100 books like Surviving the Fatherland

By Annette Oppenlander,

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

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Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Bruce Borgos Author Of The Bitter Past

From my list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved peculiar heroes and heroines. Characters with strange gifts and an equal number of challenges. It started with Sherlock Holmes, whose mind fascinated me. As a child, I gravitated to the unnatural protagonist, Tarzan, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was never a big fan of Superman, I preferred people who adapted quickly to new surroundings and could think on their feet. Once I began my writing career, I kept those protagonists in my mind. Four novels in, I do my best to capture their spirit and determination to overcome whatever lands in front of them.

Bruce's book list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities

Bruce Borgos Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book because it’s a World War II story (my favorite time period), which I can’t get enough of, and its protagonist, Marie-Laure, is a young blind girl. By the time she’s twelve, she has learned to navigate Nazi-occupied Paris from a miniature of the city her father has built for her.

This is a girl with many fears, her blindness being just one, but she pushes through them all in order to help her country overcome its worst nightmare. Her bravery is off the charts!

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

Book cover of A Mad Desire to Dance

Heinz Kohler Author Of My Name Was Five: A Novel of the Second World War

From my list on WW2 through the eyes of children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heinz Kohler was born in Berlin, Germany, where he grew up before and during World War II. By the war's end, he found himself in rural East Germany and spent years watching the Nazi tyranny give way to a Communist one. Since 1961, he taught economics at Amherst College, while also logging thousands of flight hours as a commercial pilot. These numerous experiences come to life in a powerful tale of war and its aftermath. As David R. Mayhew, Yale University Sterling Professor of Political Science, put it “In novelistic form, this is a riveting child’s-eye account of growing up in Germany under the Nazis and then the Russians. Laced with extraordinary photos and posters from these times, it combines memory with testimony.”

Heinz's book list on WW2 through the eyes of children

Heinz Kohler Why did Heinz love this book?

A beautiful novel about Doriel, a European expatriate living in New York, who was a hidden child during the war, while his mother was a member of the Resistance, and who is still haunted by his parents' secrets. A psychoanalyst finally helps him deal with his own ghosts, which reminds me of decades of PTSD I myself inherited from that war and the associated sufferings of family and friends I had to witness.

By Elie Wiesel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Mad Desire to Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in paperback, Wiesel’s newest novel “reminds us, with force, that his writing is alive and strong. The master has once again found a startling freshness.”—Le Monde des Livres
A European expatriate living in New York, Doriel suffers from a profound sense of desperation and loss. His mother, a member of the Resistance, survived World War II only to die soon after in France in an accident, together with his father. Doriel was a hidden child during the war, and his knowledge of the Holocaust is largely limited to what he finds in movies, newsreels, and books. Doriel’s parents and…

Book cover of A Boy in Winter

Diane Chandler Author Of The Road To Donetsk

From my list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Ukraine and its incredible people began when I managed a European Union aid programme there in the 1990s. Ukraine had just become an independent nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and we were supporting its path to democracy. I travelled throughout this stunning country umpteen times and met thousands of warm, welcoming people, who quickly found their way into my heart. The Road to Donetsk is my tribute to Ukraine. It won the 2016 People’s Book Prize for Fiction, an award I dedicated to the Ukrainian people. Today, my memories of all those I met weigh heavily on my mind. 

Diane's book list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people

Diane Chandler Why did Diane love this book?

I loved this beautifully written novel which embraces and honours the Ukrainian spirit. It is 1942 and the Germans have arrived in a small town in Western Ukraine. When the schoolmaster and his wife are rounded up and murdered along with all the other Jews, Yaisa, a local peasant girl, instinctively hides their two young sons away. The massacre is witnessed with horror both by a Ukrainian Auxiliary, now remorseful at having joined the German police, and by a German engineer who is building roads with forced Ukrainian labour. Now the hunt is on for the Jewish boys – and for Yaisa too. An incredibly moving read that both hones in on one small town and pans out across the vast and varied landscape of Ukraine. 

