>> Sunday, July 01, 2012
I went to see a production of the Sound of Music recently. Very good one with incredible singing but all the way through I was distracted by the casting of Rolf. He is the young post boy who Liesel is in love with.
As Austria's occupation by Nazi Germany became more inevitable, Rolf's attitude is seen to harden until he is finally seen in Hilter Youth uniform.
The mixed race young man cast for the part in the show I saw would not have made it to the Hitler Youth.
It left me wondering. I know why he was cast, he had the perfect voice for the part, was just the right age, height etc. but did it cross the mind of the show director that he did not 'fit' the mould? Have we moved so far on now that it really doesn't matter, we don't even notice the race of an actor? I don't think it matters one jot but the irony and pleasure of thinking that Hilter would be turning in his grave (if he had one) didn't pass me by.
Did you know that mixed raced people in Germany during the time of the Third Reich were put through a forced sterilisation program? Many of them just 'disappeared' but they weren't targets for 'elimination'. Although, mixed raced marriage were illegal during this time, the laws were changed in 1945. Accordingly to wikipedia Alabama didn't sort their laws out until 2001.
What amazed me as I read further was that black people in Germany faced less segregation than existed in American at the time (and for some time after). In fact, a young black male's life expectancy was probably greater as he was not eligible to fight.
So what I have learnt today is that whilst I was very comfortable sitting in my 'Hilter bad, rest of my world good' state of mind as soon as I started to read around the edges it started to get a little uncomfortable.
This worries me, greatly. Europe is in a mess. Countries are struggling to stay afloat. What happens when they start to sink? People will be thrown overboard to save the ship, who are the expendable this time? Will we sit by and watch or will we be so deep in the mess that we won't have the luxury of being offended by it?