The Holocaust is known as one of the most brutal events that we, as humans, have faced throughout all history. It took place between 1941 and 1945, and in that time, the Nazis were able to take the lives of over 6 million Jewish people in their brutal and horrifying concentration camps.
That accounted for an insane two-thirds of the European Jewish population, a little short of the plan that involved eliminating every single one of them.
The Holocaust Genocide
The Germans initially arrested most of the Jews and took them to the concentration camps, while never exposing the truth about the fates they were about to face. They eventually began killing them, in mass shootouts, gas chambers, and many other ways. Many of the best Jewish Holocaust novels that you are about to see will teach you everything there is about the Holocaust.
Best Books on the Holocaust
There are many books out there that tell the horrible stories of people’s lives and treatment at concentration camps, and Night by Elie Wiesel is one of them. It is a book that records the terrifying experience of the author and gives an account of the death of his other family members, the loss of his innocence, and the things he had to endure while confronting the evil German soldiers.
It is a rather short book, just over 100 pages, but it succeeds in describing Elie’s experience during the Holocaust in great detail. For that reason alone, it is easily among the books written by Holocaust survivors.
Life in a German Concentration Camp
The book is written in a simple, at times even unsentimental style, which seems suitable as it deals with an immense amount of pain and suffering. Night is one of the best holocaust memoir books in English, giving the most accurate representation of Elie Wiesel’s testimony about the things that happened to him during his stay in several concentration camps.
The events in the book are presented in chronological order, shedding a light on the dehumanization and brutality towards Jewish people during WWII. Elie also talks about his inevitable loss of faith, giving the conditions he’s been living in and makes an effort to send his message that that kind of horror should never be allowed to happen again.
Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the best nonfiction books on the holocaust that has become very influential in America. The author, Viktor Emil Frankl, was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist that lived through the horrors of the Holocaust to tell us about his experience.
He wrote this book in the style of a memoir, revealing his shocking stories as a camp inmate, as well as giving insight on the whole situation from his point of view as a psychiatrist. Viktor is one of the most important figures in the development of existential therapy, introducing in this book the therapy he developed, known as logotherapy.
This novel is one of the top 10 holocaust books, based on the author’s experience and his patients’ stories. It is divided into two parts: the first part deals with portraying, in great detail, the horrible conditions in the concentration camp Viktor stayed in, while the second part is mainly concerned with the logotherapy he developed.
This kind of therapy is based on the proposition that we cannot avoid suffering, but only those of us who manage to find meaning in it can endure the difficulties the situation brings and can move forward. Furthermore, this book is written in a dispassionate tone, making the stories of the Holocaust’s terror even more disturbing.
The Diary of a Young Girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, is one of the best-selling books on the holocaust. This book is exactly what it states it is, her diary, written during her time spent in hiding.
As WWII started, she and her family moved to Amsterdam and spent two years hiding from the Nazis in the attic of the office building her father worked in. Unfortunately, they were found and sent to concentration camps, where all of them faced deaths, except her father. The diary was discovered afterward and was given to him, and after its release, it has become a world classic.
All that Goes On Inside the Camps
In her diary, Anne felt free to express her and her family’s experience, and all the difficulties they went through during the two years locked in one room, not being able to peek through a window. She talks about the hunger, boredom, and cruelties they’ve faced, as well as the constant fear that they might be discovered and taken away.
This book vividly expresses Anne’s feelings and the circumstances she lived in, presenting an accurate self-portrait of the person she was. Translated into 60 languages, this is one of the most famous holocaust books that serves as a powerful reminder of WWII’s terrors.
Schindler’s List is one of the best holocaust books that is concerned with the horrible situations Jews had found themselves in but tells their stories from a slightly more enthusiastic angle. The book’s main character is Oscar Schindler, a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi party.
What is surprising about his story is that he is a man who made use of his position not to torment, but to save Jews from the tragic fate they would’ve faced if they remained in the concentration camps. Winning the Booker Prize in 1982, this novel is one of the best historical fiction books about the Holocaust ever written.
Saving as Many Jews as Possible
The author, Thomas Keneally, sets out to tell the background story and the fate of each character mentioned in the book. Before writing his book, he conducted very detailed research about Schindler and the approximately 1200 Jews he managed to save, which is part of the reason why this is among the top holocaust books ever.
To do so, Schindler built an ammunition factory in which he employed as many Jews as he possibly could. He wasn’t a particularly good and virtuous man, but he risked his life by bending the rules to keep them out of the camps because he realized that they have a lot of potential and are more valuable to society alive.
Unusual and exceptional in many ways, The Book Thief is one of the best-rated holocaust books around. It is an international bestseller translated in more than forty languages, written by the Australian author Markus Zusak, and has spent more than a decade on the bestseller list of the New York Times.
The story it sets out to tell is narrated by Death, which is quite an unusual choice for a narrator, given the fact that it is concerned with the life of a young girl named Liesel. Surprisingly, it turns out to be the perfect fit to narrate such a story, as it manages to capture its essence quite vividly.
