Book picks similar to
Other People's Houses by Lore Segal
The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz: A True Story of Family and Survival
Jeremy Dronfield - 2018
Imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, they miraculously survive the Nazis’ murderous brutality.Then Gustav learns he is being sent to Auschwitz—and certain death.For Fritz, letting his father go is unthinkable. Desperate to remain together, Fritz makes an incredible choice: he insists he must go too. To the Nazis, one death camp is the same as another, and so the boy is allowed to follow. Throughout the six years of horror they witness and immeasurable suffering they endure as victims of the camps, one constant keeps them alive: their love and hope for the future. Based on the secret diary that Gustav kept as well as meticulous archival research and interviews with members of the Kleinmann family, including Fritz’s younger brother Kurt, sent to the United States at age eleven to escape the war, The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz is Gustav and Fritz’s story—an extraordinary account of courage, loyalty, survival, and love that is unforgettable.
Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany
Marie Jalowicz Simon - 2014
In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community, and vanished into the city.In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost twenty different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists, and even committed Nazis. Only her quick-witted determination and the most hair-raising strokes of luck allowed her to survive.
Clara Kramer - 2008
Three years later, in the small town of Żółkiew, life for Jewish 15-year-old Clara Kramer was never to be the same again. While those around her were either slaughtered or transported, Clara and her family hid perilously in a hand-dug cellar. Living above and protecting them were the Becks.Mr. Beck was a womaniser, a drunkard and a self-professed anti-Semite, yet he risked his life throughout the war to keep his charges safe. Nevertheless, life with Mr. Beck was far from predictable. From the house catching fire, to Beck's affair with Clara's cousin, to the nightly SS drinking sessions in the room just above, Clara's War transports you into the dark, cramped bunker, and sits you next to the families as they hold their breath time and again.Sixty years later, Clara Kramer has created a memoir that is lyrical, dramatic and heartbreakingly compelling. Despite the worst of circumstances, this is a story full of hope and survival, courage and love.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Heather Morris - 2018
When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Tilar J. Mazzeo - 2016
While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish.
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
Edmund de Waal - 2010
Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.The netsuke—drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers—were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitler’s theorist on the “Jewish question” appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family she’d served even in their exile.In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.
The Son and Heir: A Memoir
Alexander Münninghoff - 2014
This shameful memento came to symbolize not only his father’s tragically misguided allegiance but also a shattered marriage and ultimately the unconscionable separation of a mother and son.In this revelatory memoir, the author confronts his parents’ complex past as he reconstructs the fortunes and disillusions of an entire family upheaved during the changes of twentieth-century Europe. The Münninghoffs were driven by greed, rebellion, and rage. An embattled dynasty, they were torn between the right and the wrong side of history. Their saga haunted Alexander’s life for the next seventy years.Only in reconciling with them can this man find the courage to move forward as son and heir to the startling legacy of a flawed yet grand tradition.
The Last Jew of Treblinka
Chil Rajchman - 1997
I cut off her hair, thick and beautiful, and she grasps my hand and begs me to remember that I too am a Jew. She knows that she is lost. ‘But remember,‘ she says, ‘you see what is being done to us. That‘s why my wish for you is that you will survive and take revenge for our innocent blood, which will never rest.‘ She has not had time to get up when a murderer who is walking between the benches lashes her on the head with his whip. Blood shows on her now shorn head. That evening, the blood of tens of thousands of victims, unable to rest, thrust itself upwards to the surface.—from The Last Jew of TreblinkaWhy do some live while so many others perish? Tiny children, old men, beautiful girls. In the gas chambers of Treblinka, all are equal. The Nazis kept the fires of Treblinka burning night and day, a central cog in the wheel of the Final Solution. There was no pretense of work here like in Auschwitz or Birkenau. Only a train platform and a road covered with sand. A road that led only to death. But not for Chil Rajchman, a young man who survived working as a “barber” and “dentist,” heartsick with witnessing atrocity after atrocity. Yet he managed to survive so that somehow he could tell the world what he had seen. How he found the dress of his little sister abandoned in the woods. How he was forced to extract gold teeth from the corpses. How every night he had to cover the body-pits with sand. How ever morning the blood of thousands still rose to the surface.Many have courageously told their stories, and in the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz and The Drowned and the Saved, Rajchman provides the only survivors’ record of Treblinka. Originally written in Yiddish in 1945 without hope or agenda other than to bear witness, Rajchman’s tale shows that sometimes the bravest and most painful act of all is to remember.
