Chapter 1 introduces Bruno and his family (his father, mother, and sister). The affluent family lives in a large 5 story house in Berlin with many servants, a cook, and a banister Bruno enjoys sliding down. Much to Bruno's dismay, he comes home one day to find his family packing. His mother informs him that his father has a new job and because of it they most move away from Berlin. Bruno, who is only 9, is upset to leave the home he loves and his three best friends, but when his mother tells him “We don’t have a choice in this." he knows they must leave. She tells him The Fury (who is actually Führer, the Dutch name for Hitler) has called Bruno's dad and he must go.
Unlike his friends, Bruno doesn't know what his dad's job is. Bruno's dad is a high ranking official in the SS Officer in Hitler's army. He knows he has a cool uniform and that he is not allowed in his dad's office, but that is all. Bruno looks around his nice house and wonders if his new one will be as nice, and realizes that the best part of their house is the close proximity to his grandparents.
Chapter 1 ends with Bruno going to help Maria pack while his parents argue downstairs.