18 Heart Breaking Books on Holocaust | Must Read

Amazing Books on Holocaust Every Book Lover Must Read

Holocaust is a term you must have heard, but what does it mean? Well Holocaust is the manslaughter on a mass scale. Many people view the Holocaust as history that should only be brought up when can’t be avoided but I personally feel that this is something that needs much attention. Hence, I have come up with some of the must read books on holocaust.

I came to know about the holocaust and the horrors of Germany in 10th grade, and that too because it was included in my syllabus. Other than that, I didn’t hear anyone even mentioning it. Even when they mention it, half of the facts are either wrong or incomplete. One fine example is that they don’t know that other groups besides the Jews were considered ‘unwanted’ by the Nazis were also killed in the holocaust.

There are many theories and assumptions associated with the holocaust but which ones are true? The best way to find out is through the much informative books, some of which are even written or dictated by first-hand experience holders of the horrors.

Don’t back away just yet, you need to know about these books and try to read at least half of them and imagine the horrors suffered by Jews during World War II.

18 Books on Holocaust You Must Read

1. How to Be a Refugee

How to Be a Refugee | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: How to Be a Refugee: One Family’s Story of Exile and Belonging

Author: Simon May

Genre: Non-fiction

Publishing Date: 2021


We frequently hear about those who survived the holocaust or died due to it. Simon May offers an entirely different, much rarer story: of those who refused to believe they were Jewish.

Simon narrates the compelling tale of his mother and his two aunts, whose lives involved becoming Catholics and achieving “Aryan” status with the assistance of high-ranking Nazi officials. May’s mother continued to hide her identity after the war, which inspired him to embark on an insightful investigation into the meaning of belonging and home.

2. The Choice

The Choice | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: The Choice

Author: Edith Eger

Genre: Autobiography

Publishing Date: 2017


Edie, who was of Hungarian descent, was a typical adolescent with the same aspirations of becoming a ballerina and the first love for her first lover. At sixteen, she was transferred to Auschwitz, where she was forced to dance for legendary Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele while witnessing her mother undergo extermination chambers.

This remarkable tale of resiliency and recovery is that of Edie, who became a highly respected clinical psychologist.

3. The Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: The Diary of a Young Girl

Author: Anne Frank

Genre: Autobiography

Publishing Date: 1947


A thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family abandoned their Amsterdam home and hid in 1942 when the Nazis took control of Holland.

The Franks and another family lived isolated in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building for the following two years until their whereabouts were revealed to the Gestapo. Because they were cut off from the outside world, they had to deal with hunger, boredom, the constant hardships of living in a small space, and the danger of being found and put to death.

Anne Frank vividly described her experiences at this time in her journal. Her tale offers an intriguing commentary on human bravery and vulnerability and a captivating self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young lady whose promise was sadly cut short. It is, at times, intelligent, touching, and shockingly amusing.

4. The Happiest Man on Earth

The Happiest Man on Earth

Full Title: The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

Author: Eddie Jaku

Genre: Personal Narrative

Publishing Date: 2020


Eddie Jaku, 100, who lived through the horrors of Auschwitz, today regards himself as the “happiest man on Earth.” Eddie’s inspirational memoir, released last year, is full of insight into how to find happiness even in the face of adversity. It recounts the tragedy of losing those he loved but never losing hope.

5. The Yellow Bird Sings

The Yellow Bird Sings

Full Title: The Yellow Bird Sings

Author: Jennifer Rosner

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publishing Date: 2020


After evading being gathered up with the other Jews in their town in Poland in 1941, Róza and her five-year-old daughter Shira spent their days and nights hiding in a farmer’s barn.

Róza would do anything to protect her daughter, but ultimately she must decide between keeping her close or letting her go and giving her a chance to survive. The only bird that can sing the melodies Shira creates in her thoughts is a yellow bird, according to Róza’s tales to her daughter.