The Gravedigger’s Handbook
The story is set in Germany, from 1939 to 1943. It starts by telling that Liesel’s life has changed after she found a book on her brother’s grave. It was the first book she stole, soon followed by several more she took from different places. Her foster father, Hans, teaches her how to read which becomes her favorite thing to do.
Their lives change when Max, a Jewish boy Hans swore to protect, comes to live with them. He soon becomes Liesel’s best friend and the story goes on to reveal the significance of their friendship and the impact Max has on Liesel’s life.
Being one of the best holocaust survivor books, Born Survivors tells the stories of three young women that managed to survive the concentration camps regardless of the inhuman conditions. The husbands of all three women have been murdered before they even had the chance to find out that their wives were pregnant.
That made Priska, Rachel, and Anka even stronger and determined in their will to keep their unborn children alive and well. The book’s author, Wendy Holden, did thorough research prior to writing her book, which helped her tell the three women’s stories including a great amount of detail.
Raising Children in Concentration Camps
It discusses what happened to the three women before, during, and after their stay in concentration camps, mainly focusing on what they have to do in order to keep their children alive. Interestingly, they didn’t know each other at the time, but their children connected at some point in their lives, after which they tell Holden about their mother stories.
This book is not only about the three of them, but it serves as a memorial of every victim and Holocaust survivor. Although it unveils a heartbreaking story, the end of the book shows you its embedded sense of survival, making it another one of the best books about nazi concentration camps.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of the best fiction books on the Holocaust and earns its place with a reason. It was first published in 2006, it is a#1 New York Times bestseller, being sold in more than 9 million copies ever since.
The author, John Boyne, tells a story about two nine-year-old boys living in two very different worlds and tries to portray their friendship during the year they spent talking to each other, separated by the fence of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Even though the book is told from the perspective of a little boy, the language Boyne used is mature, depicting the circumstances during WWII in a great amount of detail.
Fighting Inequality Amongst People
The novel sets out to depict the cruelties of war, but through the boys’ perspective, it manages to show the differences invented by people, that separated humanity and made the people unequal. But the book also shows what Bruno and Schmuel have in common, regardless of the fact they lived on opposite sides of the fence.
This book is one of the best holocaust novels, as Boyne did a great job of depicting the scene so vividly that it provokes an emotional reaction from every person that has ever read this masterpiece.
The Holocaust: A New History is one of the best history books on the holocaust, as it tells the story quite uniquely, targeting some questions that no other book tries to answer. The author writes this book as a chronological narrative, including the latest historical findings, as well as testimonies from several eyewitnesses that helped in his attempt to shed a light on probably the worst crime in the history of mankind.
The Beginning of the Holocaust
The book is divided into three parts: the first one is written based on the latest research, as well as the author’s 25 years of experience in interviewing survivors. Some of the events and stories he includes in this part have never been published before.
In the second part, the author claims that if Nazis won WWII, they would’ve killed many more non-Jews than Jews. Lastly, the third part of the book deals with the fact that no particular moment, situation or event has led to the emerging of the Holocaust. Rees gives a detailed account of the situation from start to finish. It is one of the best novels about the holocaust, as he manages to answer why and how it started, presenting the progress year by year.
Corrie ten Boom manages to put the story of her life in a book which is known as one of the best novels on the holocaust. She lived a peaceful life as a watchmaker, along with her family, up until the beginning of WWII, when she had to take some more drastic measures to ensure everyone who needed help got it on time. Her Christian faith and her love towards God and people made her put at stake her life and the life of her family, to save as many Jewish people as she could.
How to Save Hundreds of Lives
The Hiding Place tells their courageous story; during the Nazi occupation of Holland, Corrie and her family were hiding and transporting the Jews whose lives were in danger, as the Gestapo was looking for them. They managed to save around 800 Jews and protected many underground workers. But because of their actions they were caught and taken to different concentration camps, from which only Corrie made it out alive.
After her release, she announced that her motivation to do what she did came from her Christian faith. She was highly praised for the things she’s done not only by the people in her country, but from others as well, and has received many awards for her writing and speaking.
Rated as one of the most popular books about holocaust, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry certainly lives up to readers’ expectations. Published in 1989, it belongs to the genre of historical fiction, whose main focus is to tell the story about the escape of one Jewish family.
This book is different from the others dealing with the holocaust theme as it chooses a more subtle way to tell its story, leaving much of the event to the imagination, but giving enough information so that you can easily predict what would happen next.
Smuggling Thousands of Jews Out
The author’s way of expressing herself makes the story mysterious, educational, and most of the time, intensely emotional. Number the Stars is one of the best children’s books on the holocaust as well, which is set in Denmark during its occupation by the Nazis, and presents the story of a teenage girl, Annemarie Johansen.
