10 books like I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors

By Bernice Eisenstein,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Children of the Holocaust

By Helen Epstein,

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

I found this book decades ago symbolically languishing on a remainders table in the back of Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley. I nearly fainted when I read the title. Could this book be about me and others like me, members of a generation that wasn’t supposed to be born? This groundbreaking book, considered the Bible of children of Holocaust survivors, gives voice to the multigenerational impact of the Holocaust which we, the second generation, inherited directly from our parents who were the lucky few to survive while two-thirds of European Jewry was wiped out. As a psychotherapist, I have recommended this book to clients and their partners to better understand family dynamics, grief, trauma, resiliency, and determination to create a better world.

Children of the Holocaust

By Helen Epstein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Children of the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I set out to find a group of people who, like me, were possessed by a history they had never lived."

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Helen Epstein traveled from America to Europe to Israel, searching for one vital thin in common: their parent's persecution by the Nazis. She found:

* Gabriela Korda, who was raised by her parents as a German Protestant in South America;
* Albert Singerman, who fought in the jungles of Vietnam to prove that he, too, could survive a grueling ordeal;
* Deborah Schwartz, a Southern beauty queen who-at the Miss America pageant, played the…


Survivor Café

By Elizabeth Rosner,

Book cover of Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

Back in the late ‘80s, I was at a small gathering of daughters of Holocaust survivors and next to me sat Elizabeth Rosner. As we each said something about our family’s history, Liz read a poem about her survivor father that vibrated with such resonance with me, and I knew I was in the presence of a gifted writer. Rosner went on to publish poetry and novels, and in this work of non-fiction that is lyrically and evocatively written, she confronts personal history and its aftermath while also exploring similar legacies of descendants of other atrocities that have left their multigenerational impact. Her “Alphabet of Inadequate Language” is alone worth the price of admission.

Survivor Café

By Elizabeth Rosner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Survivor Café as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As featured on NPR and in The New York Times, Survivor Cafe is a bold work of nonfiction that examines the ways that survivors, witnesses, and post-war generations talk about and shape traumatic experiences.

As firsthand survivors of many of the twentieth century's most monumental events―the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Killing Fields―begin to pass away, Survivor Café addresses urgent questions: How do we carry those stories forward? How do we collectively ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten?

Elizabeth Rosner organizes her book around three trips with her father to Buchenwald concentration camp―in 1983, in 1995, and in…


The Inheritors

By Gita Arian Baack,

Book cover of The Inheritors: Moving Forward from Generational Trauma

This is an excellent book that speaks to those who have inherited trauma from their ancestors. While Baack uses ample research and narratives about the victims of the Holocaust, the book is relevant for other descendants of long or short-lasting, acknowledged or non-acknowledged traumas, including: victims of genocides, ethnic cleansings, refugee camp residents, racism, wars, and other forms of victimization or natural disasters - and - their witnesses. Based on interviews with many descendants of trauma, the author focuses on giving the ‘inheritors’ a platform to describe, not only, their parents’ histories, but mostly their own. The book is instructional, as she also includes questions for individual or group reflection. The author’s emphasis on the non-pathological perspective is both productive and a relief, including chapters on resilience, post-traumatic grown, epigenetics, and more.

I am passionate about the book because I am a child of Holocaust survivors. Over many years, I…

The Inheritors

By Gita Arian Baack,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Our family legacies, both positive and negative, are passed down from one generation to the next in ways that are not fully understood. This secondary form of trauma, which Gita Baack calls "Inherited Trauma," has not received adequate attention-a failing that perpetuates cycles of pain, hatred, and violence. In The Inheritors, readers are given the opportunity to reflect on the inherited burdens they carry, as well as the resilience that has given them the power of survival. Through engaging stories and unique concepts, readers will learn new ways to explore the unknowns in their legacies, reflect on questions that are…


In the Shadow of the Holocaust

By Aaron Hass,

Book cover of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Second Generation

If Epstein’s book, published in 1979, was the first expose about the commonalities among the children of the Holocaust, Hass’ book was the second. Hass succeeded in melding oral history, memoir, and his professions as a clinical psychologist and university professor. This book is helpful, not only to those of the second generation, but to mental health professionals, as well. It was also helpful to me, as it explained the unique, and often difficult, relationship between the survivor parents and their children.

