The most recommended books about the Gestapo

Who picked these books? Meet our 32 experts.

32 authors created a book list connected to the Gestapo, and here are their favorite Gestapo books.
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Book cover of Behind the Bedroom Wall

Melissa W. Hunter Author Of What She Lost

From my list on coming-of-age that take place during the Holocaust.

Who am I?

As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, this subject has always been close to my heart. I devoured any book I could on the Holocaust growing up and pursued an education with a focus on Judaic studies and Holocaust Literature in college. One day when I was in my twenties, I sat down with my grandmother and an 8mm camera and recorded her life story. It is this account that I wrote about in What She Lost. Today, I feel the need for these accounts is of utmost importance because of the rise in antisemitism and the fact that so many of the survivors are no longer with us. May we never forget.

Melissa's book list on coming-of-age that take place during the Holocaust

Melissa W. Hunter Why did Melissa love this book?

As I was compiling this list, a memory of this book came to mind. I’ve read so many novels on the Holocaust and had other titles I was planning to recommend, yet I kept coming back to this book. I distinctly remembered where I was when I read it... in my childhood bedroom... and the fact that I finished it in one sitting. I vaguely recalled the plot, but the impression it left on me was so strong that I found myself researching the book once more. I was surprised to discover it was published in 1996 when I was 22 years old, since I thought I was younger when I read it. But as I reread the novel (again in one sitting), it was definitely the book from my memories.

The story is told from the point-of-view of a young girl named Korinna, who is a member of the…

By Laura E. Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Behind the Bedroom Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's 1942. Thirteen-year-old Korinna Rehme is an active member of her local Jungmadel, a Nazi youth group, along with many of her friends. She believes that Hitler is helping Germany by instituting a program to deal with what he calls the "Jewish problem," a program that she witnesses as her Jewish neighbors are attacked and taken from their homes. Korinna's parents, however, are members of a secret underground group providing a means of escape to the Jews of their city. Korinna is shocked to discover that they are hiding a refugee family behind the wall of her bedroom. But as…


Book cover of The 12th Man: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

J.L. Oakley Author Of The Jossing Affair

From my list on Norway during WWII.

Who am I?

I am a trained historian and past educator at a historical museum. I fell into my passion for Norway during WWII after I dreamed about a man in the snow surrounded by German soldiers. I was encouraged to write the scene down. That scene became the prologue to The Jøssing Affair, but not before going to libraries and reading countless secondary and primary resources, interviewing numbers of Norwegian-Americans who settled in my area in the 1950s, and eating a lot of lefse. This passion of over 28 years has taken me to Norway to walk Trondheim where my novels take place and forge friendships with local historians and experts.

J.L.'s book list on Norway during WWII

J.L. Oakley Why did J.L. love this book?

The Twelfth Man by Norwegian-American writer Astrid Karlsen Scott is the dramatic story of Norwegian agent Jan Baalsrud’s survival after a SOE mission gone wrong. A first account of his ordeal was published in 1955, but this is a more accurate telling. I like her in-depth approach to uncovering the true facts. On one of her research trips to Norway, she teamed up with Dr. Tore Haug who was also investigating Baalsrud’s story of survival. They were able to meet and interview all the survivors who helped the agent or who were indirectly involved and had knowledge of his story. You not only see what is at stake for the hero of the story, but for the people who are helping him escape the Nazis’ search for him. 

By Astrid Karlsen Scott, Tore Haug,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 12th Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning story of heroism and survival during World War II. The book that inspired the international film of the same name. "A must-read .... Intrigue, suspense, and adventure."-The Norwegian American

"I remember reading We Die Alone in 1970 and I could never forget it. Then when we went to Norway to do a docudrama, people told us again and again that certain parts were pure fiction. Since I was a Norwegian that was not good enough; I had to find the truth. I sincerely believe we did," writes author Astrid Karlsen Scott.

The 12th Man is the true story…


Book cover of RSHA Reich Security Main Office: Organisation, Activities, Personnel

Robert Temple Author Of Drunk on Power Vol 1: A Senior Defector's Inside Account of the Nazi Secret Police State

From my list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany.

Who am I?

