Don’t Lose Heart tells the family history of director Hella de Jonge in a personal and moving way. Movie W is screening the film in cooperation with Wageningen’s 4 and 5 May Committee.
“Don’t lose heart” wrote Hella’s grandmother in a farewell letter before she was transported to Auschwitz. Hella (1949) found the piece of paper in a box that her father Eli Asser (1922) wanted to throw out when he moved house; the wartime memories the contents brought back were too disturbing. Hella was inspired to start investigating her family history.
The successful writer Eli Asser and his wife Eva survived the 1940–1945 occupation but were subsequently tormented by guilt over the deaths of their family members and friends who had been murdered in concentration camps. They felt it their duty to care for these people’s children but couldn’t love their own daughter. No child could replace the dead. Helle experienced a lack of warmth and became a unmanageable teenager and troubled young woman. Her relationship with her father remained difficult in later years. With the help of photos and documents, visiting places redolent with painful memories and, above all, by talking unreservedly, father and daughter are finally reconciled.