6. The Tobacconist

The Tobacconist

Full Title: The Tobacconist

Author: Robert Seethaler

Genre: Fiction

Publishing Date: 2012


The Tobacconist is a powerful tale of how the Third Reich significantly influenced the lives of regular people. Franz, a 17-year-old tobacconist, accepts an apprenticeship with Otto Trsnyek, a retired tobacconist, and soon he is delivering newspapers and smokes to Vienna’s elite.

However, the year is 1937, and in a few short months, Germany will conquer Austria, ushering in a storm that will destroy the small tobacconist shop and irrevocably alter the lives of Franz, Otto, and their clients.

7. In the Midst of Civilized Europe

In the Midst of Civilized Europe

Full Title: In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918–1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust

Author: Jeffrey Veidlinger

Genre: Non-fiction

Publishing Date: 2021


Jeffery Veidlinger, a renowned historian, demonstrates for the first time how a wave of genocide violence swept over Poland and Ukraine between 1918 and 1921 when unpunished assaults on Jewish families and communities created the conditions for the holocaust to occur two decades later.

In this significant study, Veidlinger explores and wrestles with the horrors of the anti-Jewish pogroms by drawing on long-neglected archival sources, including thousands of recently unearthed witness testimony, court papers, and official orders.

8. A Garden of Eden in Hell

A Garden of Eden in Hell

Full Title: A Garden of Eden in Hell: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer

Author: Melissa Muller

Genre: Biography

Publishing Date: 2006


This is the tale of one of Prague’s most well-known pianists, Alice Herz-Sommer. Music was her savior when she, her husband, and their six-year-old son were sent to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, and her performances gave her fellow inmates hope in a place of suffering and death.

9. Lily’s Promise

Lily's Promise

Full Title: Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live

Author: Lily Ebert

Genre: Non-fiction

Publishing Date: 2021


This is Lily Ebert’s poignant memoir, which she co-wrote with her great-grandson, Dov. A Jewish-American soldier gave Lily a banknote that said, “the start of a new life, good luck and happiness!” when she was freed at the end of World War II.

Dov decided to use social media to find the soldier’s family many years later when Lily was 96 years old. Lily fulfilled the promise she made to her 16-year-old self to share the horrors of the holocaust with the world in the hope that such evil would never again be seen when she, at last, shared her compelling life story with the world, from her happy childhood in Hungary to the deaths of her family members in Auschwitz to her new life in Israel and then London.

10. Man’s Search For Meaning

Man's Search For Meaning | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: Man’s Search For Meaning

Author: Viktor E. Frankl

Genre: Personal Narrative

Publishing Date: 1946


This fantastic book (which has sold 16 million copies) explores what it means to live fully; it transcends time and location. Before the war, Viktor Frankl was a well-known psychiatrist in Vienna who could watch how people in Auschwitz handled their experiences. He eventually concluded that finding meaning and purpose is what all people want.

11. The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publishing Date: 2018


Five million copies of this remarkable book have been sold for a good reason. Heather Morris uses her fictional novel to portray the heartwarming accurate tale of Lale Sokolov, a man whose job was tattooing the arms of Auschwitz captives. A young lady named Gita was standing in line to get tattooed.

For Lale, it was love at first sight, and he was determined to ensure she survived.

12. After Such Knowledge

After Such Knowledge | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: After Such Knowledge: Where Memory of the Holocaust Ends and History Begins

Author: Eva Hoffman

Genre: Non-fiction

Publishing Date: 2004


Eva Hoffman, a child of Polish Jews who survived the holocaust with the aid of neighbors but whose entire families perished, explores these issues through intimate reflections and more thorough examinations of the philosophical, psychological, and moral ramifications of the experience of the second generation.

She follows the “second generation’s” development from early hints of terror to its conflicts between allegiance and individuality and its intricate interactions with victims’ offspring.

She investigates the more deliberate methods of communal memory and the underground mechanisms through which personal memories of sorrow are passed on.

13. Two Rings

Two Rings | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: Two Rings: A Story of Love and War

Author: Millie Werber, Eve Keller

Genre: Autobiography

Publishing Date: 2012


Millie Werber’s narrative would be noteworthy even if it were merely considered to be a World War Two survivor’s memoir. Radom, a town in central Poland, is where she was born.

