7 Essential Books to Read on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 24 2022
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January 27 marks 2022’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, we commemorate the more than six million victims of the Holocaust. These contemporary classics are testaments to the power, courage, and resilience of those who experienced this atrocity. By turns haunting, unbelievable, and inspirational, these novels, nonfiction books, and memoirs all depict this moment in history and the unforgettable people affected by it from a variety of perspectives.  

The Choice
by Edith Eva Eger

At age 16, Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz where her parents were killed. Upon the camp’s liberation in 1945, a soldier pulled Edie from a pile of corpses. In the years after, Edie struggles with survivor’s guilt and must revisit Auschwitz decades later to confront the past. As Eger reflects on the psychology behind her journey, she shares the stories of other survivors she’s met since. An acclaimed bestseller, THE CHOICE tells the inspirational journey of Edie’s survival and her lifelong process of healing.

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The Choice
Edith Eva Eger

Off the Shelf Editor's Pick:

In her incredible, unforgettable memoir, Dr. Edith Eger chronicles her harrowing experience at Auschwitz at just 16, her path to healing in the years since, and the stories of others she's been able to help along the way. This National Jewish Book Award winner has been rightfully praised for the inspiration that it offers to anyone who's struggling and in need of comfort and hope.

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Twilight
by Elie Wiesel

Holocaust survivor Raphael has heard the voices of the dead ever since he was rescued at fifteen from postwar Poland by a man named Pedro. While he is now a successful professor of literature, Raphael feels himself unraveling and decides he must find Pedro, his old mentor, who disappeared long ago in a Stalinist Russia prison. A tip sends him to the Mountain Clinic, a remote psychiatric hospital that specializes in patients with biblical delusions. Written by the beloved writer of NIGHT, TWILIGHT is a momentous novel about remembrance and madness.

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Twilight
Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel, the bestselling author of Night, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize­ winner, offers a profound fictional account of what one Holocaust survivor must endure to find out what happened to his friend and savior after the war—while also discovering the meaning of his own survival.

Raphael Lipkin is a man obsessed. He hears voices. He talks to ghosts. He is spending the summer at the Mountain Clinic, a psychiatric hospital in upstate New York—not as a patient, but as a visiting professional with a secret, personal quest.

A professor of literature and a Holocaust survivor, Raphael, having rebuilt his life since the war, sees it on the verge of coming apart once more. He longs to talk to Pedro, the man who rescued him as a fifteen-year-old orphan from postwar Poland and brought him to Paris, becoming his friend, mentor, hero, and savior. But Pedro disappeared inside the prisons of Stalin’s Russia shortly after the war. Where is Pedro now, and how can Raphael discern what is true and what is false without him?

A mysterious nighttime caller directs Raphael’s search to the Mountain Clinic, a unique asylum for patients whose delusions spring up from the Bible. Amid patients calling themselves Adam, Cain, Abraham, Joseph, Jeremiah, and God, Raphael searches for Pedro’s truth and the meaning of his own survival in an extraordinary novel that penetrates the mysteries of good, evil, and madness.

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Jacob the Liar
by Jurek Becker & Leila Vennewitz

A contemporary masterpiece by one of the masters of German postwar literature, JACOB THE LIAR is a tense and warmhearted story about the complexity of maintaining hope in the face of destruction. Jacob Heym lives in the ghetto, where owning a radio can get you killed. When Jacob is arrested one afternoon, he overhears a report about the Red Army’s impending advance. But after his release, he can only convince others of the news by telling them he owns a radio. As the weeks go on, he spreads fake reports of progress, giving unexpected hope to his community.

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Jacob the Liar
Jurek Becker & Leila Vennewitz

​One of the most remarkable novels of the Holocaust ever written, and the basis of the 1999 major motion picture starring Robin Williams.

A novel about the Holocaust "that has never been surpassed" (Times Literary Supplement), Jacob the Liar is a now classic work from one of the giants of German postwar literature and a tale of everyday heroism and the extraordinary power of illusion.

In the ghetto, possession of a radio is punishable by death. Like thousands of his fellow prisoners, Jacob Heym is cut off from all news of the war—until he is arrested one evening and brought to the German military office, where he overhears a report of the Red Army’s advance to a city some 300 miles away. Miraculously, he is allowed to return to his quarters, but when he tries to spread the good news, the only way to make people believe him is to tell a lie: “How do I know? I have a radio.” One lie leads to another, and before long Jacob finds himself feeding the entire ghetto fabricated news reports of the Russians’ advance—reports that save lives by giving people renewed hope. So Jacob is a hero and a liar. But how much longer can his web of lies hold?

