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Headscratchers / The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

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  • The puns on the misheard names. It's assumed all the characters are speaking German, so how do they come up with a pun on "Out With" for "Auschwitz"? "Fury" for "Führer" might make sense if Bruno had been exposed to Greek mythology. I know, with all the controversy and arguments over historical accuracy, this is the one thing that really bugged me!
    • Translation Convention?
    • "Auschwitz" is the German name and sounds basically like "ows-vits". The German for "out with" would be "aus mit" (roughly "ows mitt") so it works. As the German for "fury" meaning 'anger' is more like "Wit" or "Zorn" that one only makes sense if he happens to know the German word for Fury the mythological figure (or as slang for an angry woman.)
    • In the case of "Auschwitz", it is a bit of Fridge Brilliance: "Auschwitz" isn't a German word (it is a Germanisation of the Polish place-name Oświęcim), and so wouldn't mean anything to a German nine-year-old.
  • Bruno's nine-years-old, living in Nazi Germany and he has absolutely no idea who the hell Adolf Hitler is? Can someone explain this to me? Now, I don't expect a nine-year-old to understand the full extent of Hitler's evilness, but at the very least, Bruno should know the name of the guy running their country.
    • I dunno, when I was little I didn't really know much about politics at all until I was older. If it weren't for tv and modern media I probably would have never known about our leader as a little kid.
      • I fully agree with this troper, if I was able to vote when I was 12 let alone 9, I would've voted for the guy already in power, simply because I was used to him and my parents liked him. All Bruno knows is that the Fuhrer is in charge.
    • But surely you would have read about it in the papers, heard people talk about him? Even if someone in 2011 never had internet/TV (let's assume for the sake of argument that the kid's parents are anti-technology), he/she would still, by word of mouth or from newspaper, know that the United States president is Barack Obama or the French president is Nicolas Sarkozy. Bruno's just nine, not... ah... slow? He would've heard pappy talking about Hitler, read about Hitler in the papers. AT THE VERY LEAST he should know what the hell his parents are talking about when they say Hitler.
      • He might know him as "the fuhrer", but he is simply never been interested in politics, because he's a kid, he can't even stand trying to pay attention to the history classes he was taking.
      • Readers trying to excuse Bruno's unfamiliarity with Hitler are missing the point. A nine-year old in Nazi Germany not knowing who Hitler was, was not like a modern day nine-year old in America not knowing who Barack Obama is. Hitler was not simply a national leader: in the Nazi era he was effectively deified by Goebbels' propaganda machine, and ordinary Germans were reminded of his messianic status at every given opportunity - especially children. It is implied that Bruno had been to school in Berlin, so it is simply unbelievable that he wouldn't have seen portraits of Hitler hanging in classrooms or have sung hymns or said prayers in honour of the Fuhrer - which, by the way, isn't all that difficult a word for a German-speaking nine-year old to pronounce!
    • Agreed with above troper. Regardless of how much he paid attention to anything at all, he would have known who Hitler was. Goebbels' propaganda machine would've made sure every German alive at the time would know.
    • His parents might just not want to expose him to it and only talk about it when he's not in the room. That's how my parents were with divorce and money issues, so I never realized either were like a thing.
    • This troper was pretty annoyed with Bruno's innocent outlook on everything... I mean, I could understand that some children in Nazi Germany might not totally know who he is (They should still have an idea, though) but his dad was a high ranking soldier. He even had Hitler over for dinner! It just doesn't make sence for him to know who Hitler is... Like, his dad gets mad that he isn't really interested in his countries past, but he's fine with his son not having any idea about what his father's fighting for, or even how to pronounce "the fuhrer"?
  • Auschwitz, like any other prison camp, was guarded very heavily indeed... how does this kid manage to sneak past all their security?
    • Willing Suspension of Disbelief for the sake of Rule of Drama.
    • Who's going to bother about a little kid?
    • Are you asking why the NAZIS wouldn't bother a little kid?
      • Just because they were Nazis didn't mean they automatically assumed every child walking around was a high priority threat.
      • Well, yeah, but they still aren't just gonna let a little kid go around sneaking past the guards. If anything he would have been shot on sight.
      • I haven't read the book in a while or watched the film, mostly because both really irritated me on multiple levels, but wasn't Bruno's father the commander of the camp or something like that? It's highly unlikely that the kid wouldn't be seen and recognised.
    • I kind of figured that the guards probably wouldn't recognized Bruno because, well, the camps weren't really a "Take your kid to work" place.
  • The idea that anyone would be able to tunnel under the fence of a concentration camp, let alone a little kid digging with his bare hands. I love this book, but that's the spot where my suspension of disbelief just breaks down.
    • He wouldn't be able to. More likely, his parents wouldn't let him near it. My biggest question is why Shmuel is allowed to dodge work and sit by the fence to chat with Bruno. That would not have happened. At all. This is Artistic License - History taken to the extreme.
  • Why does Bruno know absolutely nothing? Not knowing what Auschwitz is I can buy. Not knowing Hitler? Not knowing what a Jew is? I don't think the book says when it takes place but let's say 1942, the year that the policy of the "Final Solution" was formulated, which would put Bruno's birth year as 1933. The Nazis had been persecuting Jewish people for nearly 10 years by '42; in Berlin, Bruno would probably have grown up in an environment very hostile to Jewish people, especially if his father is a high ranking official in the German army. Am I honestly meant to believe that Bruno, a boy born and raised under Nazi control, would not only have no idea what a Jew is but would also not view Jews as a subhuman evil that crippled Germany? Really? It might just be my real dislike of this story shining through but this seems to go past mere contrivance and diving headfirst into Viewers Are Morons territory.
    • No, it does. It takes place between April 15 1943 and the spring/summer of 1944, with the father's epiphany happening in the spring of '45 right in time for the surrender. Probably Bruno's father spent most of his time at work, and Bruno was raise mainly by his mother and grandmother, who had nothing against Jewish people as far as I noticed. It is implausible that he didn't know who Hitler was. The best explanation I can come up with is that Gretel knew and it made her a real bitch so they (mother and grandmother) decided to shield Bruno a bit longer. Only about ten percent of Germans actively agreed with Hitler anyway.
    • This troper found the inaccuracies too much for "suspension of disbelief". The Jewish kid who is left alone next to a fence which he could easily cross under. The proximity of trees, rocks, etc, to the camp. The apparently inexistent guards around the perimeter. The MC deciding to help find his father in a place he doesn't know, that the Jewish kid has made clear is scary... This is Rule of Drama for cheap tears.