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In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the dominant group is the Nazi Party, which has risen to power in Germany partly due to its open espousal of anti-Semitism. Nazism was founded on the principle that Jews were racially inferior to so-called "Aryans," and that the future of Germany depended on the destruction of the Jewish race.
Essentially, then, by the time Bruno meets Shmuel, a Polish Jew, Bruno's people have ceased to believe that Shmuel's people even have the right to exist. That Bruno remains innocent and unaware of this, and views Shmuel as a friend, is testament to the other, more redeeming aspects of humanity. That the friendship destroys both of them is testament to the destructive power of hatred, which, although it is not, as the example of Bruno shows, inherent to the human condition, consumed so many of the innocent during this awful time.
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