Why he was strict and cold for his children ?
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Bruno's father was actually kind to his children, but he was none-the-less, a cruel and narrowminded man. His position requires him to spend a large portion of his time meeting with other officials, whereas, he generally chooses to spend the remainder in his office. Ralf is definitely more interested in work than the family, and he can also be seen as a strict disciplinarian. This comes as no surprise, as he is a soldier.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas