On 27th January, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we at DU Express took a moment to hold in our hearts the 6 million Jews who faced atrocities at the hands of Nazi Germany. To ensure that history does not repeat itself, one must read the accounts of the people who even in the face of such dire situations, acted with strength and resilience. Here are five books and memoirs that we think everyone should read related to the Holocaust!
The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 by Władysław Szpilman
The Pianist is a memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman in which he describes his life in Warsaw in occupied Poland during World War II. He takes us through the insensate violence that the Jewish inhabitants of the city had faced, living the most brutal and unforgiving of nightmares for a period of almost 5 years.- Advertisement -
While reading this book, I had absolutely no sense of time or place around me. I read it in one sitting and was overcome with tears and emotions throughout the book. This is a memoir of the absolute triumph of the human spirit and there exists no reason or excuse not to read it.
Night by Elie Wiesel.- Advertisement -
This is a short but powerful memoir by Elie Wiesel which details his time as a teenager in concentration camps, both Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The story of Wiesel depicts the truly horrific and heartbreaking details of his suffering, such as his separation from his mother and sister, whom he never saw again, and the slow, painful death of his father. This book would leave you thinking.
Fragments of Isabella by Isabella Leitner- Advertisement -
When the Nazis moved their families to Auschwitz in 1944, Isabella Leitner was only 10 years older than Anne Frank. Her mother and one of her sisters were killed, leaving Isabella and her three other sisters to rely entirely on each other to survive. An alternative and special viewpoint on the Holocaust is offered by her insight and account.
Jack and Rochelle by Jack Sutin and Rochelle Sutin
A true love story with the Holocaust as its backdrop, this novel begins with Jack asking Rochelle for a dance before the war, and documents their relationship as World War II horrors unfolded. While separated for years, the pair, after fleeing from the Jewish ghettos to which they had been forced to move, were reunited in a forest. This memoir was written based on interviews with his son Lawrence.
The Complete Maus by Art Speigelman
The Complete Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats. Even though it is a graphic novel, it transcends its form to appeal to many a non-graphic novel reader as well. A story within a story, Spiegelman also explores how his father was affected after escaping the Holocaust and the family’s life in the mid-20th century in America.