Nazi officials unknowingly promote a young Jewish man to the highest ranks of the Hitler Youth. Based on a true story. [ Europa, Europa credits: Dir: Agnieszka Holland/ Marco Hofschneider, Rene Hofschneider, Julie Delpy/ 115 min/ Action-Adventure, Biography, Foreign Language/ France, Germany/ In German with English subtitles/ Democide, Government as Bigot]
“This bizarre tale of survival is as suspenseful as it is moving…It’s a great story, told with warmth and artistry”
The collectivist concept of racial stereotyping was never more thoroughly repudiated than by this ironic actual case.
Captured by Nazis, teenager Solomon Perel, a Jew, convinced them he was “purebred” German and was promptly drafted. An outstanding soldier, he was subsequently promoted into the elite military school for Hitler Youth. Throughout his experience, the Nazi authorities never detected his true ethnicity. In a class on “race theory” they even publicly certified him as Aryan, based on the fine quality of his features. Interestingly, despite the anti-Semitism of the Hitler Youth, he nonetheless found himself bonding with his fellow student-soldiers until, now and again, something would suddenly remind him of what his heritage really meant to them. He also had a brief, though similar, experience in a Soviet orphanage, where his parents’ ownership of a business was held against him.
These events vividly reveal the artificiality of the barriers that divide people, and so teach a useful lesson in both social tolerance and the dangers of socialism, which so often gives force to prejudice.
This bizarre tale of survival is as suspenseful as it is moving. Carefully filmed scenes are supported by effective music, and Marco Hofschneider is very credible in the leading role. The real Solomon Perel appears briefly at the end. It’s a great story, told with warmth and artistry. Also listed as Hitlerjunge Salomon.
“Europa Europa accomplishes what every film about the Holocaust seeks to achieve: It brings new immediacy to the outrage by locating specific, wrenching details that transcend cliche. Based on the memoirs of Solomon Perel, who survived the war through a variety of unusual subterfuges and is briefly seen offering a song of thanksgiving at the story’s end, this film includes several remarkable episodes illustrating the strange events that shaped Mr. Perel’s destiny and the full force of his terror and sorrow.”
–The New York Times
How to See It
Wikipedia: Solomon Perel
Book: Europa, Europa
The New York Times: A Life Stranger Than the Movie, ‘Europa, Europa,’ Based on It
Jewish Post: What’s a Nice Jewish Boy Doing In a Hitler Youth School?