A teenage boy named Solomon Perel (Marco Hofschneider) gets torn away from his family and escapes to Poland and he is taken into a Communist Youth orphanage where he becomes a first-rate Communist. The Nazis attack the orphanage, everyone runs but he is caught. Before they can uncover his Jewish heritage he announces that he is a German gentile who got stuck in Russia. They buy his plea and he becomes a translator for the Nazis.
In a couple of humorously ironic moments Solomon (who takes the name Joseph) ends up becoming the Nazi battalion's favorite soldier – including one homosexual officer – and later he is credited with helping them win a key battle against the Russians.
Solomon is sent to a Nazi school where he is decorated with honors as a Hitler Youth and manages to fool everyone – including a young Anti-Semitic woman (Julie Delpy) – that he is full blooded German. This is particularly difficult to do because he has to hide the fact that he has been circumcised.
The film, directed by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland and released in 1990, is a quick-paced, earnest drama that manages to be heartfelt without being sentimental and well-acted and directed without being obvious. The film is full of fine set pieces and magnificent individual scenes. What's remarkable too about the film is the way Holland humanizes all of the characters - even the Nazi characters seem human.
Best of all the Europa, Europa shows the remarkable lengths one young man went to survive the Holocaust. In this case, he changed his identity and used opportunistic tactics to stay alive, which in turn helped him find his true identity.