To identify external and internal conflicts in John Boyne’s novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, one will have to identify altercations that are happening outside of Bruno and beyond his control, as well as confrontations that are happening within him and that he has some power over.
Two major altercations that are happening in the outer world are World War II and the Holocaust. In addition to conquering Europe, the Nazis put in place a system to exterminate so-called “undesirable” people, including Jewish people. As Bruno’s dad is a rising officer in the Germany army, the external events of World War II and the Holocaust impact Bruno personally and contribute to his inner conflicts.
After Bruno’s dad is put in charge of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Bruno and his family must move from their Berlin home and into a home near Auschwitz. Bruno doesn’t like their new home. Their new house lacks the size, mystery, and enchantment of their Berlin home. Instead of being surrounded by people, shops, and other forms of big-city excitement, Bruno is an “empty, desolate” place.
While the external conflict of World War II and the genocide of European Jews caused Bruno’s move, the external conflict produces an internal conflict: Bruno's opposition towards moving. Now Bruno has to deal with his own feelings and emotions about the move. He has to figure out from himself how to cope with this new setting.
Bruno’s internal conflict abut the change seems to lead to his friendship with Shmuel. This relationship can be described as a mix of internal and external conflicts. There are elements that Bruno and Shmuel can’t control, and there are parts about their friendship that they can, to some degree, control.