The best books on Holocaust survivor true stories

Who am I?

Adena Astrowsky is the grandchild of two Holocaust survivors. Her grandmother often spoke to her about her experiences during the Holocaust, which had a profound impact on her life. She continues to honor her grandmother's life by speaking about her grandmother’s survival and lessons learned from the Holocaust.

I wrote...

Living among the Dead: My Grandmother's Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength

By Adena Bernstein Astrowsky,

Book cover of Living among the Dead: My Grandmother's Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength

What is my book about?

This is the story of one remarkable young woman's unimaginable journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the Second World War, and the aftermath. Mania Lichtenstein’s dramatic story of survival is narrated by her granddaughter and her memories are interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection.

Many Jews did not die in concentration camps, but were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits. As a young girl, Mania witnessed the horrors while doing everything within her power to subsist. She lived in Włodzimierz, north of Lvov (Ukraine), was interned for three years in the labor camp nearby, managed to escape, and hid in the forests until the end of the war. Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in the United States, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and her memories.

The books I picked & why

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All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr,

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Why this book?

A beautifully written novel set against a dark but fascinating backdrop. The characters come alive in this emotional novel and stay with you long after you’ve read the last sentence. While the author does jump back and forth between different time periods, his writing is so creative and makes the reader feel as if you have been transported to places in the book alongside the characters.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

By Heather Morris,

Book cover of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Why this book?

This book is written from an incredible perspective of a Slovakian Jew, who because he speaks multiple languages, is forcibly put to work to permanently mark via tattoo his fellow prisoners. With all of the negativity surrounding his physical and emotional world, he finds love in a fellow prisoner, whom he met while marking her arm. The way the author is able to weave a beautiful love story throughout this nightmare, really exemplifies the importance of hope and resistance.

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak,

Book cover of The Book Thief

Why this book?

I waited to read this book after my son read it in junior high and raved about it. The day he finished the book he actually insisted that I stop reading whatever I was reading at the time to start The Book Thief so we could discuss it. To this day (he is now a senior in high school) it is still his favorite book of all time (and he is an avid reader). This book is really like no other. Written from a perspective not usually done, the author does an incredible job of telling a story that takes place during a very dark time in history in a creative way that keeps the reader engaged.

A Holocaust Memoir of Love & Resilience: Mama's Survival from Lithuania to America

By Ettie Zilber,

Book cover of A Holocaust Memoir of Love & Resilience: Mama's Survival from Lithuania to America

Why this book?

A beautifully written and compelling true story about the author’s heroine, her mother. The memoir shares with the reader the unspeakable horrors and tragic times that her mother lived through and witnessed – and of course, the impact of those events on the author, herself. The book is a testament to persistence, hope, and strength.

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II

By Mona Golabek, Lee Cohen,

Book cover of The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II

Why this book?

A beautiful read set otherwise on a very dark backdrop. Learning of Lisa Jura’s journey on the Kindertransport to a country she’s never been to at the age of fourteen, really exemplifies the very difficult, and not fair, choices parents were forced to make during this time period. However, the memoir really demonstrates the power of music and hope to uplift and fulfill many human needs.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, the Holocaust, and romantic love?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, the Holocaust, and romantic love.

World War 2 Explore 886 books about World War 2
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Primo Levi's Resistance, Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews, and Names in a Jar if you like this list.