Friday, June 27, 2014

Response to Europa Europa

During the Holocaust, the majority of Jews in Europe were persecuted for their religious beliefs and ethnicity by Nazi Germany. Europa Europa portrays the true story of a young, Jewish teen named Solly who was forced to abandon his identity in order to survive during the Holocaust. His human rights are violated throughout the entire movie because he is discriminated against on the basis of his ethnicity and religion; a clear violation of Articles's I and II of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
At the beginning of the movie, he is separated from all of his family and ends up living in a Soviet orphanage. Even though Solly was persecuted for being a Jew in his past, he starts to abandon his identity as a Jew for the first time in his life in the orphanage. He denounced the existence of God in the orphanage despite his Jewish upbringing in order to fit in with Soviet Russia's atheist principles. The theme of abandoning identity for survival becomes more prevalent and extreme as the movie progresses. After Solly is captured by the Germans and used as a translator in the war, Solly's abandoning of his identity is taken to a  much higher degree. In Russia, principles of the country conflicted with Judaism, but antisemitism was still frowned upon but in Nazi Germany antisemitism was endorsed by the state and Solly was forced to actively contribute to the Nazis. After earning high honors in the military, Solly is sent to a Hitler Youth camp where his abandonment of his Jewish identity is taken to yet another degree. In the battlefields, there was not as much time to feed the Germans antisemitic propaganda as there was in the Hitler Youth camp, which makes Solly's life harder. I enjoyed the progression of his abandonment of identity because it was smooth and transitioned well throughout the entire film. I must admit I found the film's portayal of antisemitism to be unbelievable or exaggerated at times. For instance,  a Nazi general told Solly the war was about Jews; not revenge for the Treaty of Versailles, reacquiring lost territories, gaining land and resources, spreading the Aryan master race, or any other common motivation for spreading an empire. I really cannot believe there was a high ranking general that thought the war was about ridding the world of Jews even though the film was based on a true story. I definitely enjoyed the film overall though.

Europa Europa Relection: A Jewish Nazi

In the beginning of the film, Solly, who ran away naked from the Nazi attack, had no option but to wear the Nazi leather coat in order to return home. This theme is repeated throughout the film as Solly is forced to make decisions that are against himself and his family. As I was watching the film, a thought repeatedly came to mind: “what would I have done if I were in that situation?” Putting myself in Solly’s shoes, I realized that I would have made similar choice as he did in the movie. As a human, fear of death is something that is inevitable. When the Nazi soldiers asked him if he was a Jew, Solly heard the gunshots on the other side of the field. To admit that he was a Jew would have been the same thing as saying, “Yes, I don’t mind dying.” This film most affected me as I realized how terrible this situation was: a young Jew left to choose between death and the death of his identity. I could imagine the excessive mental stress and discomfort he and some other Jews would have gone through as they were forced to become an enemy of themselves and their beloved ones. 
Europa Europa exemplifies the violation of several human rights, but it deals mostly with article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Article 1 states a simple but crucial right—we are all born free and equal. The Nazi’s believed that Jews were different from birth and that there was no way to make them better. Leni, Solly’s girlfriend, exemplifies this discrimination in the movie, as she hopes to give birth to a “pure German bred baby” for the Furher. Another right that was overly violated in the movie was article 5 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Solly sees bodies being stacked and thrown away as he rides back and forth the Ghettos. 
Overall, I enjoyed the film because it was a fresh approach at the Holocaust. Europa Europa did a good job capturing Holocaust from the eyes of two in one—Solly was a victim yet a perpetrator, a Jew yet a Nazi.

