This week’s installment in the Ethical Dilemmas on Film series is Europa, Europa, a 1990 film directed byAgnieszka Holland. The film was adapted from the autobiography of Solomon Perel, a Jewish man from Germany who survived World War II as a boy by hiding his identity from the Nazis. The original title of the film, Hitlerjunge Salomon (literally, Hitler Youth Salomon), provides more of a clue to the specific kinds of peril involved in Perel’s struggle than does the less descriptive title under which the film was released. Here are some questions to get you started in your reflection on the ethical issues raised in the film.
Why does Agnieszka Holland begin Solly’s story the way she does? What is the effect of the opening scenes? What do we learn about Solly’s family during these scenes?
“Children nowadays – they’re so different.”“I barely hesitated to have [my sons] circumcised.”“If you were a Jew, you’d look like this.”“I didn’t know. . . .I thought Madagascar.”
Do you sympathize with Solly or are you shocked by his behavior?