Prisoner B-3087

by

Alan Gratz

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Prisoner B-3087 Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Alan Gratz's Prisoner B-3087. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Alan Gratz

Gratz was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee to study creative writing. Initially, Gratz wrote plays, largely adapted from literature. Ten years after graduating, Gratz published his first novel for young readers, Samurai Shortstop. Since then, he has published 16 books for young readers, including several historical fiction works. Gratz also spent a period of time teaching historical fiction writing in Tokyo, Japan and Jakarta, Indonesia. He has also written magazine articles, a few television scripts, and more than 6,000 radio commercials. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Historical Context of Prisoner B-3087

Prisoner B-3087 is based on the true story of Yanek Gruener’s experience during the Holocaust—Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews and other marginalized peoples in Europe. Poland, where Yanek grew up, was one of the first places to experience the violence of the Holocaust, the country was invaded by the Nazis on September 1, 1939. After this invasion, the Jews were quickly separated into ghettos, including in Kraków, where Yanek lived. Soon after, concentration camps were built, where millions of Jews were worked to death or killed outright. In the book, Yanek survives 10 different concentration camps: Plaszów, the Wieliczka Salt Mines, Trzebinia, Birkenau, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen, and finally Dachau, before being liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945. All in all, six million Jews and millions of communists, homosexuals, and Roma people were killed by the Nazis. Three million of those six million Jews were Polish—over 90 percent of Poland’s Jewish population. Of the 1.5 million Jewish children living in Europe before the war, only half a million survived—including Yanek.

Other Books Related to Prisoner B-3087

There are many examples of books that follow people’s journeys during the Holocaust, both fictional and based on true stories. For nonfiction accounts, Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz are comparable autobiographies, focusing on the authors’ journeys as young men through various concentration camps. Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning also recounts his experiences as a concentration camp prisoner, touching on similar themes of determination and finding meaning in the face of crisis and dehumanization. The Diary of Anne Frank is another famous work, as Anne Frank detailed her own experiences as a young Jewish girl hiding in her neighbor’s home in the Netherlands in 1942 before being discovered by the Nazis. Simon Wiesenthal’s memoirs also recount his experience as a survivor of five different concentration camps. For fiction, Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars focuses on a young Jewish girl fleeing Nazi Germany in hope of safety in Denmark. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne centers on a German and a Jewish child during the Holocaust as they forge a friendship on opposite sides of a concentration camp fence. Jane Yolen’s novel The Devil’s Arithmetic takes a different tack, focusing on a Jewish girl growing up in the 1980s who is sent back in time and experiences the Holocaust. Gratz has also written other young adult books that focus on children in times of war: Grenade, Projekt 1065, and Refugee.
Key Facts about Prisoner B-3087
  • Full Title: Prisoner B-3087
  • When Written: 2012–2013
  • Where Written: North Carolina
  • When Published: March 1, 2013
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction; Biographical Fiction
  • Setting: Poland and Germany, 1939–1945
  • Climax: Yanek is liberated from Dachau concentration camp.
  • Antagonist: The Nazi regime
  • Point of View: First Person

Extra Credit for Prisoner B-3087

Ruth’s Truth. Jack Gruener’s wife, Ruth, has also published a memoir about her time during the Holocaust, entitled Destined to Live.