size to fit through. Using this information, his father eventually pieces together that they gassed Bruno to death. Several months later, the [[Red Army]] arrives to [[liberty|liberate]] the camp and orders Bruno's father to go with them. He goes without complaint, because "he didn't really mind what they did to him any more".


==Controversy==
+
==Criticism==

The premise of the book - that the camp would have a child of Shmuel's age - is, according to some critics{{who|date=November 2011}}, an unacceptable fabrication that does not reflect the reality of life in the camps. However, John Boyne stated that some Jews under the age of 18 were sent to work for a few months, and then killed. According to statistics from the Labour Assignment Office, Auschwitz-Birkenau contained 619 living male children from one month to fourteen years old on August 30, 1944. On January 14, 1945, 773 male children were registered as living at the camp. "The oldest children were sixteen, and fifty-two were less than eight years of age." "Some children were employed as camp messengers and were treated as a kind of curiosity, while every day an enormous number of children of all ages were killed in the gas chambers."<ref>''People in Auschwitz'', by [[Hermann Langbein]], translated by Harry Zohn, Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c.2004. ISBN 0807828165; ''A lucky child : a memoir of surviving Auschwitz as a young boy'', by [[Thomas Buergenthal]], London : Profile, 2009. ISBN 1846681782.</ref>
+
Rabbi [[Benjamin Blech]] described the book as "not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation". Despite the book's intentions, he argues, the plot is highly improbable and gives credence to the defence that people did not, and could not, know what was happening within the death camps. Students who read it, he warns, may believe the camps "weren't that bad" if a boy could conduct a clandestine friendship with a Jewish captive of the same age, unaware of "the constant presence of death".<ref>http://www.aish.com/j/as/48965671.html</ref>


Rabbi [[Benjamin Blech]] said: "This book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation." His chief complaint is that it supports the idea that ordinary people were unaware of the horrors of the Nazis' mass extermination of Jews. He argues that everyone for miles around could smell the stench of death and expresses doubt that the 9-year-old son of a Nazi official could be unaware of what a Jew is (or whether he himself is one). He writes, "Note to the reader: There were no 8-year-old Jewish boys in [[Auschwitz]] -- the Nazis immediately gassed those not old enough to work. Additionally, the Auschwitz death camp was surrounded by electric fences, making any attempts to crawl in through a gap in the fence difficult and improbable."{{fact|date=November 2011}}



== References ==

== References ==
Revision as of 12:27, 8 February 2012
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Theboyinthestripedpyjamas.jpg
Author John Boyne
Country Ireland
Language English
Genre historical, Fable
Publisher David Fickling Books
Publication date
5 January 2006
Media type Print, paper cover
Pages 216 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-385-60940-X
OCLC 62132588
Dewey Decimal
823.914 22
LC Class MLCS 2006/45764
For the film, see The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (film).

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a 2006 novel from the point of view of an innocent young boy, written by Irish novelist John Boyne. Unlike the months of planning Boyne devoted to his other books, he said that he wrote the entire first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in two and a half days, barely sleeping until he got to the end.[1][dead link] To date, the novel has sold more than 5 million copies around the world, and was published as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in the United States to go along with the traditional American spelling of the word. In both 2007 and 2008 it was the best selling book of the year in Spain. It has also reached number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in the UK, Ireland, Australia and many other countries.
Plot

Bruno is a 9-year-old boy growing up during World War II in Berlin with his loving mother and father.[2] He lives in a huge house with his parents, his twelve-year-old sister Gretel (whom he refers to as a Hopeless Case) and maid servants called Maria and Pavel. His father is a high-ranking SS officer who, after a visit from Adolf Hitler (referred to in the novel as "The Fury", Bruno's misrecognition of the word "Führer") and Eva Braun, is promoted to Commandant, and to Bruno's dismay the family has to move away to a place called Out-With (which turns out to be Auschwitz).

