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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.

How many times in how many ways does Solly escape?
    

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? 

How does this film differ from other films you’ve seen about the Holocaust? Why do you prefer Europa, Europa? Or why do you prefer Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice, The Diary of Anne Frank, Life is Beautiful, The Pianist, Holocaust, etc.? 
What’s the reason for the comic scenes? 
When is Solly acting? Are there scenes in which it is difficult to decide if his actions are performed or real? 
Isaac tells Solly, “Don’t tell your story to anyone. No one will believe it.” Does Solly tell us his story with ease? What is the effect of hearing a story that he has been advised to suppress? 
What is the significance of the dream sequences? 
Why does Agnieszka Holland shoot the scenes of the Lodz ghetto the way she does? How does this style of shooting relate to the larger film? 
Consider the significance of the following lines:
“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?

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22 Responses to Europa, Europa: Fragen zum Nachdenken

  1. BENJAMIN FRANCIS PURTELL says:

    Europa Europa was very different than many of the Holocaust films I have seen, but it also carried many of the similarities. Solly dealt with a lot of similar things that all Holocaust victims would have, and though he may have been put in different situations and handled some things a little differently. I think that Solly was the most relatable character of any Holocaust movie character because he was flawed, and didn’t always do as the audience wishes he would have. The Holocaust was one of the most trying times in human history, so of course this brought out some of the worst in people. It can be said that Solly at times seemed selfish, and that he only cared for himself. All things considered I think he did what it took to survive and we cannot give him grief for that. Normally we think of a person trying to balance their personal life alongside their family and their country, but for Solly this balance was not possible. Eventually he had to put off all other feelings outside his own, and focus on his own survival. I’m not saying that he did not care for his family anymore, he still did, he just knew that the only person he could help anymore was himself, and that he needed to make it a priority to do all he could to keep his own life when so many around him were losing theirs. Europa Europa reminded me distinctly of the book Night by Ellie Wiesel, which is definitely my favorite of all Holocaust related literature. Both lose their contact with their family members at some point during the story, and both have to put it behind them to find a way out of the horror that they have been thrown into.

  2. JAKE ANTHONY PELINI says:

    “Europa, Europa” is the first film we have viewed which has actually left me speechless. Usually, I have an idea of what the central theme of my blog will be, but this movie left me without a clue. After one views a film, or any work of art for that matter, he or she feels inclined to “evaluate” it. Was it good? Was it worth the money you paid for it? How was the acting, directing, or storyline? And after discussing Holland’s film, the whole experience and impression it creates is utterly dismal.

    When I examine a work in its entirety, I try to distinguish between the protagonist and antagonist. By nature, the human struggle is based on the eternal conflict between good and evil. But this film made the judgment almost impossible. It reminds of Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why”, a novel in which a young girl records the reasons behind her suicide. Is it truly any one character who is the “good guy” or the “bad guy,” or does the hopeless situation make a lose-lose outcome no matter what path is chosen?

    In discussion last Monday, there was a unanimous struggle to pass judgment on Solly. But ask yourselves: is it more important to be a forgotten death or to live on and to tell your story, no matter what the cost? In essence, what is really worth dying for? I cannot pretend to have the answers to that question. I would like to say my faith, family, and country, but until I am placed in that situation, I cannot be certain.

    And I believe this uncertainty, this type of insecurity, is exactly what the film wants the viewer to notice. It is curious to note that the film’s original title can be translated to Hitler Youth Salomon. To gain power, Hitler preyed upon the same insecurities which we face in analyzing the film. His ideologies asked the Germans to question if they were willing to starve to death in the streets for their country, or fight. What are we willing to die for? He asked who was to blame, as we ourselves are asked to identify a “bad guy.” And he forced them to think about what they unwaveringly believed in, as we are pressed to do. And Solly fell into his trap. He became a prime target for the fascist regime: someone who will stop at nothing to live. What makes us think we would not do the same?

  3. JAKE ANTHONY PELINI says:

    “Europa, Europa” is the first film we have viewed which has actually left me speechless. Usually, I have an idea of what the central theme of my blog will be, but this movie left me without a clue. After one views a film, or any work of art for that matter, he or she feels inclined to “evaluate” it. Was it good? Was it worth the money you paid for it? How was the acting, directing, or storyline? And after discussing Holland’s film, the whole experience and impression it creates is utterly dismal.

