Friday, June 27, 2014

Europa Europa and Human Rights Infringements

Beginning with the first scene, Europa Europa captivated my attention, and no matter how graphic or explicit the movie became, I was unable to peel my eyes away from the screen. World War II is a historical even that has always fascinated me: it was a major turning point in world history; my grandfather was an officer in the military during this time; and the human rights violations were astounding, and worth further investigation.
Coincidentally, the other class that I am taking this summer is called "Social Movements." Over the course of this semester, we will study different social movements during the 20th Century: the Civil Rights Movement, Workers Movement, Gay Rights Movement, etc. All of these topics intrigue me because the social movement is sparked by oppression of a people and the stripping of their rights. My point is, human rights, and specifically violations of these rights, is a topic by which I am incredibly fascinated and in which I am quite interested.
It seems as though every movie, film, or documentary about the Holocaust and/or World War II includes videos and pictures of Jews and other groups (gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally impaired) suffering in concentration camps. This is done in an effort to raise awareness about the cruelties of the war. Europa Europa did an outstanding job of depicting the horrors of World War II, but in a way that was quite contrary to the other films that I have seen about this time period. Only briefly were we shown images of Jews that had been living in concentration camps, yet I found myself more moved by the end of the film than I had ever been before by a film regarding this topic.
Europa Europa presented the audience with a completely different viewpoint of the War than we were accustomed to seeing. Instead of viewing the happenings from the eyes of the oppressed, we saw everything through the eyes of the oppressors, the violators of the human rights. It was interesting to see the Nazi's, and even at points, the Russian's justifications for their actions.
In the movie, I think that the most prominent human rights infringement regarded the freedom of religion. Over the course of World War II, there were many groups of people that had their rights taken away, but the group on which there was the most focus in Europa Europa was the Jews. There were two moments in the movie that stuck out to me as the two biggest violations of the freedom of religion. The first occurred in the Russian school where Solly lived for two years. The Russians were of the philosophy that God did not exist, and religion was banned from the school. The Russian people have the right to believe what they want, but it becomes a violation of human rights when beliefs turn to Antisemitism. In the same way, the Jews should have the right to believe what they want to believe, and to have the freedom of religion. The Russian leaders of the school were instilling their beliefs into the minds of children that had no choice but to conform to these Antisemitic beliefs. The second violation was similar to the first, but it occurred in the Hitler Youth Academy which Solly attended for a period of time. Solly's first experience in this academy was listening to the rest of the boys sing a song about the murder of Jews. Just as I stated before, each one of those boys has the right to believe what they want, but the second that they impose their beliefs on someone else, it becomes an infringement of human rights.

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