When Bruno gets there, he feels a surge of homesickness after leaving behind his family, grandparents, and his 3 best friends for life: Karl, Daniel and Martin. He is unhappy with his new home. It only has three floors, there are always soldiers coming in and out of the house and there are no good banisters to slide down. His father's new office has a sign which reads: Out Of Bounds And No Exceptions. Bruno is lonely and has no one to talk to or play with and the house is so small that there is no exploring to be done. However, one day while Bruno is looking out of his window he notices a group of people all wearing the same striped pyjamas and striped hats or bald heads. As he is a curious child, Bruno asks his sister who these people are, but she does not know. His father tells him that these people are not real people at all, as they are Jews. Gretel has changed from a normal young girl into a strong Nazi with the help of her tutor, Herr Liszt, but Bruno does not seem to take the same stance as Gretel. He still prefers adventure books to history books. There is also a soldier called Lieutenant Kurt Kotler who is violent in his ways and shows his disapproval to the Jewish prisoner, Pavel. Pavel works around the house and is always treated badly by Lieutenant Kotler. One day Bruno falls off his swing and Pavel helps him dress the wound. Bruno, in his naivety, asks if his mother should take him to a doctor, meets a reply from Pavel saying that he is a doctor.

Bruno finds out he is not allowed to explore the back of the house or its surroundings, and his mother forbids him to do so. Due to the combination of curiosity and boredom, he decides to explore. He spots a boy on the other side of the fence. Excited that there might be a boy his age, Bruno introduces himself and finds out Jewish boy's name is Shmuel. He was taken from his family (his father came with him, his mother and his siblings are at home) and forced to work in Auschwitz. Almost every day, they meet at the same spot. Soon, they become best friends. Bruno and Shmuel even shared the same birthday. They are basically the same person born into different circumstances, one a Polish Jew, the other a German. Over the course of the book, Bruno shows a great deal of naivety whilst his friend Shmuel seems to have more knowledge of his surroundings as he has felt the suffering first-hand.

Bruno's mother persuades his father to take them back to Berlin after a year at their new home, while the father stays at Auschwitz. The story ends with Bruno about to go back to Berlin with his mother and sister on the orders of his father. As a final adventure, he agrees to dress in a set of striped pyjamas and go in under the fence to help Shmuel find his father, who went missing in the camp. The boys are unable to find him. Then the boys are mixed up in a group of people going on a march.

Neither boy knows where this march will lead. However, they are soon crowded into a gas chamber, which Bruno assumes is a place to keep them dry from the rain until it stops. The author leaves the story with Bruno pondering, yet unafraid, in the dark holding hands with Shmuel: "...Despite the chaos that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel's hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let go."

In an epilogue, Bruno's family spent several months at their home trying to find Bruno, before his mother and Gretel return to Berlin, only to discover he is not there as they had expected. A year afterwards, his father returns to the spot that the soldiers found Bruno's clothes (the same spot Bruno spent the last year of his life) and, after a brief inspection, discovers that the fence is not properly attached at the base and can form a gap big enough for a boy of Bruno's size to fit through. Using this information, his father eventually pieces together that they gassed Bruno to death. Several months later, the Red Army arrives to liberate the camp and orders Bruno's father to go with them. He goes without complaint, because "he didn't really mind what they did to him any more".
Criticism

Rabbi Benjamin Blech described the book as "not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation". Despite the book's intentions, he argues, the plot is highly improbable and gives credence to the defence that people did not, and could not, know what was happening within the death camps. Students who read it, he warns, may believe the camps "weren't that bad" if a boy could conduct a clandestine friendship with a Jewish captive of the same age, unaware of "the constant presence of death".[3]
References

"Interview with Children’s Author John Boyne (2006)". Sarah Webb. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/ja ... anreview18>

http://www.aish.com/j/as/48965671.html

Categories:

Irish books
Novels set in Poland


Return to “'Holocaust' Debate / Controversies / Comments / News”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: david2923 and 7 guests