Published: November 17, 2021
World War II, and the Holocaust, was some of the worst times in human history. This list includes books that show the circumstances that led up to it, during it and the results from it. Many of them are emotional and horrifying, but others are uplifting and show the resilience of the human spirit.
This list of 20 only scratches the surface of the non-fiction World War II books, and if you have others that would help inform others, please let us know.
Written by: Saul Friedländer
Published: April 10th, 2007
This book is a comprehensive look at the years of extermination that took place in Nazi Germany. The author takes an unbiased approach to explain this time by using historical data and relating it to current events.
This book provides insight into why people did what they did, including Jews who went along with it or even helped. It is also shedding light on how we can prevent events like this events can be prevented from happening again in the future. Mr. Friedlander won a Pulitzer in 2008 for this book.
Written by: Rebecca Frankel
Published: September 7th, 2021
Into the Forest by Rebecca Frankel is a story of survival, triumph, and love. It is told from the perspective of an older woman looking back on her life as a Holocaust survivor, this book details how Miriam Rabinowitz and her family found hope in the darkest times. This includes hiding in the forest for two years, Typhus, and Nazis trying to kill them.
While reading, you'll be able to feel how much strength it took for her to live through these events and still come out alive enough to tell her story later in life. We must never forget history so that these things won't happen again.
Written by: Eddie Jaku
Published: July 28th, 2020
He was just a teenager when he was attacked by SS members and was immediately sent to two concentration camps: Buchenwald and Auschwitz. He then spent seven years in the camps seeing all the horror and death around him. However, instead of becoming bitter and angry by this experiment, he decided to become the "Happiest Man on Earth."
In this book, he goes explicitly into how he did that, how people around him changed when he started this, and how you can find ways to become happier by just reading this book on its own. And then you become even happier by putting into action his way of living in this world.
Written by: Thomas Give & Charlie Inglefield
Published: July 27th, 2021
Thrown into a concentration camp at age 13, Thomas Gave had to endure 22 months until the Allies liberated him as the war ended. During the camp, he wrote about it and drew pictures to let others see life in that time, and they were, and still are, powerful.
Some of these stories include the loss of friends and all the other victims of the Nazi regime to help others remember, make sure it never happens again, and look at how you take horrors like this and turn it towards a better life. The illustrations alone make this book worth reading as they are incredibly powerful.
Written by: Edith Eger
Published: September 5th, 2017
Edith Eger documents her life in this memoir from being a 16-year-old girl who was thrown to Auschwitz. Her family was also sent there and executed. However, the evil Dr. Josef Mengele gave her the choice of being killed or dancing for him if she wanted to survive.
The trauma was so horrible that she didn't talk about it until 35 years later. She then decided to face her largest horror. She went to Auschwitz to work through the trauma and stop blaming herself for her giving in to Mengele, and other horrible events, because she could only do what she could do to survive and then, at this age, even able to thrive.
Written by: Anne Frank
Anne Frank was a young woman who kept a diary throughout her life for two years and documented all that happened. She writes a diary of her daily life as she tries to survive for the two years in hiding. Anne lived in Amsterdam with her family until they were forced to go into hiding due to the Nazi occupation of Holland at a friend's house.
The Franks were eventually betrayed and sent off to concentration camps, where most of them died. However, her father was freed and then showed the world this powerful experience of their life through this book.
Written by: Viktor E. Frankl
Published: January 20th, 2011
In his book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl explores our ability to find meaning in any situation through the power of free will and choice. Since he was previously a psychiatrist, he details how he found meaning in a concentration camp during World War II by helping other prisoners with their mental health needs.
This book is an enthralling and fantastic example of how you can survive for three years and at four different concentration camps and then come out and find a way to help yourself and others to find meaning when you could give up.
Written by: Primo Levi
Published: August 22nd, 2007
Primo Levi has written a memoir about his experiences during World War II. His story is not only interesting to read, but it also gives insight into the mind of someone who survived one of the worst events in history. It provides an understanding that cannot be gained from reading or listening to other people who did not experience the actual events. The book is divided into two parts, which are "Background" and "Camp." These sections are further divided into many different chapters, all with their own unique stories to tell.
He does a beautiful job at telling his experience as if you were right there beside him, experiencing everything that happened. Even though the book was published over fifty years ago, it still holds up as relevant today as ever.
Written by: Thomas Keneally
Published: September 1st, 1994
Most people know about Schindler's List from the movie; however, there is much more to be told and read about. It is the story of a German man making money from selling weapons and supplies to the Nazis and realizing that he was evil.
He decided to change their lives when he realized that by helping over 1,000 Jews escape from the concentration camps. He did this at great peril but knew that he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he didn't help others. The book also interviews survivors about what they went through and how he helped save them.
Written by: Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold
Published: May 15th, 1987
Most people know of Anne Frank and her daughter, but few know about the husband and wife that help them stay hidden and safe. Also, lesser-known is that seven other people, including Frank's mother and father, hid in that tiny attic to remain safe. Sadly, they were betrayed by a houseworker and taken to concentration camps.
All of her family was murdered in them, but her father Otto survived it. Most people don' realize this, but Miep Gies, who helped write this book, is the person who first found and kept the diary before giving it to Otto Frank.
