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Alex Williams

Who am I? : The Jewish Edition


Many films and documentaries have been made in memory of the Holocaust, but there
are only a few that stick out as excellent for the viewer. One of these few is a film by Agnieszka
Holland named Europa Europa. This film portrays a young boy who lives through the ups and
downs of life as a Jewish in Eastern Europe during the Nazi regime years. This young boys
name is Solomon and he goes through hardship after hardship while changing his identity along
the way to save himself. Solomon thinks he has last everyone in his family so he defends
himself as best he knows, proclaiming to be a pure Aryan male. This story plays out with
Solomon living a lie and keeping his secret well along the way, but this is challenging with love
for a German girl. This story is a great tool to show the treatment of Jews during these years,
even the ones that were not in camps lived in fear of their true identity sending them to their
death. There is a real identity crisis for Solomon as he tries to escape the Nazi clutches by
changing himself to blend in.
The theme that is most prevalent is a search for identity as Solomon changes his name
and his background to keep himself alive, and this strategy actually works better than planned.
In this representation of the Holocaust the viewer sees how the Jews were treated by Nazi by
living through a Jewish boy. The main character, Solomon, has to live a lie growing up in
Germany at a Hitler Youth School to keep himself away from the concentration camps. This
brings the first argument, the identity crisis all Jews were facing. Solomon, along with many
others, would hide their true Jewish identity in hopes of surviving the brutal attacks of the Nazis.
Although Solomon pulls this lie off, the viewer sees the struggle he lives every day while
keeping this secret. This also shows the true fear that every Jew lived with every day in Eastern
Europe. This fear engulfed the minds of all Jews living in this area of the world because they
saw the disappearing of their friends and family to these camps, they did not want to be next.

These two main arguments are the foundation of this film, they get the ideas across the
filmmakers wanted to show while also portraying a story of sympathy for Solomon with a
storybook happy ending.
The most important argument seen in this film is the irony of the pure German. This
Aryan race was supposed to be superior to all others and be the perfect human being, Jews were
considered lice to this race. The Jews were the most hated of the other races to the Nazis, but yet
this boy convinces these people he is German. When he is take to the school the Germans called
him the perfect Aryan. This is very much in contrast to the belief of Jews as lice, this pokes
holes in the largest Nazi ideology. This is the most shocking evidence for all human beings
being the same, this movie portrays Jews as victims, but also shows an important argument
against supremacy of any race.
The filmmakers made this film for a popular audience, there is no hidden agenda or
anything hiding inside of the film to make the viewer think a certain way. The feeling of
loneliness in living a lie for Solomon is felt by all the viewers, so the point of this film is to show
the point of view from a Jew. A political agenda is not seen anywhere in this movie, except
maybe that anti-Semitism leads to racist ideals that lead to violence between races. The film
supports these ideals by making this into a real story; a story of hardships and love. This film is
very dramatic throughout and this reason shows it was made to entertain while also educating
about the life of Jews during this period. The evidence is seen when love separates his family
because his parents sent Solomon and his brothers to safety, then hardships of growing up in a
Soviet orphanage and being attacked by Germans, then love again when Solomon finds a
German girl named Leni at the Hitler Youth School. Although the theme is the brutal Jewish life
in Europe, the storyline makes this film entertainment for everyone.
A film review written by Susan Linville is very interesting because she sees this film,
along with others, as a comedy that ruins the movies credit. Susan write about how the movie

has a theme of sexual comedy amongst the bigger themes, this is because the only difference
shown between Solomon and the Germans is circumcision. Susan complains that this quality
completely ruins the film because the filmmaker is joking about this situation. She believes all
of the situations Solomon finds himself in are complete irony and to be seen as jokes. This
leaves a very controversial conversation among people about this movie. If this narrative o irony
is true then the movie is completely out of line making a comedy about the Holocaust and its
events. Susan is not completely discrediting the film, but she is making a bold statement about
how Solomons life is portrayed somewhat as a joke.
Susan makes many valid statements regarding Hollands film, but to say it is a comedy is
out of order. This movie shows Solomon going through hardships in his life; yes, some
situations are ironic to his character, but this does not make it comedic. Irony is seen in all forms
in writing and film throughout history, irony is also seen in the everyday life of every human
being. The fact that circumcision is the only difference between Germans and Solomon is
making a large point that the Nazi propaganda against Jews is completely bogus. This point is
used to show the viewer all humans are equal and every race the same inside, not a film to make
humor of Jewish struggles.
This film is brilliant for many reasons, it shows the viewer the life of a Jew during this
time period while also showing the willingness for survival among these people. The most
important take away from Europa Europa is seeing everyone around us as equals, we are all the
same and should be treated as such. A difference cannot be seen in Solomon except in one area
of his body, but this does not make him different from anyone else. This film gives the viewers a
quality depiction of the Jewish community and their struggles in Europe, Jews as Victims, while
also portraying a larger image of anti-racism.

Citation Page

Linville, Susan E. (1995). Agnieszka Holland's Europa, Europa: Deconstructive Humor


in a Holocaust Film. Film Criticism, 19(3), 44-53