At the age of 14, she was forced into the ghetto, forced to work as an enslaved person in an armaments plant in the summer of 1942, taken to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, and then marched to another weapons factory.

She was repeatedly in danger of dying and was even sure she wouldn’t though she did. The two ladies rediscovered the world of the adolescent girl Millie had been during the war many years later when she started to open up to Eve Keller about her history.

14. Bloodlands

Bloodlands | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: Bloodlands

Author: Timothy Snyder

Genre: Biography

Publishing Date: 2010


Although the Soviet Union was a member of the Allies, many Americans at the time were unaware that Josef Stalin was every bit as brutal and homicidal as Adolf Hitler.

Six million Jews, as well as an equal number of other Europeans and Soviet citizens, were deported, imprisoned, and killed at his hands.

His wartime atrocities were kept secret for many years due to the Iron Curtain, which crumbled shortly after WWII. This book critically examines a close ally of America while focusing on lesser-known fatalities.

15. How Could This Happen

How Could This Happen | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: How Could This Happen: Explaining the Holocaust

Author: Dan McMillan

Genre: Non-fiction

Publishing Date: 2014


People often find it challenging to comprehend how such atrocities could have occurred when studying the Holocaust and World War II because of the devastation and cruelty involved. Dan McMillan, a historian, employs a broad lens to comprehend the holocaust by looking at the multiple power structures in place, the causes and repercussions, and the contrived and coincidental variables that influenced it.

This book enables readers to see numerous links between historical events and locations, which aids in their understanding of history on a broad scale.

16. And The World Closed Its Doors

And The World Closed Its Doors | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: And The World Closed Its Doors: The Story Of One Family Abandoned To The Holocaust

Author: David Clay Large

Genre: Biography

Publishing Date: 2003


David Clay Large revealed one of the greatest tragedies of the early years of Hitler’s ascent to power.

German Jews wanted to emigrate, but no one would give them sanctuary. The protagonists of this book are wealthy German Jews named Max Schohl and his family, who were well-educated, well-connected, and had family in the United States and employment offers from American institutions.

The Schohl family was ultimately detained and transferred to detention camps because they could not obtain the necessary visas. They left a vast archive of letters and documents that show how the rest of the world ignored their situation.

17. Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List

Author: David Crowe

Genre: Biography

Publishing Date: 2004


One of the most well-known Holocaust movies is Schindler’s List, but this factual book explores the more nuanced tale of the man who is credited with saving more than a thousand Jews. The famous list was not wholly created by Oskar Schindler, an opportunist and occasionally a collaborator with the Nazis.

After the war, he faced exile, passed away in terrible health, and received criticism from his wife after the movie’s release. This fascinating narrative of an actual individual demonstrates how romanticizing and dramatizing World War II is a human urge.

18. The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich

The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich | Books on Holocaust

Full Title: The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son’s Memoir

Author: Howard Reich

Genre: Autobiography

Publishing Date: 2006


Howard Reich’s mother, Sonia Reich, put some clothes in two brown shopping bags, put on a grey coat, closed the door to her Skokie, Illinois, house, and left that evening. Sonia yelled at anyone who would listen that she was the target of a murderous attempt “to put a bullet in my skull.”

Sonia Reich, a Polish-Jewish survivor of the holocaust, had always been on the run. She and Howard’s father, Robert, a fellow Holocaust survivor, had escaped to America, settled in Chicago, and brought up their little son to keep their Jewish heritage a secret. His family would only live as Jews after relocating to Skokie, a town populated by Holocaust survivors.

Final Words

These were some of the books that talk about the holocaust and the horrors related to it. I know that portraying the image of an unimaginative mess such as the holocaust is horrific, and we wouldn’t want the young ones around us to pressure their minds with it.

Still, it is essential for them to know and to understand how the world at that time worked and what people had to go through to survive that.

If you have read any book, do let us know your views about it. Until then check out the below articles for such amazing books:

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