In Honor of Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

On this annual day of commemoration here are a few associated books:

These are two wonderful gifts I received this Christmas.books

“The Holocaust Museum In Washington” This book was written by Jeshajahu Weinberg, the founding director of the museum. There are hundreds of color and black-and-white photographs throughout the book–photos of kitchen utensils, hair, shoes, forged documents, artificial limbs, and luggage and prayer shawls confiscated from the victims. Haunting and terrifying are photos showing charred corpses of concentration camp inmates, a starved prisoner in Buchenwald, a young Jewish partisan woman being hanged in Minsk in 1941, Danish Jews escaping to Sweden on a small boat, and Hungarian Jews arriving in Auschwitz in 1944. The book provides a well-rounded history of  the Holocaust, but I would still really love to visit this museum in person!

“Once We Were Brothers”
a fictional novel by Ronald H. Balson (a Chicago attorney.) His travels to Warsaw and southern Poland in connection with a complex telecommunications case, inspired this book. It is a story about two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland. I have not read it yet, but I have a feeling I will really enjoy it!

Rated 4.6 on



Here are a couple books on my wishlist and tbr list:
(click pictures and titles for more info.)

From A Name to A Number:

A Holocaust Survivor’s Autobiography
A deeply personal story about one man’s lovely childhood that turned into a nightmare at the age of 15. He survives 5 camps and a multitude of atrocities. He is one of few survivors, and resides in my hometown of Portland, OR. I plan to read this book soon, I am fascinated by the prospect of it. 

Rated 4.9 on

Book Bean: Jewish Traditional Apple Tea
In a saucepan, bring a cup of water and allspice (4whole) just to a boil; add 2 black-tea bags. Remove from the heat; cover and steep for 3 minutes. Discard allspice and tea bags. Stir in a cup of apple juice and honey to taste.

The Boy on the Wooden Box:
How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler’s List
This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s list child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. My watching the movie Schindler’s list is one of a series of events that sparked my intrigue and constant curiosity about the Holocaust. I am looking forward to this book.

Rated 4.8 on

Book Bean: Turkish coffee
A method of preparing coffee using finely powdered roast coffee beans and roasting them in a small pot. Add in a little Cardamon spice for a nice aroma and taste. It is also known as “Jewish coffee” or “Israeli Turkish coffee” or “Arabic coffee”


Fun Fact: It’s a tradition in Israel to bring coffee to a friend’s house for Shabbat or send coffee in a gift basket for a birthday. Coffee is also an excellent addition to a Mishloach Manot basket for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein

What related book have you read, that really moved/impact you?


92 thoughts on “In Honor of Holocaust Memorial Day

  1. I’ve been reading about the Holocaust for many years now, and I think that when it comes to this particular subject non fictional books are the only ones truly capable of conveying the horror and the atrocity of those terrible times. Primo Levi’s work is amazing and a punch to the guts. I also enjoyed ‘Hitler’s Willing Executioners’ by Daniel Goldhagen. It’s an historical enquiry about the origins and psychological aspects of German antisemitism during the Nazi period.

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  3. Years ago I read a book about 8 or 9 Jewish individuals who survived through the war in Berlin by moving locations often and being in hiding – it was well written, but I don’t remember the name of it. It was a library book.

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  4. “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” was a fantastic book (I purchased it at the gift shop of the very same Holocaust museum in Washington and started reading it on the flight home. It is a true story about some very courageous young Germans (not Jewish) who stood up to the Nazis.

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      • Also, I chose “Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust” partly because I am from St. Louis (it has nothing to do with the ship or book). It is a much drier read, as you are reading a lot about research. But you also experience many different personal stories–with happy endings and with unhappy endings–and by the time you are finished you will appreciate the amazing work done to accomplish the goal of the research: To account for every passenger of the fateful voyage.

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  6. The book that I read about that time which I found most moving was The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I remember the book bringing me to tears while I was reading it on a crowded commuter train coming home from work..

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  7. My husband’s grandmother, Oma, has a child during this time in Germany. She does not talk about it much. This is part of my families history. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. In Israel this remembrance day is called “Holocaust and Heroism”- in order to also remember the millions who fought the Nazi regime and its’ collaborators, and the ones who fled to Israel, to build a homeland for persecuted Jews from all over the world.
    It is also a day of remembrance of all the millions non-Jews who were murdered by the Nazis – gays, gypsies, disabled people and those who tried to oppose the Nazis.
    I think the main lesson from the Holocaust is that hatred and violence never stops at the first target, and those who started it are, in many cases, the ones who suffer from it at the end.

    I highly recommend the book “Babi Yar – a document in the form of a novel” by Anatoly Kuznetsov, who was a teenager in Kiev during WW2. It’s not widely known, but well worth seeking.

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  9. A subject close to my heart. I’ve been to the museum in DC four times now. I am always so affected by it. The display of children’s shoes always just stops me in my tracks. Two books are my favorite so far on this subject. “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne. That one just totally undid me. The movies? ‘Sarah’s Key” pretty much sucked. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” was even better than the book. Thank you for posting this, Abbie Lu. I didn’t know about it. I also have a virtual leaf on the tree at the Anne Frank house on its website.

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    • I would love to visit all the different historical places. I think it would be difficult and emotional, but very powerful. To stand among the history and really take it in as a reality, would be a treasure.

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  10. From A Name to A Number is both deeply moving but also incredibly educational. A recommended read although I found due to it’s emotional nature I had to read it in stages. Can I also suggest another book. If This Is A Man by Primo Levi. I used this book for my thesis at university and whilst I can not give you a reason why this gentlemans story stood out to me that is what it did. I think it was the way he articulates how he faught to survive through out.


  11. I’ve been to two of the camps, we watched a film about Anne Frank on the bus, made me so sad to see that pretty face shaved and behind barbed wire, like Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta. But I like Anne Frank’s diary, she has the guts to be honest about everything she feels, even hate and loathing, and that’s a rare thing in literature and something jewish maybe, anyway Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen were some of the first to bring it into popular poetry music since King David.

    Abbie are you jewish by the way? In case i’d like to hear your opinion about a short piece of prose I wrote about jewish matters, holocaust among other things. It’s almost no jews to read it in Norway where I am. They don’t like the cold (or so I read).



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    • What a fulfilling experience, maybe one day I will get to share it. I am not Jewish, I am just fascinated with the the Holocaust, ww2, and basically the human condition. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


  12. All the books I was going to suggest have already been mentioned, but I will second them anyway (or third and fourth them!). Night by Elie Wiesel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Sarah’s Key. I’ve read more, but those ones are off the top of my head and are among my favourites.

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  13. I posted this on my blog yesterday: It also posts on Facebook, and a friend recommended the book, “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” by Tadeusz Borowski. It was originally published in Poland after the war by Borowski who was a survivor of the Holocaust. My friend is going to let me borrow the book. I’d never heard of it before, but I look forward to reading it.

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  14. I’ve just finished reading Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz (in its German translation). I can thoroughly recommend it. What was most disconcerting and eye-opening for me was that he spent time in satellite camps of the camp of Buchenwald (Zeitz and Gleina) which are only a few miles away from where I grew up. I visited the museum at Buchenwald as a teenager, but I had never heard about those camps there!

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  15. I see that it is mentioned numerous times, but Night by Elie Wiesel. Both of my sons had to read this for their summer reading before 8th grade. I ended up reading it so that we could talk through some of the questions that they had. He packs in so much emotion into such a short read.

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