Europa Europa Reflection: Solly's Internal Conflict

Bravo! Europa Europa gets two thumbs up for its innovative approach to develop a character through internal conflict. Yes, the film showed events of the Holocaust and the horrors that became of them, but I believe it was focused on Solly, the main character, and how his decisions shaped his character because of these events.
Dehumanized is not a strong enough word to describe the Jewish population and other discriminated groups; it would imply that they were perceived as humans in the first place, but that was not the case to the children of the Hitler Youth School and many others. To them, Jews were ape-like creatures that only tainted the human population with their grotesque genetics – at least, that’s what they were “taught.” It clearly was not factual as there were Germans that accepted Solly as a Jew (Robert and Leni’s mother) and a proclaimed professor determined Solly to be of Aryan descent through calculated measurements even though he is not. Jews were robbed of their property, herded to ghettos, and killed through gas chambers, starvation, and disease. Their right to life and expression was stripped from them as Hitler exploited society’s pre-existing stereotypes. On the other side, dehumanized does describe Solly as he made decisions to survive. He loses his identity as he is forced to choose whether or not to live a lie or die a Jew. This internal conflict leads him to deteriorate his morals and compassion, shown by his smirk when he realizes a man died in an explosion that would have exploited his true identity. Solly made some detrimental decisions that showed that he was trying to conform to the “pure race,” such as painfully tying a string around his genitals to become a German boy and run from his Jewish background. Even so, there was still a battle inside him, as shown when he slapped Leni for insulting Jews, and he eventually was proud of his Jewish upbringings and was finally happy when reunited with his lost family member and started a new life.
None of Solly’s decisions made him a bad person. Even I don’t know what I would do in his situation between life and death in which he picked both sides throughout the film. Again, Europa Europa was a great movie, and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to watch something thought-provoking and unique.

The Difficulty of Life Without Guaranteed Rights

Even though I watched Europa Europa with prior knowledge of Hitler’s dehumanization of the Jews during the Holocaust, this film further opened my eyes to its cruelty. I enjoyed this film because not only was it well-crafted to capture all the students’ interest but also informative, exposing the unbearable lives of the Jews during the time period.

The film portrays Nazi’s countless violations of human rights during the Holocaust-era which made survival so difficult for the Jews. It starts with a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, which is exemplified by the repeated scenes of hanging and torturing of the Jews. Nazis continue to take away Jew’s rights such as “the right to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Solly is a great example of a Jew who had completely lost this right—he couldn’t even get close to proudly manifesting his religion; he had to hide his true identity and pledge himself as Hitler’s soldier in order to survive. I don’t see this as Solly’s fault in any way because anyone would have done the same if he/she was placed in Solly’s situation. It is clear that Solly hadn’t lied of his identity in a sense of betrayal. We can see this when he is forced to stab a doll with the Star of David on it during his time in the Hitler youth academy. While all the other boys confidently stabbed the doll with the hatred towards Jews that the adults had taught them, Solly couldn’t help but to hesitate. Although all of Solly wanted to live as a Jew, the Germans’ unreasonable hatred towards the Jews led him to hide his identity, which makes it clear that the Jews were out of possession of their human rights.

Although I can’t dare to compare my story to Solly’s, I can in a sense understand the confusion of identity Solly encounters for survival. Solly’s sole purpose was to stay alive, which led him to helplessly alternate between a Russian, German, and a Jew throughout the movie. I can relate to Solly as I live a two-sided life of a Korean American. As the first generation, I encounter many situations where I would have to choose one identity over another. There are advantages and disadvantages of both sides, therefore making me unsure of which I wish to identify myself as. However, no matter how many times I think about my identity, I always end up becoming proud of my nationality as a South Korean. I believe that Solly feels the same, as he frees his tears when he meets his brother and accepts himself as a Jew—the tears he held back as a German and a Russian. Although Solly did end up protecting his identity despite the difficulty to do so without his rights, I believe that these human rights that we take for granted should be enforced in a more active manner.

