The most recommended Holocaust books

Who picked these books? Meet our 389 experts.

389 authors created a book list connected to The Holocaust, and here are their favorite books.

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Book cover of And in the Vienna Woods the Trees Remain: The Heartbreaking True Story of a Family Torn Apart by War

Linda Olsson Author Of Astrid & Veronika

From my list on understanding the moody people of Nordic countries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an accidental emigrant now living in Auckland, New Zealand. I arrived with my then husband and our three sons in 1990 for a three-year spell. And here I am with two sons now settled in New Zealand and one in Sweden and me in a very awkward split position between the two. I am also an accidental author as my first career was in law and finance. I am presently working on my seventh novel. My novels are what my publishers call literary fiction and they often involve characters who, like me, have no fixed abode. 

Linda's book list on understanding the moody people of Nordic countries

Linda Olsson Why did Linda love this book?

Based on a true story, this is an important, thought-provoking book in these times of mass migrations around the globe. The story follows the thirteen-year-old boy Otto Ullman’s journey from Vienna to Trelleborg in southern Sweden. He is sent by his adoring Jewish parents as the persecution of Jews escalates in Austria during the lead-up to the second world war. The letters between Otto and his family, other relatives, and friends left behind are difficult to read. The efforts they all make to keep a brave face in spite of intolerable circumstances are utterly moving. Amongst the letters are official Swedish documents revealing the extent of racism and prejudice in Sweden. There are many similar stories. But I find this one particularly heartbreaking. 

By Elisabeth Åsbrink, Saskia Vogel (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And in the Vienna Woods the Trees Remain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and a Notable Translated Book of the Year by World Literature Today 

Winner of the August Prize, the story of the complicated long-distance relationship between a Jewish child and his forlorn Viennese parents after he was sent to Sweden in 1939, and the unexpected friendship the boy developed with the future founder of IKEA, a Nazi activist.
 
Otto Ullmann, a Jewish boy, was sent from Austria to Sweden right before the outbreak of World War II. Despite the huge Swedish resistance to Jewish refugees, thirteen-year-old Otto was granted permission to…


Book cover of After Long Silence

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From my list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

Helen Fremont has managed to write a memoir that reads like detective fiction. All she and her sister Lara knew of their Polish parents’ past was that they had survived Siberia and a concentration camp. The sisters were raised Catholic and it’s not until Fremont is an adult in Boston that she discovers the family is Jewish. Slowly piecing the past together, the sisters find out that after great trauma, their parents constructed post-war identities hiding their Jewishness. This story interested me because I had a Hungarian friend in university who was brought up in a convent but who learned as an adult that she was Jewish. In my youth I struggled to understand; this book gave me insight.

By Helen Fremont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Fascinating . . . A tragic saga, but at the same time it often reads like a thriller filled with acts of extraordinary courage, descriptions of dangerous journeys and a series of secret identities.”—Chicago Tribune

“To this day, I don't even know what my mother's real name is.”

Helen Fremont was raised as a Roman Catholic. It wasn't until she was an adult, practicing law in Boston, that she discovered her parents were Jewish—Holocaust survivors living invented lives. Not even their names were their own. In this powerful memoir, Helen Fremont delves into the secrets that held her family in…


Book cover of The In-Betweens: A Lyrical Memoir

Kate Mueser Author Of The Girl with Twenty Fingers

From Kate's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Literary Translator Mom American in Germany HIIT enthusiast

Kate's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Kate's 3-year-old's favorite books.

Kate Mueser Why did Kate love this book?

The In-Betweens is a memoir about growing up Black and Jewish in 1980s America. Davon Loeb’s prose is so exquisite that it literally made me hold my breath, re-read the most gorgeous lines, rethink the direction of my own writing.

His book is unforgettable and powerful in scope but built on the most banal blocks. I did not grow up Black and Jewish, but I could relate to so many details common to our generation: baggy jeans, boxes of Kool-Aid, high hair, and excessive hairspray. He uses the everyday to build empathy and change the way you will see the people around you. 

By Davon Loeb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The biracial coming-of-age journey of a boy from Black and Jewish families-a "brilliant, devastating book."

The In-Betweens tells the story of a biracial boy becoming a man, all the while trying to find himself, trying to come to terms with his white family, and trying to find his place in American society. A rich narrative in the tradition of Justin Torres's We the Animals and Bryan Washington's Memorial, Davon Loeb's memoir is relevant to the country's current climate and is part of the necessary rewrite of the nation's narrative and identity.