    When I examine a work in its entirety, I try to distinguish between the protagonist and antagonist. By nature, the human struggle is based on the eternal conflict between good and evil. But this film made the judgment almost impossible. It reminds of Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why”, a novel in which a young girl records the reasons behind her suicide. Is it truly any one character who is the “good guy” or the “bad guy,” or does the hopeless situation make a lose-lose outcome no matter what path is chosen?

    In discussion last Monday, there was a unanimous struggle to pass judgment on Solly. But ask yourselves: is it more important to be a forgotten death or to live on and to tell your story, no matter what the cost? In essence, what is really worth dying for? I cannot pretend to have the answers to that question. I would like to say my faith, family, and country, but until I am placed in that situation, I cannot be certain.

    And I believe this uncertainty, this type of insecurity, is exactly what the film wants the viewer to notice. It is curious to note that the film’s original title can be translated to Hitler Youth Salomon. To gain power, Hitler preyed upon the same insecurities which we face in analyzing the film. His ideologies asked the Germans to question if they were willing to starve to death in the streets for their country, or fight. What are we willing to die for? He asked who was to blame, as we ourselves are asked to identify a “bad guy.” And he forced them to think about what they unwaveringly believed in, as we are pressed to do. And Solly fell into his trap. He became a prime target for the fascist regime: someone who will stop at nothing to live. What makes us think we would not do the same?

  4. PHILIP BURCH ZONA says:

    I think that comedy played a vital role in Europa, Europa. The serious nature of the film almost required comedy to expose the absurdity of what was happening, and there were a few scenes that helped emphasize this.

    One scene in particular that I thought showed the ridiculous nature of the Nazi agenda was the sex scene on the train. Solly, at this point, was still trying to hide the fact that he was a Jew. When the Nazi woman seduces him in the train car because she thought he resembled a young Hitler, I couldn’t help but laugh. The woman’s entire motivation for the encounter was based on a false premise; the fact that she could not even tell the difference between a Jew and a German shows how ridiculous the persecution was.

    Another similar scene was the almost-sex scene between Solly and Leni. The contrast between Leni’s behavior before Solly defended the Jews and after highlights the outrageous nature of the hatred she felt. Like the woman on the train, Leni based her sexual attraction on the idea that Solly was a pure German. I thought it was funny to watch her go from arousal to complete outrage in the span of seconds, all because Solly sympathized with his fellow human beings.

    There is a lot to be said for the fact that some characters in Europa, Europa could not even identify a member of the race they were bent on exterminating. This is only one specific example of ethnic hatred, but it is applicable in the more general form as well. While there are often external differences between warring populations, there is a human element that allows them to connect if they can look past it. In Solly’s case, the people who hate his kind cannot even tell the difference, and the level of intimacy they engage in because of this is pretty amazing. Humans are humans, and it’s almost funny to watch how opposing groups interact when they aren’t aware that they’re in opposition. I think the biggest lesson to be learned from this is that hatred based on external features is ridiculous. When a member of one group cannot even tell who they’re supposed to hate, what does that say about the nature of the hatred itself?

