How does antisemitism function in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Further research on antisemitism is a good addition to studying The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  Antisemitism is not limited to the Nazis or World War II in that it simply means prejudice and discrimination (and even hostile behavior) against people with Jewish heritage.  Even though Jewish people are only one type of Semitic people, antisemitism is commonly known as prejudice only against Jews.  Further, antisemitism has existed throughout history such as during the crusades and the Russian empire and the Spanish Inquisition as well.  Antisemitism is often spread through publications, cartoons, and canards. A canard is simply another word for a false story.  These were made up (especially during World War II) in order to spread hatred for the Jewish race. There are many facets of antisemitism, such as economic antisemitism (asserting that all Jews are greedy), racial antisemitism (asserting that Jews are of an inferior race), religious antisemitism (asserting that Jews killed Jesus and are, therefore, anti-Christian), and political antisemitism (the best example being the Nazi regime).  Unfortunately, antisemitism still exists today within such groups as the "Skinheads."

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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