Take Ten: Holocaust Memoirs

Today is U.S. Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to remember lives lost and lives changed by the events of the genocide during WWII. In honor, and to further the knowledge of those of us of later generations, here are a few powerful survival stories to help us always remember.


Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope – Wendy Holden

  • Relates the true account of three pregnant women who met in Auschwitz, where they concealed their pregnancies from infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and fought for their survival as well as the survival of their newborns as they embarked on a treacherous journey to freedom.

Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival – Clara Kramer

  • An account based on the author’s personal record of the months during which she hid from Nazis in an underground bunker with seventeen others discusses the characteristics of their unlikely protector and the house fire that threatened everyone’s survival.

Gertruda’s Oath: A Child, A Promise, and A Heroic Escape During World War II – Ram Oren

  • Michael Stolowitzky, the only son of a wealthy Jewish family in Poland, was just three years old when war broke out and the family lost everything. His father, desperate to settle his business affairs, traveled to France, leaving Michael in the care of his mother and Gertruda Bablinska, the family’s devoted Catholic nanny. When Michael’s mother had a stroke, Gertruda promised the dying woman that she would make her way to Palestine and raise him as her own son.

The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom

  • An old Dutch watchmaker and his two daughters become part of a major underground operation: to hide Jewish refugees from the occupying Germans. The cost of their bravery is betrayal, and they end up in the dreaded Ravensbruck concentration camp. Nevertheless, they continue their efforts to save those around them.

In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe: A Dwarf Family’s Survival of the Holocaust – Yehuda Koren

  • Recalls the experiences of the Ovitz family–a troupe of performing dwarves, all relatives, who were deported to Auschwitz, but managed to stay alive, despite special attention from the camp’s Angel of Death, Joseph Mengele.

A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy – Thomas Buergenthal

  • A judge at the International Court in The Hague who was rescued from Auschwitz at the age of eleven presents the story of his extraordinary journey from the horrors of Nazism to an investigation of modern day genocide.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale – Art Speigelman

  • The author-illustrator traces his father’s imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp through a series of disarming and unusual cartoons arranged to tell the story as a novel.

Motherland: Growing Up with the Holocaust – Rita Goldberg

  • Goldberg introduces the extraordinary story of Hilde Jacobsthal, a close friend of Anne Frank’s family who was fifteen when the Nazis invaded Holland. After the arrest of her parents in 1943, Hilde fled to Belgium, living out the war years in an extraordinary set of circumstances among the Resistance and at Bergen-Belsen after its liberation

The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust – Edith Hahn-Beer

  • The author, a Jewish law student when the war broke out, recounts how she survived the Holocaust as the wife of a Nazi party member in Munich.

Night – Elie Wiesel

  • The author-illustrator traces his father’s imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp through a series of disarming and unusual cartoons arranged to tell the story as a novel.


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