The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; Lessons of Human Dignity



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 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was written by John Boyne.  This is about the Holocaust which occurred in Europe during World War II.

This is the story is about a boy named Bruno; he is nine years old.  One day he found out that he was moving to Berlin with his family because of his father’s work.  He never knew what kind of work his father did until he found out that his father was a soldier.  Bruno was very proud of his father because his father was a brave and strong man.  Bruno was sad because he left his old house. He missed his Grandparents and friends Karl and Daniel.

When Bruno arrived at his new house in Berlin, he was shocked when he saw the new house.  The new house was much smaller than his old house and located in the countryside.  There were no neighbors that he could make friends and play with.  He did not get along with his sister Gretel who always picked on him. Bruno noticed there was a fence about a mile from his house.  He was told to stay away from the fence.  Bruno was very curious and felt like he still wanted to explore the area.  One day he decided to explore despite being warned.  He climbed out the back window rather than the front door and left for an hour.  After that he began exploring for an hour every day.

One day he walked to the fence and saw a little boy who was wearing striped pajamas and about his age and was sitting inside the fence.  Bruno was scared to talk to him but he started talking to him anyways.  A boy who was sitting inside the fence named Shmuel. Eventually, Bruno and Shmuel become best friends.  Shmuel explained to him how he got into the fence.  He was brought to the fence by soldiers.  Bruno visited Shmuel every day to talk to him and play small games.  Shmuel told Bruno that he is not allowed to go out of the fence.  Shmuel was skinnier than Bruno because Shmuel did not get enough food to eat and was hungry most of the time. Bruno took a piece of bread from his house to feed Shmuel.  When Bruno woke up the next morning he found Shmuel washing dishes in the kitchen of his house.  They both were surprised to see each other.  Shmuel explained that his supervisor asked him to wash dishes.  Bruno was confused that he had a supervisor, but he ignored this part and kept on talking to his best friend.  One day when Bruno visited the fence, Shmuel was sad because he could not find his father who had been missing for a week.

Bruno noticed that there were other people inside the fence and they all were wearing  the same clothes as Shmuel was wearing; striped pajamas and shirt.  There were also people who had weapons and were guarding them.  People who had weapons looked to be like a guard.  Bruno decided to go inside and help Shmuel to find his father.  The next morning he went inside the fence and got him an extra pair of uniform in order to help shmuel to find his father.  Once Bruno got inside he noticed that It was stinky and felt like he was in prison.  Once inside sirens went off and everyone had to gather in a room. He was scared and held Shmuel’s hand. Next, soldiers shut the door and it was all black.  Bruno couldn’t see anything only he could smell poisons gas and he died with the others.


Connection to society and the United States

The Genocide that happened during Hitler’s reign resulted in the death of six millions  Jews.  Unfortunately genocide still is occurring around the World.  Thousands of Muslims are being killed in Syria.  They are seeking help from countries but few countries are willing to help Syria.  Dictatorial government does not believe in human rights and tends to murder a lot of people because they have no opposition.  One of the strengths of having democratic society is that they have checks and balances on government.  Democratic government protects the human rights of their citizens and expects them to participate in the governing process.

We live in the  jurisdiction of the United States of America.  We are protected by the laws of  the United States of America.  Our constitution is a social contract which respects the equality of human rights.

The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, ratified in 1791 and guaranteeing such rights as the freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship.

The United Nations is an international organization formed in 1945 to increase political and economic cooperation among member countries. The organization works on economic and social development programs, improving human rights and reducing global conflicts.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.

What causes something like genocide to occur?

Lack of food, racism, ignorance, hatred, greed and religious prejudices causes genocide.

Has America ever violated these rights of its own citizens?

Unfortunately America has a history built on the “genocide” of Native Americans and the forced labor of African Americans but some just call this indian wars and slavery.

The preamble to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, CPPCG states that “genocide is a crime under international law contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and banned by the civilized world” and that “at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity.  Jean Jacques ordered to kill white population of french in Haiti, 1804.  There were no white people existed after the Haiti massacre.

Why are Human Rights so hard to enforce?

Discrimination is hard to prove and the legal process is very expensive.  A law is only as good as its enforcement and where there is no just government there is no just enforcement.


    I learned more after reading this historical account of World War II.   If I was the dictator, I wouldn’t think about killing any people based on their race, culture, and religion.  I would make  a separate society for them rather than killing.  As a dictatorship I would prepare them for the World War II.  If I had use six billions Jews in the war to their full potential as intelligent and talented human beings, I would have won World War II.