Europa, Europa: The Denial of Rights

The film Europa, Europa tells the enduring tale of Solomon Perel, a young Jewish boy who escapes Nazi’s “final solution” by posing as a German in the Hitler Youth Academy. This movie, though loosely based on a true story, portrays an accurate description of harsh life and rights denied during this time, from the starving Jewish prisoners living in the unsanitary ghettos to German citizens living comfortably in middle class homes, therefore opening my eyes to many truths I never realized before.
          The Nazi regime revoked many fundamental rights from the Jewish population, such as the right to privacy. The movie begins with the officers painting the Star of David on the store window of the shoe store that Perel’s family owns, admitting their religion to anti-semitic community. That night, Kristallnacht occurs, resulting in the death of Solomon’s sister and thus nullifying Jewish’s right of protection of life. Likewise, the Jewish practices of circumcision lead many officers to publicly strip a man’s lower garments to verify his response of being non-Jewish. Solomon fears this humiliation once he sees an elderly man taken away with his pants still sitting around his ankles, much to the amusement of the Nazis and to the horror of the audience, including myself. Most likely, the Nazis drag this man, along with any other Jewish refugees, to the ghettos, which denies food, employment, or any chance of survival.
The barbed wire surrounding a Jewish ghetto.
          The Nazi government often surrounded ghettos with barbed wire and guards; public transportation contained painted windows to conceal these horrendous living conditions to German civilians. This prevents Solomon to search for his family in these slums; when he attempts to open a window to breathe some fresh air, the presiding officer laughs. This implies that the racist German population believed that Jews were fifthly animals, therefore denying these people the right to being human. They even tried to prove that Jews possess physical qualities that demonstrate their animalistic, unintelligent nature through racial science. These outrages efforts brought me to denial: I couldn't believe the measures the Nazis took to humiliate the Jews! Ironically, much to my humor, the professor fails to prove that Solomon was a Jew when he measures his skull in a class presentation.

According the Nazi racial science, the nose must be around 2.83
centimeters wide to belong to the Aryan race.
          This film, however, successfully presents that not all Germans shares the same views as history often paints to today’s generation. During the time in the army and school, soldiers and students treat Solomon with respect, often acknowledging his bravery in the war and willingly welcome him as a friend. Some Germans, like Robert and Leni’s mother accept and vow to keep Solomon safe when he confesses his secret. Both reveal that not all Germans believe in the Nazi propaganda; Leni’s mother even cries at the transformation of her daughter when she decides to donate her child to the Lebensborn program. This scene forced me to understand that the Hitler regime horrified most Germans, especially the older generations, but kept quiet in fear of prosecution and thus decided to follow orders with no questions asked. It then made me question my previous beliefs about the ruthless army eager to dominate Europe: perhaps, I wondered, they conquered others in order to protect themselves? Maybe they were scared, like the Jews, of being humiliated and inferior in the eyes of other nations, just like after WWI? The Nazi government also managed to steal the civilian population’s freedom of speech as well as the right to know the government’s activity, such as the existence of concentration camps. Solomon believes, like his commanding officers, that the government plan to relocate the Jewish population to Madagascar until the Soviet leaders show him pictures showing the horrifying truth.
 The Soviets, though aggressively strive to defeat Hitler, also denied their people rights, such as freedom of religion. At an orphanage, when a few students attempt to resist the regime by proclaiming the existence of a superior being, the leaders derail their argument by dropping candles to young children when they ask Stalin to give them candles; before, the young degenerates plead to God for the same miracle, but with no response. If not for the German planes bombing the school, the instructors would have most likely punish these students. Additionally, they encouraged discrimination to anyone who belonged in the bourgeoisie class; the school almost denies Solomon entrance to the Komsomol when they discover that his parents own a store.
Overall, I like the movie for doubting my previous beliefs about Nazi Germany, as well as providing an underdog story that weaves together the miracle of overcoming the odds (e.g. bombing of the station that sent for his official papers), but at the same time humanize the character by seeing him break down many times due to fear and isolation. The movie is a must see for all who wants not only the truth during WWII, but for people who want to see a story of survival and perseverance when surrounded by enemies who are just as confuse and lost as the main character.

