A NEW blockbuster starring Keira Knightly is inspired by the story of a boy who grew up in Monmouth.

Wye Valley eight-year-old Kim Brook’s life was turned upside down when his family relocated to post-War Germany in 1947 to help rebuild the devastated country.

And this week, the remarkable story of how a British family helped start the process of reconciliation in Hamburg is being screened in the town where he was raised, at Monmouth’s Savoy Theatre.

Kim’s father Colonel Walter Brook was under instructions “not to be friendly” with the Germans, and that they were “different.”

But, ignoring orders, Kim soon began having snowball fights and making friends, while his parents refused to requisition a house from a German family, and instead shared it with them.

Kim’s son, Rhidian Brook, first told the story, in a novel The Aftermath, published in 2013.

It has now been released as a film, with Knightley starring as Rachel, a character loosely inspired by Kim’s late mother, Anthea.

“I am very proud of my son, Rhidian, for writing this story and recording our family history,” Kim, now 80 and living in Brecon, told the BBC. “But I am also so proud of my parents.

“They had a Welsh heritage and they took this welcoming and generous spirit with them to Germany.”

His father had been friends with TE Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia - who impressed Walter with the way he managed to unite the Arabs.

Walter was then tasked with contributing to the rebuilding of government in Germany once the war was over.

Kim said: “I remember he sent home lots of letters and photos. I also saw pictures in weekly magazines of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, so I knew a bit of what to expect.”

But he was still shocked by the devastation in hamburg caused by

Allied bombing.

“I recall meeting with Dad, then being driven through miles of ruins,” he said. “There was literally nothing standing, and lots of the ruins had black crosses on them, marking the dead bodies. The desperation and starvation was in your face.”

Instead of ordering the German owners to leave their home, the family opted to share the property with businessman Wilhelm Ladiges, wife Erika, daughter Heike, seven, and sons Theo, 12 and Holger, five.

The Ladiges had the first floor and the Brooks the ground floor, but both families shared a kitchen in the basement.

Kim recalls: “We were told not to really talk to the Ladiges, even though they had been as anti-Hitler as anyone dared during the war.

“We were meant to display dignified curtness, but it was an extremely cold winter, so we wanted to have snowball fights.

“I soon learnt German and began to play with Heike in the countryside. We climbed trees and played hopscotch.”

His ability to break down barriers earned him the nickname Der Eisbrecher or the ice-breaker.

Kim told the BBC: “During Christmas 1947, I remember us children dressing up in sheets and the two families singing Silent Night in German around the tree.

“Both sets of parents had tears rolling down their cheeks and, after that, the relationship moved on with greater warmth and understanding.

“My dad always used to say he wasn’t interested in revenge or retribution. His job was to rebuild and to create reconciliation.”

Kim lived in Germany for four and a half years, and he and Heike are still friends.

He travelled to Germany to see some of the filming for The Aftermath and met Keira Knightly and actors Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Clarke.

“They were so nice to us, and intrigued to hear the real story.”

The Afternmath is showing at Monmouth’s Savoy from Friday, April 26 for a week.