World Book Day – Recommendations by Members of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book Club

This World Book Day, we are sharing the recommendations of members of our Book Club. To join our Book Club, which meets montly, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Memory Quilt Book – ’45 Aid Society

This book compiles the stories included in the ’45 Aid Society’s memory quilt. The quilt beautifully displays the accounts of The Boys who came to the UK after the Holocaust. 

Louise says, ‘this is a celebration of life, it looks back and looks forward.’

Suitable for 14+

Epitaph – Piotr MA Cywinski

This book was published on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s a collection of 14 essays by Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum. The essays contain his personal reflections on his role, the museum, its visitors and our collective duty in terms of remembrance. 

Anna says ‘this is one my most treasured books. Cywinski’s reflections are beautifully written and really made me think. A must read!’

Suitable for 18+

Imagination: Blessed Be, Cursed Be, Reminiscences From There – Poems by Batsheva Dagan

Bathseva Dagan's poems are memories of her concentration camp experiences as a young girl. Our only poetry book on this list!

Suitable for 16+

The Choice – Edith Eger

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. 

The horrors of the Holocaust didn't break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

Darren says, ‘Dr Edith Eger is a remarkable and inspiring woman.’

Suitable for 14+

Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust – Yaffa Eliach

Derived by the author from interviews and oral histories, these eighty-nine original Hasidic tales about the Holocaust provide unprecedented witness, in a traditional idiom, to the victims' inner experience of "unspeakable" suffering. This volume constitutes the first collection of original Hasidic tales to be published in a century.

Anna says, ‘if you like traditional Jewish folklore, this book is for you. It’s beautifully written and based on true survivor testimony.’

Suitable for 16+

The Tin Ring – Zdenka Fantlova

Zdenka Fantlová's childhood in Czechoslovakia was one of great happiness and love and her life was like that of any other teenager. However, her peaceful existence was soon to be shattered and she was sent to Terezín concentration camp. Here she was given a home-made tin ring by her first love Arno. Arno was sent East on a transport later that same day; she never saw him again. After surviving 6 concentration camps, Zdenka found herself, in the last chaotic days of the war, at the hell that was Bergen Belsen. There she was saved by an unknown British soldier to whom the book is dedicated.

Samantha says, ‘this book is incredible…mind blowing. It’s so beautifully written.’ 

Suitable for 14+

Once, Then, Now and After – Morris Gleitzman

A series of well-researched novels which follow the story of Felix, a Jewish orphan struggling to survive in Nazi occupied Poland. Avoiding the simplistic stereotypes of Jews, Germans and Poles which sometimes plague the genre, the books collectively address a wide range of themes, including resistance and rescue, alongside their central motif of friendship. Suitable for early to mid-secondary.

Suitable for 13+

The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Thereseinstadt – Anna Hajkova

Terezín, as it was known in Czech, or Theresienstadt as it was known in German, was operated by the Nazis between November 1941 and May 1945 as a transit ghetto for Central and Western European Jews before their deportation for murder in the East. Terezín was the last ghetto to be liberated, one day after the end of World War II.

Milena says, ‘this is so well researched, I strongly recommend it.’

Suitable for 16+

Who Will Write our History? – Samuel Kassow

In 1940, the historian Emanuel Ringelblum established the Oyneg Shabes, in the Warsaw Ghetto, to compile an archive that would preserve this history for posterity. As the Final Solution unfolded, although decimated by murders and deportations, the group persevered in its work until the spring of 1943. Ringelblum and his family perished in March 1944. But before he died, he managed to hide thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. Searchers found two of these buried caches in 1946 and 1950. Who Will Write Our History tells the gripping story of Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship and the collection of documents to resist Nazi oppression.

Anna says, ‘this is a remarkable story and a key Holocaust text for all students.’

Suitable for 14+

When the World Was Ours – Liz Kessler

Three young friends – Leo, Elsa and Max – spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?  

Milena says, ‘based on a true story, for older teenagers or young adults this is a really good read.’

Suitable for 14+

Address Unknown – Kathrine Kressmann Taylor

The compelling tale of a friendship that is lost at the hands of Nazi Germany. It is told in the form of letters written between the two characters, Max and Martin. The book has since been translated into 20 languages, as well as being adapted for television, stage and cinema.

Suitable for 14+

Three Minutes in Poland – Glenn Kurtz

When Glenn Kurtz stumbles upon an old family film in his parents' closet in Florida, he has no inkling of its historical significance or of the impact it will have on his life. The film, shot long ago by his grandfather captured on film the only known moving images of the thriving, predominantly Jewish town of Nasielsk, Poland, shortly before the community's destruction. Of the town's three thousand Jewish inhabitants, fewer than one hundred would survive.

Glenn Kurtz quickly recognizes the brief footage as a crucial link in a lost history. Soon he is swept up in a remarkable journey to learn everything he can about these people. David Kurtz's home movie became the most important record of a vibrant town on the brink of extinction. From this brief film, Glenn Kurtz creates a poignant yet unsentimental exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival--a monument to a lost world.

Suitable for 14+

Hana’s Suitcase – Karen Levine

In March 2000, Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a small Holocaust education centre in Tokyo, received an empty suitcase from the museum at Auschwitz. On the outside, in white paint, were the words Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan. Fumiko and the children at the centre were determined to find out who Hana was and what happened to her all those years ago. The dual narrative intertwines Fumiko's international journey to find the truth about Hana Brady's fate with Hana's own compelling story of her life in a quiet Czech town, which is shattered by the arrival of the Nazis, tearing apart the family she loves.

Eva says, ‘this is very moving and extremely readable.’

Suitable for 13+

Stars- Antony Lishak

Warsaw, September 1939. For twelve-year-old best friends, Stefan and Marcus, the zoo is their playground. Stefan lives with his family at the zoo and has grown up with the animals and their keepers. But Marcus is Jewish, and when Nazi troops invade Warsaw their world is torn apart. Against all odds and at enormous risk, their fathers devise a wild scheme to protect Stefan’s family and other Jews. But boys will be boys, and a rebellious act of revenge threatens everyone. Inspired by the fact that hundreds of Polish Jews found shelter in the abandoned cages and underground rooms of Warsaw Zoo, Stars is a story of brotherhood, courage and above all hope in the face of adversity.

Eva says, ‘this book is very powerful.’

The Ravine – Wendy Lower

The terrible mass shootings in Poland and the Ukraine are often neglected in studies of the Holocaust because the perpetrators were meticulously careful to avoid leaving any evidence of their actions. Wendy Lower stumbled across one such piece of evidence - a photograph documenting the shooting of a mother and her children and the men who killed them. One of the most compelling themes to emerge from her investigations in Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany and the USA is the identity and the surprising role of the photographer who recorded the killings. 

Suitable for 16+

Antisemitism: What it is, What it isn’t, Why it matters – Julia Neuberger

Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years, with violent attacks, increased verbal insults, and an acceptability in some circles of what would hitherto have been condemned as outrageous antisemitic discourse. Yet despite the dramatic increase in debate and discussion around antisemitism, many of us remain confused.

Evie says ‘I read this after taking part in a HET course about Antisemitism. It was a great course and this book provides a valuable history of antisemitism.’

Suitable for 16+

A Nazi in the Family – Derek Niemann

The Niemann family live in a quiet, suburban enclave. Every day Karl commutes to work, a business manager travelling around inspecting his “factories”. In the evenings he returns home to life as a normal family man. Three years ago Derek Niemann made the chilling discovery that his grandfather Karl had been an officer in the SS - and that his “business” used thousands of slave labourers in concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. A Nazi in the Family is an illuminating portrayal of how ordinary people can fall into the service of a monstrous regime.

Eve says, ‘This is an important book, a real detailed look at the daily life of high ranking Nazi official.’

Suitable for 16+

Rock the Cradle – Marie Penath

This is the lost journal of a remarkable woman who cared for 300 child Holocaust survivors rehabilitating in Windermere. Windermere was affectionately known as 'Wondermere' by the 300 child survivors who came to the Lake District directly from the concentration camps in the summer of 1945.

Caroline says, ‘I really recommend this. A deeper look at The Boys, and the story of The Girls too.’

Suitable for 16+

After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring – Josef Polak

This memoir is a portrait of mother and child who miraculously survive two concentration camps, then, after the war, battle demons of the past, societal rejection, disbelief, and invalidation as they struggle to re-enter the world of the living. It is the story of the child who decides, upon growing up, that the only career that makes sense for him in light of these years of horror is to become someone sensitive to the deepest flaws of humanity, a teacher of God's role in history amidst the traditions that attempt to understand it—and to become a rabbi.

Eve says, ‘a thought-provoking book.’

Suitable for 18+

Konin: A Quest – Theo Richmond

In 1987 Theo Richmond decided to take a six-month sabbatical to write a book. It took him seven years. A blend of personal memoir, oral history and biography, Richmond's search was for a lost community, one that had vanished along with members of his family. Since his early childhood, he had heard his relatives mention a place called Konin, the Polish shtetl from which both his parents came. He felt an irresistible urge to find out more about this small town and its Jewish community. He searched for its few survivors, scattered in many lands. Starting with one old man in London, he traced others, not only in Britain, but in Brooklyn, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Nebraska, on a kibbutz in Israel, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Stephen says, ‘this is powerful. You’re immersed in the pre-war Jewish world of Poland.’

Suitable for 18+

The Ratline – Philippe Sands

SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder' and Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly.

Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi. What happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?

Kirsten says, ‘This is a really complex and interesting account.’

Link to BBC Sounds interview with Philippe Sands.

Suitable for 16+

Nicky and Vera – Peter Sis

This book dramatises Winton's story in this distinctive and deeply personal picture book. He intertwines Sir Nicholas Winton’s efforts with the story of one of the children he saved, a young girl named Vera, whose family enlisted his aid when the Germans occupied their country. 

Milena says, ‘This was written especially for the American market when the author realised the American youth did not have much knowledge on the Holocaust.’

Suitable for 11+

Faraway Home – Marilyn Taylor

Karl and Rosa's family watch in horror as Hitler's troops parade down the streets of their home city, Vienna. It has become very dangerous to be a Jew in Austria, and after their uncle is sent to Dachau, Karl and Rosa's parents decide to send the children out of the country on a Kindertransport, one of the many ships carrying refugee children away from Nazi danger. Karl ends up in Millisle, a run-down farm in Ards in Northern Ireland, which has become a Jewish refugee centre, while Rosa is fostered by a local family.

For Karl and Rosa and the other refugees there is the constant fear that they may never see their parents again.

Charlotte says, ‘a story that’s not too well known.’

Suitable for 11+

Terezin: A story of the Holocaust – Ruth Thomson

Terezin - A Story of The Holocaust is an award-winning book that tells the story of the Terezin ghetto, where the Nazis imprisoned thousands of Jews and from where many were sent to their deaths. This unique book features first-hand accounts of life in the town as well as moving works of art from some of the artists who were incarcerated there.

Alison says ‘it’s really hard to find a good non-fiction book on the Holocaust for teenagers. This has some great source material.’

Suitable for 14+

Hitler’s Canary – Sandi Toksvig

A gripping novel, partly based on the experiences of the author’s father which deals with the rescue of Danish Jews in 1943. Through rounded and believable characters and historically accurate plotting, the book enables accessible exploration of the complexity of human behaviour during the Holocaust. Suitable for late primary and early secondary.

Susy says ‘this became our class text. It doesn’t shy away from addressing the big themes.’ 

Suitable for 11+

The Cut Out Girl – Bart Van Es

Little Lien wasn't taken from her Jewish parents in the Hague - she was given away in the hope that she might be saved. Hidden and raised by a foster family in the provinces during the Nazi occupation, she survived the war only to find that her real parents had not. Much later, she fell out with her foster family, and Bart van Es - the grandson of Lien's foster parents - knew he needed to find out why.

Nicole says, ‘this provided such good context in regard to the Netherlands during the Second World War.’

Suitable for 16+

Our People: Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust – Ruta Vanagaite and Efraim Zuroff

This remarkable book traces the quest for the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania by Rūta a descendant of the perpetrators and Efraim a descendant of the victims. This book exposes the significant role played by local political leaders and the pre-war Lithuanian administration that remained in place during the Nazi occupation in implementing the Nazis’ Final Solution. It also tackles the sensitive issue of the motivation of thousands of ordinary Lithuanians in the murder of their Jewish neighbours. 

Suitable for 16+

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

A poignant affirmation of the power of words which has become increasingly popular in schools in recent years. Although the Holocaust is only marginal to the narrative, the novel does offer students a means of beginning to engage with the wider history of life in Nazi Germany. Suitable for mid-secondary and above.

Evie says ‘This had a real impact on me as a book lover.’

Suitable for 12+