Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Top Non-Fiction Holocaust Books

The Holocaust was, in my opinion, one of the most terrifying, darkest, saddest, incomprehensible, but also at the same time mysterious, fascinating, interesting moments of history. I am completely fascinated by it, mainly because there are so many points of view as to what happened, how it happened, who is guilty for what, who Hitler was, if it even happened, etc. I am also totally fascinated by it because it touches the lowest and highest point of human emotions: fear, courage, evil, and good, among many others. I am not Jewish, gay, Jehovah Witness, etc (Hispanic and raised catholic), but I have always said that based on Nazi beliefs of racial purity, had they won the war, I probably wouldn't be here today. I have great respect for the Jewish community and all they have had to endure throughout history, as well as for the non-Jewish people who stood up for what's right. I love reading about the Holocaust, World War II, everything around that period of time, and I have read quite a lot of books on this topic, fiction and non-fiction. If you are a fan of this topic too, or would like to learn a little bit more on this fascinating topic, then here are my top books on this topic, manly memoirs, all of them quite interesting, powerful, terrifying and unforgettable:

1. Alicia: My Story (Alicia Appleman-Jurman) - My favorite story so far.  A child, seeing her family taken away by the Nazis, traveling alone to survive, facing starvation, finding her mother and protecting them both, constantly hiding out in the open to survive. The many close encounters with death are many and her escapes are surreal. This story is amazing and sad. 

2. To See You Again (Betty Schimmel) - One of the best love stories in the Holocaust.. A true love story that does stand the test of time. This book definitely made me cry more than once, and what makes it sadder and it's that sometimes I thought I was reading a novel by Danielle Steel, and then it'd hit me: it was all real, it all had happened. Betty tells the story of all she is forced endure and the hope of being with Richie again. 

3. I Have Lived A Thousand Years (Livia Bitton-Jackson) - Imagine being a thirteen year-old Jewish girl growing up during the Holocaust. Being blond and blue-eyed, she could have easily passed as Aryan. She protects her mother with amazing courage and love. Very detailed and informative, even more interesting since it's told from first point of view. Never a dull moment with this book. An amazing story really, and one of the best books I've read about this topic.

4. The Nazi Officer's Wife (Edith H. Beer) - Edith was Jewish. She survived by obtaining false papers and marrying a Nazi officer. At the time when she became pregnant and gave birth, she said she was probably the only Jewish woman giving birth in the whole city of Berlin in a hospital. Contrary to what the title suggests, it is far from a love story. It is different in the sense that she was lucky enough to not be sent to a concentration camp, and was living like a regular German wife.  Many close calls to being discovered. Sad, intriguing, and hard to put down.

5. .Dear God, Have You Ever Gone Hungry? (Joseph Bau) - This is by far one of the most distinctive Holocaust books I have ever read. I never really thought that such a serious topic such as the Holocaust could be comical in the least. This one is illustrated by the author, and it includes narratives and poems. It is funny at times, but no less terrifying than others. This book is so different from anything I have read before, and his drawings just make you feel a little closer to the author.

6. Rena's Promise (Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune MacAdam) - Another amazing memoir.  Rena is sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentrantion camp. Her younger sister Danka, arrives a few weeks after her.  As Danka loses the will to keep going, Rena promises her to protect her and bring back the "baby" to their mother. Facing starvation, hard labor, cold, and disease, these sisters will try their best to survive, and even in the circumstances, they will find kind people who will help them out.

I did not include the most popular books because they are very popular and odds are you have already read them, or heard of them. And if you haven't here they are: Diary of Anne Frank, Night by Ellie Wiesel, etc.
Are there any interesting books you would like to share? I really enjoy reading about the Holocaust and World War II. Specially memoirs.