100 books like Ordinary Men

By Christopher R. Browning,

Here are 100 books that Ordinary Men fans have personally recommended if you like Ordinary Men. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

Jay Geller Author Of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

From my list on Nazi German and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Jay's book list on Nazi German and the Holocaust

Jay Geller Why did Jay 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 Author Of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

From my list on Nazi German and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Jay's book list on Nazi German and the Holocaust

Jay Geller Why did Jay 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 Author Of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

From my list on Nazi German and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Jay's book list on Nazi German and the Holocaust

Jay Geller Why did Jay 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 The Seventh Cross

Jay Geller Author Of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

From my list on Nazi German and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Jay's book list on Nazi German and the Holocaust

Jay Geller Why did Jay 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…


Book cover of The Nazi Conscience

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

One of the most difficult facets of Nazism for my college students to grasp is that the Nazis had a sense of ethics and morals. It’s easy to look at the horrors of Nazism, rightfully condemn the Nazis as monstrous, and congratulate ourselves on having the moral and ethical fiber that would never allow us to engage in such atrocities. The thing is, though, that so much of the evil committed in this world is committed by people who think they are doing what’s right. Koonz’s examination of Nazi morals is an uncomfortable read but a necessary one. It forced me and it forces my students to confront the unpleasant truth that evil also has a sense of “moral” and “immoral.”

By Claudia Koonz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nazi Conscience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Nazi conscience is not an oxymoron. In fact, the perpetrators of genocide had a powerful sense of right and wrong, based on civic values that exalted the moral righteousness of the ethnic community and denounced outsiders.

Claudia Koonz's latest work reveals how racial popularizers developed the infrastructure and rationale for genocide during the so-called normal years before World War II. Her careful reading of the voluminous Nazi writings on race traces the transformation of longtime Nazis' vulgar anti-Semitism into a racial ideology that seemed credible to the vast majority of ordinary Germans who never joined the Nazi Party. Challenging…


Book cover of Why? Explaining the Holocaust

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

Even after years of studying the Holocaust, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of the horrors, and there are still times when I find my faith in humanity wavering and all I can think to ask in anger and confusion is “Why?” I know I’m not alone. Peter Hayes’s masterful book is the result of an entire career centered on asking that very question.  The outcome is an incredibly readable, insightful, and thought-provoking account of the Holocaust that doesn’t shy away from answering the big questions. After reading it, one might still ask “why,” but it won’t be out of frustration, anger, and confusion, but rather out of a desire to keep learning more about one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of humanity.

By Peter Hayes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peter Hayes has been teaching Holocaust studies for decades and Why? grows out of the questions he's encountered from his students. Despite the outpouring of books, films, memorials, museums and courses devoted to the subject, a coherent explanation of why such carnage erupted still eludes people. Numerous myths have sprouted, many to console us that things could have gone differently if only some person or entity had acted more bravely or wisely; others cast new blame on favourite or surprising villains or even on historians.

Why? dispels many legends and debunks the most prevalent ones, including the claim that the…


Book cover of The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Author Of Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge

From my list on Nazi perpetrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vienna (Austria), interested in ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. I am fascinated by the work of classical philosophers—foremost, Immanuel Kant and David Hume. A particularly interesting question for me concerns how political and legal systems shape people's identity and self-understanding. One focus of my research is on the distorted legal framework of National Socialist Germany. I wrote, together with Professor J. David Velleman (New York University), Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge. In German: "Weil ich nun mal ein Gerechtigkeitsfanatiker bin." Der Fall des SS-Richters Konrad Morgen. 

Herlinde's book list on Nazi perpetrators

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Why did Herlinde love this book?

How could so many Nazi perpetrators escape to South America? Most relied on the help of a bishop of the Catholic Church in the Vatican, Alois Hudal.

Sands describes the structure of this support system (the so-called ratline) through the story of former SS-Obergruppenführer Otto Gustav Wächter, the governor of Galicia (1942–1944), who was responsible for the deportation of nearly 500,000 Jews to the Nazi death camps.

