I was dreading seeing another Holocaust movie, but I thought Woman in Gold (starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, and my favorite up-and-coming Tatiana Maslany) was pretty good.
People forget, and Woman in Gold jogs the memory. But it also avoids some issues.
Maria Altmann (played by Mirren) is an Austrian who fled the country shortly after the Nazi takeover. She decides to try to obtain a picture of her aunt that is hanging in an Austrian museum. As portrayed in the movie neither she nor her family were religious.
The movie, in flashback scenes, makes a point that the Austrians, for the most part, welcomed Hitler and the German takeover. But it does not explain why. And why is very important, if you really want to understand history, instead of just thinking Austrians were just a bunch of vicious thugs.
There were three main components to the why: (1) the aftermath of World War I (2) pan-German nationalism (3) the domination of Austria by the Roman Catholic Church.
Before World War I Austria had been part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. World War I was largely a battle between imperialist countries for world domination, and the Empire ended up on the losing side. The victors broke it up into the states of Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and portions of other states. Austria had the core of the German speaking population.
Despite Woodrow Wilson's chatter about "national self-determination," the Austrians were forbidden from becoming part of Germany. Many were not happy about that.
Pan-German nationalism then came into play. Hitler himself was Austrian, though he had become a German citizen. Many Austrians did not feel they were being invaded by the Nazis: they felt they were being liberated. The Nazis were by no means the only extremist nationalist group in Austria in the 1930s.
When the Protestant Revolution had shaken up the world, it had left the German-speaking population of Europe divided mainly between two religions: Lutheranism mostly in the north, and Roman Catholicism mostly in the south.
The Roman Catholic Church has always been officially anti-Jewish, but in the religious sense, not the racial sense. Jewish converts to Catholicism were welcome, if somewhat suspect. The Roman Catholic Church in Austria had a tradition of being particularly anti-Jewish, and most of the people who joined the Austrian branch of the Nazi Party had been raised anti-semitic Catholics.
Adolf Hitler himself was Roman Catholic, which made his storm troopers easy to welcome in Austria. Surprised? Most modern Catholics are, because the Church colluded with the U.S. government (particularly the Democratic Party) to rewrite history after Germany was defeated.
So when you see Austrians abusing Jews in Woman in Gold, you can bet that they are Roman Catholics.
The other funny thing about the movie is the hypocritical propaganda about private property. In the courts and in major motion pictures we are constantly reminded about how European Jews, in addition to losing their lives in the Holocaust, also lost their private property. The message is constant: Jewish private property should be returned to Jews.
But don't think about Palestine. Because American Jews, and ex-European Jews that are now Israeli Palestinians, don't want you to think about the private property rights of non-Jewish Palestinians.
If stolen property is to be returned, should not the land and other property stolen from Palestinians during the creation of the State of Israel be returned to the rightful owners?
Don't hold your breath waiting for a major motion picture bringing up that issue. Or a court ruling in favor of the Palestinians.