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.

The books I picked & why

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On the Borderline of Extermination: A Narrative of Inhumanity

By Joseph Gershkowitz,

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

Why 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.

Survival in Auschwitz

By Primo Levi,

Book cover of Survival in Auschwitz

Why 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.

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

By Philippe Sands,

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

Why 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.

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

By David S. Wyman,

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

Why 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.

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 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Holocaust, France, and prisoner of war?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Holocaust, France, and prisoner of war.

The Holocaust Explore 159 books about the Holocaust
France Explore 537 books about France
Prisoner Of War Explore 51 books about prisoner of war

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Auschwitz and After, Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto, and The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust if you like this list.