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The triumphant story of one of the most extraordinary rescues in concentration camp history - and the women who pulled it off.
70 backers pledged $18,521 to help bring this project to life.
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$18,521

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Saving the Rabbits of Ravensbrück is the triumphant story of one of the most extraordinary large-scale rescues in Nazi concentration camp history, of the 63 young women who were saved, and of the international group of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish women prisoners who united to pull it off. 

On February 3rd, 1945, the international group of women inmates in Ravensbrück - the largest women's concentration camp in the Third Reich - discovered that the SS had finally decided to execute the “Rabbits,” the 63 young Catholic girls from the Polish resistance who had been subjected to horrific Nazi experimental surgeries on their legs. They were to be “selected” the next morning to eliminate all evidence of war crimes.  Overnight, the women of Ravensbrück came up with a daring plan: They would grab and hide the Rabbits during roll call, in the predawn hours - and right in front of the Nazis.  They would then have to keep the women hidden and fed until liberation - whenever that might be - in a camp where all were starving to death.  It was a mission impossible, but armed only with their courage, compassion, and intellect, they pulled it off.  All 63 "Rabbits" were saved that morning and hidden almost three months until liberation, ensuring that they lived to testify at the Nuremberg Trials against their Nazi doctors.  

This is the story that inspired the New York Times best seller Lilac Girls, told by the women who lived it.  We talk not only with the courageous "Rabbits" who inspired so many in the camp with their bold acts of resistance and compassion, but with other brave women in the camp who risked their lives to help save them.  We also learn how the sisterhood of Ravensbrück reached out again after the war to save the ailing Rabbits, this time with the help of Caroline Ferriday and the American public. It took the courage and cooperation of thousands of women of varying countries, religions, and political beliefs, but in the end - and against all odds - they saved the Rabbits of Ravensbrück.

Director Stacey Fitzgerald with "Rabbit" Wanda Rosiewicz at Ravensbruck in April 2018.
Director Stacey Fitzgerald with "Rabbit" Wanda Rosiewicz at Ravensbruck in April 2018.

Why the $17,000?

We are so very excited to announce that Saving the Rabbits of Ravensbrück is the recipient of a $15,000 challenge grant from the Rabbi Israel Miller Fund for Shoah Research, Education, and Documentation, through the generosity of the Claims Conference.  For every dollar donated in this Kickstarter campaign, up to $15,000 will be matched by this grant, giving us a total of $30,000 for post-production – specifically editing – for the film.  We are asking for $17,000 because we’ll need that extra $2,000 to cover Kickstarter fees and our fiscal sponsor fees; the net of $15,000 allows us to match the grant.  With your help, we can begin editing this month and finally be able to tell the amazing story of the "Rabbits" of Ravensbrück and the courageous women of the resistance in WWII. 

For those of you who contributed to the project to help us cover the costs of filming these interviews, please know how very thankful we are for you. Your support helped us receive this grant – and has put us in the position to be able to complete the film. I hope you’ll consider supporting us again and help get us to the finish line.   Any money received in excess of our goal will also go to finishing this film (additional B roll or other footage as needed, final editing, sound design, color correction, etc).

Lastly, we are pleased to offer two promotional rewards: The first 15 donors who contribute $500 or more will receive a signed copy of Martha Hall Kelly's Lost Roses, the prequel to her NYT best seller, Lilac Girls.  The first 15 people who donate $100 or more will receive a box of notecards featuring some of the beautiful photographs taken of Poland, Germany, and France during our trip to interview Ravensbrück survivors last spring. 


Director Stacey Fitzgerald, author of Lilac Girls Martha Hall Kelly, Director of Photography Bruce Lane, and Field Producer Gavin Hodge in Germany, 2015.
Director Stacey Fitzgerald, author of Lilac Girls Martha Hall Kelly, Director of Photography Bruce Lane, and Field Producer Gavin Hodge in Germany, 2015.

The Team

I’m Stacey Fitzgerald, producer and director of this feature length documentary. I am an independent filmmaker with an Emmy award-winning program "A Southern Celtic Christmas," currently airing nationally on PBS. I also produced and directed "Delivery Boy Chronicles," a feature length comedy starring Grammy nominee, Shawn Mullins, as well as various television commercials.

I've been incredibly fortunate to have Martha Hall Kelly, author of the instant New York Times best seller Lilac Girls, as part of our team. She spent ten years researching Ravensbrück, the "Rabbits," and their American heroine, Caroline Ferriday. I also have an incredibly skilled and talented production and visual team, who have decades of domestic and international experience in film and television. We are a group of talented professionals, all of whom believe passionately in the mission of this film.

Stacey's great-uncle John
Stacey's great-uncle John

A Promise

For me, this project really started over 20 years ago, on a cold night in the isolated hills of Northwest Alabama. I was sitting around my Grandmama's fireplace, visiting with relatives and discussing a recent trip to Paris. My great-uncle John gently tugged at his Liberty overalls, shuffled his dusty farmer boots, and finally said in the quiet pragmatic tone of the people of this region that he too had been to Paris. He had been there with Patton.

The room grew quiet and still. He rarely mentioned the war. All drew nearer to him, expecting to finally hear about Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Hedgerows, and the Battle of the Bulge. Instead, he spoke about a women’s concentration camp his division had liberated. After relating the horrors of what he had seen and the courage and solidarity of the starving and sick women in the barracks, he told us that he was afraid that their story would be lost, that one day, people might even say that it never happened. “And you,” he said, turning to me, “will tell them what your great-uncle saw, with his own two eyes.” And I promised I would. So when my friend, Martha Kelly, told me the incredible story of the Rabbits of Ravensbrück, the subject of her work of historical fiction, Lilac Girls, I began to research the women in the barracks that my uncle had told me about that cold night so long ago.

My great-uncle John didn’t ask me to tell his story, but the story of something he believed was much worse than the battles he had fought, something even more horrific than war itself. He asked that I speak up and tell the story of the women in the camp. As it turns out, many of the women my great-uncle John liberated very likely started their journey at Ravensbrück. I discovered that on many levels, this is their story. And it is our story, our struggle - and our strength - as well.

Interviewing survivor Joanna Muskowska-Penson at her home in Sopot, Poland.
Interviewing survivor Joanna Muskowska-Penson at her home in Sopot, Poland.

Risks and challenges

We've overcome some of our greatest obstacles already, namely finding the survivors and interviewing them before it is too late. We are excited that our principal photography is virtually complete. Our greatest obstacle was post-production funding, but this $30,000 will help us finally start putting the film together and will get us to at least a rough cut of the film. Despite all obstacles, this film will get completed because of the strength of the story, the wonderful interviews we've filmed, and our growing network of supporters who have helped us raise over $200,000 to date. We hope you will also join our team and help us share this amazing story with the world!

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    Contributing Producer

    Now come the Producer titles and the party invites. You'll be recognized as a "Producer" - and attend the premiere and the VIP party! You'll also get special access to film clips and photographs.

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    Associate Producer

    Wow! As Associate Producer, you are now recognized in the credits of the film! You can also bring friends with you to the film premiere and the VIP premiere party. Last, but not least, you are invited to a special Associate Producer party with NYT best-selling author Martha Hall Kelly and Director Stacey Fitzgerald.

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    Co-Producer

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    • Producer Lunch with Martha Hall Kelly and Stacey Fitzgerald
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Funding period

- (30 days)