I am passionate about the book because as a child of survivors, I have also had to grapple with the effects of my parents’ trauma. Of course, as a young child, I had no idea that my parents’ behaviors were special or different. It was only at an older age, I began noticing the differences between the atmosphere and attitudes in my home vs. those of my friends.…

In the Shadow of the Holocaust

By Aaron Hass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Shadow of the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most important event in my life occurred before I was born,' one child of concentration camp survivors has observed. The Holocaust did not end with the liberation of survivors after the collapse of the Third Reich, for the legacy of their suffering extends to a generation that never faced an SS storm- trooper. With a rich blend of oral history, memoir, and psychological interpretation, Aaron Hass deepens our understanding of the price of that legacy for the second generation. What are the effects of growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust? Drawing on interviews and survey materials, Aaron…


The Unwanted

By Michael Dobbs,

Book cover of The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught in Between

The Unwanted is perhaps the best all-around book explaining the crisis faced by Jewish refugees trying to escape to the United States. Dobbs merges the intimate histories of members of the Jewish community in the small German town of Kippenheim, the work of the US State Department officials in Germany and France, American refugee aid workers, and President Roosevelt. By utilizing both personal and official sources, Dobbs allows all the people he writes about to speak for themselves. It’s beautifully written and heartbreaking, and whatever you think about this history when you start the book, those thoughts will be more nuanced and complicated when you’re finished.

The Unwanted

By Michael Dobbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a riveting story of Jewish families seeking to escape Nazi Germany.

In 1938, on the eve of World War II, the American journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote that "a piece of paper with a stamp on it" was "the difference between life and death." The Unwanted is the intimate account of a small village on the edge of the Black Forest whose Jewish families desperately pursued American visas to flee the Nazis. Battling formidable bureaucratic obstacles, some make it to the United States while others are unable to obtain the necessary…


The Redhead of Auschwitz

By Nechama Birnbaum,

Book cover of The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story

This gem is the New Kid on the Block (dating myself a bit). At barely a year old, it is quite a find, and the most popular work in Amsterdam Publisher’s house. There’s a reason for that. This work is not Holocaust-by-Numbers. Yes, it follows certain tropes, especially when time-lining the protagonist’s life, but what the memoirist captures with depth is the inner mental state of her grandmother, in her travail and experience. The author is young, but was mature enough, when capturing the story, to ask the necessary and deep questions. Where the manuscript departs from the norm is where the story takes on a Fairy Tale quality. Nature is pulled in frequently to serve as metaphor for emotion, especially in the passages of dream-state hopefulness. This is horrific and beautiful at the same time.

The Redhead of Auschwitz

By Nechama Birnbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rosie was always told her red hair was a curse, but she never believed it. She often dreamed what it would look like under a white veil with the man of her dreams by her side. However, her life takes a harrowing turn in 1944 when she is forced out of her home and sent to the most gruesome of places: Auschwitz.

Upon arrival, Rosie’s head is shaved and along with the loss of her beautiful hair, she loses the life she once cherished. Among the chaos and surrounded by hopelessness, Rosie realizes the only thing the Nazis cannot take…


The Power of Forgiveness

By Eva Mozes Kor,

Book cover of The Power of Forgiveness

Eva Mozes Kor was ten years old when she was sent to Auschwitz. As a survivor, she became an eloquent – and controversial – activist on behalf of forgiveness.  Her book tells the gripping story of how she freed herself from the burden of hatred.  Not everyone will agree with her stance, but everyone will be challenged and moved by it.