Today, Solomon Perel often travels across Europe to tell about his unbelievable experiences. The movie is based on his book, Ich war Hitlerjunge Salomon (I Was Hitler Youth Salomon).

Europa, Europa directed by Agnieszka Holland; based on the true story of Solomon Perel


Movie Title:


Racial Science:

Solomon Perel:

Human Rights Violations in Europa Europa

Many stories set during this time period are about the horrific crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust. They tend to focus on one particular emotional, spiritual, or physical aspect of the war; such as the mental toughness required to survive the grueling battles, or the physical tortures the Jews were forced to endure. While almost all WWII books and films are essentially survival stories and Europa Europa is no exception, I loved this movie because it served as a reminder that people cannot be categorized by one trait. The concept that people are multi-fasceted seems like a simple one, but it is one that we tend to forget when discussing the Holocaust. I have always lumped Germans together and separated the Jews in my mind, but the movie explored the ambiguous loyalties that I am sure plagued many people. Solly was not just a Jew, but a German, a Nazi Youth, a Komsomol, a brother, a soldier, a kid with a crush. He got to see the conflict from all sides, and his loyalties were almost paradoxical in nature. I feel that this movie is so profound because it shows how human life is fluid. Everyone is constantly changing, and to group people based on one aspect of themselves is completely misguided. While everyone knows this is the case, it is easily forgotten as we can see based on the vast majority of conflicts throughout history.
Europa Europa depicted numerous human rights violations, but two stood out to me. The first is the Freedom of Speech. While this freedom was violated numerous times throughout the film, one instance was when Solly got in a fight with another boy at the orphanage because the boy insulted the Soviets. Solly threatened "Do you know what would happen if I reported that?" indicating that any dissent was completely forbidden and would result in punishment. According to the documents we discussed in class, everyone has the right to express their views without fear of persecution. Another human rights violation depicted in the film was freedom of religion. Not only were the Jews persecuted by the Nazis for their beliefs, but the boys who admitted to their faith at the Soviet orphanage were ridiculed for having a religion at all. Communism calls religion the "opiate of the masses", and while in the movie the Soviets fought against the Nazis and tried to free the Jews, banning religion is still a human rights violation, no matter whose side the Soviets are on.

My response to Europa Europa

Adolf Hitler promised to rule a thousand year reich, but that was not his only goal. Steadfast on his belief that the Jewish population in Germany was what ruined his great country and what lead to the loss of the first world war, Hitler used everything at his disposal to strip away the Jewish people’s rights and dehumanize them. I enjoyed watching the film Europa Europa in class because I believe it gave an unique perspective of the human rights violations that occurred during World War II and what it took to avoid persecution. I found myself on the edge of my seat while watching Solly desperately attempt to hide his true self.
In the beginning of the movie, multiple Germans participated in Kristallnacht, a horrific night when Jewish shop owners were terrorized. These actions violated the Jewish people’s rights to life, property, and business. Not only did they have to close down their shop, but Solly’s sister was killed. In the aftermath, many Jewish families sent their loved ones out of the city to find refuge in the East but had to cross a river at night due to the fact that their citizenship and right to immigrate and move freely throughout the country revoked. While Solly pretended to be a “pure bred” German in both the military and the Nazi youth, he witnessed more abuses. Jewish people that were captured were shot with no warning and Communist students were hung. These killings went against articles of human rights discussed in every declaration, from the US Bill of Rights to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. Solly ventured into the ghettos where the Jewish people were treated inhumanely, and viewed from a trolley how the Jewish people were abused, starved, and beaten. In order to keep his promise of a thousand year reich, Hitler had to force his citizens into his system of beliefs. Women became viewed as objects only to produce desirable children. 

Agneiszka Holland narrated the story of a brave young man who gave up his own identity to fit into a fascist and evil community to survive. Holland included the gross human rights violations that shocked the rest of the world in the aftermath of World War II. This movie shows us why it is so important to study human rights to prevent something among those lines again. 

Violations in Europa Europa

Europa Europa, a film highlighting the exploitation of the Jewish culture during World War II, shows the inner conflict of a Jewish boy as he struggles with the choice to remain loyal to his faith and family, or to survive the devastating Holocaust. The Holocaust and World War II served as prime examples of a horrific violation of human rights in many different aspects.
The most prominent violation of human rights during this time period was the right guaranteeing freedom of religion, along with the belief that all men were born equal, and viewed equal under the eyes of the law. Although antisemitism was not uncommon in Europe, specifically during World War II, Hitler and the Nazi's brainwashed the Germans into believing that the Jewish people were not ordinary humans. For example, in the Nazi Youth School that Solly attended, the teacher attempted to demonstrate to the class what distinct physical features characterized Jews by using a tool to measure the length of a Jews forehead, nose, and other physical elements. The irony of the demonstration was that these tools were horribly insufficient and completely useless, in that it determined Solly as an Aryan, when in actuality, he was a born Jew. 
Another right that was repeatedly violated in the film and during the years of the Holocaust is the right that protected all people from cruel or unusual punishment. Not only were these individuals being punished when free of crime, they were being punished in such ways that are entirely inhumane and especially cruel. Towards the beginning of the film, shortly after Solly tricked the Germans into believing that he was a German himself, Zenek Dracz, a boy that Solly had spent years with at the Soviet orphanage rightfully accused Solly of faking his identity as the non-Jewish Josepf. Due to this outreach to Solly, and what the Germans viewed as a false accusation, with slight consideration, the Nazi's ran Zenek over with a truck, killing him instantly. Another example of inhumanity in the film is seen in the ghettos when Solly went back to Lotz and realized what the Jews were experiencing under Nazi control. Many of them were underfed, malnourished, poorly sheltered, hung, and killed. While Solly seemed to be in utter shock, this belief of German superiority was very evident in the film, as Europa Europa did a superior job in depicting the lives of both the German and Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.

Deprivation of Rights: History Should Not Be Repeated

I truly enjoyed this movie; I usually do not watch war movies but this really captured my attention. Europa Europa perfectly depicts how the lives of Jews were during the Hitler’s reign.
The movie starts with the scene of Solly being circumcised just like any other Jewish boys. This circumcision put Solly in frustration several times while he was pretending to be a Nazi to survive because once the Nazis find out that Solly was circumcised, they would have killed Solly just like the way they killed other Jews. Jewish people lost their right to live along with the right to have own religious beliefs. During the genocide, countless number of human rights were violated. On the Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
During the Holocaust, German government tried to eliminate the whole Jewish population cruelly. Some people say that there were some understandable reasons why Germans hated Jews but Holocaust is still highly criticized because what Germans did to Jews were more than inhuman and merciless acts.
Germans thought that the single answer to everything about their lives was “Hitler” and viewed Hitler as God. Leni, the girl that Solly liked, thought that her role in the country is to have pure German baby and devote to Hitler. Leni even told Solly that she would cut the throat of the Jew if she sees one. As demonstrated above, all the German children were educated to hate Jews: they learned that they are superior and that their hatred towards Jews is reasonable.
This was a really artistic piece and I especially liked the background sound effects that constantly gave me some tension. Germans disgust towards Jews was clearly expressed through both non-verbal and verbal expressions: Germans atrociously hung or shot Jews and used harsh language and referred them to vulgar names.
I could relate this film really well because during the early 1900s, during Japanese colonial era, Japanese tormented Koreans and took away innumerous rights. Many Korean women were raped and any Koreans who stood up for independence were captured with their right to trial taken away and were often punished to death. Simply imagining about being in that situation like Jews during Holocaust or Koreans during Japanese colonial era gives me pain. Everybody in the world should have proper rights that can keep one safe and happy. These sad histories should not be repeated and we all should try to respect and promote the rights of us and those of other people.

