Seven popular books about the Holocaust to read TODAY!

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations to commemorate the genocide of over six million people (mostly Jewish but also mentally and physically disabled, Romani, and homosexual people) by the Nazi Regime during the Second World War.

There is certainly debate about Holocaust’s literature, mainly around politicization, representation and appropriation and whether or not the horrors of the holocaust need artistic amplification. However, maybe because of the famous saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” or because the striking similarity with most recent events like the Syrian refugees crisis, many consider the Holocaust an event of utmost importance in history that should be a recurrent topic in literature.

If you are looking for books about the Holocaust, here are seven popular books, including my favorite, most recent, and least favorite reads.

Favorite: The Diary of a Young Girl

One of the best ways to understand a specific historical event is through a memoir. The Diary of a Young Girl is based on the diary’s entries kept by Anne Frank during the two years she hid with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. It is definitely a very hard topic to read and digest but a “must read” to understand what it is to experience persecution and the threat of extermination, especially at a young age.

Contemporary / British English It is 1942 in Holland and the Germans have invaded. All Jewish people are frightened for their lives, so the Frank family hide. Life is dangerous but they hope for the best – until they are finally discovered. Anne Frank was a real person, and this is her diary.

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was a Jewish girl born in the city of Frankfurt, Germany. Her father moved to the Netherlands in 1933 and the rest of the family followed later. Anne was the last of the family to come to the Netherlands, in February 1934. She wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

She lived in Amsterdam with her parents and sister. During the Holocaust, Anne and her family hid in the attic of her father’s office to escape the Nazis. It was during that time period that she had recorded her life in her diary.

Anne died in Bergen-Belsen, in February 1945, at the age of 15.

Most recent read: The Orphan’s Tale

This is such a beautiful tale of courage, resilience, sacrifice, survival, sisterly love!

The events at the beginning of the story are strikingly dark and violent, but so representative of the horrors of this time. They will shake you to the core. Afterwards, the story moves at a slower pace but pregnant teenager Noa and abandoned wife Astrid, both betrayed by those who they trusted the most, will win your heart. Their attempts to hide from the Nazis will keep you at the edge of your seat until the heartbreaking end that is the best reward! The end will stay with you forever!

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Least favorite

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Impeccable written story… About WHAT or WHO? Is it about the boy imprisoned in Auschwitz, under inhuman conditions, watching his family and friends being exterminated? NO. It is about a german boy Bruno oblivious about what is happening right behind his fence and so “innocent” he is not able to properly pronounce Führer or Auschwitz [Bruno pronounces them “The Fury” and “Out-With”].

First, this is SO historically inaccurate and impossible. You could NOT live NEXT DOOR to Auschwitz without seeing the towers of smoke or smelling the bodies burning.

Second, Bruno is nine years old (not five). There is no reason why he cannot properly pronounce “Führer” or “Auschwitz” UNLESS you are deliberately trying to make him look more  “innocent” than he should be which diminishes the severity of what happened during the Holocaust.

An Auschwitz story that tries to make a spoiled, sheltered german boy the “victim” reducing the real victim (Bruno’s friend behind the fence) to a secondary character is complacent, callous and disrespectful, not only to the victims and their families, but to the readers.

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.






Other popular books about the Holocaust


Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor’s perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of hope, it remains one of the most important works of the twentieth century.







The Book Thief

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery …

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.



Schindler’s List

In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womaniser, a heavy drinker and a bon viveur, but to them he became a saviour. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.









Number the Stars

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.









What about you? What do you think about Holocaust Literature in general? Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite book about the Holocaust? Let’s talk!

Thank you for visiting!

Daniela Ark

Bookworm, book blogger, writer, collector of stories that matter and passionate about feminism, diversity, and equality.


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