By Rachel Seiffert,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Boy in Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early on a grey November morning in 1941, only weeks after the German invasion, a small Ukrainian town is overrun by the SS. Deft, spare and devastating, Rachel Seiffert's new novel tells of the three days that follow and the lives that are overturned in the process. Penned in with his fellow Jews, under threat of transportation, Ephraim anxiously awaits word of his two sons, missing since daybreak. Come in search of her lover, to fetch him home again, away from the invaders, Yasia must confront new and harsh truths about those closest to her. Here to avoid a war…

Book cover of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Taryn R. Hutchison Author Of One Degree of Freedom

From my list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Eastern Europe for the decade immediately after the Communist regimes collapsed. It was the most exhilarating time of my life. Originally, I titled my book list “The best teen novels set in Romania during the Cold War.” But I could only come up with three (including my own). So, I expanded my search to include Eastern Europe starting in WWII. I’m the author of three books: two nonfiction and one young adult historical fiction. I now live in western North Carolina with my husband, hold an MA in Writing, and teach at the Writing Center at a small local university. 

Taryn's book list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War

Taryn R. Hutchison Why did Taryn love this book?

This middle grade book takes place during WWII. The story takes the reader from Berlin to Poland, told through the eyes of a young German boy who encounters a Jewish boy on the other side of a tall fence. I loved this book because we who know about the depravity and horror of Auschwitz can see the bleak reality from a perspective of an innocent child: a boy who thinks his thin Jewish friend is dressed in pajamas.

By John Boyne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

We hope you never have to cross such a fence.

Book cover of Every Man Dies Alone

L. Annette Binder Author Of The Vanishing Sky

From my list on German complicity and resistance in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Germany and came to the US as a small child. My parents spoke only German at home but rarely talked with me about their years in Germany. Years after my father had died, I came across a photograph of him wearing a Hitler Youth uniform. What I learned about his childhood and his family inspired much of my novel The Vanishing Sky. Though my novel is finished, I continue to read about the German experience of WW2 because it resonates for me personally and because the lessons it teaches us are still relevant today.

L. Annette's book list on German complicity and resistance in WW2

L. Annette Binder Why did L. Annette love this book?

Based on a true story, this novel focuses on Anna and Otto Quangel, a working-class married couple who begin to resist the Nazis after losing their only son in the fighting. The novel is dense, immersive, and rich with characters, ranging from rabid Nazi members to those opposing the murderous goals of the party and those in the middle trying to survive the regime. “Most people today are afraid, basically everyone, because they’re all up to something forbidden, one way or another, and are worried someone will get wind of it,” Quangel thinks to himself. Fallada wrote the novel in just twenty-four days while in a mental institution, and he died before it was published. A compelling read with characters that linger in the imagination.

By Hans Fallada, Michael Hofmann (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Every Man Dies Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This never-before-translated masterpiece—by a heroic best-selling writer who saw his life crumble when he wouldn’t join the Nazi Party—is based on a true story.

It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical…

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 Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Lorenzo Petruzziello Author Of The Taste of Datura

From my list on books with underlying and self-made conflicts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write in my spare time, drawing inspiration from my frequent trips to Italy, dating back to my childhood summers. I am an indie writer of noir crime fiction with an interest in uncomfortable moments, especially those created by the main characters themselves. My list journeys across a vast array of genres, but they all have that tone of something happening in the shadows or underlying truths working to achieve an outcome or fight against adversity. I like unspoken dialogue and self-made conflicts, which are both elements included in all the stories I mention in this list. 

Lorenzo's book list on books with underlying and self-made conflicts

Lorenzo Petruzziello Why did Lorenzo love this book?

This book was recommended to me because it was set in Italy–specifically in Milan, where I spent some time years ago. It was interesting to learn about the region during the time of WWII and the tribulations that befallen the city and certain groups of people. In this story, the characters participate in a discreet fight against the force of fascism that took over their city.

Of course, I appreciated this fascinating story of this young man’s role. But what really remained with me was learning how the people worked together in the shadows to fight against evil.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…

Book cover of The Honest Spy

Steve Anderson Author Of The Losing Role

From my list on underdogs on a doomed mission.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to characters who are stuck between two worlds and in over their heads and doomed to fail, but they stick with it anyway. My novels also tend to include overlooked historical themes from the WWII and Cold War eras, often involving espionage or crime. I have an MA in history, so I like researching and using historical detail to dramatize the story. I’ve also been a Fulbright Fellow, a fiction editor, and a translator of German fiction. The books on this list all include the type of underdogs that I love—and inspired my work. 

Steve's book list on underdogs on a doomed mission

Steve Anderson Why did Steve love this book?

This is the improbable story of a true underdog who will stop at nothing to fight fascist evil, even when he has no idea what he’s doing and no one to help him. It’s also a true story. In WWII, Fritz Kolbe was a nondescript German official in the Berlin Foreign Office who made himself into a crucial spy against the Nazis yet for years remained an unknown and unsung hero. Kolbe’s dark drive and passion are fictionalized brilliantly by Andreas Kollender. I was so taken by this tale that I translated it myself from the original German. 

