by The History Reader
This year, during the 70th anniversary marking the end of the Holocaust and the beginning of Yom HaShoah—Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day—we remember the stories that shed light on one of the darkest periods in contemporary history.
Unlikely Warrior by Georg Rauch
As a young adult in wartime Vienna, Georg Rauch helped his mother hide dozens of Jews from the Gestapo behind false walls in their top-floor apartment and arrange for their safe transport out of the country. This true account documents his extraordinary adventure, from working underground to resist Nazi rule, to the day he was drafted into Hitler’s army (though he himself was Jewish), to staying alive in the trenches and surving more than one Soviet labor camps before finding his way back home.
The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Pianist is now a major motion picture, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s most prestigious prize—the Palme d’Or. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.
The Holocaust by Martin Gilbert
Deftly weaving together historical research and survivors’ testimonies, The Holcaust is Gilbert’s acclaimed and definitive history of the European Jews, fom Hitler’s rise to power to Germany’s surrender to the liberation of the prisoners of the concentration camps.
Anne Frank by Melissa Müller
Praised as “remarkable,” “meticulous,” and “long overdue,” Anne Frank: The Biography, originally published in 1998, still stands as the definitive account of the girl who has become “the human face of the Holocaust.” Full of revelations, Müller’s richly textured narrative returned Anne Frank to history, portraying the flesh-and-blood girl unsentimentalized and so all the more affecting.
Night by Elie Wiesel
Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. It offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.