When I find a big story that has not come out, which has massive relevance for history and for the entire world, I go all out to bring it to light, as I have done with this book. Most of the books I have written have been devoted to telling big, unknown stories that concern the world. (Examples: alien intelligence, the origins of ancient civilisations, the Chinese contribution to the history of inventions, the existence of optical technology in antiquity, who were the people who tried and executed King Charles I and why did they do it.) I simply had to expose this information to the public.

Robert's book list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany

Robert Temple Why did Robert love this book?

This is a gigantic book of 665 pages, and a reading task not for the faint-hearted. It has no index, but then, preparing one might have taken months and easily have added another 100 pages to the book.

It is a reference book which can aid anyone seriously interested in the SS security services, the SD. Much of it is based on the basic SS files seized after the War, and it summarises and reproduces those with meticulous and overwhelming thoroughness. But it must be pointed out that the higher-level secret files of the SS and SD have never been found.

The Heinrich Pfeifer book supplies a great deal of information which was unavailable to Tyas. The personnel files of the department heads of the SD have not been found, and the most detailed account of that level of the operations of the SD is to be found in Pfeifer’s…

By Stephen Tyas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked RSHA Reich Security Main Office as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Nazi regime in Germany, all police forces were centralised under the command of Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The political police (Gestapo), the criminal police (Kripo), and the security service (SD) were all brought together under the RSHA umbrella in 1939, commanded by SS-General Reinhard Heydrich. Using RSHA in Berlin as the centre, the web of Heydrich's control extended into every corner of Nazi-occupied Europe. British and American intelligence agencies tried to get to grips with RSHA departments at the end of the war, knowing who was who and what they did, relying on what captured RSHA personnel told them…


Book cover of Night Flight to Paris

H.R. Kemp Author Of Deadly Secrets: What Unspeakable Truths Lurk Beneath The Lies?

From H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Curious Traveler Explorer Questioner Avid reader

H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

H.R. Kemp Why did H.R. love this book?

I don’t often read historical thrillers, but the WWII setting covering both the Nazi occupation of Paris and the Vichy regime drew me in. I love books that use real events as the plot background, and this era intrigues me. 

I became invested in the main character’s plight. His difficult choices made me fear not only for him but also for the mission. It’s a classic story of betrayal, and I love the complex relationships, the struggle for power and control both by the enemy and also between the resistance groups, and the overall fight for justice and freedom.

These elements made it a deep, satisfying read for me. This is my kind of book: a deeply complex and gripping story. I confess I skimmed the graphic violence, but otherwise, I couldn’t put it down.

By David Gilman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night Flight to Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Page-turning and gritty' DAILY MAIL. It is 1943 and for agents of the Special Operations Executive, a mission to Nazi-occupied Paris is a death sentence. So why has unlikely spy Harry Mitchell volunteered to return to the city he fled two years ago? The French capital is at war with itself. Informers, gangsters, collaborators and Resistance factions are as ready to slit each other's throats as they are the Germans'. The occupiers are no better: the Gestapo and Abwehr - military intelligence - are locked in their own lethal battle for dominance. Mitchell knows the risks but he has a…


Book cover of The White Mouse: The autobiography of Australia's Wartime Legend

Clare Harvey Author Of The Escape

From my list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women.

Who am I?

I’m endlessly fascinated by the stories of young women from the WW2 era, who came of age at the moment the world was torn apart. As an author of wartime historical fiction with strong female characters, it’s vital for me to understand the experience of ordinary women who grew up in such extraordinary times, so I’m always on the hunt for real voices from the era. I’d love to think that in similar circumstances I’d face my challenges with the same humour, resourcefulness, bravery, and humanity as my favourite five female memoirists selected for you here.

Clare's book list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women

Clare Harvey Why did Clare love this book?

Some wartime memoirs are fascinating because they detail the lives of ordinary women in extraordinary times. But Nancy Wake was never ordinary. Brave, beautiful, and bull-headed, this feisty Australian worked undercover for the British Secret Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied France, leading French resistance fighters in sabotage missions against the Nazis. Nicknamed ‘The White Mouse’ by the Gestapo, Nancy was a key player in the Resistance, earning herself a clutch of medals after the war, including France’s Legion d’Honneur. There are plenty of biographies about this remarkable woman, but I recommend this, because it’s in her own words, and to me, that’s what makes it a special read.

By Nancy Wake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nancy Wake, nicknamed 'the white mouse' for her ability to evade capture, tells her own story. As the Gestapo's most wanted person, and one of the most highly decorated servicewomen of the war, it's a story worth telling.

