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Book recommendations for Holocaust Memorial Day

25 January 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January is an international day for remembering the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution of other groups and during more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The Holocaust has been the subject of many fiction and non-fiction books, written by people who have experienced it and other authors.

Richmond upon Thames Library Service have selected a few books, suitable for a range of ages, to give readers an insight into these important periods in world history and the lives of the people who did and did not survive these genocides.

Adult fiction books

  • The Lost Family by Jenna Blume - a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s. It is a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II.
  • The Yellow Birds Sings by Jennifer Rosner - a powerfully gripping story about the unbreakable bond between parent and child and the triumph of humanity and hope in even the darkest circumstances.
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris - inspired by an astonishing true story, the year is 1942, where Lale Sokolov arrives in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Lale is given the job of tattooing prisoners marked for survival, creating what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. The story is a heartfelt tale of love born in darkness.
  • The Dressmaker of Dachau by Mary Chamberlain - spanning the intense years of war, The Dressmaker of Dachau is a dramatic tale of love, conflict, betrayal, and survival. It is the compelling story of one young woman's resolve to endure and of the choices she must make at every turn - choices which will contain truths she must confront

Adult non-fiction books

  • Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust by Lyn Smith - a collection of interviews with Holocaust survivors. Even in this dark time of human history, tales of faith, love and courage can be found. As well as revealing the story of the Holocaust as directly experienced by victims, these testimonies also illustrate how, even enduring the harshest conditions, hope, the will to survive, and the human spirit still shine through.
  • The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland - in April 1944, nineteen-year-old Rudolf Vrba and fellow inmate Fred Wetzler became the first Jews ever known to break out of Auschwitz. Under electrified fences and past armed watchtowers, they trekked across marshlands, mountains and rivers to freedom. Vrba's mission: to reveal to the world the truth of the Holocaust.
  • When Time Stopped: a memoir of my father's war and what remains by Ariana Neumann - spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans, When Time Stopped is a powerful and beautifully wrought memoir in which Ariana comes to know the family that has been lost - and, ultimately, her own beloved father.
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman - House of Glass details the lives of Hadley Freeman’s grandmother and her siblings across the globe and through a turbulent twentieth century. Addressing themes of assimilation, identity, and home this powerful story of the past explores issues that are deeply relevant today.

Children's books

  • Little People, Big Dreams: Anne Frank by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Children’s Non-fiction-6+) - discover the life of Anne Frank, the writer whose diary captured the hearts of the public, in this true story of her life
  • When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler (Teen-11+) - a powerful and heart-breaking story about three childhood friends living during the Second World War, whose fates are closely intertwined, even when their lives take very different courses.
  • Fritz and Kurt by Jeremy Dronfield (Children’s Non-fiction 9+) - in this extraordinary true story, Fritz and Kurt must face unimaginable hardships, and the two brothers wonder if they will ever return home.
  • Anna at War by Helen Peters (Children’s fiction 8+) - a brilliant and moving wartime adventure. Anna At War is a poignant story of Anna’s flight from persecution to intrigue in the Kent countryside.

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Up to: January 2023

Updated: 25 January 2023

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