Film Friday: Steal a Pencil for Me

Steal a Pencil for MeSteal a Pencil for Me is a love story set in a time and place when love was in very short supply, and hope almost non-existent.

A documentary, the film tells the wonderful, stranger-than-fiction tale of Jaap (or Jack) Polak and Ina Soep, who met at a party in Amsterdam in 1943 and again in two different concentration camps.

Jaap described the first time he saw Ina, “I remember coming into the room and seeing a beautiful girl sitting there and thinking I wish I was married to that girl.” Except, he was married to Manja, who was flirting with other men at the party. Within months, all three were deported to Kamp Westerbork.

“I’m a very special Holocaust survivor,” said Jaap. “I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend; and believe me, it wasn’t easy.”

Steal a Pencil for Me 3The documentary details their lives in the camp as well as their growing romance. They held hands and walked in the dark between the barracks. They waited in dread for the weekly announcements of who was to be shipped from Westerbork, a “model” work camp, to the death camps further east. And they wrote letters to one another.

“Im writing with a pencil stub. Darling, try to steal a pencil for me somewhere.”

In February 1944, the Nazis sent Jaap and his wife to Bergen Belsen. Three months later, Ina arrived in the same camp. And somehow, through all the horror and all the death, Jaap’s and Ina’s love flourished.

It’s an amazing tale with a happy ending — Steal a Pencil for Me will steal your heart.

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