After living and working in Paris in the 1930's, Nancy married a wealthy Frenchman and settled in Marseilles. Her idyllic new life was ended by World War II and the invasion of France. Her life shattered, Nancy joined the French resistance and, later, began work with an escape-route network for allied soldiers. Eventually Nancy had to escape from France herself to avoid…


Book cover of Lacombe Lucien: The Screenplay

Helen Martin Author Of Lot: Travels Through a Limestone Landscape in Southwest France

From my list on the Lot department of Southwest France.

Who am I?

A francophile and a researcher. I ran the research department of The Guardian newspaper for many years. I decided to write my book after it became apparent that there were no English language guidebooks devoted to the Lot alone (and not many in French either). I have been travelling all over France since I was a child in the 50s and discovered the Lot, en route to Spain, in about 1956. I have visited every year since. Pretty well all my interests in life are centred around my passion for this area, but extend beyond it -- history, ecclesiastical architecture, vernacular architecture of Quercy, gastronomy, cave art, the Resistance.

Helen's book list on the Lot department of Southwest France

Helen Martin Why did Helen love this book?

Louis Malle was one of the first film directors to demythologise de Gaulle’s spin that most of France was engaged in resistance to the Nazis. Lacombe Lucien was set in the Lot, Malle’s adoptive home, and he asked for the help of Modiano, Nobel Literary prize winner, to write the screenplay.

Lucien, too young to join the fierce if small Lot Resistance, dropped accidentally into the hands of the Gestapo instead, and through them met and fell for the cultured Jewish Parisienne, France Horn. A strange pairing of young people whose different lives had been interrupted by war, they fled both the Gestapo and the Resistance, hiding from a troubled world in the wilds of the causse, where Lucien, the peasant boy, was in his element. There they blissfully awaited the inevitable.

By Louis Malle, Patrick Modiano, Sabine Destrée (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Patrick Modiano and Louis Malle’s screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film tells a powerful story set in World War II France of a seventeen-year-old boy who allies himself with collaborators, only to fall in love with a Jewish girl
                  
This early work by the Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano relates the story of Lucien Lacombe: a poor boy in Nazi-occupied France who, rebuffed in his efforts to enter the Resistance for a taste of war, becomes a member of a sordid, pathetic group of Fascist collaborators who join the Gestapo in preying upon their countrymen. Lucien encounters the Horns, a Jewish…


Book cover of Code Name Verity

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Keepers' Daughter

From Gill's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author History nut Science nerd Mystery lover Feminist

Gill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gill Arbuthnott Why did Gill love this book?

Maddie, a pilot, and Verity, an SOE agent, are two girls from very different pre-war lives who forge a deep friendship during World War II.

Verity has been captured and, while being interrogated in France, is forced to write a confession. Into this, she weaves the story of how she and Maddie came to know each other. Maddie’s version of events comes later in the book and provides a different reading of what happened. To say more would involve spoilers, so I won’t go any further.

I was gripped by the plotting – Verity is under a death sentence – and by the vivid writing: two young women pouring their all onto the pages. It’s a harrowing read at times, thrilling, beautiful, and heartbreaking. And it’s the first book that’s made me cry for a very long time.

By Elizabeth Wein,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Code Name Verity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.'

Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Code Name Verity is a bestselling tale of friendship and courage set against the backdrop of World War Two.

Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in…


Book cover of Code Name Camille: A story of trust, love and betrayal

Beth Haslam Author Of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

From my list on set in France to inspire and excite the imagination.

Who am I?

My love affair with France began years ago with a holiday to St Malo. Since then, it’s been hard to stay away. Luckily, my husband felt the same way and eventually, we decided to buy a country estate in the rural southwest. Today, I write about our wacky lives here, how we refurbished our home and came to live with so many animals. We’re immersed in a quirky farming community that lives in harmony with the seasons. Honestly? Nothing much has altered for the past thirty years. It’s magical. Oh, and when we have time, we’ll explore our locality. We still have so much here to discover.

Beth's book list on set in France to inspire and excite the imagination

Beth Haslam Why did Beth love this book?

A novel set in Nazi-occupied France during World War 2? It promised to be gripping. It was.