The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
Władysław Szpilman - 1946
It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting was resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi's If This Is A Man?; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse. Szpilman's family were deported to Treblinka, where they were exterminated; he survived only because a music-loving policeman recognised him. This was only the first in a series of fatefully lucky escapes that littered his life as he hid among the rubble and corpses of the Warsaw Ghetto, growing thinner and hungrier, yet condemned to live. Ironically it was a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved Szpilman's life by bringing food and an eiderdown to the derelict ruin where he discovered him. Hosenfeld died seven years later in a Stalingrad labour camp, but portions of his diary, reprinted here, tell of his outraged incomprehension of the madness and evil he witnessed, thereby establishing an effective counterpoint to ground the nightmarish vision of the pianist in a desperate reality. Szpilman originally published his account in Poland in 1946, but it was almost immediately withdrawn by Stalin's Polish minions as it unashamedly described collaborations by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews with the Nazis. In 1997 it was published in Germany after Szpilman's son found it on his father's bookcase. This admirably robust translation by Anthea Bell is the first in the English language. There were 3,500,000 Jews in Poland before the Nazi occupation; after it there were 240,000. Wladyslaw Szpilman's extraordinary account of his own miraculous survival offers a voice across the years for the faceless millions who lost their lives. --David Vincent
A Bookshop in Berlin
Françoise Frenkel - 1945
She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.Françoise's dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic.
Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure
Menachem Kaiser - 2021
Soon, he is on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, and with a Polish lawyer known as "The Killer." A surprise discovery — that his grandfather’s cousin not only survived the war, but wrote a secret memoir while a slave laborer in a vast, secret Nazi tunnel complex — leads to Kaiser being adopted as a virtual celebrity by a band of Silesian treasure seekers who revere the memoir as the indispensable guidebook to Nazi plunder. Propelled by rich original research, Kaiser immerses readers in profound questions that reach far beyond his personal quest. What does it mean to seize your own legacy? Can reclaimed property repair rifts among the living? Plunder is both a deeply immersive adventure story and an irreverent, daring interrogation of inheritance — material, spiritual, familial, and emotional.
A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary
Marta Hillers - 1953
The anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject--the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity.
Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz
Rena Kornreich Gelissen - 1995
While there she was reunited with her sister Danka. Each day became a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart--a promise to take care of her sister.One of the few Holocaust memoirs about the lives of women in the camps, Rena's Promise is a compelling story of the fleeting human connections that fostered determination and made survival a possibility. From the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters, to the links between prisoners, and even prisoners and guards, Rena's Promise reminds us of the humanity and hope that survives inordinate inhumanity.
The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust
Edith Hahn Beer - 1999
Knowing she would become a hunted woman, Edith tore the yellow star from her clothing and went underground, scavenging for food and searching each night for a safe place to sleep. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not: With the woman's identity papers in hand, Edith fled to Munich. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her. And despite her protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity secret.In vivid, wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia, Edith was bombed out of her house and had to hide in a closet with her daughter while drunken Russians soldiers raped women on the street.Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith Hahn created a remarkable collective record of survival: She saved every set of real and falsified papers, letters she received from her lost love, Pepi, and photographs she managed to take inside labor camps. On exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents form the fabric of an epic story - complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.
All Rivers Run to the Sea
Elie Wiesel - 1994
In this first volume of his two-volume autobiography, Wiesel takes us from his childhood memories of a traditional and loving Jewish family in the Romanian village of Sighet through the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and the years of spiritual struggle, to his emergence as a witness for the Holocaust's martyrs and survivors and for the State of Israel, and as a spokesman for humanity. With 16 pages of black-and-white photographs."From the abyss of the death camps Wiesel has come as a messenger to mankind--not with a message of hate and revenge, but with one of brotherhood and atonement."--From the citation for the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize