Europa Europa

November 14th, 1990


Europa Europa

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A boy in Nazi Germany, trying to conceal that he is Jewish, joins the Hitler Youth.

Release Year: 1990

Rating: 7.7/10 (7,421 voted)

Director: Agnieszka Holland

Stars: Solomon Perel, Marco Hofschneider, René Hofschneider

A Jewish boy separated from his family in the early days of WWII poses as a German orphan and is taken into the heart of the Nazi world as a 'war hero' and eventually becomes a Hitler Youth. Although improbabilities and happenstance are cornerstones of the film, it is based upon a true story.

Writers: Agnieszka Holland, Paul Hengge

Marco Hofschneider - Salomon 'Solly' 'Salek' Perel / Josef 'Jupp' Peters
Julie Delpy - Leni
René Hofschneider - Isaak Perel - Salomons brother
Piotr Kozlowski - David Perel - Salomons brother
André Wilms - Soldier Robert Kellerman
Ashley Wanninger - Gerd
Halina Labonarska - Leni's Mother
Klaus Abramowsky - Solomon's Father
Michèle Gleizer - Solomon's Mother
Marta Sandrowicz - Bertha Perel - Salomons sister
Nathalie Schmidt - Basia - Cinema cashier
Delphine Forest - Inna Moyseyevna
Martin Maria Blau - Ulmayer
Andrzej Mastalerz - Zenek Dracz
Solomon Perel - Himself

Release Date: 14 November 1990

Filming Locations: Jewish Cemetary, Lódz, Lódzkie, Poland

Opening Weekend: $31,433 (USA) (30 June 1991) (2 Screens)

Gross: $5,575,738 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  |

Did You Know?

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.

Anachronisms: At one point Salomon narrowly misses being killed in an air-raid, which kills his room mate. Rather than show a World War II aircraft, or even a bomber, however, stock footage shows a single C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which was not even designed until many years after the war.

Leni's Mother: You're not really German, are you?
Salomon 'Solly' 'Salek' Perel: No... I am Jewish.
Leni's Mother: I knew... somehow I always knew... don't tell Leni I promise, I'll never betray you.

User Review

A Different Kind of Kulturkampf

Rating: 10/10

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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