The son of a Black mother with deep family…


Book cover of Memory Perceived: Recalling the Holocaust

Joshua M. Greene Author Of Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

From my list on Holocaust testimony.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joshua M. Greene is the author of a dozen Holocaust biographies that have sold more than a half-million copies worldwide. He sits on the board of Yale University Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and has spoken on issues of Holocaust memory for such outlets as NPR and Fox News. His editorials on Holocaust history have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Joshua's book list on Holocaust testimony

Joshua M. Greene Why did Joshua love this book?

Kraft has drawn on 200 hours of testimony by Holocaust survivors to demonstrate how memory responds to atrocity. His juxtaposition of accounts allows one individual to be presented in relation to others, showing personal tragedies as well as the collective atrocity from the insights of multi-voice narratives.

By Robert N. Kraft,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Compelling examples from 200 hours of testimony by Holocaust survivors form the foundation of this volume on how memory responds to atrocity-how people comprehend and remember deeply traumatic experiences, and how they ultimately adapt. Depicting how the Holocaust exists in the minds of those who experienced it, this book simultaneously reveals the principles of enduring memory and makes the Holocaust more specific and immediate to readers. A synthesis of myriad testimonies allows one individual to be presented in relation to others, showing personal tragedies as well as the collective atrocity. The findings are also applied to other groups of people…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Clifford A. Wright Author Of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

From Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Philosopher Historian Researcher Gastronomer Bibliophile and reviewer

Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Clifford A. Wright Why did Clifford love this book?

My favorite book is a book I re-read, having first read it in the 1970s.

Telling the complicated story of Hitler and the Nazi Party in one, if large, volume is an amazing achievement. I wondered if it might be dated, but even though it was published in 1960 it remains the single best history of that period.

I was fascinated with the quote of Hans Frank, Nazi Governor General of Poland, before he was hanged at Nuremberg in 1946: “A thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will not be erased.” I found Shirer’s riveting and exciting history as close to a page-turner as a history book can get. I have read hundreds of books on the Nazis and is there one single book that does it all?” Yes, it’s Shirer.

By William L. Shirer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was Hitler's boast that the Third Reich would last a thousand years. Instead it lasted only twelve. But into its short life was packed the most cataclysmic series of events that Western civilisation has ever known.

William Shirer is one of the very few historians to have gained full access to the secret German archives which the Allies captured intact. He was also present at the Nuremberg trials.

First published sixty years ago, Shirer's account of the years 1933-45, when the Nazis, under the rule of their despotic leader Adolf Hitler, ruled Germany is held up as a classic…


Book cover of Lilac Girls

Jo Horne Author Of Monica's War

From my list on unsung heroes of WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a lifelong passion for history—the choices and challenges faced by others in trying times. I find myself looking for connections and a visit to the Holocaust Museum in DC led me to just such a connection with the story of the White Rose Resistance group, sending me down a rabbit hole of research that has blossomed into years of looking for little known stories of WWII heroes and heroines. From there telling their stories through my stories has become my passion.

Jo's book list on unsung heroes of WWII

Jo Horne Why did Jo love this book?

An American working in Paris, a German doctor, and a Polish teenager working for the Resistance are thrown together in this WWII story based on real events culminating in the notorious Ravensbruck Camp for women, famous for its medical experimentation during the war. It’s a story of survival and courage and unlikely friendships.

By Martha Hall Kelly,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Lilac Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • One million copies sold! Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

“Extremely moving and memorable . . . This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.”—Library Journal (starred review)

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new…


Book cover of The Diary of Anne Frank

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Author Of Just Write: An easy guide to story writing

From my list on books that helped shape me as a writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t remember a time in my life without stories in it. I grew up in an English/Italian family where everyone’s tales about their lives captured my imagination. Books also opened a window into the wonderful world of stories and my ambition to be a writer was born. I decided to write for children in 1971 after our son was born. Ten years of rejections later, my author dream came true and my first picture book was published. It was a stranger danger story that attracted some publicity, which led to invitations to speak at schools. Inspiring children to go on their own story writing adventure has become one of my greatest joys.

Teena's book list on books that helped shape me as a writer

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did Teena love this book?

I came across Anne Frank’s diary when I was a little younger than she was when she began writing it. It had a powerful impact on me because it was a true story that offered an insight into the heart and mind of a girl close to my own age who had not survived the Holocaust. It showed me that personal experiences written in an authentic voice are an important part of our storytelling culture. They have the power to change readers’ thinking and develop empathy. Like Anne, I wanted to become a published author, but at the time I had no idea so much of my writing life would be spent focusing on fact rather than fiction.

By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

"This Drama Play is a wonderful addition to anyone who has a passion for Anne Frank related reading. A dramatization for the stage and ready for anyone, including schools, to use."


