When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a children's novel, by Judith Kerr, first published in 1971. It is a semi-autobiographical story of a young Jewish girl who is forced to flee her home in Germany in 1933 with her family to escape the Nazis, who her father, a writer, had campaigned against. The family escaped through Switzerland, spent some time in Paris, before finally arriving in England in 1936. The book is often used in German schools as an introduction to the period in history.
It is based upon the early life of the author whose Jewish father, Alfred Kerr, was also wanted by the Nazis. The heroine, Anna, and her family, flee their home in Berlin via Switzerland to escape to Paris and then England.
The book won the 1974 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.
This book is about a young girl named Anna, her brother, Max, and her parents, referred to in the book as Mama and Papa. They are a wealthy Jewish family living in Berlin, Germany. Anna is an intelligent girl and a budding artist and writer, and her brother, although very intelligent, tries desperately to hide it and blend into the crowd. Papa gets a lot of money from publishing articles into the paper. The only problem is, his articles are often against the Nazi Party and Hitler, and the German elections of 1933 are quickly approaching. Hitler is going to win.
Their father falls ill with influenza, but he has to travel to Prague, and then Switzerland, to try to establish a home for his family. The Saturday before Hitler is elected, Anna and her family go to Switzerland, too scared to wait for the results because if Hitler is elected, their passports will be revoked and they will not be able to leave. Since they cannot afford to buy a house, they rent a room in an inn. They leave behind most of their belongings, their friends Elsbeth and Gunther, their housemaid Heimpi and their beloved Uncle Julius (a naturalist). Anna also leaves behind her games compendium and stuffed pink rabbit. She imagines Hitler playing with them, which brings a tear to her eye. Anna soon too gets ill with influenza and recovers after a long month. She attends a local school and begins to notice some odd customs among the children, like the fact that boys and girls do not associate with each other. Two other German children visit the country but their mother forbids them to so much as speak to Anna or her family, because the German children are from a Nazi family and Anna is Jewish. The Swiss children realise that the Nazi children's treatment of Anna and Max is unfair. Switzerland, wishing to remain neutral, refuses to publish any of Papa's material, especially since the Nazi Party has burnt all of his books. This causes a problem for the family, and Mama and Papa go to France to find work, whilst Anna and Max are left in the company of an innkeeper and his wife.
The family now moves to Paris, so Papa can publish his articles in a paper for the German refugees in France. They move into a small flat. In Paris, Anna and her brother learn to both speak and read French; Anna initially struggles to do so. Her brother is terrified of being considered different from the others, and studies hard at school, eventually becoming the best student in his class. As Anna arrives for her first day at school, a pupil named Colette took care of her and soon became her best friend. Anna passes a school test for French for 12-year-olds, also earning a prize from the mayor to award her for her writing.
Times become very rough for the German family. They cannot pay the concierge the rent for the flat, and they are desperately in need of money. Papa considers moving to England. He tells his children about Napoleon, and it inspires him to write a film script about his life from his mothers perspective. He sends the script to two different French film makers, but they return it. Finally, he sends the script to a Hungarian film producer in England. The film producer offers a thousand pounds for the screenplay on the day ,and Papa agrees. That day, a man gives a parcel to Papa ,containing a watch from Uncle Julius, who had taken his life with a bottle of sleeping pills. His zoo pass had been revoked so he could not see the animals, and he found himself in danger of being sent to a concentration camp because he was Jewish. Anna and her family soon move to England to start a new life.