Alle Sind Frei

During World War II, if you were living in a German occupied area life was hard, because the people who lived there had to withstand the results of war. Many suffered persecution and dehumanization if you were not what Hitler and the Nazis considered to be the perfect Aryan race, blond hair with blue eyes. Europa Europa is an excellent movie about those “racially inferior” people surviving in Nazi Germany. The movie follows the life of Solly, a Jew living in Germany who was forcibly relocated to a ghetto in Poland. When Solly encountered the Nazis he had to hide his religious identity to keep from being killed. While Solly knew that he had to keep his Judaism a secret, he was also denied one of his most basic human rights, freedom of religion. As the movie plays out, he learns of other “inferiors” that are also having to hide their true nature, such as gays who have to pretend to be heterosexual to stay alive.

“Sink knives into Jewish flesh and bones.” Imagine Solly’s fear of being discovered at the Hitler Youth School. Even though he could hide his religion, he could not hide the Jewish tradition of circumcision. When he is at school, he takes extraordinary measures to hide his circumcision. He wants to be accepted with the others and has suppresses his religion to do so, but there is always the deadly risk of being found out, especially when he is in the midst of the Nazis.

Not long after being sent to the Russian front with his Hitler Youth classmates, he deserted the Nazis and surrendered to the Russians because he didn’t want to kill. He is confronted with his decision to hide among the Nazis who were comparatively well off, as millions of other Jews and “undesirables” were being tortured, starved, and killed solely because of their religion or heritage. After the Nazi defeat, he had to hide his collaboration that likely kept him alive or else his Jewish brethren would likely treat him as the Nazis treated them during the war. He has to live with his decision and the pain of knowing he was associated with ruthless murders. It is difficult to say if he should have embraced his Jewish heritage in the face of the Nazis, it may meant his early death. There were consequence for every decision he made, but in the end he forgive himself and lives to carry out Jewish traditions in Isreal.

You are human no matter your race or your religion, it is your DNA.  Alle sind frei, all are free. 

Europa Europa Blog

The movie Europa Europa explores some of the darkest moments in World War II.  The movie follows the main character, Solly, a German Jew and his journey to escape the Nazis.  The great irony of the movie is that in trying to escape persecution he is enrolled in an elite Hitler youth school.  By enrolling in the school, Solly see firsthand how from youth German children are brain washed to hate Jews, homosexuals, and other undesirables.  He sees how the Nazis attempt to rationalize all human rights violations they commit, such forcing people to give up their livelihood and them finally murdering those that do not happen to conform to the Nazi ideas of racial purity.
            When the movie begins the Nazis have begun a campaign to target and humiliate Jews.  Solly’s family store has its windows broken by brown shirts and other Nazi thugs, during the chaos Solly’s sister is killed.  After this, Solly’s father decides to move to Poland hoping his family will be safe.  When Hitler invades Poland, Solly and his brother Isaak flee, but Solly’s eldest brother and his parents are forced into the ghetto of Lodz.  Years later Solly visits the ghetto while on vacation from the Hitler youth school.   While in the ghetto Solly sees either starving or already dead.  Solly knows that all these people have been forced from their homes simple because they were Jews.
            Near the end of the film Solly is captured by Soviet forces and they believe to be a Nazi.  He was captured near a concentration camp and Jewish prisoners can be seen nearby.  Solly is shocked by the fact that the Jews were starved and worked to death in the camps, because throughout the movie he was told that the Jews would simply be sent to Madagascar or some other far away location.  Solly’s shock at what the  Nazis have done is mirrored by the entire world who were so incredibly shocked that and nation could commit genocide on an industrialized scale.  Solly is also incredibly shocked at the fact that he lived it luxury compared to the other Jews in Germany and has all but given up on life until his brother sees him and convinces the Soviets not to kill Solly.       