Told with suspense and humor, here is a masterful tale of hope, desire, and the life-giving force of fiction. Awarded Germany's prestigious Heinrich Mann Prize for fiction and in a new translation by Leila Vennewitz, Jacob the Liar is a masterpiece of Kafkaesque comedy which unfolds with the impact of a timeless folk legend. This edition includes a new afterword by Louis Begley.

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Schindler's List
by Thomas Keneally

In this award-winning and critically acclaimed bestseller, Thomas Keneally presents the well-researched, harrowing real-life account of Oskar Schindler. A German factory director and war profiteer, Schindler secretly managed to save more Jews from death during the Holocaust than any other individual. Using oral histories from survivors, SCHINDLER’S LIST captures the heroism of one man’s decisions in the face of pure evil. Can’t get enough of the book? Once you finish this astounding true story, check out the Academy Award–winning movie based on Keneally’s unforgettable tale!

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Schindler's List
Thomas Keneally

In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the Nazi concentration camps, this award-winning, bestselling work of Holocaust fiction, inspiration for the classic film and “masterful account of the growth of the human soul” (Los Angeles Times Book Review), returns with an all-new introduction and beautifully redesigned cover.

An “extraordinary” (New York Review of Books) novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and factory director Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II. In this milestone of Holocaust literature, Thomas Keneally, author of The Book of Science and Antiquities and The Daughter of Mars, uses the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden—Schindler’s Jews—to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a good man in the midst of unspeakable evil. “Astounding…in this case the truth is far more powerful than anything the imagination could invent” (Newsweek).

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If Not Now, When?
by Primo Levi

An unforgettable novel based on a true story by Holocaust survivor and award-winning chemist and writer Primo Levi, IF NOT NOW, WHEN? is a portrait of human strength and bravery. As World War II ends, a group of Jewish partisans embarks on an unbelievable journey. This group travels from Russia to Italy, determined to reach Palestine. Along the way they sabotage the remains of the Nazi army and rescue concentration camp survivors, asserting their courage and agency in the midst of destruction.

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If Not Now, When?
Primo Levi

Based off a true story, a group of Jewish partisans fight the Nazis behind enemy lines during the final year of World War II. Primo Levi’s powerful novel is equal parts suspenseful and philosophical.

World War II is in its final throes. As the Nazis retreat from the Red Army, much of Europe is left in total devastation. Against this backdrop, the watchmaker Mendel, who lost his wife and entire village to the Nazis, meets Leonid, a teenage escapee from a concentration camp. Stranded behind German lines, the pair makes their way through a desolate landscape to join a group of resistance fighters intent on sabotaging the enemy and liberating Jewish prisoners.

An epic story stretching from Eastern Soviet Union to Northern Italy, If Not Now, When? is a novel about acts of resistance—both small and large—against impossible odds.

Along with Elie Wiesel and Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi is remembered as one of the most powerful and perceptive writers on the Holocaust and the Jewish experience during World War II. This is an essential book both for students and literary readers. Reading Primo Levi is a lesson in the resiliency of the human spirit.

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Day After Night
by Anita Diamant

In 1945, four women find themselves in Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast. All survivors of the Holocaust, each fosters their own secrets and losses, but they begin to find hope again due to their burgeoning friendship. With one another’s help, they begin to find new life in an unfamiliar place. Based on the true story of the Atlit internment camp rescue, master storyteller Anita Diamant’s DAY AFTER NIGHT is a tale of female friends and resilience.

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Day After Night
Anita Diamant

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and The Salt Lake Tribune

Just as she gave voice to the silent women of the Hebrew Bible in The Red Tent, Anita Diamant creates a cast of breathtakingly vivid characters—young women who escaped to Israel from Nazi Europe—in this intensely dramatic novel.

Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp who survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to hope, the four of them find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

Diamant’s triumphant novel is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption that reimagines a singular moment in history with stunning eloquence.

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A Garden of Eden in Hell
by Melissa Muller & Reinhard Piechocki

A GARDEN OF EDEN IN HELL tells the true story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the famed Prague pianist who kept hope alive for her son and thousands of other prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. After Alice’s mother was deported in 1942, Alice committed herself to learning Chopin’s 42 études to maintain her sanity. After she, her husband, and her six-year-old son are deported themselves, Alice continues to perform for the prisoners while she tries to carve out a childhood for her son in the face of atrocity.

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A Garden of Eden in Hell
Melissa Muller & Reinhard Piechocki

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