The Boy In The Striped Pajamas Bystander Effect

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“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd” (Bertrand Russell). Humans are very social beings, so we feel the need to be a part of a group in which we are accepted for our personalities or beliefs. Since the beginning of time we have formed specific groups, and once we concede to the herd mentality, we can be directed and controlled by only a few people. The bystander effect and authority figure obedience are worldwide known social psychological phenomena that have shaped the history of the human race. These factors were present specifically during World War Two, and it majorly affected the outcome of it. The bystander effect is defined as “a social…show more content…
The book tells the story of a boy, Bruno, who is the son of a high-ranking Nazi officer. Bruno, for the sake of his father’s career moves to a house just outside the concentration camp Auschwitz. The following quote is an example of the bystander effect in Boy in the Striped Pajamas: "What happened then was both unexpected and extremely unpleasant. Lieutenant Kotler grew very angry with Pavel and no one - not Bruno, not Gretl, not Mother and not even Father - stepped in to stop him doing what he did next, even though none of them could watch. Even though it made Bruno cry and Gretel grow pale" (Boyne 105). This quote is a description of one of the violent events that Bruno experienced. Lieutenant Kotler, was dismayed when Pavel, a Jewish servant to the family, accidently spilled wine into his lap. Boyne describes that Lieutenant Kotler “made Bruno want to push him to the ground and jump up and down on his head" (Boyne 72). Boyne purposefully leaves out the details to allow it to represent the large scale violent acts that took place during World War Two. In this situation Bruno and his family represent all of the bystanders of World War Two who were disgusted by the incident but did nothing to step in and stop it. This psychological phenomenon was unequivocally one of the contributing factors to the mass genocide that took place in World War
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