Opening May 21, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit surrounds the displacement of a Jewish family during the rise of the Third Reich in an intimate story accessible to all ages.
Caroline Link, known for the Oscar-nominated Beyond Silence, directs the film which is based on Judith Kerr’s novel of the same name. The British novel is inspired by Kerr’s childhood memories as a refugee. The movie follows the Kemper family who enjoys an upper-middle-class life in Berlin until Hitler and the Nazis’ rise to power threatens their safety.
Arthur Kemper (Oliver Masucci), the patriarch of the family, is a respected and ruthless theater critic who is well known for condemning Hitler and the Nazi party. One day after school, the youngest, Anna Kemper (Riva Krymalowski), and her older brother Max (Marinus Hohmann) are told that due to their father’s criticism of Hitler, they must flee to Switzerland. Anna’s mother only allows them to each bring one toy meaning that Anna will have to leave her Pink Rabbit behind.
The move to Switzerland starts the Kemper’s life as refugees. They must learn a new language, adjust to different foods and customs, and accept the uncertainty of their return home to Berlin. This will not be the Kemper family’s only move. Arthur must find work and takes his family with him to other countries in hopes of greener pastures. This means that Anna and Max must repeatedly learn new languages and make new friends all while losing hope in their return to Germany.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a historical look at the displacement of German Jews during the rise of Hitler from a child’s perspective. Though Anna has no say in where her family will live or how long she will stay in one place she is the protagonist. The movie follows her adjusting to life as a refugee while also growing into adolescence.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is in no way a children’s movie, but it is accessible to children and families, which is rare for films surrounding the trauma of Hitler’s rule in Germany. There is mention of death and suicide, but the Kemper family’s hardship is largely attributed to their inability to return to Germany and their financial troubles. The film does not delve into the horrors of The Final Solution, yet the Kemper children get a sense that major changes are happening in Germany and in Europe. For young viewers, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, can be an introduction to one of the darkest periods in human history without focusing on the carnage. Instead, the movie teaches messages of censorship, otherness, and family resilience.
It is also notable that the movie follows an upper-middle-class family and thus shows a privileged experience even though the family struggles as refugees. The Kemper’s connections and knowledge of the political shift in Germany gave them the chance to flee. Arthur is also an established writer and critic whose reputation is at times an advantage. Their privilege is also held in their beliefs and behaviors. For example, Anna’s mother thinks that her family is too intelligent and affluent to send Anna to public school.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a very specific story of displacement, one coming from an educated, privileged family and even more specifically, from a child. Above all the story chronicles the love of a family through hardship within the context of the rise and terror of Hitler.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit will be released theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on May 21.