By Andreas Kollender, Steve Anderson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During one of history's darkest chapters, one man is determined to make a difference.

In the tradition of Schindler's List comes a thrilling novel based on the heroic true story of Fritz Kolbe, a widowed civil servant in Adolf Hitler's foreign ministry. Recognizing that millions of lives are at stake, Kolbe uses his position to pass information to the Americans-risking himself and the people he holds most dear-and embarks on a dangerous double life as the Allies' most important spy.

Summoned from his South African post to return to Nazi Germany, Kolbe leaves behind his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter, a decision…

Book cover of EO-N

Patrick Larsimont Author Of The Lightning and the Few

From my list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated with military history, added to which my interest in aviation after serving in Military Intelligence with the Air Force. After a career in advertising, I took to writing during lockdown. My novels uncover forgotten facts and histories, using real characters and their exploits and providing an interpretation of world war events from different perspectives, not just the victors. My recommendations bring the past to life, unpalatable as it might be, with vibrant characters, rich set-building, and beautiful period language, sentiments, and held beliefs. History and conflict, love, loss, tragedy, and forgotten memory are brought to life, full of visceral colour, but importantly always truthfully.

Patrick's book list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling

Patrick Larsimont Why did Patrick love this book?

An intriguing dual-timeline novel about a bereaved modern-day tech CEO who discovers a link with a WW2 aircraft discovered in a Norwegian glacier.

A connection with her grandfather emerges, MIA since the war, and the Mosquito frozen in time. This is a complex tale of five intertwined lives, some modern, others in wartime, revealing the disparate views held at the end of the conflict and the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime.

It pits modern corporate greed and the cruel science of a warped ideology against the courage and often untold contribution of Canadian airmen and their moral determination to do the right thing. Like my own work, the novel unveils forgotten aspects of the past, shows that good shines through and still leaves an imprint on us today.

By Dave Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"There were so many things flowing through my mind as I finished this story that I sat very still with my thoughts for the longest time contemplating what I just read.  Indeed, I had to settle with the story a bit before I could even attempt to do it justice with a review. One thing is certain, "EO-N" is a novel of distinction - impeccably written, every sentence captivating." - Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views

2019 Alison Wiley, a once-idealistic biotech CEO, is processing her new reality: she's the last bud on the last branch of her family tree. On…

Book cover of Thomas Mann's War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters

Peter Uwe Hohendahl Author Of Perilous Futures: On Carl Schmitt's Late Writings

From my list on German thought.

Why am I passionate about this?

Spending my childhood in Nazi Germany, the nature and the horrific consequences of Nazi ideology have occupied me as a student of German history and later as a teacher of intellectual and literary history. In 1933 Car Schmitt opted to support the Nazis. While he was banned from the public sohere in post-war Germany, his ideas remained influential on the far right and the far left, fortunately without significantly impacting the democratic reconstruction of West Germany. It was the growing international visibility of Schmitt’s writings that became my personal concern after 2000. In particular, Schmitt’s increasing influence in the United States energized me to reread and respond to his writings.

Peter's book list on German thought

Peter Uwe Hohendahl Why did Peter love this book?

Most of us are familiar with or have at least heard of the novelist Thomas Mann, the author of Buddenbrooks (for which he received the Nobel Prize) and The Magic Mountain. He is less remembered for his important work as a public intellectual, as a formidable defender of liberal democracy and bold critic of Nazism during World War II. Tobias Boes’s lucid and well-researched study focuses on Mann’s critical contributions to the public discourse in the United States from 1938 until 1948, first as a refugee and later as an American citizen, through public lectures, numerous essays, and radio addresses. This is the fascinating story of a writer who started out as a German conservative and turned into Hitler’s most vocal critic. Thomas Mann’s War is a timely book, reminding us of what it meant to stand up for democracy and defeat Fascism in the 1940s and what it takes…

By Tobias Boes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thomas Mann's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Thomas Mann's War, Tobias Boes traces how the acclaimed and bestselling author became one of America's most prominent anti-fascists and the spokesperson for a German cultural ideal that Nazism had perverted.

Thomas Mann, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in literature and author of such world-renowned novels as Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain, began his self-imposed exile in the United States in 1938, having fled his native Germany in the wake of Nazi persecution and public burnings of his books. Mann embraced his role as a public intellectual, deftly using his literary reputation and his connections in an increasingly…

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