… Five years later, Guido owns a bookstore, but the situation for Jews has become even more Dangerous.
Their happiness is abruptly halted, when, on Giosuè’s fifth birthday, Guido, his uncle and his son are seized by the Germans, and forced onto a train to be brought to a concentration camp.
Wanting to be with her family, Dora demands to be taken too, and Guido is devastated to see his non-Jewish wife board the train, where they are crowded like cattle with the other victims.
At the concentration camp, Guido and Joshua are taken to the men’s side of the camp, and Dora to the women’s side.
Since men and women are separated, Dora and Guido never see each other but Guido finds ways to communicate with her, by using the camp’s loudspeaker to send messages to assure her that he and their son are safe.
Uncle Eliseo is considered too old to work and is taken to the gas chamber with other elderly citizens and children. Giosuè narrowly avoids being gased himself, because he refuses to take a shower
At the camp, Guido decides to protect his son from the horror of their situation, so he hides him and explains to him that the camp is a complicated game in which he must perform the tasks his father gives him. If he obeys all the rules, he will earn points and if he gets to one thousand points first, he will win a real tank. He states that things like talking, crying, disobeying, asking for his mother or just a snack, and walking around outside of the sleeping quarters, are forbidden and will cause him to lose points.
Relying on his playful nature and quick wit, Guido manages to convince the child that every situation is part of the game and even though he is at times reluctant to go on playing, Guido always convinces him to keep on.
His primary goal is to keep Giosuè safe at all cost, while trying to figure out a way to get his family out of the camp and to prevent the Germans from learning what he is doing with Giosuè. He manages to maintain this story until the end when, in the chaos of shutting down the camp as the Allied forces approach, he tells his son to stay in a box until everybody has gone, this being the final task in the competition before winning the promised tank.
Guido then starts looking for Dora, but he is caught by a German soldier who decides to execute him. While walking to his death, Guido passes by the cabinet where his son is hiding and decides to give him one last moment of joy: he throws him a wink and does a funny little walk, playing the game to its tragic end
When an American Army unit led by a tank breaks into the seemingly deserted camp the following morning, Giosuè, who had crawled out of the box, is really delighted because he thinks he has won the game and is unaware that his father is dead. An American soldier allows him to ride on the tank from which he sees his mother in the procession leaving the camp and runs to her. She hugs him while he enthusiastically tells her that he has won a tank, just as his father promised “We won!” he cries out. “Yes, we won,” she says.