Persistence of Beliefs

Europa, Europa is an enlightening film about the holocaust produced in 1990 that depicts the thrilling survival tale of a Young Jewish Boy who masquerades as a member of the Nazi youth. Since this film depicts the holocaust, there are uncountable human rights violations. The most prominent of these in the film however, is oppression of religious beliefs. This Crime was committed by the Germans and Soviets alike.  The highlight however, took place in the orphanage in Soviet Russia.  A fair northern European Boy, who would have been proudly been accepted into the Nazi youth, stands up against the leader of the Soviet Orphanage claiming there is a God and that communism was evil for depriving them of their right to express their religion. The leader of the Orphanage then publicly humiliates the boy by having him pray for candy publicly, and when none came, she had workers release candy from the ceiling. This clever manipulation rapidly squashes any notion of religious rebellion in the Orphanage.  The whole exercise was meant to brainwash the children and make them believe that communism is more reliable than God. The Russians beat into their heads that religion really is the Opium of the Masses. When most people think of human rights violations during World War 2, the Germans and the Holocaust are the only things that come to mind. This film shows how religious persecution was committed not by just the Germans, and that religious oppression can be just as harmful as any concentration camp. Solly meets the same boy that stood up for his religion later in the film, and when the other boy sees that Solly has joined the Germans, he becomes enraged and attacks Solly. Unfortunately, the Germans chase him down and he is hit by a car. This is when Solly truly starts to see the crimes that the Germans are committing against humanity. This raises many questions on to what extent one should compromise saving one’s self just by surviving is highlighted at the end of the film, and Solly realizes the extent to which the Jews were persecuted. The Main character, Solly, Witnesses individuals standing up for their beliefs all through the war, and wonders if dying for what you believe in is better than sacrificing your ideals. The true gravity of the situation hits him when he sees what his brother had gone through for his beliefs, and made him question why he gave his up so quickly.

Thoughts on Europa Europa

The film “Europa, Europa” re-tells the incredible experience of a young Jewish boy throughout the Holocaust.  Personally, I thought it was a intriguing and original story.  In this blog post I want to loosely discuss the nature of the film, the boys struggle with identity and the brainwashing that occurred throughout the story all in respect to human rights.
The film loses some of its power by not showing what actually occurred in the holocaust, namely the mistreatment, torture and slaughter of eleven million people. Without this being made explicit the nature of the film takes on a much lighter sense of despair. What I'm saying is that the historical realities are weakly portrayed. Of course this may be intentional as we are dealing with a coming of age tale of a young man.
The circumcision plays a pivotal role as it is the key to his identity. It reminds the boy of whom he really is and that he can never change. Thus, he must play a dangerous game of hide and seek. Living among people that would murder you if they knew your true identity must be fear equivalent with torture. It is a basic human right to not have to live in fear of having your life taken on a daily basis.
There are various other human right violations portrayed in the film such as: Destruction of private property, theft, murder, forced resettlement, forced “brainwashing” and mistreatment on every level. The most interesting and relevant one shown in the film was brainwashing (by this I mean  to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure [straight off google]). The boy goes through several such institutions such as the orphanage in Poland where he is forced to embody communist ideas. Later he is forced to go to an elite Hitlerjugend school where the Nazi ideology is attempted to be taught to him. (He attempts  to believe the Nazis but fails, were it not for his circumcision).
In the end the boy reestablishes his system of morals and ethics on Judaism and never looks back. However, in the film he mentions a portion of the communist ideology which dictates that “religion is opium for the people” and it made me question if religion is actually equivalent to brainwashing. I concluded that brainwashing is just a tool religions use.
This is where it gets confusing because one definative human right is to believe anything you want (i.e the right to a religion). But what if you have never had a choice to believe anything else? (by being born into a religion) Even if it is a way for a group to create model citizens, peace and order, is that not a violation of your mind? (never to get another perspective on spirituality) I have to say that I am not suggesting to get rid of religions as I lack knowledge on the matter so I will leave it at that. 
Overall the film for me was more entertaining than thought provoking as much of the time I was amazed at what was actually happening. Good film!