The Hunger Games Meets Nazi Germany (w9)
There I am, standing on a platform beside many other children appearing to be just around my age. The countdown has begun and I am overwhelmed with a sea of emotions. I am petrified, I am anxious and I am alarmed. The bell rings, notifying us that the games have started. I stand there stunned, unable to move. I watch as my fellow tributes are being murdered left and right. Suddenly I am woken by my deafening screams and find myself drenched in a pool of sweat due to the horrifying nightmare I had only moments ago. Note to self: never watch The Hunger Games before going to bed.
Imagine living in a world of fear, where one group is seen as inferior to another and those seen as inferior are treated poorly. The Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross and based off of the novel written by Suzanne Collins, along with the Holocaust led by Adolf Hitler, depicts these ideas. Throughout my essay, I will attempt to argue my opinion and show examples of how the fictional city of Panem is similar to 20th century Nazi Germany.
Panem, where The Hunger Games takes place, may be seen as a dystopian society. A dystopia is an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad. The name Panem comes from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, which simply put means ‘bread and circuses.’ The Hunger Games is a cruel and barbarous televised competition in which children between the ages of twelve and eighteen are called upon to fight to their death. One boy and one girl are randomly chosen from each of the twelve districts. The main characters of this film, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, are the two tributes chosen from district twelve in the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games.
The movie, The Hunger Games, can be considered to be an analogy of the infamous genocide: The Holocaust. Throughout the film President Snow, the ruler of Panem, uses the games as a way to punish the districts for rebelling against the Capitol during the Dark Days. Snow is a cruel and manipulative dictator and targets specific people, just like Adolf Hitler did. Panem and Nazi Germany both practice totalitarianism. Their government’s hold tight control over their citizens and believe that one specific group is superior to another. In Panem, the Capitol is superior to the districts. While the Capitol lives in luxury, the districts struggle to make an income and suffer greatly from starvation. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were exceptionally egocentric, believing that they were simply better than the Jews. The Nazis treated the Jews very harshly. They humiliated, forced physical labor upon and executed numerous Jews.
According to an article Hunger Games vs. Holocaust, “The Districts are very like the concentration and labor camps Hitler herded Jews and other “undesirables” into during the Holocaust.” (hungergamesvsholocaust.weebly.com) Both Panem and Nazi Germany are similar in that they both perform cruel acts on those seen as inferior. President Snow fears rebellion and is not afraid to harm anyone who poses as a threat to Panem. Snow forces twenty-four children, a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts, into battle each year simply for entertainment. These children are forced to kill one another. If Snow isn’t afraid to murder innocent children, what could he possibly be afraid of? Nothing. Besides killing guiltless children, Snow requires all in the districts to carry out strenuous work while he, along with others in the Capitol, live lives of splendor.
In Nazi Germany, there were many concentration camps established where the prisoners would either suffer from tedious labor, physical abuse, hunger, or disease. For example, one of the most horrific concentration camps, Auschwitz, was established in 1940 by the Nazi regime. After the start of World War II, Hitler implemented a policy known as the “Final Solution.”
“Hitler was determined not just to isolate Jews in Germany and countries annexed by the Nazis, subjecting them to dehumanizing regulations and random acts of violence. Instead, he became convinced that his “Jewish problem” would be solved only with the elimination of every Jew in his domain, along with artists, educators, Gypsies, communists, homosexuals, the mentally and physically handicapped and others deemed unfit for survival in Nazi Germany.” (history.com)
In Less Than Human written by David Livingstone Smith, he explains dehumanization, a component featured in both The Hunger Games and the Holocaust. Dehumanization is basically treating someone as though he or she is not a human being. How is it that one group of human beings can treat another as if they were subhuman creations? According to Smith,
“Thinking sets the agenda for action, and thinking of humans as less than human paves the way for atrocity. The Nazis were explicit about the status of their victims. They were Untermenschen — subhumans — and as such were excluded from the system of moral rights and obligations that bind humankind together. It’s wrong to kill a person, but permissible to exterminate a rat. To the Nazis, all the Jews, Gypsies and others were rats: dangerous, disease-carrying rats.” (www.npr.org)
This is also evident in the film, The Hunger Games. President Snow treats the districts rather poorly, punishing them for the rebellion during the Dark Days. Snow keeps the districts and the Capitol separated in fear of the districts thinking and rebelling again. However, Snow sees those living in the districts as a threat rather than “subhumans.”
