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Rabbi Benjamin Blech described the book as "not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation". Despite the book's intentions, he argues, the plot is highly improbable and gives credence to the defence that people did not, and could not, know what was happening within the death camps. Students who read it, he warns, may believe the camps "weren't that bad" if a boy could conduct a clandestine friendship with a Jewish captive of the same age, unaware of "the constant presence of death".
However, Kathryn Hughes, whilst agreeing that about the implausibility of the plot, argues that "Bruno's innocence comes to stand for the willful refusal of all adult Germans to see what was going on under their noses".