The Power of Forgiveness

By Eva Mozes Kor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eva Mozes Kor was just ten years old when she was sent to Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were murdered there, she and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to medical experiments at the hands of Dr. Joseph Mengele. Later on, when Miriam fell ill due to the long-term effects of the experiments, Eva embarked on a search for their torturers. But what she discovered was the remedy for her troubled soul; she was able to forgive them.

Told through anecdotes and in response to letters and questions at her public appearances, she imparts a powerful lesson…


On the Borderline of Extermination

By Joseph Gershkowitz,

Book cover of On the Borderline of Extermination: A Narrative of Inhumanity

No one can truly know what life was like for Jews under the Nazis. We cannot feel the constant terror and inhumanity imposed upon their Jewish victims. We cannot hear their constant pleas, moans, and screams. We cannot smell the stench of filth, sickness, and death. Nevertheless, Joseph Gershowitz manages to take us as close as we can to his suffering in his absolutely riveting first-hand account of life in the Nazi’s concentration camps. On the Borderline of Extermination is a must-read for understanding the cruelty, barbarism, and inhumanity of the Germans and their all too willing helpers.

On the Borderline of Extermination

By Joseph Gershkowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Borderline of Extermination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A true story of strategy and survival as told by Joseph Gershkowitz (AUSCHWITZ HÄFTLING 99310). With this inspiring story of innate knowledge and determination, Mr. Gershkowitz paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of the Holocaust as seen through his eyes. With that, 100% of the proceeds will be split and donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in tribute of Joseph Gershkowitz to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never forgotten & the Women for Women International organization that works to support marginalized women in countries that have been severely affected by conflict and war.


Etty Hillesum

By Etty Hillesum,

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

Why include on this list the diaries of a secular Jewish woman who is in the grip of self-centered anxieties and an unusual, if not bizarre, relationship with her analyst? Because spiritual transformation begins and evolves in uncanny ways, leading one to find transcendence where one never would have expected it. Etty’s diaries and letters allow us to follow the process by which she became so profoundly lucid and open-hearted that she was able to see the humanity even in the Nazis organizing extermination.

Etty Hillesum

By Etty Hillesum,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Etty Hillesum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time, Etty Hillesum's diary and letters appear together to give us the fullest possible portrait of this extraordinary woman in the midst of World War II.

In the darkest years of Nazi occupation and genocide, Etty Hillesum remained a celebrant of life whose lucid intelligence, sympathy, and almost impossible gallantry were themselves a form of inner resistance. The adult counterpart to Anne Frank, Hillesum testifies to the possibility of awareness and compassion in the face of the most devastating challenge to one's humanity. She died at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of twenty-nine.


The Sisters of Auschwitz

By Roxane van Iperen,

Book cover of The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters' Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory

An incredibly powerful book that sheds light on Jewish Resistance in the Netherlands, by two women. Both topics are rare and especially the combination of them. The style of narrative non-fiction is brilliantly chosen. The book is historically informative and accurate, but told with the arts and craft of a novelist. A New York Times bestseller. This is exactly what my platform ‘Sophie’s Women of War’ sheds light on. 

The Sisters of Auschwitz

By Roxane van Iperen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller

The unforgettable story of two unsung heroes of World War II: sisters Janny and Lien Brilleslijper who joined the Dutch Resistance, helped save dozen of lives, were captured by the Nazis, and ultimately survived the Holocaust.

Eight months after Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazis roll into The Netherlands, expanding their reign of brutality to the Dutch. But by the Winter of 1943, resistance is growing. Among those fighting their brutal Nazi occupiers are two Jewish sisters, Janny and Lien Brilleslijper from Amsterdam. Risking arrest and death, the sisters help save others, sheltering them in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Holocaust, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and genocide?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Holocaust, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and genocide.

The Holocaust Explore 203 books about the Holocaust
Auschwitz Concentration Camp Explore 32 books about Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Genocide Explore 32 books about genocide