Wächter's post-war escape to Argentina actually ended in Rome, where he died of an infection in July 1949. Sands offers a riveting analysis of how this man found his way into the Nazi party, rose to a position that implicated him in mass murder, and how, with the support of his wife, he managed to hide in the Austrian mountains for years after the war. Sands also reflects on how difficult it is for the next generation to face up to the…

By Philippe Sands,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Ratline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, Cold War espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican, and the Nazi escape route to Perón's Argentina,"the Ratline"—from the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street.

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." —John le Carré, internationally renowned bestselling author

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon…


Book cover of Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Author Of Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge

From my list on Nazi perpetrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vienna (Austria), interested in ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. I am fascinated by the work of classical philosophers—foremost, Immanuel Kant and David Hume. A particularly interesting question for me concerns how political and legal systems shape people's identity and self-understanding. One focus of my research is on the distorted legal framework of National Socialist Germany. I wrote, together with Professor J. David Velleman (New York University), Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge. In German: "Weil ich nun mal ein Gerechtigkeitsfanatiker bin." Der Fall des SS-Richters Konrad Morgen. 

Herlinde's book list on Nazi perpetrators

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Why did Herlinde love this book?

How can a human being organize an extermination camp and oversee the industrial murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

This book is based on journalist Gitta Sereny's conversations with Franz Stangl, the commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, during his trial in Germany in 1971. It sheds light on how a perpetrator tried to deny his complicity by retreating into a purely functional professional role—a denial that ultimately failed.

At his last meeting with Sereny, Stangl still maintained that he never intended to hurt anyone, though for the first time, he admitted that there was guilt on his part, an acknowledgment with which he could not live. Nineteen hours after his confession, Stangl died of heart failure.

By Gitta Sereny,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Into That Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka (the largest of the five Nazi extermination camps), this book bares the soul of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler's final solution.


Book cover of The Years of Extermination

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

With a narrative of just over 650 pages, this is the book for the reader out there who wants it all: the names, the dates, the facts, the figures, the individual experience, and the analysis, all wrapped up in an engrossing, readable narrative. Friedländer’s impeccable scholarship speaks to the historian in me, but, more importantly, it speaks to the humanity in me.  When I sat down to read this second volume, I wasn’t struck by how thick it was. I was struck by the magnitude of tragedy that the book represented. For the reader who has read widely on the Holocaust, in particular, this book will answer many of your questions. What appeals to me most, though, is the historical data never obscures the victims or their experiences.      

By Saul Friedländer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A magisterial history of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the regime's policies towards them in the years prior to World War II and the Holocaust. Written by arguably the world's leading scholar on the subject.

Himself a survivor, Friedlander has been a leading figure in Holocaust studies for decades and this book represents a definitive summing up of his research and that of hundreds of other historians.

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS: THE YEARS OF PERSECUTION is perhaps the richest examination of the subject yet written, and, crucially, one that never loses sight of the experiences of individuals in…


Book cover of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

Reading about the Holocaust in high school and college, it was easy for me to see WWII Europe in a binary of “Nazis vs. Everybody Else.” This book utterly destroyed that illusion, and it remains today one of the most disturbing books I have ever read about the Holocaust. In the summer of 1941, without any prompting from the Nazis, the gentile half of the Polish town of Jedwabne slaughtered the Jewish half of the town in a single day. This truly horrifying story, hidden for over half a century, is a reminder that the evils unleashed by the Nazis did not remain confined to the Germans. The Holocaust occurred on many fronts: the town of Jedwabne was one of them.   

By Jan T. Gross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A landmark book that changed the story of Poland's role in the Holocaust

On July 10, 1941, in Nazi-occupied Poland, half of the town of Jedwabne brutally murdered the other half: 1,600 men, women, and children-all but seven of the town's Jews. In this shocking and compelling classic of Holocaust history, Jan Gross reveals how Jedwabne's Jews were murdered not by faceless Nazis but by people who knew them well-their non-Jewish Polish neighbors. A previously untold story of the complicity of non-Germans in the extermination of the Jews, Neighbors shows how people victimized by the Nazis could at the same…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Germany, the Holocaust, and Poland?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Germany, the Holocaust, and Poland.

Germany Explore 478 books about Germany
The Holocaust Explore 391 books about the Holocaust
Poland Explore 117 books about Poland