HELPS TO TACKLE A TRICKY SUBJECT
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr is a much-loved book from my childhood. It tells the story of Anna, a nine-year-old Jewish girl and her family who are forced to flee Germany because their father, a writer, has campaigned against Adolf Hitler. The family escape to Switzerland, spend a few years in France before finally settling in England. Through the eyes of Anna we see the rise of Nazi-ism and the problems faced by refugees.
This is a wonderful children's book that deals honestly with what life was like in 1930s Germany. But what I didn't realise until many years later was that the story is semi-autobiographical. The Kerr family were Jews living in Berlin, and Judith Kerr's father was a journalist and writer who had openly criticized Hitler and the Nazi party. He was in bed with a fever when he received a tip-off that his passport was about to be confiscated. He got up and took the first train out of the country. A few weeks later, on the eve of the election that brought Hitler to power, Judith Kerr's mother took her children to the train station and they too left Germany. Alfred Kerr became a wanted man and his books were burned by the Nazis.
Just like Anna's family, the Kerrs moved around Europe until they eventually made England their home. Judith Kerr was 91 this year. She is still writing and in 2012 was awarded the OBE for services to children's literature and Holocaust education.