Written by: Laurence Rees
Published: January 10th, 2006
Auschwitz is the most notorious symbol of the Holocaust. But what was it really like? Rees takes us through the camp's history, from its construction to its liberation by Soviet forces in 1945. Before this, it has been shown that the Nazis killed over 1 million Jews there. We are introduced to some of those who survived and lost loved ones there - people whose stories have always been part of our collective memory but never told as powerfully as they are here.
This is an essential read for anyone interested in better understanding this dark chapter in human history or just learning more about one of the world's most famous concentration camps.
Written by: Filip Müller
Published: August 24th, 1999
Muller was an inmate of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps during World War II. This book offers readers insights into what life was like for prisoners living at Auschwitz. Then after realizing they will be murdered instead of being resettled at another camp if they'd be able to survive or die.
This book is considered one of the best firsthand accounts because Mueller shares his experiences and his thought process before, during, and after he realized that he had been deceived about being taken to another camp. He provides detailed descriptions, including recollections on how his fellow inmates acted around each other, knowing what would happen to them.
Written by: Willy Lindwer
Published: June 11th, 1999
The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer is an excellent book that gives insight into the last few months that Anne Frank and her family spent in hiding. The book goes through the hardships they faced during this time. Including sicknesses and lack of food, but it also tells about their happiness and hope for freedom. This book has beautiful pictures to go along with the text, so you can feel what life was like during World War II.
Written by: Władysław Szpilman
Władysław Szpilman is mainly a Polish pianist and composer who survived the Holocaust during World War II. Szpilman lived through the Warsaw Ghetto and several concentration camps, most notably Auschwitz-Birkenau, while playing the piano to entertain German officers.
If not for the skill and the luck that the Nazis appreciated his music, he indeed would have been killed. This book looks at a rare way of life using your skills to survive.
Written by: Robert Jay Lifton
Published: October 21st, 1986
In The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, Robert Jay Lifton explores how physicians can be complicit in genocide. He does this by examining and interviewing doctors who were coerced to participate in the medical killing under Adolf Hitler's regime. Since there were horrific and inhumane tests done on Jews and other people during WWII, Lifton raises many important questions about ethics and morality within medicine.
The book is a must-read for anyone going into the medicinal community to make sure they will stand up to power and not back down. Just as much, the average person must do the same since they will know their rights and not let themselves be used by people in power.
Written by: Corrie ten Boom
Published: October 1st, 1984
This book details Corrie ten Boom's life as a Dutch citizen living in Nazi-occupied Holland during the Holocaust. Before the Holocaust started, she and her father were well-known Dutch watchmakers. They were also devout Christians who opened their home to those being persecuted by the Nazis even though they had religious differences.
Her father was arrested for speaking out against Hitler, and she and her sister were also arrested because they continued to help Jews escape persecution. The Nazis then sent them to the concentration camps as traitors. Sadly, only she survived. However, ten Boom explains that her faith in God allowed her to endure these horrors to help others and how God gave her strength through it all.
Written by: Elie Wiesel
Published: January 16th, 2006
This autobiography is about the author's experience in concentration camps during the Holocaust and the horrors there. The book starts with a description of his happy childhood but soon takes a dark turn when he and his family are taken to Auschwitz. He describes how they were treated there, what it was like living in constant darkness, and how they survived terrible conditions. This includes living without food or water for weeks and seeing people tortured and murdered without any remorse by the Nazis.
Amazingly, Wiesel still found a way to become a proponent of peace and love between all peoples and all cultures. He also worked the rest of his life to make sure that nothing like what happened in those camps would ever happen again.
Written by: Kenneth P. Price
Published: January 5th, 2021
This starts with a simple love affair and marriage between Abe and Sonia Huberman, who lives in Poland. However, Abe went to the USA for work for what was supposed to be seven weeks. However, as WWII broke out, he was unable to return for over seven years. This is the story of how their marriage would survive, even as Sonia was in the Warsaw Ghetto and then in a concentration camp, no matter what was in their way.
It's only after the war ends that both can finally be reunited again- but not without some severe obstacles along the way!
Written by: Tammy Bottner
Published: June 8th, 2017
The True Story of How a Family Survived the Holocaust is about how one family survived World War II and the Holocaust. Bottner wrote it after interviewing her grandmother about what happened to her during WWII.
She learned that her grandmother was only 18 and had just given birth to a 3-week-old child, and war had been declared on their country of Poland. They see what is happening to Jews around them and find ways to survive the same horrors they would face. This book is highly regarded and known as one that will capitate and allow you to see the world through another person's eyes.
Written by: Max Eisen
Published: April 19th, 2016
In his memoir, Max Eisen tells how he and his family survived one of the most notorious concentration camps in Nazi Germany. He shares the story from a child's perspective and an adult looking back on those events. These include being seriously injured by an SS member, being brought to a hospital, cured, and then saved by a doctor who hired him as an assistant so he wouldn't be sent back to the concentration camps, and sure death.
After being liberated from Auschwitz and reentering society, Max shares insights into what life was like for him and his sister. He then discusses the legacy that Holocaust survivors left behind for future generations to learn about their experiences.