The Best Books About The Holocaust In Eastern Europe

The Books I Picked & Why

The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather Was a War Criminal

By Silvia Foti

The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather Was a War Criminal

Why this book?

While the author and I came from different sides of the same fence, I found myself empathizing with her deathbed promise, her fears, her worries, her self-doubt, and her commitment to finding, and eventually exposing, the truth. Setting out to write what should have been a fairly ‘easy’ biographical tribute to her late grandfather – hailed as a Lithuanian hero- she discovered - and uncovered - details and documents which shattered her world and confirmed “the gossip.” She began to doubt the stories she was told as a child and the people who told them- both in her Lithuanian-American neighborhood and back in the old country. What a page-turner…what agony and pain…until she finally made her courageous decision. Bravo, Silvia.

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. There were very few survivors from Lithuania, and Foti’s book helps me understand why. I started learning about the Holocaust at my mother’s breast, after my birth in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany, and I have been researching it ever since.


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The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews

By Patrick Desbois

The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews

Why this book?

 How and why did a French Jesuit priest become engaged in the mammoth task of researching and documenting the very gruesome and unimaginable details of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Many do not realize that the Nazi strategies of classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, and extermination (Stanton’s stages of genocide) of the Jews in western Europe were different from those of the eastern European countries. It was Father Desbois who coined the term “Holocaust by Bullets” to describe the events in 10 countries (today as): Estonia, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Testimonies of non-Jewish neighbors, who were eyewitnesses, helped the researchers by willingly taking them to the exact killing sites and by describing the processes of the perpetrators. The sequel, In Broad Daylight: The Secret Procedures behind the Holocaust by Bullets, is a chilling and forensic analysis of the stages and procedures that led to the extermination of almost 2 million innocent men, women, and children- the largest crime scene in history.

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. There were very few survivors from Lithuania, and Father Desbois’ book and extraordinary research helped me understand how and where my ancestors were murdered. I started learning about the Holocaust at my mother’s breast, after my birth in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany, and I have been researching it ever since.


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We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

By Ellen Cassedy

We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

Why this book?

The author and I have somewhat similar backgrounds, with ancestry back in Lithuania. We both made the commitment to travel to Lithuania, but for different reasons. Her quest to improve her knowledge and fluency of the Yiddish language, (my native language) brought her to Vilnius, Lithuania to study with a master teacher.  While she was there, she was determined to learn as much as she could about the long history of the Jews of Lithuania, the fate of her ancestors, and why (and how) almost 96% of the Lithuanian Jewish population was murdered- the highest percentage of any European country. Through research, interviews, songs, and Yiddish expressions, the author weaves together a nostalgic, literary, and academic odyssey into the past- and discovers the answer to the percentage question – the Nazis had willing collaborators.

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. I started learning about the Holocaust at my mother’s breast, after my birth in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany, and I have been researching it ever since.

I was also raised with Yiddish as my first language, I went to school to learn Yiddish literacy, and I am even teaching the language today.


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Our People: Discovering Lithuania's Hidden Holocaust

By Efraim Zuroff, Rūta Vanagaite

Our People: Discovering Lithuania's Hidden Holocaust

Why this book?

The partnership of these two authors, one, a Lithuanian national and prominent figure and the other, a Jewish/Israeli Nazi hunter, even surprised them both. While they come from the polar opposite ends of the cultural spectrum, their ultimate research collaboration offers the reader a view into the reason why 96% of Lithuanian Jews were murdered during – and after – the Holocaust – many, before the Nazis fully occupied the country. Travelling together throughout Lithuania, they interviewed non-Jewish eyewitnesses, who told them (on the record) what they saw and what they remembered of those horrible days when the Jews were murdered …by bullets… and who collaborated, assisted, and who pulled the trigger. 

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. There were very few survivors from Lithuania, and the Vanagaite-Zuroff book helps me understand why. I started learning about the Holocaust at my mother’s breast, after my birth in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany, and I have been researching it ever since.


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A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, a Search for the Truth

By Rita Gabis

A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, a Search for the Truth

Why this book?

The author, a daughter of an uncommon ‘mixed marriage’ between a Lithuanian-Jewish Holocaust survivor and a Lithuanian-Christian immigrant family. Both sides of her families were kept separate, except for rare special occasions. As a child, she was told wonderful stories about how her Lithuanian grandfather helped save Jews. As an adult and as an historian, she began to investigate the true activities of her grandfather, during those dark days in Lithuania. Like, Silvia Foti, she was emotionally fractured when she learned the truth. 

There were very few Jewish survivors from Lithuania, and Gabis’ book helps me understand why.


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