  5. KAITLYN ANITA SPANGLER says:

    Europa, Europa is a film that interrogated the concept of human nature. Through the depiction of Solly through his suppressed story, we see a detached sequence of events that amount to a larger picture: Solly’s journey of survival through World War II. Agnieszka Holland immerses us as viewers into Solly’s life, as if we were holding his hand throughout each encounter, helpless and unnoticed. Each scene feels detached and incomplete because characters come and go, like Solly’s family, to those at the orphanage, to his band of army soldiers, to those at the Hitler Youth academy, and so forth. It is left up to the viewer to connect each individual story together to form a holistic view of what Solly went through. Holland depicts the upheaval of Solly and his brother as brash and quick, as if it was over before we even knew it and didn’t know the long-term implications of that hurried getaway while it was happening. Just as Solly experienced it, every event was unsure and unstable. Solly had no way of knowing what each day would bring, whether his chest full of secrets would begin to leak out. Thus, his decision to lie about his papers, his decision to call the Russian side of the army for help, or even his decision to join the Hitler Youth were not calculated in a cumulative manner. Solly was not thinking about all of the possible effects and outcomes of each decision, but he was focused on staying alive without really getting the chance to consider why. Everything was fast and brutal, lacking time for emotions and reflection to truly be felt.
    Holland portrays this style most quintessentially in the trolley ride through the ghetto because Solly can only experience what is beyond the painted windows in glimpses and spurts. He has no opportunity to observe fully what is going on, but sees quick moments of grief and struggle through the holes in the window. No one is telling him what is going on, and he is left to piece it together. Yet, his inability to step back and assess allows his identity or childhood influence to dissolve into present moment. He cannot afford to be Solly anymore, but instead, can only afford to stay alive. Through this, I think he lost what exactly he was living for and had hoped to find it along the way, whether through the girl at the school or in hopes of seeing his family again. Yet, through careful consideration, I feel as if I would have reacted in a very similar way, hoping that the meaning for my survival would just sort of show up with enough time. Thus, I feel incapable of putting blame on Solly, but instead can sympathize with his lack of control.

  6. KAITLYN ANITA SPANGLER says:

    Europa, Europa is a film that interrogated the concept of human nature. Through the depiction of Solly through his suppressed story, we see a detached sequence of events that amount to a larger picture: Solly’s journey of survival through World War II. Agnieszka Holland immerses us as viewers into Solly’s life, as if we were holding his hand throughout each encounter, helpless and unnoticed. Each scene feels detached and incomplete because characters come and go, like Solly’s family, to those at the orphanage, to his band of army soldiers, to those at the Hitler Youth academy, and so forth. It is left up to the viewer to connect each individual story together to form a holistic view of what Solly went through. Holland depicts the upheaval of Solly and his brother as brash and quick, as if it was over before we even knew it and didn’t know the long-term implications of that hurried getaway while it was happening. Just as Solly experienced it, every event was unsure and unstable. Solly had no way of knowing what each day would bring, whether his chest full of secrets would begin to leak out. Thus, his decision to lie about his papers, his decision to call the Russian side of the army for help, or even his decision to join the Hitler Youth were not calculated in a cumulative manner. Solly was not thinking about all of the possible effects and outcomes of each decision, but he was focused on staying alive without really getting the chance to consider why. Everything was fast and brutal, lacking time for emotions and reflection to truly be felt.
    Holland portrays this style most quintessentially in the trolley ride through the ghetto because Solly can only experience what is beyond the painted windows in glimpses and spurts. He has no opportunity to observe fully what is going on, but sees quick moments of grief and struggle through the holes in the window. No one is telling him what is going on, and he is left to piece it together. Yet, his inability to step back and assess allows his identity or childhood influence to dissolve into present moment. He cannot afford to be Solly anymore, but instead, can only afford to stay alive. Through this, I think he lost what exactly he was living for and had hoped to find it along the way, whether through the girl at the school or in hopes of seeing his family again. Yet, through careful consideration, I feel as if I would have reacted in a very similar way, hoping that the meaning for my survival would just sort of show up with enough time. Thus, I feel incapable of putting blame on Solly, but instead can sympathize with his lack of control.

