The best books written by children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors

The Books I Picked & Why

The Complete Maus

By Art Spiegelman

The Complete Maus

Why this book?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel has been hailed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). For me, Spiegelman’s books are about more than the Holocaust. It is the tale within a tale, about the author’s relationship to his father’s legacy of trauma, that I find most compelling. The Second Generation (children of survivors) didn’t experience the Holocaust and can’t bear witness, and yet growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust impacts everything about their lives. Spiegelman’s Maus I and II books capture this in a remarkably profound way.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of Survivors

By Helen Epstein

Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of Survivors

Why this book?

Epstein “secret quest” was to “find a group of people who, like me, were possessed by a history they had never lived.” When I read Epstein’s book in the late 90s, it was the first time I’d ever “met” other children of survivors. I’d never discussed what it meant to be the daughter and granddaughter of survivors with others who had grown up in similar circumstances. These interviews validated many of the issues I struggled with and helped me see how our voices are an important part of the expanding genre of Holocaust discourse.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

By Sarah Wildman

Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Why this book?

Years after the death of Wildman’s grandfather, she discovered a cache of letters from a woman named Valy—Valerie Scheftel—her grandfather’s lover, who remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria. Using the letters as a starting point, and seeking help from others, Wildman pieces together Valy’s story. It’s both a Holocaust story, the desperate effort to reconstruct the history, and a look at how a history, not exactly our own, shapes us.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

By Dina Gold

Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

Why this book?

Dina Gold knew her grandmother lived a glamorous life in pre-war Berlin and that she dreamed of one day returning to reclaim the family business building. In 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, Dina set out to do just that. Marching into the building, just two blocks from Checkpoint Charlie she declared, “I’ve come to claim my family’s building.” Stolen Legacy is a detailed account of Gold’s research, legal pursuits, struggles and victories.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film

By Glenn Kurtz

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film

Why this book?

Glenn Kurtz’s grandparents traveled to Poland in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of the Second World War, to visit family. They filmed parts of that trip, including 3 minutes in Poland, footage that ultimately became one of the last records of a once vibrant Jewish community. Decades later, Kurtz painstakingly set out to identify the people in the film. He ultimately located seven living survivors, including an eighty-six-year-old man who appeared in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy. A heartfelt and powerful telling of what it means to rescue history and stories of survival.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists