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Holocaust Literature

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message 1: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Rachel (rachelbrandt) | 1 comments Hey everyone, I am looking to read some good holocaust literature, whether it be fiction or non fiction. Does anyone know of some good books relating to this subject?

message 2: by lilias (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

lilias Hi Rachel, I recommend taking a look at the following 4:

The Investigation, by Peter Weiss (note: it is written as a play)

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski

Night. by Elie Wiesel

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, by Simon Wiesenthal

message 3: by Carolyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Carolyn Fitzpatrick (carolyn_fitzpatrick) The website "A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust" has a great literature section here: http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/arts/li.... It lists a ton of books on the holocaust, all nicely divided into categories.

message 4: by Deborah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Deborah | 3 comments I strongly suggest that with any literary venture that you include books dealing with the early history of zionism and post WWI. I have to dig into my library for titles, I don't have them at my fingertips right now.

message 5: by Tracey (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Tracey | 2 comments Rachel~
I went to the Holocaust museum and at the end they show people talking about their experience of the holocaust. This woman was telling her story and it was so amazing, I later found out that she wrote a book, it is one of the best books I have read and the ending is so wonderful.
The book is "All but my life" by Gerda Weissman Klein.
Also, someone recommend Night. by Elie Wiesel whom I just saw speak, it is a hard but wonderful book also.

message 6: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Mark These four aren't about the Holocaust per se, but all relate to it one way or another:

"Everything Is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer is a recent book that oddly combines humor and pathos. A young American sets off to explore his Russian roots, and the road trip is absurdly funny; in the process, he encounters the horrific story of the Nazi killings that occurred in his ancestral village.

"The Painted Bird," Jerzy Kosinski. It's been a long time since I read this, but it involves Jerzy as a young teen having to hide in the woods from the Nazis and survive on his wits.

"The Reawakening" by Primo Levi. This is part two of Levi's Holocaust memoir (I believe the first part recounts his concentration camp experiences in detail). This book actually picks up at the point where the camp was liberated but is grimly fascinating in its own right.

"The Fixer," by Bernard Malamud, is pre-Holocaust, but tells in detail the story of a Russian Jewish peasant who is caught up in a wave of anti-semitism because he dared to try to better his life and hide his Jewish identity. It is grim, but I found it gripping.

message 7: by Carolyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Carolyn Fitzpatrick (carolyn_fitzpatrick) Oh, I also just read "My Holocaust", which is a very dark humor look at a fictional family's Holocaust corporation. The corporation was begun by a married couple of Holocaust survivors, and continued by their son, and basically the solicit donations to defend the memory of the Holocaust, through monuments, lawsuits, etc. The conflict in the story involves other groups who want their genocides to be recognized and the defensiveness of the founder of the corporation towards this idea. The "Holocaust as universal" viewpoint is brought home to the characters by the granddaughter of the founder, who decides to become a Catholic nun because "Christians are today's Jews." This doesn't sound like it would be funny, but the author does an excellent job of pointing out people's hypocrisies on both sides of the issue.

message 8: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 5 comments I enjoyed "The Painted Bird" and "Everything is Illuminated" as well.

I also thought that "The True Story of Hansel and Gretel" was a worthwhile read. The novel parallels the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.It is about two young children who were left by their parents to hide in the woods in order to escape the Nazis. As in all fairy tales, the absence of parents leads to frightening discoveries and experiences as seen through the eyes of innocents.

message 9: by Deborah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Deborah | 3 comments this reminds me of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America in which he fictionalizes what would have happened to America if Charles Limburgh (a nazi sympathizer) became president.

There are of course more serious books such as Norman Finklestein's who challenges the entire field of holocaust studies. It is critical to all of our survival to look at all of these views lest we be doomed to repeat the horrors of history again and again.

message 10: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Lori | 1 comments I just recently read "Dear God, Have You Ever Gone Hungry?" By Joseph Bau who was one of the Schindler list survivors. It was awesome.

"Schindler's List" of course is also good, as is "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom.

I like these books because they were written by or about someone who was actually there. It is very powerful to hear the words of a holocaust survivor and to read not only what they went through, but how they dealt with it.

message 11: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

Erin (erincorrine) | 4 comments Peg - that book sounds very interesting! It just reserved it at my library!

I also recommend Night.

Also - Rena's Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen; I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Britton-Jackson

That is all I can think of off the top of my head ... I know I have read other amazing accounts - will have to check my shelf also :)


message 12: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 5 comments Erin - Let me know what you think of Hansel and Gretel. I don't know too many people who have read it.

message 13: by Conrad (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

Conrad | 5 comments I read accounts of the Holocaust every once in awhile, and my favorite so far is Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz. How someone who was slowly starving and living under the most abject conditions imaginable managed to pay such close attention to the foibles of his fellow inmates is beyond me. It's very much worth reading, and it's also a great introduction to a (sometimes literally) fantastic writer, whose fiction unrelated to the Holocaust is also worth looking into.

Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem is not only her most accessible and a good book to read if you're not familiar with her; it's also devastating. Arendt set out to explore how it is possible for humans to commit acts of monumental moral blindness and then sleep at night. Her conclusions were controversial, here as well as in Origins of Totalitarianism, which illustrates the inception of Nazism and its ideology in vignettes and tighter brushstrokes than Eichmann. They are both worth reading, though Origins is very dense, very long, and contains much about the Soviets, Boers, and the Dreyfus Affair that may be of less interest if your focus is narrow.

Art Spiegelman's Maus might be the one I find the most moving, though. Anyone who's read it has probably gone through a couple copies, like I have, lending it to family and friends. Read it, read it, read it, I beg you.

message 14: by Lauri (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Lauri | 1 comments I also toured the Holocaust museum and, before exiting the gift shop, I picked up a terrible and terrific account of the liberation of Dachau by the U.S. 7th army, entitled "Dachau Liberated: The Official Report". No holocaust delving can be complete without reading about the liberation experience, through the soldiers' eyes. After years of suffering and watching their commrades die in battle, upon entering those camps, they finally understood why they were there.

message 15: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Héctor IBM and the Holocaust is the stunning story of IBM's strategic alliance with Nazi Germany -- beginning in 1933 in the first weeks that Hitler came to power and continuing well into World War II. As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the identification and cataloging programs of the 1930s to the selections of the 1940s. Only after Jews were identified -- a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately -- could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. It was a cross-tabulation and organizational challenge so monumental, it called for a computer. Of course, in the 1930s no computer existed. But IBM's Hollerith punch card technology did exist. Aided by the company's custom-designed and constantly updated Hollerith systems, Hitler was able to automate his persecution of the Jews. Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. Until now, the pieces of this puzzle have never been fully assembled. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor. IBM and its German subsidiary custom-designed complex solutions, one by one, anticipating the Reich's needs. They did not merely sell the machines and walk away. Instead, IBM leased these machines for high fees and became the sole source of the billions of punch cards Hitler needed. IBM and the Holocaust takes you through the carefully crafted corporate collusion with the Third Reich, as well as the structured deniability of oral agreements, undated letters, and the Geneva intermediaries -- all undertaken as the newspapers blazed with accounts of persecution and destruction. Just as compelling is the human drama of one of our century's greatest minds, IBM founder Thomas Watson, who cooperated with the Nazis for the sake of profit.
Only with IBM's technologic assistance was Hitler able to achieve the staggering numbers of the Holocaust. Edwin Black has now uncovered one of the last great mysteries of Germany's war against the Jews -- how did Hitler get the names?

Edwin Black, IBM and The Holocaust. Crown, 2001.

message 16: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Héctor A controversial book when originally published in Germany, The Nazi Census documents the origins of the census in modern Germany, along with the parallel development of machines that helped first collect data on Germans, then specifically on Jews and other minorities. Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth begin by examining the history of statistical technology in Germany, from the Hollerith machine in the 1890s through the development and licensing of IBM punch-card technology. Aly and Roth explain that census data was collected on non-Germans in order to satisfy the state's desire to track racial groups for alleged security reasons. Later this information led to disastrous results for those groups and others that were tracked in similar ways. Ultimately, as Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth point out in this short, rigorously researched book, the techniques the Nazis employed to track, gather information, and control populations initiated the modern system of citizen registration. Aly and Roth argue that what led to the devastating effects of the Nazi census was the ends to which they used their data, not their means. It is the employment of "normal" methods of collection that the authors examine historically as it applies to the Nazi regime, and also the way contemporary methods of classification and control still affect the modern world.

Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth, The Nazi Census. Identification and Control in the Third Reich. Temple University Press, 2004.

message 17: by Meirav (new)

Meirav Rath | 3 comments Yad Vashem is Israel's biggest holocaust museum and is a mini-collage for the study and documentation of the holocaust. Their books are highly thorough and there's a wide range of subjects, each focused on by some very good historians. Not all of them are easy to read stylishly because not all historians are also good writers...
The only problem is that I doubt there are many translations of these books from hebrew, the language they're written in...
Also, many Israeli printing companies have several good books but, again, I doubt you'd find english translations to them. Perhaps, with enough costumer pressure there'll be some printed...

Krista the Krazy Kataloguer (kristathekrazykataloguer) | 2 comments Rachel, are you looking for children's and young adult books as well? If so, I have a bibliography of them that I'd be happy to send you. Many of the children's/YA books are based on true accounts by the parents, grandparents, or relatives of the authors, and sometimes on experiences of the authors themselves. I've read a lot of it myself. One I read recently that I can particularly recommend is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Outstanding!

message 19: by Ben (new)

Ben The Liberal (beyondthegreenwall) Man's Search for Meaning should be on everyones list of books to read about the holocaust. Although it sits in my "to-read" pile, what I know about it tells me enough. Their will be a review coming shortly after completion by yours truly.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 29 comments Another good children's/YA book is Mischling: Second Degree, by Ilse Kuhn. Loved this one growing up.

message 21: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 14 comments The Holocaust Kingdom
by Alexander Donat.

Its been a while since I read it, but I remember it was the first book about the Holocaust I had ever read.

The memoir of a middle class Polish-Jewish survivor's family. Written from the view point of a child's memory. Detailing life before the Nazi invasion and then life in the Warsaw ghetto.

I remember feeling my fingers grow cold as I held this book in my bed at night.

message 22: by Marlaina (new)

Marlaina well, there is night, the zookeeper's wife (very good), milkweed, the diary of anne frank, the life and times of adolf hitler, and many more.

message 23: by Duncan (new)

Duncan | 1 comments Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust is a book I would NOT recommend on this subject. It draws a whole a battalion of long bows on the subject (and, as such, reminds me of that other over-eager concotion that was big in the 90s: Jesus The Man. However, let's get onto books I would recommend, and I've read a lot about that unfortunate era.

The Holocaust is first-rate.
Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Extermination, 1939-1945, ditto.
Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust, which is very moving.

And, finally, a book that is written like a fiction, but is based on hundreds of interviews with participants, and gives a startling, exciting and inspiring view of life at the Death Camp, and, more centrally, the rebellions that the inmates engineered: Treblinka

message 24: by Heinz (new)

Heinz Kohler | 2 comments I haven't seen any comments here for a long time, but if anyone would like to consider a rather unusual view of the Holocaust (from the perspective of a boy growing up in Berlin at the time), the following may be of interest:
This month I am giving away 10 paperback copies of MY NAME WAS FIVE: A Novel of the Second World War. Amazon has a Kindle edition. Sample chapters appear at my website, where the paperback version is also on sale. See my goodreads profile or visit www.mynamewasfive.com

message 25: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Heinz--Your book sounds very interesting. I'd love to read it.

message 26: by Heinz (new)

Heinz Kohler | 2 comments Thank you, Barbara. Let me know what you think.

message 27: by Joan (new)

Joan | 16 comments Holocaust is too brutal a read for me, but I am very interested in German History of the period just prior to that. Research on the question, How did Hitler seize power led to my write Silent Coup. Would like to discuss the history with you, interested in what made you write your book.

message 28: by Julia (new)

Julia Wanto | 1 comments Hello, I write this blog For you please check my ability.

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