Danny Tarrau / Contributing Writer
In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance week, the FIU Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) hosted a discussion on the book-to-film adaptation of “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.”
The panel took place on Thursday, Jan. 28. hosted by the Miami Jewish Film Festival, the German Consulate General of Miami, and the Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Distinguished Lecture Series.
“I was disappointed,” said Barbara Weitz, FIU professor of English Studies. “[The film] didn’t really express or show just how disoriented exile really is. It’s the history of the Jews.”
The panel included speakers such as Weitz, Andreas Siegel, the German Consul General of Miami, and Olga Zelzburg, Assistant Director of Hillel at FIU, a student organization that provides opportunities to explore and celebrate Jewish culture.
The film is based on the realistic-fictional book by Judith Kerr, who was born in Berlin to German Jewish parents in 1924. The novel chronicles her and her family’s survival in 1933 as Hitler came to power and the subsequent events and their effects on Jewish citizens.
As the Nazis gained power in Germany, the book chronicles Kerr’s escape to Zurich, a city in Switzerland, then to Paris, and finally settling in London.
Weitz critiqued the film’s themes, specifically what she referenced as, the potential “erasing of Jewish history” regarding the lack of realism in the film’s portrayal of the challenges Jews faced before and during the Holocaust.
“Refugees have a more existential crisis than this family,” said Weitz who is Jewish herself. She said Jews were forced to subject to all types of violence, torture and discrimination.
Including having their shops looted and vandalized; the loss of jobs, and asset seizures without any warning. A fact which was illustrated in the film, when the family suddenly find themselves unexpectedly cut off from all of their financial assets.
Zelzburg, who is also Jewish, agreed with Weitz.
“While overall there were things about the film that I enjoyed, I agree with Barbara, it was not enough,” said Zelzburg.
Weitz said the film failed to show the perspective of a child living through the horrors of antisemitism and the Holocaust, which is too complex for a child to understand.
“The character of Anna seemed artificial considering the age. With a childhood like that, moving all the time, Anna would have much more horror inside her,” she said.
She would, as Weitz added, “be looking for the monsters under the bed.”
The speakers said knowledge, awareness and above all, education are necessary to make progress when discussing the dangers of extremism.
Siegal, Miami’s Consul General of Germany, responded to an audience member’s comment regarding the rise of right-wing populism.
“Holocaust education is an extremely important issue anywhere you look,” said Siegal. “In Europe certainly.”
Seigal emphasized the importance of understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.
“[After] a number of visits to concentration camps, it is a horrible experience which you’ll never forget,” said Siegal. “You have a responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”