Books About the Holocaust

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Introduction: Holocaust is derived from the Greek words ‘holos’ meaning whole and ‘kaustos’ meaning burnt. The holocaust was a genocide in which around six million Jews were exterminated during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. The Nazis who came into power in January 1933 in Germany believed that Germans were racially superior and the Jews were inferior and a threat to the German community.

Several books were written narrating this horrific chapter in human history.

1. Anne Frank: The Dairy of a Young Girl: This book was first published in 1947 as the ‘Diary of a Young Girl’. This is the story of a young girl, in Holland, who hid from the Germans who were exterminating Jews. Anne and eight other members of her family were forced to hide in an attic for four years. The book is based on a diary that she kept while she lived in the attic. She and her sister were eventually killed in a concentration camp. After the war the diary was found by her father Otto Frank who later published this in memory of his daughter. The book has been translated into many languages and has been adapted for films and theatre. On the inside cover of every book, Otto Frank asks the reader to ‘work for unity and peace ‘in any little way they can.

2. Night by Elie Wiesel: This book is derived from the diary of a twelve year old Jewish boy in Romania. He spent two years suffering and witnessing the extreme cruelty and inhuman acts perpetrated by the Nazi SS. He wrote the diary after being liberated by American forces, from the camp in Buchenwald. The book was first published in Yiddish and titled ‘And the World Remained Silent’. When it was translated into French, it was renamed ‘La Nuit’.

3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: Is a simple poignant fiction about a young girl in Copenhagen during the war. Her family help their Jewish neighbours to escape the Holocaust. The story is aimed at young readers and is a gentle introduction to the Holocaust.

4. The Boy in the Striped Blue Pyjamas by John Boyne: This is the story of the young son of the German Commander of a concentration camp. His family protect him from the truth about the camp. He innocently befriends a boy in the camp with disastrous results. The book has been made into a movie by Mark Herman.

5. Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy: This is a biographical novel written in free verse that depicts the life of a young girl whose family was forced into the Lodz Ghetto in 1933 during the World War II. The author tells the story of her Aunt Sylvia who lived at the concentration camp with her sister Dora and cousin Isaac who were among the few children who survived. The title is derived from the yellow badge that Sylvia was forced to wear.

6. Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi: This is the story of the authors ten months in the concentration camp. Here the author describes how the Jews were tortured, made to work as slaves and eventually exterminated.

7. Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally: This book is based on the life of Oskar Schindler a German business man who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees by employing them in his factories. He had come to Germany to make his fortune and hired Jewish workers because they cost less. This book was adapted into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

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