Holocaust Memorial Day 2020: The Reading Agency’s book recommendations

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place annually on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a time to remember the millions of people who lost their lives under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides

There have been many fiction and non-fiction books written about the Holocaust, both by people who experienced it and other writers. We have selected a few titles suitable for different ages to give an insight into this period of history.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

This is a semi-autobiographical story about a Jewish family feeling Germany before the start of the Second World War. When nine-year-old Anna’s father went missing in 1933, her mother secretly rushed her and her brother away from everything they knew: out of Germany, through Switzerland, Paris and finally to England.

The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen

Fourteen-year-old Lisa was a musical prodigy who hoped to become a concert pianist. But when Hitler’s armies advanced on pre-war Vienna, her parents were forced to make a difficult decision. Able to secure passage for only one of their three daughters through the Kindertransport, they chose to send Lisa to London for safety. While she lived in a home for refugee children, her music became a beacon for hope.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly

In these poems and pictures drawn by the children who passed through the Terezin concentration camp we see their daily misery, their courage and optimism and their hopes and fears. These innocent and honest depictions allow us to see what life was like through the eyes of children-haunting reminders of what no child should ever have to see.

If This Is a Man by Primo Levi

In 1944, Primo Levi was deported from Italy to Auschwitz, where he remained until the camp was liberated by the Red Army the following year. A harrowing account of the horrors of the concentration camp system, If This Is a Man is also a meditation on what it means to be human and the difficult of retaining a sense of identity within a structure devoid of moral values.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

This graphic novel tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son-a cartoonist coming to terms with his family’s history. Against the backdrop of guilt brought on by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of history is a story of survival-not only Vladek’s but of the children who survive the survivors.

The Choice by Edith Eger

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive. But the horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. Instead, they helped her to learn to live again with life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story, showing how hope can flower in the most unlikely of places.

The Reading Agency

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