Kästner and the Little Tuesday, a 2016 movie originally titled in German as Kästner und der Kleine Dienstag is now streaming, with English subtitles, on Amazon Prime.

It’s Germany 1931, the children’s novel Emil and the Detectives is being filmed, which will make its author, Erich Kästner (played by Florian David Fritz), world famous. The story follows and unusual friendship that begins between the childless author (Kästner) and fatherless Hans Albrecht Löhr (Nico Ramon Kleeman and Jascha Baum), the 9-year-olds playing the character Little Tuesday from the book. Their friendship is put to the ultimate test when Kästner’s books are banned and burned by the Third Reich and Hans joins the Nazi Wehrmacht.

Emil Erich Kästner (23 February 1899 – 29 July 1974) was a German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist, known primarily for his humorous, socially perceptive poems and for children’s books including Emil and the Detectives. Kästner was also a well-known German pacifist and wrote for children because of his certainty in the reformative powers of youth. He was intensely opposed to the Nazi regime, which burned his books as “contrary to the German spirit” during the “book burnings” of May 10, 1933 though they did not deport him to the camps.

Erich Kästner’s most famous book Emil und die Detektive was published in 1929. It remained his biggest success. The book has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Another of his most popular children’s novels Das doppelte Lottchen (Lottie and Lisa)” was adapted in the two U.S. film versions of The Parent Trap, made in 1961 and 1998.

One of Kästner’s most avid readers was a young boy who was only seven years old in 1929. His name was Hans Albrecht Löhr. Hans was so exhilarated by Emil und die Detektive that he wrote a letter to Kästner and later showed up at his front door unannounced. Kästner was somewhat surprised but also pleased to meet his youngest fan. After a period of time, the two became terrific friends. In 1931, when the book was turned into a movie, Kästner made sure that Hans Albrecht was given a chance to play a role in the film. Hans went to an audition and he was accepted to play one of the boys: “der kleine Dienstag,” “the little Tuesday.”

Kästner and the Little Tuesday is a true story but it is not a documentary film. It is however a dramatized version of events. Not everything happened exactly as shown in this movie, but the basic story is true.

In the film, we follow Kästner and the people around him – including his biggest fan – from their first meeting in 1929 until the end of the Second World War, which the “little Tuesday” did not survive.

A unique and certainly close friendship develops between Kästner and the fatherless Hans from their very first meeting through to the end of WWII. However, during this period the atmosphere within Germany quickly transforms when Hitler’s Nazi Party rises to it full authority. Kästner recognizing, because of who he is and the pacifist positions he adopts, that during these tumultuous times it was dangerous for other people to be close to him. Not to mention that his own life was in peril. Kästner’s could only stand by and watch the Nazis ban his books and have them publicly burned because of the Nazi’s belief that he is was “an enemy of the Reich.” As a result, he has become a danger to Hans and the others closest to him.

Hans, during these dangerous and chaotic times, is willingly drafted into the Nazi Wehrmacht. Watching all of this is almost unbearable for the pacifist Kästner. So Kästner tries to push Hans Albrecht away – in order to keep him safe – but the boy bound up for his love of Kästner does not comprehend what Kästner was doing. No more spoilers here…

Kästner and the Little Tuesday narrates an emotionally sensitive story of friendship, loyalty, and decency. It puts on display, the stories moral; that we are not all intuitively born to be a champion.

The film is directed by Wolfgang Murnberger. Kästner’s script is well-written, and the actors perform their roles extremely well. This story is not only captivating and dramatic; it is also funny, touching and often highly sensitive.

Note: The film is intended for all audiences.

Jeffery Giesener, former CEO of SourceMob, has both public and private company experience. Today, retired and enjoying life in San Diego, he’s a freelance writer who has a passion for both cinema and baking his Mom’s (OBM) European recipes.

Republished from San Diego Jewish World