I was quickly immersed in an oppressive environment where French citizens’ lives are strictly controlled. For many, it is a living nightmare. Failure to toe the line leads to often harrowing consequences.

This is the story of a courageous young woman who refuses to give in. She moves to Paris, where she joins the Resistance movement. Here, she is pushed to the limits of her resolve as she faces extreme danger.

Throughout, the author paints a superb picture of the period. Balanced by historical facts, the plot unfolds with vivid imagery. It is a compelling adventure with a catch that grabs the reader’s imagination. 

By Kathryn Gauci,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today runaway bestseller, The Darkest Hour Anthology: WWII Tales of Resistance.
Code Name Camille, now a standalone book.

1940: Paris under Nazi occupation. A gripping tale of resistance, suspense and love.

When the Germans invade France, twenty-one-year-old Nathalie Fontaine is living a quiet life in rural South-West France. Within months, she heads for Paris and joins the Resistance as a courier helping to organise escape routes. But Paris is fraught with danger. When several escapes are foiled by the Gestapo, the network suspects they are compromised.

Nathalie suspects one person, but after a chance encounter with a…


Book cover of The Vanished Collection

Lilianne Milgrom Author Of L'Origine: The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece

From my list on France that go beyond the rom com.

Who am I?

I am a Paris-born, award-winning artist and author. Although I have lived on four continents, France is in my blood and draws me back time and again. It’s no surprise that countless novels are set in France – and Paris in particular. My debut historical fiction L’Origine: The secret life of the world’s most erotic masterpiece marries my three passions – History (I majored in French history), Art, and Literature. I'm the recipient of six literary honors and my freelance articles and blog posts can be found on platforms such as HuffPost, France Magazine, DailyArt Magazine, Bonjour Paris, The Book Commentary, and BookBrunch. I hope you enjoy the eclectic range of books on my recommended list!

Lilianne's book list on France that go beyond the rom com

Lilianne Milgrom Why did Lilianne love this book?

Pauline Baer de Perignon doesn’t hold anything back – she puts her ego aside as she shares her secret ambitions, doubts and insecurities, triumphs and frustrations on her mission to uncover a distressing chapter in her family’s history. The rhythm and pace are indicative of a book translated from the French - a slow-moving train rather than a speeding locomotive, but that just enhanced the feeling of accompanying the author on her passionate yet painful quest in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

By Pauline Baer de Perignon, Natasha Lehrer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A charming and heartfelt story about war, art, and the lengths a woman will go to find the truth about her family.

'As devourable as a thriller... Incredibly moving' Elle
'Pauline Baer de Perignon is a natural storyteller - refreshingly honest, curious and open' Menachem Kaiser
'A terrific book' Le Point

It all started with a list of paintings. There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn't seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more. Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss,…


Book cover of The Glassmaker's Son: Looking for the World my Father left behind in Nazi Germany

Michael Hickins Author Of The Silk Factory: Finding Threads of My Family's True Holocaust Story

From my list on the Holocaust and generational trauma.

Who am I?

I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the Holocaust, which is that my father lost some members of his family. An email from a nephew I didn’t know existed sent me on a trail of documents that led me to a much deeper understanding of not just the Holocaust as a historical event, but more broadly about the impact that it had on the families of survivors, of people who were spared internment for one reason or another, but were wracked by guilt, besieged by family members who were not so lucky, and who passed down their feelings of guilt, anger, and pessimism to future generations.

Michael's book list on the Holocaust and generational trauma

Michael Hickins Why did Michael love this book?

Peter Kupfer travels back to Germany on several occasions to delve into the business his father was forced to abandon because of the Nuremberg Laws, helping him understand his father – and especially, his father’s emotional distance, and shows how Jews after the Shoah plunged ahead with their lives with something between stoicism and nihilism, which made it difficult for subsequent generations to understand their own emotions. 

By Peter Kupfer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A blend of lyrical memoir and sober history, The Glassmaker's Son recounts a son's decades-long quest to uncover the world his father left behind in Nazi Germany. Along the way, he makes a series of surprising discoveries about his family, who were important players in the Bavarian glassmaking industry. After his grandfather was forced to sell the family villa, for instance, the Nazis turned it into their regional headquarters before it was destroyed by American artillery in the closing days of the war. In another twist, the author recovers a pair of lost portraits of his great-grandparents that an elderly…