Friday, June 27, 2014

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.

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