  7. NATHANIEL JAMES HOLLISTER says:

    Sorry. For whatever reason, this did not upload earlier, so I am going to try this again here.
    The film Europa, Europa reveals many of the atrocities of the Second World War and, in particular, the crimes of Nazi Germany. In the film, we follow the life of Solly, who is a Jew living in hiding. And after watching the film, I began to think about the role that luck played in Solly’s survival. Time and again, Solly was put into situations that could have ended in his death, but did not because of some lucky circumstances. Many times, this luck stemmed from his knowledge of both German and Russian and his timing. The role of luck in this movie is great and that luck ultimately led to Solly’s survival.
    During discussion, many of my classmates felt as though Solly should not have relinquished his beliefs for survival and further questioned his true intentions. Questions about how his parents might feel about him “supporting” the Nazis or how he could pretend to be the very thing that was killing his people arose. To me, I think that Solly did exactly what was necessary to survive the Holocaust. Had he died for his beliefs (or rather, his family’s beliefs at the time), then he would be just that—dead. What would the point of that be? I also think that he chose to be Jewish just as much as he chose to be circumcised—the defining and ridiculous feature of who lives and who dies under Nazi rule. And that was the problem with the Nazi ideology (I mean other than massed genocide, torture, and denigration solely based on their differences): there was no real rhyme or reason to who lived and who died during that era; you just had to hope that your soldier had a helmet when he entered the battlefield.
    This is where I noticed something quite interesting about the perspective that Solly should have died for not standing up for what he believed in. My initial question was how much of that perspective can be attributed to our culture as Americans. In the United States, we pride ourselves on our personal freedoms and we are seemingly expected to defend them at any cost (up to and including our lives) when they are challenged. And shame on us for that because at the end of the day, doing that may not work in every situation. This is how I view what Solly had to go through. To me, I do not think that Solly had an easy time watching his people die at the hands of his newfound “comrades” but he simply did what he had to do in order to survive and I would like to think that survival outweighs personal beliefs to an extent because without your life, you don’t have any beliefs.
    Finally, I just want to comment on the scene where Solly rides the trolley back and forth through the ghetto. I think that this scene is very exemplifying of the situation that Solly was in. In this scene, he only had a small window into what was happening in the ghettos of Nazi Germany and he was never really able to see the whole picture. Similarly, Solly was not ever able to really see what was happening under the Nazi rule throughout the movie. Sure, he had a slight understanding that people were dying because they did not have a foreskin, but it never seemed as though he knew exactly to what extent this was taking place. All in all, I think that Solly’s actions, while perhaps morally questionable, were completely justified.

  8. TAYLOR MARIE MCCARTY says:

    Europa Europa is not your typical holocaust movie. It takes on an entirely new perspective- a adolescent unintentionally infiltrating the Nazis and Hitler’s Youth- not to mention that the film has a relatively happy ending, as far as holocaust films go. Many of us were up in arms over Solly’s survival. With the massacre of 6 million Jews, the idea of Solly surviving the holocaust while living amongst those who were trying to kill him is simply inconceivable. The question that had arose after we watched Europa Europa was a question on who to pin the blame and guilt on; is Solly a bad person because he did what he needed to do to survive? I don’t think we as viewers can say one way or another, considering the extraordinary circumstances that Solly was placed under. In the beginning of the film, Solly’s parents tell him and his brother to leave the family and go east. East!? Bad idea, and yet Solly and his brother both survive, which makes the plot continually unbelievable. Regardless, Solly and his brother Isaac obey their parents and take off. When we find out in the end of Europa Europa that their parents have been killed, Solly is hit with a lot of confusing emotions. Should he have stayed and tried to protect his family, or did he do the right thing by listening to his parents and doing what he needed to do to survive? Granted, working with the Nazis is certainly frowned upon, for lack of a better phrase, but guaranteeing yourself certain death is no better than living the nightmare and living on to tell the tale. With that being said, I think Solly showed a lot of bravery, and having not been in such circumstances, we have no right to judge Solly for his actions.

  9. MELISSA AMY says:

    Mikaila, this is in response to your post. I think rather than Solly being ashamed of his Judaism, he does not understand it. The action starts on the eve of Solly’s bar mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual. Since Kristallnacht happens on the eve of his bar mitzvah, the audience can presume that due to the war, Solly never completes his bar mitzvah.
    Religion for Solly seems to be something separate from the label of “Jew.” His religion is with his family and worshipping with them and he divorces that idea from the label of Jew. He is not yet an adult member of the Jewish community. Thus while he denies his Jewish identity, he does not deny his religion as later seen through the circumcision of his sons. He denies his Jewish identity, because he does not yet have a Jewish identity.
    Therefore, Mikaila, I disagree with your idea that Solly is ashamed of his Judaism. He does not have a sense of Judaism, but a sense of religion. Since those ideas are divorced in his mind, he is not ashamed, but rather does not feel that he is a “Jew.”

  10. ELIZABETH ALIEH MASGARHA says:

    While watching this film, I couldn’t help but think about another film, Inglorious Bastards. This is not a movie that people usually associate with the Holocaust, because it documents this time period in a way that is far from traditional scripts. Moreover, the plotline of the movie is not only an exaggerated version of the truth, it is more like a distant cousin who is three-times removed and actually adopted. The premise of Inglorious Bastards stems from the real story about a secret British commando consisting of exiled Jews, known as the “X-Troop.” The group name received their name from Winston Churchill himself, after the wartime prime minister explained that the number of confirmed participants and their names, since their identities were extensively changed in the event of capture, were to be completely unknown. This component of anonymity is what made the connection between Europa, Europa and these special group of armed forces, as we circle around potentially labeling someone as a trader because of their ability to evade persecution.

    Unlike the characters in Inglorious Bastards, the X-Troop did not seek revenge on Nazi soldiers by killing them directly. Their mission was to invade enemy lines undetected and gather information, using their intensive knowledge of Europe’s geography and language fluency as their strengths. In fact, utilizing any means of combat was counterproductive as their sole purpose was to avoid gaining attention of any kind. This was quite the opposite in Inglorious Bastards as Brad Pitt lets one soldier live so that he can return to Germany and inform the Nazi ranks of their brutality. Europa Europa is a much more realistic portrayal of human behavior during World War II that parallels the more cautious behavior exhibited by the X-Troop. It is not so much that Solek personally chose to strip himself his Jewish identity, but that he was forced into a situation where his life depended on masking his true lineage. Moreover, whatever benefits Solek provided the Nazi troops while serving as their translator, did not directly result in the death of more Jewish people. The problem with certain types of cinema like Inglorious Bastards, is how they frame wartime situations and they give audiences a false sense of how people are able to behave when in combat. It may be the case that Brad Pitt and his heavily trained men can possess such an extreme air of confidence, but this is clearly a performance. When left to fend for yourself across enemy lines, it is doubtful that anyone would turn down the opportunities given to Solek. Therefore, you begin the spot the difference between an action movie that adequately tries to illustrate and explain the behaviors of those dealing with extreme situations like the Holocaust, versus movies that are more interested in pursuing a thrill-seeking aspect over historical validity.

  11. KYLIE KATHLEEN CORCORAN says:

    I do not blame Solly for one second of the film. While I was expecting him to be dead by film’s end, and felt it would have more neatly ended the movie, it is bizarre to judge the character because he DID NOT die. Classmates criticized Solly for abandoning his beliefs and praised other characters for standing up for themselves. However, none of the Jews who died during the Holocaust died in the name of Judaism. They died because the powers-that-be decided to exterminate them. In most cases, these Jews did not really have a venue to even stand up for their religion. Even if they renounced their religion and didn’t practice, the Germans went through family histories and targeted anyone with any Jewish ancestry. The Jews did not die for some greater cause. The only way to survive in Europe during the time was to do whatever was necessary. For some, that meant fleeing the country. For others, it meant performing less than pleasant tasks. Solly happened to get a lucky break (well, a few dozen lucky breaks) and it is not our place to judge his actions.

  12. LISA RUTH STERNLIEB says:

    I’m wondering why so few of you are blogging. If you’re still having problems leaving comments, please please let Mark Fisher here at the Rock know about your difficulties. Otherwise, I want to hear from YOU. And I’d like to hear how you respond to your classmates’ comments. Mikaila wonders if Solly is “ashamed of being a Jew.” If he is ashamed of being a Jew, can we understand why he might feel that way? Is he in a position to feel proud of being a Jew? What would it mean for him not to be ashamed of being a Jew? Colleen wonders if we in Happy Valley are in a posiiton to judge Solly. What do you think? Does this film encourage us, allow us to judge him?

    Lisa

  13. MIKAILA JEANINE RODGERS says:

    The movie was filled with such grief and atrocities that I found myself in disbelief and overcome with emotion. These feelings made it hard for me to sympathize with Solly. Although he was introduced to new horrors everyday, he gave the impression that he was, in reality, ashamed of being a Jew.
    When he was in the orphanage, he decided to abandon his religion and defend the Soviets’ Communist viewpoints. This caused me to assume that he had actually been consumed by the their evil beliefs, though he may have been acting.
    I understand that he was trying to protect himself, both in the orphanage and in the hands of the Nazis, but the degrees he went to in order to do this caused me to believe that he had actually forgotten who he was. He had abandoned his religion and his culture in the process of trying to stay alive. This could be exemplified in his talk with his homosexual friend who knew he was a Jew by seeing his circumcision. He told him that religion was “opium of the masses”. One would assume that he didn’t actually believe what he was taught in the orphanage and that he was simply trying to stay alive but when he said this to a friend that knew he was a Jew already, it inferred that he meant it.

  14. ANNA PRINCE says:

    This movie raises a lot of questions about what is ethically right and wrong when death is on the line. What Solly did was choose life over revealing his true identity as a Jew. Given the circumstances, I believe this was justified in every way. However, there are some points in the movie where his actions would be considered cowardly. For example, he kept saying that he thought the Jews were being sent to Madagascar, not killed. At the beginning, he truly had no idea how bad the conditions were and it makes sense that he would think that. However, as the movie goes on, and the war gets worse, there should have been many clues that showed him that his people were being tortured and killed, and he was joining forces with the people that caused it. Especially when Solly saw the Ghetto that his parents lived while he was on the trolly, and he saw people being killed with his bare eyes, he should have realized what was really going on. In Solly’s defense, however, he was young and naive and did not want to believe those things were happening. Also, what could he have done? If he revealed his true identity, he would have been killed on the spot and his people would continue to be killed and tortured. Realistically, there was nothing he could do, but ethically, he had to have known what was happening, and he had to be okay with the fact that he was part of the problem. For these reasons, I really don’t know where I stand with what Solly should or should have done in each situation he came across that involved him being a Hitler Youth.
    One thing I couldn’t understand at the end of the movie was why the girl Solly met at the school was on the cover of the movie? I can’t even remember her name that’s how insignificant I thought she was. However, now I understand that it wasn’t her character itself that made such an impact on the movie, but it’s what she represents. She represents all the people that were manipulated by Hitler and his ways. She represents what Solly has to overcome. At the end of the movie, he finally does. Ironically, it is when he has the safest opportunity to do so.

  15. COLLEEN ANNE BOYLE says:

    At my internship this summer, I was asked to read THE NAZI OFFICER’S WIFE, a memoir by Edith Hahn Beer. In this book, Beer details how she hid during WWII in Germany and survived the Holocaust. She was sent to a work camp and separated from her Austrian family, but after she escapes, she marries a Nazi officer. As a housewife in Germany, she hides under the noses of some of the most powerful Nazis in Germany. I found it interesting to compare this book with the tale of Solomon in EUROPA, EUROPA. After finishing THE NAZI OFFICER’S WIFE, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Edith had deserted her parents, and I felt that she should have kept looking for them instead of hiding in Germany. Solly also stops looking for his parents after a failed attempt. Certainly, both were young and alone, so they should be praised for even trying and for keeping the will to survive. However, I wonder if audience members disagree with their choice to stop looking for their parents. There is a moving scene in the end of the book where Edith meets a concentration camp survivor, and he spits at her after hearing that she bore the child of a Nazi officer. He is emaciated and dark-looking, and she is unscathed physically, having spent years in the comfortable apartment that her husband owned. The scene is startling, and reminded me of the scene where Solly finds his brother. The contrast of Solly in his Hitler Youth uniform and his brother in his concentration camp rags is stark, and his brother even tells him not to worry, that he will get Solly a striped uniform to wear instead of the German uniform. Does this represent more than the fact that the Hitler Youth uniform was a sign of the enemy? Does Solly’s lack of a concentration camp uniform represent his deserting his family?
    How do these scenes make us feel about the main characters, Edith and Solly? Is it easier for us to sympathize with a main character who saw the worst of the war, as in Elie Weisel’s NIGHT. The interesting thing about both of these stories is that they are memoirs, not historical fiction. I wonder if a writer was crafting a book around the Holocaust and World War II, if he would choose a character who hid among the enemy. I doubt that he would because – whether it is right or not – it seems easier to get the audience to sympathize with a character who suffered as a victim instead of privately suffering while hiding.
    Nonetheless, after considering all of these issues, one must take a step back and consider what the situation was at the time of the book and the movie. The atrocities that were going on, the risk to anyone of Jewish decent, the fear and risk of betrayal, are all hard to imagine from our comfortable lives in Happy Valley. As audience members, I think that we can discuss how the characters’ actions make us feel, but I do not think that we can go a step further and condemn their actions until we too face such horrors.

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