100 books like The Good Old Days

By Ernst Klee (editor), Willi Dressen (editor), Volker Riess (editor)

Here are 100 books that The Good Old Days fans have personally recommended if you like The Good Old Days. 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 Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From my list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Michael S. Bryant Why did Michael love this book?

In 2019 I published a review of Mary Fulbrook’s Reckonings in the journal HistoryThe review may have been the most laudatory I’ve written. Fulbrook’s study of the Holocaust and its noxious aftereffects lingers with me today. I’ve come to think of Reckonings as the War and Peace of Holocaust histories. Like Tolstoy’s epic, it paints on a sprawling canvas, exhausting the writer’s palette to portray the Holocaust as a searing multi-generational phenomenon. Reckonings does not approach the Shoah as most writers of the Holocaust do, namely, as a monumental but time-limited event. Fulbrook conceives of the Holocaust as a cancer that blights the victims and their families into the second and third generations. The radioactive fallout of the Shoah continues to the present day, poisoning people’s lives so deeply that no human response is adequate to deal with it. She upholds the tragedy of the Holocaust by refusing…

By Mary Fulbrook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A single word - Auschwitz - is often used to encapsulate the totality of persecution and suffering involved in what we call the Holocaust. Yet a focus on a single concentration camp - however horrific what happened there, however massively catastrophic its scale - leaves an incomplete story, a truncated history. It cannot fully communicate the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences
among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. In the process, we also miss…


Book cover of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From my list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Michael S. Bryant Why did Michael love this book?

The trials of Nazi war criminals are an important but subsidiary theme in Mary Fulbrook’s book. In Francine Hirsch’s study, the most significant trial of top-ranking German officials takes center stage, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Unlike most previous analyses of Nuremberg, which depict the Soviets as minor actors who, if anything, were impediments to the quest for justice, Hirsch insists that Soviet contributions were essential cornerstones of the trial’s success. This may seem an unlikely role for a totalitarian country already responsible for terror famines in Ukraine, the atrocious show trials of the 1930s, and the senseless murder of 20,000 Poles in the Katyn Forest in 1940. Nonetheless, as Hirsch cogently argues, without Soviet participation the trial may never have occurred. The glory of her book is its insistence on the counterintuitive and contradictory nature of reality, in which, against all expectations, an authoritarian regime led by a…

By Francine Hirsch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Organized in the immediate aftermath of World War Two by the victorious Allies, the Nuremberg Trials were intended to hold the Nazis to account for their crimes - and to restore a sense of justice to a world devastated by violence. As Francine Hirsch reveals in this immersive, gripping, and ground-breaking book, a major piece of the Nuremberg story has routinely been omitted from standard accounts: the part the Soviet Union played in making the trials happen in
the first place.

Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg offers the first complete picture of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), including the many ironies…


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 Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From my list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Michael S. Bryant Why did Michael love this book?

James Waller’s scintillating book is for readers seeking answers to big questions. When studying the Holocaust and similar events, students invariably ask: how could human beings do such things to other people? Waller addresses this question in a tour-de-force that may be the best single book yet written on the “why” of genocide. His study is particularly compelling because he focuses not on race fanatics (Hitler, Himmler) nor ideological zealots (Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung) but on the rank-and-file, without whom the architects of genocide could never build their charnel empires in the first place. 

The second edition of his book is especially useful because he reviews both iconic and newer psychological theories of genocide perpetration. For Waller, the dynamics underlying genocide are complex. His key finding is that the potential for extreme violence resides within each person. Eschewing aberrationist theories that portray such violence as deviant, Waller invites us…

By James E. Waller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil. Waller offers a sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these
extraordinary acts can emerge. Eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter. In this second edition, Waller has revised and updated eyewitness accounts and substantially reworked Part II…


Book cover of An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office

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?

The Reich Security Main Office, founded in September 1939, under the leadership of Reinhard Heydrich (until his death in 1942), and which included the Security Service and the Gestapo, was the organizational center of the Nazis’ murderous racial policy.

