Solomon Perel is not the only Jew to have fought for Hitler in the second World War. It is estimated that around 150,000 men of Jewish descent fought in the German Army during World War II. Bryan Mark Rigg’s book Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers does a great job documenting this publicly unknown and neglected part of history. Solomon Perel was different from many of the Jews that fought for Hitler in World War II in that he was a full practicing Jew that had to hide his identity. His biggest problem with hiding his identity was trying to hide his circumcised penis from his Aryan comrades in Hitler’s youth.
Despite their obvious anti-Semitism, Solomon Perel seems to sympathize with the Nazis in Europa Europa. He has seen the slaughtered bodies of ethnic Germans killed by Bolshevik death squads and has grown a certain empathy for his biological enemies. They have accepted him as a fellow Aryan and he is proud of it. I found that the perspective of Solomon Perel to be one of the most original and interesting perspectives in a World War II film. Not only does Perel fight for the German Army and train with Hitler’s youth, but he also stays at a Soviet orphanage. From Perel’s perspective, the viewer gets to see both extremes of the political groups that were competing to takeover Europe. Solomon Perel seems to sympathize with the Nazis more than the communists.
Europa Europa director Agnieszka Holland offers some creative directing in the film that should be noted. I especially like a dream sequence featuring a dance between Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. These were the two men that were responsible for the tearing apart of Poland during World War II and Holland couldn’t have come up with more a ironic dream moment. It feels as if Europa Europa has two authors, Agnieszka as the imaginative director and Solomon Perel with the driving true life story. Agnieszka also couldn’t help but get Europa Europa star Marco Hofschneider nude every chance she got.
Europa Europa is a dreamlike World War II odyssey that I have no problem coming back to at least once a year. Steven Spielberg should have taken notice of Europa Europa instead of ripping off old Hollywood studio films like The Longest Day. When I watched Europa Europa, I felt that Agnieszka Holland really cared about her subject and the complicated circumstances surrounding him. When I watch a film like Saving Private Ryan directed by Spielberg, it feels like a film directed by a petty anti-German propagandist. Europa Europa is a film for anyone that loves good cinema.