Since 2005, January 27th has been designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the world takes time to acknowledge the millions of victims of genocide at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. Below are some books that address this difficult and important period in history.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein – This companion to 2013 Printz Honor book Code Name Verity offers a horrific and visceral story of the RavensbrÃ¼ck concentration camp. The book follows Rose, a young American pilot, who finds herself in RavensbrÃ¼ck after her plane is captured by the Germans. There she meets others women who have been captured and subjected to medical experimentation. With vivid descriptions and a clear attention to historical detail, this book is a powerful read for those who want to more fully understand the Holocaust. [Edit: Earlier today, this book was awarded the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award in the teen division.]
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen – Rebecca grows up listening to her grandmother’s version of the story of Briar Rose (also known as Sleeping Beauty). But while she knows that this version is much different than that told in other families, it is not until her grandmother is dying that she begins to understand the truth of the story and the actual history of her family during World War II.
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow – Set in Germany at the time of Nazi rule, this book tells the story of Karl Stern, a young teen who has rarely thought much about his Jewish heritage until it suddenly becomes a reason for persecution. He jumps at the chance to learn to box from champion Max Schmeling even as the world around him continues to fall apart. This excellent historical novel was selected for the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and was the Sydney Taylor Book Award Teen Readers Category gold medalist in 2012.
Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington – This book tells the story of the individuals who were persecuted and imprisoned in concentration camps during the Holocaust due to their sexual orientation. The book combines historical research with the stories of those who lived through these events to create a complete account of this side of the Holocaust.
The Forgotten Victims of the Holocaust by Linda Jacobs Altman – This book focuses on the history of the persecution of often forgotten groups during the Holocaust. It covers the history of the Nazi persecution of people due to their racial or ethnic heritage, sexual orientation or disability and includes archival photos and suggestions for further reading.
I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson – This memoir of a girl who was 13 when the Nazis invaded her home country of Hungary and sent her to a concentration camp is a harrowing first-person account of the Holocaust. Because it is based on the experience of an actual teen, readers are sure to connect with this story and gain a new understanding of the horrors of concentration camps.
The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb – This nonfiction work, which is a 2014 Nonfiction Award Finalist, tackles the efforts after the end of World War II to track down one of the most infamous Nazi leaders, Adolf Eichmann. The book brings this period of history alive and offers a look at the efforts to bring the Nazis to justice after the Holocaust. [Edit: Earlier today, this book won the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.]
If you have any suggestions for additional books about the Holocaust, let us know in the comments.
– Carli Spina, currently rereading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell