The best books about the Holocaust and remembering the world's failure

Who am I?

I have always known that my parents survived the Holocaust. I often listened in when they, my aunt, uncle, and their survivor friends would sit and talk of their lives during the Holocaust. I am the past president for the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor’s Association (now called the Phoenix Holocaust Association) and am on its Board and the Chair of its Education Committee. During this year of Covid, I have been instrumental in hosting numerous writers from around the world who have spoken, in Zoom, about their Holocaust writings and research.

I wrote...

The Birds Sang Eulogies: A Memoir

By Mirla G. Raz,

Book cover of The Birds Sang Eulogies: A Memoir

What is my book about?

Anna and Danny Geslewitz's incredible stories of survival are told by them, their daughter and their granddaughter, three generations affected by the Holocaust. Danny survived 6 years of starvation and brutality in the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and seven slave labor camps. Danny's account of hell on earth leaves the reader horrified. Danny is near death when suddenly the Germans disappear. Living in the eastern Polish city of Lvov, Anna vividly describes life and death in the Lvov Ghetto. When it becomes clear that the Germans will kill every remaining Jew in the ghetto, she flees into Germany using Christian identity papers. After the war, Danny and Anna meet in Germany. Together, they begin a memorable new chapter of life in the US.

Anna was a poet. In her poetry included in the book, one can feel the sorrow, terror, and angst she experienced. The cover of the book shows Danny heading to the train that will take him to Auschwitz. How the author discovered this picture in 2017 is an incredible story in and of itself.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of On the Borderline of Extermination: A Narrative of Inhumanity

Why did I love this book?

No one can truly know what life was like for Jews under the Nazis. We cannot feel the constant terror and inhumanity imposed upon their Jewish victims. We cannot hear their constant pleas, moans, and screams. We cannot smell the stench of filth, sickness, and death. Nevertheless, Joseph Gershowitz manages to take us as close as we can to his suffering in his absolutely riveting first-hand account of life in the Nazi’s concentration camps. On the Borderline of Extermination is a must-read for understanding the cruelty, barbarism, and inhumanity of the Germans and their all too willing helpers.

By Joseph Gershkowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Borderline of Extermination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A true story of strategy and survival as told by Joseph Gershkowitz (AUSCHWITZ HÄFTLING 99310). With this inspiring story of innate knowledge and determination, Mr. Gershkowitz paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of the Holocaust as seen through his eyes. With that, 100% of the proceeds will be split and donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in tribute of Joseph Gershkowitz to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never forgotten & the Women for Women International organization that works to support marginalized women in countries that have been severely affected by conflict and war.

Book cover of Survival in Auschwitz

Why did I love this book?

I read Survival in Auschwitz many years ago. Primo Levi was the first Holocaust survivor I had read who had given a first-hand account of life in the inferno named Auschwitz. Mr. Levi spares no detail when describing the barbarism of his Nazi keepers and their ingenious methods of cruelty. One feels his agony in the retelling. Yet, tell he did, so what the Germans did is never forgotten.

By Primo Levi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Survival in Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint,…

Book cover of The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive

Why did I love this book?

The Ratline tells the story of Nazi war criminal Otto von Wachter. The information about Wachter is gleaned from Wachter’s wife’s detailed diary and Sands’s meticulous gathering of information about him. After the war, Wachter attempts to escape prosecution through the Ratline, the route that numerous Nazi criminals took by escaping to South America. This part of the book is absolutely fascinating and reads like a spy thriller. The intrigue of who helps who, who seems to help whom, secret agents, secret double agents, and the maneuverings of the United States, Britain, and Russia leaves the mind reeling.

By Philippe Sands,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Ratline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, Cold War espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican, and the Nazi escape route to Perón's Argentina,"the Ratline"—from the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street.

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." —John le Carré, internationally renowned bestselling author

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon…

Book cover of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945

Why did I love this book?

Mr. Wyman details the ways in which FDR’s government and the State Department purposely ignored the plight of the Jews during WWII. Wyman meticulously researched work tells the sad but true story of how the anti-semitism of high-level decision-makers in the United States government allowed the genocide of European Jewry to continue unabated.

By David S. Wyman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Abandonment of the Jews as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New paperback edition of a landmark work that remains the definitive book on America's response to the Holocaust. In addition to a new cover design and Elie Wiesel's original foreword to the 1984 edition - and his 1998 afterword - this edition includes a new preface by the author discussing recent scholarship on the American response to the Holocaust.

Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld

By Beate Klarsfeld, Serge Klarsfeld, Sam Taylor (translator)

Book cover of Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld

Why did I love this book?

Beate and Serge Klarsfeld made it their life missions to find Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice. In their memoir Hunting the Truth, they detail their efforts in tracking down Nazi war criminals. We are with them when we read how they put their lives and well-being at considerable risk for many years. Hunting the Truth is an incredible book about two incredible people.

By Beate Klarsfeld, Serge Klarsfeld, Sam Taylor (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hunting the Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They were born on opposite sides of the Second World War: Beate grew up in the ruins of a defeated Weimar Germany, while Serge, a Jewish boy in France, was hiding in a cupboard when his father was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. They met on the Paris metro and fell in love, and became famous when Beate slapped the face of the West German chancellor - a former Nazi - Kurt Georg Kiesinger.

For the past half century, Beate and Serge Klarsfeld have hunted, confronted, prosecuted, and exposed Nazi war criminals all over the world, tracking down the notorious…

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