Book cover of Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning

Lisa Dickey Author Of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia

From my list on the Russian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lisa Dickey is an author and book collaborator who’s helped write 20+ nonfiction books, including 10 New York Times Best Sellers. She’s also a Russophile from way back:  her first post-college job was working as a nanny at the U.S. embassy in Moscow during the last days of the Soviet Union. Lisa began her writing career in St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, writing for the Moscow Times and USA Today, and she’s the author of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia.

Lisa's book list on the Russian people

Lisa Dickey Why did Lisa love this book?

Alex Halberstadt’s paternal grandfather was the last living bodyguard for Josef Stalin. His maternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews who watched firsthand as their world caught fire in the Holocaust. And Alex, who grew up in Moscow but moved to New York as a teenager, is now an out gay American man. From this mad tapestry of personal history, Halberstadt weaves an incredibly moving story of identity, family, and inherited trauma.

By Alex Halberstadt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Young Heroes of the Soviet Union as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this “urgent and enthralling reckoning with family and history” (Andrew Solomon), an American writer returns to Russia to face a past that still haunts him. 
 
NAMED ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ TOP BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Alex Halberstadt’s quest takes him across the troubled, enigmatic land of his birth, where decades of Soviet totalitarianism shaped and fractured three generations of his family. In Ukraine, he tracks down his paternal grandfather—most likely the last living bodyguard of Joseph Stalin. He revisits Lithuania, his Jewish mother’s home, to examine the legacy of the Holocaust and the pernicious anti-Semitism that…


Book cover of Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting

Guy Beiner Author Of Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster

From my list on forgetting.

Why am I passionate about this?

Guy Beiner specializes in the history of social remembering in the late modern era. An interest in Irish folklore and oral traditions as historical sources led him to explore folk memory, which in turn aroused an interest in forgetting. He examines the many ways in which communities recall their past, as well as how they struggle with the urge to supress troublesome memories of discomfiting episodes.

Guy's book list on forgetting

Guy Beiner Why did Guy love this book?

An inspirational exploration of profound contemplations on forgetting, which takes the reader on a guided tour through neglected passages in the writings of illustrious writers from antiquity to present times, including Homer, Ovid, Plato, Augustine, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Locke, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe, Nietzsche, Sartre, Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Böll, Borges, and many others.

By Harold Weinrich, Steven Rendall (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Our daily encounters with forgetting have not taught us enough about how much power it exercises over our lives, what reflections and feelings it evokes in different individuals, how even art and science presuppose-with sympathy or antipathy-forgetting, and finally what political and cultural barriers can be erected against forgetting when it cannot be reconciled with what is right and moral.... We find that cultural history provides a helpful perspective in which the value of the art of forgetting emerges.... That is the subject this book (through which flows Lethe, the meandering stream of forgetfulness) will try to represent and discuss…


Book cover of Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler

Stephanie Vanderslice Author Of The Lost Son

From my list on stories of World War II you’ve never heard before.

Why am I passionate about this?

In writing The Lost Son, which is loosely based on family history, I immersed myself in the history of World War II and in the world between the wars. It was important to me to understand this period from both sides—from the perspective of Germans who were either forced to flee their homeland or witness its destruction from within by a madman, and from the perspective of Americans with German ties who also fought fascism. The stories of ordinary people during this time are far more nuanced than the epic battles that World War II depicted, as the stories of ordinary people often are. 

Stephanie's book list on stories of World War II you’ve never heard before

Stephanie Vanderslice Why did Stephanie love this book?

Sons and Soldiers tells the stories of the Ritchie Boys, a special military intelligence unit of the US Army in World War II trained in Camp Ritchie, Maryland and made up of German-Austrian men, often German Jews who had fled Nazi persecution. These men had everything to lose: if they were captured and identified behind enemy lines, they would be killed on the spot. However, they also knew that their special knowledge of the German language and German culture gave them an advantage against Hitler’s army. The Ritchie Boys were critical to the Allied victory. Not surprisingly, those who survived went on to become leaders in American society, great heroes who understood that there are some things worth dying for. 

By Bruce Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The last great, untold story of WWII... highly compelling' Daily Mail

Fleeing Nazi persecution for America in the 1930s, the young German-born Jews who would come to be known as The Ritchie Boys were labelled 'enemy aliens' when war broke out. Although of the age to be inducted into the U.S. military, their German accents made them distrusted. Until one day in 1942, when the Pentagon woke up to the incredible asset they had in their ranks, and sent these young recruits to a secret military intelligence training centre at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.

These men knew the language, culture and…