A Jewish boy, separated from his family in the early days of WWII, poses as a German orphan and is thereafter taken into the heart of the Nazi world as a 'war hero' and eventually made a Hitler Youth. Although improbabilities and happenstance are cornerstones of the film, it is based upon a true story. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
The film met with a lukewarm reception in its native Germany, with the local media being less than complementary about it. The German Oscar selection committee did not even include it as a submission for that year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Much embarrassment ensued when it went on to become one of the most successful German films ever released in the US, winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. See more »
When the Russian refugees are fleeing Poland and are strafed by a German fighter plane, the fighter plane is obviously a smaller scale radio controlled model. The airplane resembles a Supermarine Spitfire, an airplane not used by the Germans. See more »
Salomon 'Solly' 'Salek' Perel:
From that moment on, I decided to be only a Jew. Leaving Europe I emigrated to Palestine, and when I had sons, I barely hesitated to circumcise them.
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One has to be annoyed with comments that question either the historical verisimilitude or the integrity of this film, whether from the shaky ground of some rigid, illiberal ideological or religious prejudice or from some one-sided version of history. Furthermore, negative ad hominem attacks on someone other than political leaders or other persons who willingly seek out the public eye are reprehensible.
Does this story ring true? It does to me, and if there is even one-tenth as much basis in fact in the life of Salomon Perel as is represented in the film, I am satisfied. Having been to all the places and delved into the culture and history of all the nationalities that comprise its background, I am also convinced that much if not all of the story is correct at a level that goes well beyond whether this or that small factual detail is rooted in what actually happened to the real Perel.
Moreover, "Hitlerjunge Salomon" (better known in English-speaking countries as "Europa, Europa") is a masterful piece of cinema, beautifully produced and directed, and bearing a cachet of authenticity that few cross-cultural films achieve. I can attest to the utterly convincing script and characterization within the German language portion, and the bits in Polish and Russian seem equally strong.
Why is it so difficult to believe that a malleable teenager raised in a cross-cultural environment would be any less rooted in one part of his life than another? Marco Hofschneider captures precisely the right tone as he demonstrates how "Solly" and "Jupp" are two complementary aspects of the same person. Indeed, there are even good Germans and bad Germans, good Poles and bad Poles, etc., etc. throughout the film.
None of this compromises the truth that millions of other Jews did not survive the Holocaust. Nor does it demean their memory to cast a glance or two at this singular exception. The survivors have their stories as do the victims, and to explore the wider spectrum of life that goes on is surely to find hope in the ruins of an otherwise depraved episode in world history.
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