Directed by: Hella de Jonge
“Don’t lose heart.” Those were the last words of Hella de Jonge’s grandmother, moments before she was deported to Auschwitz. She did not survive the concentration camp. Decades later, granddaughter Hella found the pencil-written note in a box while helping her father clean out his house. The message sparked a deep conversation with her father about the Second World War and his life as one of only two survivors of a once large Jewish family.
They never really got along, father and daughter. That he was a successful comedy writer in the Netherlands only grieved his daughter more. Although funny in public, back home he traumatized his family with his memories of the war. He claimed writing comedy was "his answer to Hitler", but his survivor's guilt in the face of his family's murders made him distant and cold towards his new family.
Finding the box, plus the filmed testimony of her mother in Steven Spielberg’s "Shoah Project", Hella dove into her family’s history and finally broke through her father's silence. “Don’t Lose Heart” unravels their family history, leading to remarkable discoveries about an old aunt, the only other surviving member, and revealing the fragility of Hella's own family life.