The historian Wildt's book shows how extermination plans were prepared and worked out in this office—in part by young, career-minded academics. Some of them were not just "desk perpetrators" but were directly involved in the mass murder as leaders of the notorious Einsatzgruppen operating in the occupied Soviet territories. One famous case is Otto Ohlendorf, head of Einsatzgruppe D, who openly confessed to killing 90,000 Jews in his trial.

Wildt discusses the post-war trials of these men by the American authorities, as well as the German publics’ growing ambivalence towards the trials.

By Michael Wildt, Tom Lampert (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An Uncompromising Generation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In ""An Uncompromising Generation"", Michael Wildt follows the journey of a strikingly homogenous group of young academics - who came from the educated, bourgeois stratum of society - as they started to identify with the Nazi concept of Volksgemeinschaft, which labeled Jews as enemies of the people and justified their murder. Wildt's study traces the intellectual evolution of key members of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) from their days as students until the end of World War II. Established in 1939, this office fused together the Gestapo, the Criminal Police, and the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) of the SS. Far…


Book cover of The Shawl

Sharon Hart-Green Author Of Come Back for Me

From my list on Jewish survival under the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about Jewish survival. My mother’s family were Yiddish-speaking Jews from Belarus, and as a child I was often asking questions about what their world was like before it was destroyed. I later studied at Brandeis University where I earned my doctorate in Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and then taught Jewish Literature at the University of Toronto. When my novel Come Back for Me was published, it felt as though many of my lifelong passions had finally come together in one book. Yet I’m still asking questions. My second novel (almost completed!) continues my quest to further my knowledge of all that was lost.

Sharon's book list on Jewish survival under the Nazis

Sharon Hart-Green Why did Sharon love this book?

As one of the most distinguished writers of Jewish fiction, Cynthia Ozick is known for her work that is both linguistically spellbinding and profoundly thought-provoking.

After reading her two-part novella, The Shawl and Rosa, I believe that it stands out as one of her finest. It tells the story of two women whose survival during World War Two is painfully intertwined, to the point that they cannot separate their horrific experiences from the way they view each other. This penetrating psychological portrait of the devastating effects of victimhood is unparalleled in Jewish literature.  

By Cynthia Ozick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A devastating vision of the Holocaust and the unfillable emptiness it left in the lives of those who passed through it.


Book cover of Soaring Underground: A Young Fugitive's Life in Nazi Berlin

Monica Porter Author Of Deadly Carousel: A Diva’s Exploits in Wartime Budapest

From my list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 12 years old when, in Amsterdam on a family holiday, I was taken to see the Anne Frank House. Until then I knew very little about WW2, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. After viewing the ‘secret annexe’ my father bought me The Diary of Anne Frank, which was on sale there, and I started reading it in the car as we drove off. The book sparked my deep lifelong interest in that chapter of history. Many years later I discovered that my own mother also had an extraordinary wartime story. By then I was a journalist and knew I’d have to write a book about it—Deadly Carousel.  

Monica's book list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

This autobiography showed me that a tale of survival against the odds, in the most dangerous of times, can also be highly entertaining. To avoid deportation to the death camps, Jewish teenager Lothar Orbach assumes a fake Aryan identity and launches into a precarious underground existence in the heart of the Nazi empire, living off his wits, dodging the authorities and mixing with various shady characters. In my favourite episode, he and his hustler pal Tad meet two sex-starved teenage sisters, the daughters of a prominent Nazi family living in the elegant house of a deported Jewish professor. As the parents are away, Lothar and Tad move in and fulfil the girls’ lusty desires in return for homecooked meals…until the day they stuff two suitcases with food, clothes, alcohol and jewellery, and scarper back underground. Marvellous.

By Larry Orbach, Vivien Orbach-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in book form, this is the intensely moving first-person account of "the Auschwitz Memoirist's extraordinary manuscript" described in Philip Roth's Patrimony: A True Story.

This is the true story of a young man born at the wrong time in the wrong place. Lothar Orbach's family proudly traces its German heritage back to the fifteenth century, but that is no help to a Jewish boy coming of age in Hitler's Berlin.

