25 Books About the Holocaust

In celebration of our 25th Anniversary, each month we’ll highlight 25 features from our history. This month, we’re sharing 25 books about the Holocaust, including four memoirs written by local Holocaust Survivors. The majority of the books listed below can all be found in the Boniuk Library collection.

1. Why? Explaining the Holocaust by Peter Hayes

“In clear prose informed by an encyclopedic knowledge of Holocaust literature in English and German, Hayes weaves together stories and statistics to heart-stopping effect. Why? is an authoritative, groundbreaking exploration of the origins of one of the most tragic events in human history.”

2. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

“Partly autobiographical, this is first of the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War.”

3. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

“First published in 1947, Survival in Auschwitz describes Levi’s arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on January 27, 1945.”

4. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher Browning

“Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.”

5. T4: A Novel by Ann Clare LeZotte

“When the Nazi party takes control of Germany, thirteen-year-old Paula, who is deaf, finds her world-as-she-knows-it turned upside down, as she is taken into hiding to protect her from the new law nicknamed T4.”

6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

“Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.”

7. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

“In Lois Lowry’s unforgettable Newbery Medal–winning novel, a ten-year-old Danish girl’s bravery is tested when her best friend is threatened by Nazis in 1943.”

8. The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren

The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden – based on a true story.

9. But You Did Not Come Back: A Memoir by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

“In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes back to her father. The book is a letter to the man she would never know as an adult, to the person whose death overshadowed her whole life. Although her grief never diminished in its intensity, Marceline ultimately found a calling, working on behalf of many disenfranchised groups, both as an activist for Algerian independence and a documentary filmmaker.”

10. Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

”Written in 1939 and unpublished until 2000, Sebastian Haffner’s memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany offers a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. Covering 1907 to 1933, his eyewitness account provides a portrait of a country in constant flux: from the rise of the First Corps, the right-wing voluntary military force set up in 1918 to suppress Communism and precursor to the Nazi storm troopers, to the Hitler Youth movement; from the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country to Hitler’s rise to power. This fascinating personal history elucidates how the average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.”

11. The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed by Wendy Lower

“In 2009, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies was shown a photograph just brought to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentation of the Holocaust is vast, but there are virtually no images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder, in this case by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. Lower’s forensic and archival detective work—in Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States—recovers astonishing layers of detail concerning the open-air massacres in Ukraine. The identities of mother and children, of the killers—and, remarkably, of the Slovakian photographer who openly took the image, as a secret act of resistance—are dramatically uncovered.”

12. The Eichmann Trial by Deborah Lipstadt

“Award-winning historian Deborah E. Lipstadt gives us an overview of the trial of SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann and analyzes the dramatic effect that the survivors’ courtroom testimony—which was itself not without controversy—had on a world that had until then regularly commemorated the Holocaust but never fully understood what the millions who died and the hundreds of thousands who managed to survive had actually experienced.”

13. Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan Gross

“On July 10, 1941, in Nazi-occupied Poland, half of the town of Jedwabne brutally murdered the other half: 1,600 men, women, and children—all but seven of the town’s Jews. In this shocking and compelling classic of Holocaust history, Jan Gross reveals how Jedwabne’s Jews were murdered not by faceless Nazis but by people who knew them well—their non-Jewish Polish neighbors. A previously untold story of the complicity of non-Germans in the extermination of the Jews, Neighbors shows how people victimized by the Nazis could at the same time victimize their Jewish fellow citizens. In a new preface, Gross reflects on the book’s explosive international impact and the backlash it continues to provoke from right-wing Polish nationalists who still deny their ancestors’ role in the destruction of the Jews.”

14. Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City by Gordon J. Horwitz

“Under the Third Reich, Nazi Germany undertook an unprecedented effort to refashion the city of Lodz. Home to prewar Poland’s second most populous Jewish community, this was to become a German city of enchantment. Exploring ghetto life in its broadest context, this work examines the Jewish ghetto’s place in the Nazi worldview.”

15. KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann

“Wachsmann offers an integrated account of the Nazi concentration camps from their inception in 1933 through their demise, seventy years ago, in the spring of 1945. The Third Reich has been studied in more depth than virtually any other period in history, and yet until now there has been no history of the camp system that tells the full story of its broad development and the everyday experiences of its inhabitants, both perpetrators and victims, and all those living in what Primo Levi called ‘the gray zone'”

16. The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah

“The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.”

17. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion Kaplan

“Between Dignity and Despair draws on the extraordinary memoirs, diaries, interviews, and letters of Jewish women and men to give us the first intimate portrait of Jewish life in Nazi Germany.”

18. The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis by David Fishman

“The Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts―first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets―by hiding them on their bodies, burying them in bunkers, and smuggling them across borders. It is a tale of heroism and resistance, of friendship and romance, and of unwavering devotion―including the readiness to risk one’s life―to literature and art. And it is entirely true.”

19. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.”

20. The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic by Benjamin Carter Hett

“Why did democracy fall apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s? How did a democratic government allow Adolf Hitler to seize power? In The Death of Democracy, Benjamin Carter Hett answers these questions, and the story he tells has disturbing resonances for our own time.”

21. The Choice by Dr. Edith Eger

Internationally acclaimed psychologist Dr. Edith Eger shares her powerful story of survival in her memoir.

“At the age of sixteen, Edith Eger, a trained ballet dancer and gymnast, was sent to Auschwitz. Hours after her parents were sent to the gas chamber, the “Angel of Death,” Nazi officer Dr. Josef Mengele, forced Edie to dance for his amusement—and her survival. He rewarded her with a loaf of bread that she shared with her fellow prisoners—an act of generosity that would later save her life.”


22. Anna’s Story by Anna Steinberger

In her autobiography, Dr. Anna Steinberger recounts her experience during World War II, immigrating to the United States, and starting a life with her late husband, Dr. Emil Steinberger. Through intimate storytelling and personal photographs, she shares her extraordinary life with her reader.

23. My Dream of Freedom: From Holocaust to My Beloved America by Helen Colin

“Despite great personal pain, I have chosen to share my history of survival during the Holocaust from the first day of my liberation from Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where I addressed German civilians. Presently, I continue to share my history with all who are willing to listen. I endure the paiin of recounting because I wish that my struggles through this time of Nazism be seen as epitomizing hope against despair and compassion against hatred, bias and bigotry.

I want others to see me, not as a victim, but as a survivor. I feel boundless gratitude to my beloved America for providing me, my family, and future generations with the opportunities afforded to those who are ready and willing to cherish the precious freedom I had all but lost. I want only that the world embrace one promise: Respect one another.” – Helen Colin

24. My Father’s Blessings by Celina Fein

In her autobiography, Celina Fein recounts the different stages of her life as an innocent young, Jewish girl living in Warsaw, to the horrors of the Holocaust where nearly 300 members of her family were murdered, to rebuilding a family in America after the war. She recounts sharing her testimony with students at the Museum. The final pages of the book serve as a photo album with precious family memories.

25. Forgive But Never Forget by Ruth Steinfeld and Cindy Levin Moulton

Ruth Steinfeld shares her remarkable story of survival in her memoir. Born in Germany in 1933, Ruth, her sister Lea, and their parents were deported to the internment camp of Gurs in the French Pyrenees, spending months languishing in the drafty barracks of the immense camp. To save their daughters, Ruth’s parents released them to the care of the French Jewish humanitarian organization OEuvre de Secours aux Enfants. After the war, the girls’ grandfather brought them to the United States. This book details that journey.