When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Out of the Hitler Time #1), by Judith Kerr

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’m reading “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit”. The first time was when it was compulsory reading at school more than 30 years ago. I don’t remember much of my reading experience back then but that I felt with Anna, the protagonist and narrator, who had to leave Pink Rabbit back in Germany when her family emigrated to escape the rising Nazism…

Now, at 45, I’m impressed for different reasons: First moving from Berlin, Germany, to Zurich, Switzerland, then Paris, France and, finally, London, United Kingdom, both Anna and her brother Max are relatively quick to adapt to their new surroundings.
While it’s rarely easy for either of them, their resilience in the face of difficult circumstances and optimism is deeply inspiring.

Nazism always looms in the background; be it through German tourists who prohibit their children to play with Anna and Max for the sole reason of them being Jewish or the Paris concierge.
Both children picture Hitler as personally enjoying the toys they had to leave behind – the eponymous Pink Rabbit and a games compendium – and, thus, make the darkest period in Germany’s history ascertainable.

The book ends abruptly in a cab in London, shortly after Anna thinks…

»“What a pity,” [Anna] thought. “I’ll never be famous at this rate!”«

Dame Anna Judith Gertrud Helene Kerr, Officer of “The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”, wasn’t too far off the mark: It would take her children’s prodding about her childhood to make her publish this semi-autobiographical novel in 1971. This publication and the two following novels laid the foundation for Kerr’s fame that she had dreamt of as a child.

The Kerr family had escaped Germany just in the nick of time – a day later and they would have been arrested by the Nazis who went on to burn Alfred Kerr’s books.
Alfred Kerr died 1948 by suicide, aided by his wife, shortly after visiting Hamburg, Germany, for the first time after the war. His wife Julia died in 1965. Judith Kerr wrote children’s books and illustrated them, married in 1954 and stayed married for more than 50 years.

Judith Kerr died in 2019 at the age of 95. She had outlived the Nazis who wanted to extinguish the entire family by almost 75 years. Poetic justice.

Five out of five stars.

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