Sensitive, readable, engaging and moving…this is a brilliant book. Highly recommended. 5 / 5
Summary from Goodreads:
It was a small piece of red enamel with a black hooked cross on it. “It’s called a swastika,” said Gunther, “all the Nazis have them”.
Anna is too busy with schoolwork and tobogganing to listen to the grown-ups’ talk of Hitler. But one day she and her brother are rushed out of Germany in alarming secrecy, away from everything they know. Their father is wanted by the Nazis – dead or alive. It is the start of a huge adventure, sometimes frightening, very often funny, and always, always exciting.
Judith Kerr was born in Berlin and left Germany in 1993 to escape the Nazis. Her novels are based on her own experience
I could have chosen so many, but I decided to pick:
‘But it won’t be the same – we won’t belong. Do you think we’ll ever really belong anywhere?’
‘I suppose not,’ said Papa. ‘Not the way people belong who have lived in one place all their lives. But we’ll belong a little in lots of places, and I think that may be just as good.’
(from When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, page 266)
I remember a school friend reading this when I was younger but for some reason, I never got around to reading it myself. I am so pleased to be able to rectify this so many years later. What I hadn’t realised was this is the first book of three in the series, Out of the Hitler Time, and although it is historical fiction, it is inspired by the author’s own childhood experience. I very much wish to read the other two books from the series and have added them to my TBR list.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a very readable, engaging and moving story. The descriptions are wonderful and clearly evoke the different places they visit, from Germany, to Switzerland, to France and then England. The characters feel genuine throughout, from Papa the impractical writer forced to confront being practical, to Mama who is clearly stressed and mentally, emotionally and physically burdened by the changes in their circumstances.
This makes for a sensitive introduction to when the Nazis came to power in 1930s Germany. Anna makes for a very good focus of the story, and her account of being a child refugee reads as authentic. There is a simplicity to her, a naivety, which makes her see what they are facing, on the whole, as an adventure, a positive, exciting experience…as long as her family stays together. Naturally, at points she acknowledges there are more serious implications to what is going on, but it is handled and presented well.
A brilliant book. Highly recommended.