on September 17, 2011
By Darrell Stoddard, firstname.lastname@example.org
This emotionally wrenching film deserves 10 Stars. Changed my life forever and a major part of my life was spent in motion pictures. The movie will change your life everlastingly too if you open your heart to a simple fictional story of a little German boy who befriends a Jewish boy through the barbed wire fence of a concentration camp.
My heart was ripped out, but I will be a more loving, gracious, forgiving person for having seen this sensitive and also horrifying motion picture. YES, as the reviewers have said: It is "historically inaccurate to the extreme." "It is total fiction." It is "ridiculously contrived." It is "all too absurd." It is "hard to swallow." It is "forced and artificial," and "The actors have British accents instead of German."
One critic posed the question, "Did Bruno's father in the end get what he deserved?" Such moralizing and such criticisms of the film make me wonder if those viewers of the film missed the unanswered questions of the Holocaust. How could it happen? How could so many good people allow it to happen?
The most insightful reviewer said, "What is appalling to me is reading all of the one-star reviews. I now see how the holocaust (shoah) could have taken place. All that is necessary is for a nation to be composed of and ruled by people with no feelings, bereft of human compassion and sensitivity, just like several of the reviewers here."
Great Art (even fiction) reveals to us "things as they really are". Through Bruno and his mother, we see through the eyes of Germans who were totally innocent until they came face to face with with the horrors of the "final solution." Most Europeans accepted the deportation of Jews, some not knowing what would be their fate and others even accepting the fate of Jews because it was so easy to blame Jewish Merchants and Jewish Bankers for World War 1 and for the collapse of the German economy. Savings were totally wiped out. It took 22 million German Marks to buy a loaf of bread. Though not the same, we can understand today how easy it would be to blame all Muslims for 9/11.
Through Bruno's sister we see how easy it was to indoctrinate an entire nation of German youth. A notable exception was the 17 year old Mormon boy, Helmuth Hubener, that resisted the 3rd Reich and was sentenced by a German Court for treason and beheaded by guillotine on October 27, 1942 at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. (See his true story on Wikipedia!)
In this motion picture we see and learn how good men, good fathers, and good soldiers, putting military obedience ahead of even their mothers, wives and children, directed and became the executioners of millions of Jews. Even still photos of all the corpses, and eye witness accounts of the Holocaust do not give us that understanding.
Last, by identifying and seeing through the eyes of an innocent child, we learn from the film what it was like to be ordered into the gas chambers. No other motion picture, book, or document has ever, or ever will, capture that experience or the depth of those feelings like the film "Boy in the Stripped Pajamas."
Would that each viewer could become as a little child (Matthew 18:3), like Bruno, not judgmental, and not critical. The Holocaust (like the film) is hard to believe but the gas chambers to kill and the ovens to burn bodies were real. I've seen them with my own eyes. I've been in the house made sacred by Anne Frank. My next door neighbor was one of the first U.S. soldiers into the Dachau Prison Camp, and my neighbor across the street served in the Danish Underground.
Let us resolve, NEVER AGAIN, not just in five languages, but in all the languages of the world. There were those in Germany that truly did not know what was happening to the Jews, but no other film answers for me how an entire nation could be led by one man to kill, or accept the killing, of so many. I will be forever haunted by the words, "If he had been your Fuehrer, you would have followed him too." Although it is fiction, "Boy In the Striped Pajamas" reveals not the historical truth, but the TRUTH of Nazi Germany as it was.
FOOTNOTE: What follows regarding man's inhumanity to man is presented because HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF IF WE DO NOT KNOW AND UNDERSTAND IT!
People today need to know that Hitler did not invent anti-semitism. It began with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and has never ceased. It is mind boggling to learn that throughout history there have been innumerable and hundreds of attempts in many countries to kill all of the Jews. (See "Pogroms" on Google, then read the Wikipedia account.)
I was shocked beyond belief to read Martin Luther's anti Jewish sentiments published in 1543 (See "On the Jews and Their Lies - Wikipedia" Luther's feelings about the Jews and what should be done to them were as vile and reprehensible, as any words spoken in Nazi Germany. Indeed, Luther's document may have been the blueprint for the Nazi Holocaust.
Seeing history repeat itself so many times makes us wonder if there is hope to save the Jews and the world from so much hate and killing. Pope John VI in 1965 issued his historic "Nostra Aetate" that expresses understanding, forgiveness and love for the Jews and for all religions. Pope John Paul VI states in this history changing document that the death of Christ, "cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." The age old doctrine behind all of the Pogroms which stated that "all Jews, past, present, and future were collectively guilty of the Crucifixion of Jesus," was officially revoked by a Catholic Pope! EVERYONE should read entirely the "Nostra Aetate" which is one of the most important documents in the history of mankind (It takes just a few minutes to read and can be found on Google)! The current Pope Benedict XVI who was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a child in Nazi Germany (in two books) has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ. There is hope for the world! These are history changing actions by two Catholic Popes. It would be well for everyone who wants the world to be a better place to thank Catholics for Pope John VI and Pope Benedict XVI.
We must be ever vigilant against condemning another. "Therefore thou art inexcusable, Oh man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest the same things." (Romans 2:1). Jews who migrated to Israel after World War 11, themselves committed a Holocaust of the Palestinian people. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million were forced into refugee camps. "This is my Land. God gave this Land to me," was not justification for killing the Palestinians!
There is one notable voice in the Middle East that documents the atrocities by all three sides and seeks to reconcile Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Melkite Christian Priest has established a school in Ibillon near Galilee where Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Druze study side by side. More important than their secular studies, students learn to love their enemies. To bring peace to the Holy Land, Elias Chacour's book "BLOOD BROTHERS" SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR EVERYONE.
Two unsung and less known heroes of the Holocaust are Irena Sendler and Raoul Wallenberg. Their stories should be told along with the stories of Oskar Schindler, Corrie Ten Boom, and Anne Frank. Irena Sendler was a Polish Catholic Social worker who saved more than 2500 Jewish Children from the Warsaw Ghetto. If you have any interest in the Holocaust, YOU MUST READ the inspiring story "Life in A Jar - The Irena Sendler Story" on Google. In 2007 when Sendler was still alive, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore received the prize that year instead.
Raoul Wallenberg is credited with saving near 100,000 Hungarian Jews. At the peril of his life he defied the Nazis innumerable times. Read a summary of Wallenberg's unbelievable courage to save Hungarian Jews on Google: "Profile of a Leader: The Wallenberg Effect." See Wallenberg's complete story in the book "Righteous Gentile" available used from amazon.com from a number of book dealers for one cent plus $3.99 for shipping and handling. EVERY reviewer gave the book 5 stars! Unlike Schindler, Wallenberg had only his humanity and no ulterior motive in saving Jews; and he probably saved more Jews than Schindler.
Few Motion pictures can compare to the book. The motion picture "Wallenberg A Hero's Story" is even equal to the book "Righteous Gentile"! Both the book and the movie will lift your very being to heaven. Man at his best is so good, so noble, so Christlike, that we would fain throw a cover over men and women when they are less. Mankind needs Hero's like Wallenberg to lift and redeem us. It will make anyone a better person to make the book or the motion picture a part of their life.
See all of my Reviews. I write only about books, events, or motion pictures that have changed the course of history or unforgettable books or motion pictures that will totally change peoples lives.
Darrell Stoddard, Founder - Pain Research Institute and saveusa.biz