Friday, June 27, 2014

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. 

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