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Summary: Chapter 13

As the weeks passed, Bruno realized his family would not return to Berlin anytime soon. However, his visits with Shmuel prevented him from feeling too unhappy about his new life.

Every day after his lessons, Bruno stuffed his pockets full of bread and cheese to take to Shmuel. One day, Maria caught Bruno sneaking food. He lied and told her he might grow hungry on his afternoon walk. Bruno also took the opportunity to ask Maria about Pavel. He wanted to know why Pavel said he was a doctor since he worked a servant. Maria explained that Pavel was a doctor before coming to Out-With. She offered to tell Bruno everything she knew about Pavel’s life, provided he promised not to tell anyone. Bruno eagerly agreed.

At their usual meeting place, Bruno passed Shmuel the bread and cheese through the fence and apologized for being late. He explained about Pavel and asked if Shmuel knew him since he was a doctor. Shmuel didn’t know Pavel. There were thousands of people on his side of the fence, and they had little need for doctors since the soldiers didn’t want the people on his side to get better.

Bruno changed the conversation and announced that he wanted to become a soldier when he grew up. Shmuel said there were no good soldiers, but Bruno insisted that Father was a good soldier. Shmuel tried to tell Bruno how bad things were on his side of the fence, but instead of responding, Bruno asked if Shmuel had any sisters. When Shmuel said he didn’t, Bruno congratulated him and complained about Gretel and her crush on Lieutenant Kotler. Shmuel grew pale and asked Bruno not to talk about Lieutenant Kotler. Bruno agreed that the soldier was scary.

At dinner that evening, Bruno noted that Pavel looked thinner and weaker. During the meal, Bruno complained about Herr Liszt’s focus on history. Father insisted on the importance of the subject: “If it wasn’t for history, none of us would be sitting around this table now. . . . We are correcting history here.”

Lieutenant Kotler, who had joined the family for dinner, said he had always preferred the social sciences over the arts despite the fact that his father was a literature professor. Lieutenant Kotler hadn’t kept up with his father since he took a teaching job in Switzerland in 1938. Father began to ask Lieutenant Kotler questions about his father’s age and his reasons for leaving in 1938, “at the moment of [Germany’s] greatest glory and her most vital need.” Lieutenant Kotler grew anxious and said he didn’t know why his father had left, only that he may have had disagreements with government policy. Father dropped the subject, implying he would continue the conversation with Lieutenant Kotler later in private.