At the center of this world gone mad is Lothar, outwardly a cagey, amoral street thug, inwardly a sensitive, romantic youth, devoted son, and increasingly religious Jew, clinging to…


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

Mirla G. Raz Author Of The Birds Sang Eulogies: A Memoir

From my list on the Holocaust and remembering the world's failure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always known that my parents survived the Holocaust. I often listened in when they, my aunt, uncle, and their survivor friends would sit and talk of their lives during the Holocaust. I am the past president for the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor’s Association (now called the Phoenix Holocaust Association) and am on its Board and the Chair of its Education Committee. During this year of Covid, I have been instrumental in hosting numerous writers from around the world who have spoken, in Zoom, about their Holocaust writings and research.

Mirla's book list on the Holocaust and remembering the world's failure

Mirla G. Raz Why did Mirla love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Badenheim 1939

V.S. Alexander Author Of The Taster

From my list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I found myself suddenly fascinated by World War II after reading a Classics Illustrated comic that detailed the history of the war. I remember asking myself, “How could this happen? How could Hitler have exerted such control and power?” Years later, I found myself wanting to write a novel about the Holocaust, but I was shamed and awed by the work of those who had lived through it. Despite that, I kept reading about the war and learning its history. The Taster grew out of all the research I’d done over the years.  

V.S.'s book list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications

V.S. Alexander Why did V.S. love this book?

A longtime friend introduced me to this novel after he found out that I had some interest in the subject. I’m so glad he did because, after the first reading, I’ve never forgotten it. This slim volume is a masterpiece of deft description and character development. A resort town, somewhere near Vienna, is peopled with colorful residents, tourists, and later the forced resettlement of Jews. “The light stood still. There was a frozen kind of attentiveness in the air. An alien orange shadow gnawed stealthily at the geranium leaves.” Such is Appelfeld’s sparse, beautiful prose. Disaster looms, tension builds, and people disappear...slowly, inexorably. The chilling ending is a tour de force of writing.

By Aharon Appelfeld, Dalya Bilu (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Badenheim 1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A small masterpiece of world literature, set in Europe months before the Nazis began their rise.

It is spring 1939. And Badenheim, a resort town vaguely in the orbit of Vienna, is preparing for its summer season. The vacationers arrive as they always have, a sampling of Jewish middle-class life: the impresario Dr. Pappenheim, his musicians, and their conductor; the bubbly Frau Tsauberblit; the historian, Dr. Fussholdt, and his much younger wife; the “readers,” twins with a passion for Rilke; a child prodigy; a commercial traveler; a rabbi.

The list of guests grows longer as the summer goes on. Receiving…


Book cover of The Passenger

Tessa Harris Author Of The Paris Notebook

From my list on WW2 novels featuring loners we love.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a journalist for much of my life and have been passionate about history since I was a child. Ever since I visited a castle at age five, I’ve loved imagining the past and naturally ended up doing a History degree at Oxford. I love fact-based stories and am always meticulous in my research so that I can bring my readers with me on a journey of discovery. But what always brings history to life for me is focusing on the characters, real or imagined, who’ve made history themselves.

Tessa's book list on WW2 novels featuring loners we love

Tessa Harris Why did Tessa love this book?

Written in just four weeks, this book pulsates with fury and is all the more poignant when you know its young Jewish author died after his ship was sunk in the war.

Otto Silbermann is a Jewish businessman on the run as his world collapses around him, and he slowly realises his homeland is enemy territory. It’s chilling and devastatingly real.

By Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, Philip Boehm (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Berlin, November 1938. With storm troopers battering against his door, Otto Silberman must flee out the back of his own home. He emerges onto streets thrumming with violence: it is Kristallnacht, and synagogues are being burnt, Jews rounded up and their businesses destroyed.

Turned away from establishments he had long patronised, betrayed by friends and colleagues, Otto finds his life as a respected businessman has dissolved overnight. Desperately trying to conceal his Jewish identity, he takes train after train across Germany in a race to escape this homeland that is no longer home.

Twenty-three-year-old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at…


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