The best books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

Who am I?

Jay Geller is a professor of history and Judaic studies and has published five books on the experience of the Jews in twentieth-century Germany. He has worked with secondary school teachers, religious communities, and museums to develop programs on the Holocaust, Nazism, and dangers of intolerance and radicalism. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University.


I wrote...

The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

By Jay Geller,

Book cover of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

What is my book about?

The evocative and riveting stories of four brothers—Gershom the Zionist, Werner the Communist, Reinhold the nationalist, and Erich the liberal—weave together in The Scholems, a biography of an eminent middle-class Jewish Berlin family and a social history of the Jews in Germany in the decades leading up to World War II.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945

Jay Geller Why did I love this book?

It is important for Americans to understand why millions of Germans who were not violent antisemites and racists voted for the Nazis. Looking at the case of a typical German town, Allen shows that economics, culture wars, and fear for the future motivated middle-class Germans to vote for an extremist party – not because of its racism, but despite its racism.

By William Sheridan Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nazi Seizure of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BE SURE YOU ARE BUYING THE CORRECT BOOK. THE ISBN FOR THE NEWEST PAPERBACK EDITION OF THE NAZI SEIZURE OF POWER IS 978-1626548725. IT IS PUBLISHED BY ECHO POINT BOOKS & MEDIA.

William Sheridan Allen's research provides an intimate, comprehensive study of the mechanics of revolution and an analysis of the Nazi Party's subversion of democracy. Beginning at the end of the Weimar Republic, Allen examines the entire period of the Nazi Revolution within a single locality.

Tackling one of the 20th century's greatest dilemmas, Allen demonstrates how this dictatorship subtly surmounted democracy and how the Nazi seizure of power…


Book cover of Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany

Jay Geller Why did I love this book?

Contrary to popular belief, the Nazis did not rely on an omnipresent secret police force to win Germans’ cooperation. A skilled combination of fear, propaganda, and self-promotion alternatively cowed Germans and manufactured their consent for this regime. In the 1930s, ordinary Germans regarded the Nazis as restoring order to a chaotic society, and a flood of denunciations helped the Gestapo with its work. At the same time, the existence of the concentration camps was no secret to ordinary Germans.

By Robert Gellately,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Backing Hitler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Nazis never won a majority in free elections, but soon after Hitler took power most people turned away from democracy and backed the Nazi regime. Hitler won growing support even as he established the secret police (Gestapo) and concentration camps. What has been in dispute for over fifty years is what the Germans knew about these camps, and in what ways were they involved in the persecution of 'race enemies', slave workers, and
social outsiders.

To answer these questions, and to explore the public sides of Nazi persecution, Robert Gellately has consulted an array of primary documents. He argues…


Book cover of The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy toward German Jews, 1933-39

Jay Geller Why did I love this book?

When the Nazis came to power, they were viciously antisemitic, but they had not planned a genocide of the Jews. By 1942, that genocide was their driving purpose. What changed? Schleunes argues that pressures within the Nazi Party and the circumstances of World War II induced an increasing radicalization of the Nazis’ plan for the Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.

By Karl A. Schleunes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twisted Road to Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There is no single phenomenon in our time so important for us to understand as the one which identified itself in Germany during the 1920's, 30's and 40's as National Socialism. By the time this movement was swept from the stage it had destroyed the lives of at least thirty million and perhaps as many as forty million people. . . . The realization that some men will construct a factory in which to kill other men raises the gravest questions about man himself. We have entered an age which we cannot avoid labeling 'After Auschwitz.' If we are to…


Book cover of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Jay Geller Why did I love this book?

In one of the most famous and most important books about the Holocaust, Browning shows that many of the soldiers who perpetrated the Holocaust were not sadists or vicious antisemites by nature. They were ordinary men who were affected by the circumstances of the brutal war, incessant Nazi propaganda about Jews, feelings of group solidarity during wartime, and the power of orders from a higher authority. Once middle-aged policemen in northern Germany, many became hardened killers in Poland.

By Christopher Browning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christopher R. Browning's shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews-now with a new afterword and additional photographs. Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including…


Book cover of The Seventh Cross

Jay Geller Why did I love this book?

There are very few German novels about Nazi persecution written at the time it was taking place, but the Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers is among the very best. (Another is The Oppermanns by Lion Feuchtwanger, which shows the experience of a single, affluent German-Jewish family.) Seghers narrates the story of George Heisler, a communist who escapes from a concentration camp along with six other men. Can he reach freedom across the border before the manhunt catches up with him? Will anyone hide him or help him in a society wracked by fear, where friends no longer meet and strangers do not trust each other?

By Anna Seghers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'At once a suspenseful manhunt story and a knowing portrait of the perils of ordinary life in Hitler's Germany, The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document. This new, unabridged translation is a genuine publishing event' - Joseph Kanon, author of 'The Good German' and 'Leaving Berlin'

'A masterpiece. Written in the midst of terror, but with such clarity, such acuity; Seghers is a writer of rare insight' RACHEL SEIFFERT author of A Boy in Winter

Seven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows…


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The Fornax Assassin

By J.C. Gemmell,

Book cover of The Fornax Assassin

J.C. Gemmell Author Of The Fornax Assassin

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Who am I?

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What is my book about?

In 2038 a devastating pandemic sweeps across the world. Two decades later, Britain remains the epicenter for the Fornax variant, annexed by a terrified global community.

David Malik is as careful as any man to avoid contact with the virus. But when his sister tests positive as an asymptomatic carrier, she must relocate to Fornax Island to join the isolated population of contagious untreatables. Fortunately, the British prime minister’s latest manifesto includes reintegrating the islanders with the nation. Yet, he does not survive a visit to Fornax Island to unveil his new policies.

The military suspects one of its junior officers is responsible for his death. Malik seizes his chance to represent the possible assassin, allowing him to protect his sister. Yet within days of taking on the case, he finds himself accused of masterminding the assassination. 

The Fornax Assassin

By J.C. Gemmell,

What is this book about?

2038: a devastating pandemic sweeps across the world. Two decades later, Britain remains the epicentre for the fornax variant, annexed by a terrified global community.

David Malik is as careful as any man to avoid contact with the virus. But when his sister tests positive as an asymptomatic carrier, she must relocate to Fornax Island to join the isolated population of contagious-untreatables.

Fortunately, the British prime minister’s latest manifesto includes reintegrating the islanders with the nation. Yet, he does not survive a visit to Fornax Island to unveil his new policies.

The military suspects one of its junior officers is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Germany, concentration camps, and the Holocaust?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Germany, concentration camps, and the Holocaust.

Germany Explore 447 books about Germany
Concentration Camps Explore 33 books about concentration camps
The Holocaust Explore 372 books about the Holocaust