Karel Baracs
storyteller and performer
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Storyteller Karel Baracs tells ‘Why Tram 8 No Longer Runs,” a true story of the rescue of children by the Dutch resistance during World War II. Only in the last part of the performance does Karel Baracs reveals why he is personally involved in this Amsterdam tale. It’s an incredible true story about persecution and betrayal, about loyalty and love, which makes a deep impression on audiences, young and old. It carries one clear message: beware of racism!

The year is 1943. The Apples, a Jewish family in Amsterdam lives in hiding above a shop in the heart of town. When their shelter is raided, the family is discovered and taken to a prison for Jews in a former theatre building. To avoid flight the Nazis separate the children from their parents. Two friends, Hester and Pauline, witness the persecution. They can’t accept the injustice and decide to do something. But what can they do, two individuals against such a juggernaut? 

Tram Line 8 plays a dramatic role in the history of Amsterdam. Until 1942, two Jewish neighborhoods were connected by this tram. After the Jews had been officialy banned from all public transport, this tram line lost most of its customers. Eventually, the lack of passengers was the official reason for cancellation (1942). Even so, the tram was still employed at the time of the Nazi raids on homes in 1942 and 1943.

After the Jewish Amsterdammers had been taken forcibly from their homes, they were transported by Tram 8 to the “Dutch Theatre.” This former theater located in the Plantage Middenlaan was designated by the Germans as a way station. The Jews were brought together here, before they were transported by train to the extermination camps.

The City of Amsterdam and the Local Transport Company decided – long after the war – that a tram line 8 would never run again. It was a symbolic gesture made in honour of the lost Jewish people of Amsterdam.

Theme : World War II, persecution of the Jews, racism and discrimination
Duration : 75 minutes
Target group : adults and children 11 years or older
Audience size : unlimited / depending on the venue
Curriculum Notes: available on demand
Costs for performance and curriculum : on request
Language: The story can be told in either English or Dutch
Location: Requires a small meeting hall (provided by the organization) or theater setting. Props required are only a chair and a table, as well as a few pieces of 1940s era decor.
Musical arrangement: piano & clarinet

The performance was developed in close collaboration with the Dutch Resistance Museum.

The performance is recommended by Mr. Eberhard van der Laan, mayor of Amsterdam, Mr. Job Cohen, president of the Amsterdam 4/5 May Committee, Mrs. Liesbeth van der Horst, Director of the Dutch Resistance Museum and Mr. Ronald Leopold, Director of the Anne Frank Foundation Amsterdam.
Professional storyteller Karel Baracs (Amsterdam, 1950) brings the history of his hometown to life. In 2008, Mr. Baracs was officially named City Storyteller of Amsterdam. He received a Royal honor for his storytelling work in 2012. He has performed in London, The Verzetsmuseum of Amsterdam, the Stadsschouwburg (City Theater of Amsterdam) and Amsterdam City Hall.


This moving theater experience is a demonstrable contribution to the fight against racism and discrimination. I therefore recommend the presentation wholeheartedly for you.

Eberhard van der Laan, Mayor of Amsterdam

I know where racism and discrimination can lead to. That is why it is so important that many other stories continue to be told, alongside the story of Anne Frank. I express the hope that the impressive performance ‘Why Tram 8 No Longer Runs” will be attended by many schools.

Ronald Leopold, Director, Anne Frank Foundation - Amsterdam

During the show, all children in the audience live intensively with the fate of Jewish children during the war. If then, at the end, it is shown that the story has been true, it makes a deep impression. This makes the show particularly effective.

Liesbeth van der Horst, Director, Dutch Resistance Museum - Amsterdam

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The Documentary

In 2013, the feature-length documentary, “The Storyteller of Amsterdam,” directed by Eli Brown and produced by Burst Films LLC, was released to festivals. It is now available for distribution internationally for broadcast.

“The Storyteller of Amsterdam” follows the first (and only) city storyteller of Amsterdam through the final year of his city-sponsored contract in 2010. Shortly before his contract began, the world economy collapsed, dooming his tenure. In the shadow of the faltering economy, Karel Baracs, works to connect communities through the act of storytelling. He works with parents at a school to help them perform on stage and deliver personal narratives that help connect them to the community and the other parents at the school. He prepares a group of storytellers for the international SAIL festival. He delivers his most well-known story, “Why Tram Line 8 No Longer Runs” to an audience at City Hall, as well as other performances. All of his actions help bring the power of personal narrative storytelling to a wider audience and show that sometimes the simplest act of telling your story is the most powerful one that a person can do.

The Storyteller of Amsterdam was produced by Burst Films LLC and directed by Eli Brown. It is available internationally with English subtitles and transcript for translation. There is a 65′ as well as a 50′ version for international broadcast length.

The Storyteller of Amsterdam was a selection of the Docutah Film Festival in 2013 as well as an honorable mention at the New York Independent Film Festival.

If you are a broadcaster, please send an email to eli@burst-films.com in order to get a copy. Otherwise, visit our on-demand video order page!

Stories in the Streets is a short film that was produced concurrently with the full-length feature documentary. It is a selection of the 2014 Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

About Karel Baracs

Karel Baracs (Amsterdam, 1950) has been a Dutch professional storyteller since 1990. His subjects are primarily linked to Amsterdam and Dutch history. His most succesful story ‘Why Tram 8 No Longer Runs’ brings to life his home town during the Nazi occupation (1940-1945) and the persecution of the Jews. In ‘A Tsar in Amsterdam’ he describes how in the 17th century the famous Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, came to Holland to learn how to build ships. Baracs performs his tales and stories both in Dutch and English for audiences young and old from Amsterdam to London, from Anvers to Budapest. In 2008, Karel Baracs was officially appointed City Storyteller of Amsterdam. For this achievement, he eventually was inducted as a ‘Member in the Order of Orange’ by Queen Beatrix in 2012.

Bookings and Information

For more information call Karel Baracs at 00 31 (0) 6 14 820 820 or send an e-mail at karel@thestorytellerofamsterdam.com