The best books on Holocaust testimony

Joshua M. Greene Author Of Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend
By Joshua M. Greene

Who am I?

Joshua M. Greene is the author of a dozen Holocaust biographies that have sold more than a half-million copies worldwide. He sits on the board of Yale University Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and has spoken on issues of Holocaust memory for such outlets as NPR and Fox News. His editorials on Holocaust history have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.


I wrote...

Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

By Joshua M. Greene,

Book cover of Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

What is my book about?

Unstoppable is the story of an American hero--a man who survived the hell of Auschwitz to become one of the most successful, mesmerizing, and outrageous personalities in postwar America. Siggi Wilzig was a force of nature: a Holocaust survivor who arrived in New York penniless and without formal education at just twenty-one years old yet went on to build a $4 billion oil-and-banking empire. This is the ultimate immigrant story, an epic rags-to-riches adventure that follows Siggi from starvation on death marches to dinner at the White House--a story that starts in Auschwitz and ends with one of the most lucrative bank sales in Wall Street history. A survivor's saga in a category of its own, Unstoppable does not dwell on tragedy, but instead celebrates Siggi's ingenuity, hope, resolve, and message: no matter how cruel or unjust the world may be, humans can overcome the past to achieve a bright future.

The books I picked & why

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Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory

By Lawrence L. Langer,

Book cover of Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory

Why this book?

Langer has written the finest analysis available on the workings of traumatic memory, one that contributes to our understanding of history as autobiography—a brilliant mapping of the tortured terrain of Holocaust remembrance.


Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944-1945

By Hanna Lavy-Hass,

Book cover of Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944-1945

Why this book?

The world knows about Anne Frank through her diary. Yet Anne Frank knew nothing about the Holocaust apart from reports on radio and glimpses of roundups through the window of her attic hideaway. She never lived long enough to write a second volume, which would have included her experiences in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen (where she died of typhus). In her diary, Hanna Levy-Hass provides us with a more realistic, first-hand account of the Holocaust as experienced by a young woman inside Hitler’s camps.


Survival in Auschwitz

By Primo Levi,

Book cover of Survival in Auschwitz

Why this book?

Many written survivor accounts succumb to the temptation of literary embellishment, which can camouflage the stark reality of what occurred. Levi succeeds in engaging the convention of writing without compromising the content of memory. His philosophic analysis of what he experienced adds to the power of events recalled with disturbing honesty. This is an ideal work for understanding the similarities and differences between written and spoken testimony.


Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life And Letters From Westerbork

By Etty Hillesum,

Book cover of Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life And Letters From Westerbork

Why this book?

To derive a full perspective on the power of personal testimony, Hillesum’s diary and letters are an essential complement to the standard literature. Hillesum died in Auschwitz at age 29, having already lived the full life of a Dutch Jewish bohemian. Her brutally honest confrontations with feelings of inadequacy and self-betrayal form a unique backdrop to accounts from inside Hitler’s camps.


Memory Perceived: Recalling the Holocaust

By Robert N. Kraft,

Book cover of Memory Perceived: Recalling the Holocaust

Why this book?

Kraft has drawn on 200 hours of testimony by Holocaust survivors to demonstrate how memory responds to atrocity. His juxtaposition of accounts allows one individual to be presented in relation to others, showing personal tragedies as well as the collective atrocity from the insights of multi-voice narratives.


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