She and her family were ordinary people but did what had to be done to save her best friend, Ellen Rosen, along with her family. This book doesn’t only tell the story of the Rosen family, but also focuses on how Danish people managed to smuggle thousands of Jews across the sea, and directed them to Sweden to save them from their almost certain deaths.
Tatiana de Rosnay is a French writer and author of one of the best holocaust books – Sarah’s Key. The story is set in Paris in 1942 and it deals with a not so well-known event to the public – the Vel’ d’Hiv’ round-up, which is one of the most scandalous acts of collaboration between the French and the German Nazis.
In her book, she offers the readers a subtle and interesting portrait of France while under German occupation and goes about to reveal all the taboos of the monstrous acts that happened during the holocaust.
Revealing Shocking Secrets
Tatiana describes two stories; the first one is about a ten-year-old Jewish girl named Sarah, who has been arrested in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ action along with her family. It is based on true events that took place in 1942, which resulted in taking the captured Jews to concentration camps where most of them perished.
The second story is about an American journalist, Julia Jarmond, who in the course of her investigation, comes across Sarah’s story, and after revealing a series of shocking secrets, becomes determined to connect with her. This is a rather short holocaust book that will tell you all you need to know.
Many holocaust books reviews will mention this book as one of the most important ones dealing with the theme of the holocaust and survival. Survival in Auschwitz is a memoir written by Primo Levi, an Italian chemist, who was arrested at the age of 25 by Italian fascists and was deported to one of the campsites in Auschwitz.
It is a book that tells the story of his experience during the 10 months he spent at the camp, but what makes it one of the best books about the holocaust is the fact that it explains what the prisoners did to survive Auschwitz’s horrors.
A Memoir of Torture
Primo Levi’s writing is comprehensible and sticks to the point. He lists three essential things all the survivors made use of in order to survive: organization, pity, and theft. He was lucky to be a chemistry graduate, so they employed him in the camp’s laboratory, but he also talks about other prisoners and tells their survival stories.
Survival in Auschwitz is a detailed, intelligent, and deeply moving memoir that describes the torture Jews underwent during their stay in the camp. This book not only presents Levi’s horrible experience, but it also includes his psychological and philosophical reflections, making it one of the most important concentration camps books ever written.
Many disturbing questions about the Nazi regime and the life of people during that time are asked even today. Some of the events that happened before and during Hitler’s reign remained a secret up until recently. What We Knew is a book that tries to give answers to a lot of the distressing questions of modern history, by providing an analysis of the daily life of people living and experiencing the regime.
The Regime of Hitler
This book is a collection of testimonies from a range of people involved in the Holocaust, from the Jews that survived the concentration camps to ordinary German citizens and soldiers that served the regime of Hitler. It demonstrates how the Jewish genocide was a one-step-at-a-time process, which ultimately resulted in the murder of more than 6 million Jews.
What the authors try to prove is that ordinary German citizens were not as unaware of all that was happening as they claim to be. What makes this novel one of the best books on the holocaust is the shocking discovery that many supported Nazi doctrines and approved of anti-Semitism.
Those Who Save Us is a non-fiction book that tells a detailed story of the lives of a mother and her daughter, during and after WWII. It is a combination of a passionate, but doomed love story, and explores the consequences that came as a result, becomes part of the reason why this book is among the best Jewish holocaust books.
The author introduces you to the fate of Anna Schlemmer, and her daughter, Trudy, as she walks you through her investigation of her mother’s past, revealing the dramatic and upsetting truth about her life. Jenna’s writing style is clear and succeeds in keeping the reader interested throughout the whole book.
Possibilities of Human Will
This book goes back and forth between the past and the present, giving the reader insights into both Anna and Trudy’s life, as to how their experience from the war shaped them into the persons they are today. It is a story that tells what the individual is capable of doing in order to survive, even when the odds are not on their side.
Those Who Save Us also sheds a light on the German citizens who did nothing, and informs the reader about the possible reasons as to why they couldn’t prevent the wrong that was done. It is one of the top books on the holocaust because of its hopeful tone of the present that Jenna Bloom offers.
Ruta Sepetys is best known for presenting stories about the struggle and hope of people during the hard times they endured, giving them a voice to talk about their hard times and to express their feelings. Her book Between Shades of Gray presents a new side of the story of war, told from a different aspect, and talks about the lives of Europeans that were taken away from their home to some remote part of the world, forced to do hard work in conditions that were already hard to survive in.
Surviving All Challenges
It tells the story of Lina, a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who was taken away from her home, along with her mother and brother, and brought into a camp in the coldest parts of Siberia. Here, they were forced to do difficult work, while being challenged to endure and survive the horrible conditions of both the climate and the camps.
Lina finds comfort in her art, by documenting the events, by drawing and painting, hoping they would make it to her father’s camp to ensure they were still alive. This is a really good holocaust book, showing that the survival of Lina was only possible because of her strength, love, and hope.
Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.