Both President Snow and Adolf Hitler got their messages across to the people by using propaganda. These governments use propaganda to control the perspective of people. In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta play the role of “Star-Crossed Lovers.” This role made the crowd believe in a love story and as a result, love the duo even more. This plan helps Katniss and Peeta to get more sponsors when in the arena. Another example of propaganda in this movie would be the actual games themselves. The games are shown on a public television, visible for all to see. The Gamemaker organizes the games to make them seem like a sport. There is usually one single winner and twenty-three losers. There are commentators giving play by plays on as to what is happening in the arena. Also, they make the games look glamorous by dressing up the tributes and creating a music filled video supporting the games.
Adolf Hitler also used propaganda to gain support from others. In Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf (1926) he wrote, “Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people… Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea.” Hitler’s propaganda tactics encouraged acceptance of cruelty towards the Jews. Like in The Hunger Games, films were incorporated. In one film, The Eternal Jew (1940), directed by Fritz Hippler, Jews were portrayed as “wandering cultural parasites, consumed by sex and money.”
Although there are many similarities between The Hunger Games and the Holocaust, The Hunger Games is fiction while the evil genocide, the Holocaust, actually occurred. Some may say that The Hunger Games is not as severe as the Holocaust, and while I agree, killing is killing. Whether President Snow murdered twenty-three children each year or the Nazis murdered six million Jews during the Holocaust, murder is evidently wrong.
I would like to thank those who helped me with completing my paper. At first, I was struggling to find a topic. I kept switching back and forth between The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Hunger Games. With the help from my TA, Eileen, I found a topic that was really intriguing and different to write about. I would like to start off by thanking my group members Sam, Steph and David. They each gave me great ideas on ways I can better my paper. I would also like to thank Jamie Einiger for helping me to finalize my piece. My TA, Eileen, was also more than helpful when we met one-on-one. She gave me great feedback and helped me take a different approach with my writing. My father took time out of his rather busy day to help me perfect my paper. He gave me many corrections that I took into consideration when I wrote E2D3. Lastly, I would like to thank Professor Harris. Usually I dislike writing but this class made me enjoy it and also made me better at it. Professor Harris has offered great tips throughout the semester to make us students better writers. I am extremely appreciative of all the corrections and feedback I received.
Author’s Memo (H2)
Developing this essay was rather challenging, but what else would you expect in a college course. At first, I could not think of a topic. I wanted to write about so many different things, but I narrowed it down to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Hunger Games. I chose to go with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. However, when I was writing W6, I knew that my paper wasn’t going to be so great. I changed my topic to The Hunger Games and I think that it was a great idea. I decided to compare The Hunger Games to 20th-century Nazi Germany. I am proud because I feel as if my topic is very fresh and unique. I also think that my introduction is good and draws in my reader’s attention. I am confident in my paper and I hope that those who read it enjoy it.
Works Cited (H2)
“Auschwitz.” History.com. A&E Television Networks.
Cunningham, John. “Bread and Circuses: The Hunger Games and Ancient Rome | Britannica Blog.” Britannica Blog. 23 Mar. 2012.
“ — DISMANTLE THE BEAM PROJECT.” DISMANTLE THE BEAM PROJECT.
Hatfield, Amy. “5 Things To Know About “The Hunger Games” District 12.” Archery 360. 11 Nov. 2013.
“Holocaust | Basic Questions about the Holocaust.” Holocaust | Basic Questions about the Holocaust.
“’Less Than Human’: The Psychology Of Cruelty.” NPR. NPR, 14 July 2011.
“Mein Kampf.” READ THE BOOKLIST.
“Nazi Propaganda.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015.
“The Hunger Games #6 Movie CLIP — Star Crossed Lovers (2012) HD Movie.” YouTube.