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Literature / When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (known as Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl in Germany) is the semi-autobiographical story of children's author Judith Kerr (of The Tiger Who Came to Tea fame) whose family, fearing prosecution from Hitler fled their home in Germany in 1933 to Switzerland and France before finally settling in Britain. She was nine years old, for the record.

The names in the story were changed: Judith is named Anna in the novel, her brother Michael became Max, and so on.

The novel is the first part of what would become Kerr's Out of the Hitler Time trilogy followed by Bombs on Aunt Dainty which charts the experience of Kerr's family settling in London while seen as an "enemy alien" as the war wages on, and concluded with A Small Person Far Away which follows Kerr's adulthood, marriage and career.



  • Black Comedy: When asked to write a more creative story in French (see Long List below), Max replaces the word "birthday" with "funeral", and he finishes the story with: "So at the end there were a lot more funerals."
  • Brainy Brunette: Anna is a very good writer and student, even catching up to advanced levels at school just after a few years in France.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Max, or at least his mother says he is.
  • Don't be stereotypical: Anna's father advises the kids when in Switzerland to be not like the nazis claim Jews were. I.e. being more honest than average people because the nazis claim Jews were liars, etc.
  • Ear Trumpet: Anna's aunt in Paris uses one.
  • Housewife: Of a sort, Anna's Mother is one but her upper-middle class background mostly prepared her to be a supporting player to her husband's career (she even yells that all she knows is how to play the piano); in France, she learns how to sew clothing and cook food.
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  • Informed Judaism: Discussed throughout at the beginning of the novel between Anna and her Gentile friend, who questions who Anna knows she's Jewish since Anna's family doesn't attend synagogue like another girl in their class and doesn't have a "bent nose". Anna replies it's likely because her parents are Jewish, their parents, etc.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: The title. Said rabbit was Anna's favorite toy for a long time, but she decides to leave it in Germany when fleeing on a whim, and later regrets it. The two kids imagine Hitler playing with their toys now.
  • Literal-Minded: When Anna hears that the nazis put a price on her father's head, she has a nightmare involving coins falling on his head, burying him.
  • Long List: When they have to write a story in French, which they barely know yet, Max writes a text like this: "Once a boy had his birthday. Many guests came. They had a big feast. They ate [Long List]. At the end, they all exploded."
  • Mama Bear: Mama displays this trait quite a few times. She actually defends Anna from a group of boys harassing her by charging into the group and handling the leader by the wrist.
    • Madame Fernand, the friend of the family in France, displays this trait with a store owner who has cheated Papa with an old sewing machine; even threatening to have her journalist husband expose him.
  • May–December Romance: Anna's father (critic Alfred Kerr) and mother.
  • No Name Given: The parents. They're just "Papa" and "Mama".
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Papa and Mama's mother. For whatever reason she never approved of her daughter marrying him and Papa makes it a point of avoiding her when she comes to visit; Anna even notes this as a reason for her and Max to not stay with their grandparents in the South of France while their parents try to make a home in England.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Anna's parents. The father is very calm and rather soft-spoken, preferring to use persuasion in debates; while Anna's mother, while a very nice lady, blows her lid a lot quicker than her husband.
  • Sequel: Two. The first one is set during World War II, the second one afterwards, after the death of her father.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Anna used to write her essays in school like this and expected her father to write like this too, only even more so. She was quite surprised when she found that he wrote short sentences with everyday words - but composed in a way that impressed everyone.


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