Even though it's been three quarters of a century since the concentration camps were liberated and the full horrors of the Holocaust revealed to the world at the end of the Second World War, there is no let-up in the volume of books trying to understand what caused it, what it meant and how to stop it happening again. We have interviews that touch on the Holocaust from every angle.
Steven Katz, professor in Jewish Holocaust Studies at Boston University chooses his best books on the Holocaust, choosing memoirs from the victims as well as studies that have explored the motivations and methods of the perpetrators. He also talks about how the systematic study of the Holocaust as an historical event did not really take off until well after the end of the second world war. Hester Vaizey, lecturer in modern European history at Cambridge, considers modern German history. Four of her five books touch on the Holocaust. Abraham Foxman, head of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, discusses anti-semitism, arguing that the Holocaust can only be understood by understanding the historical roots of anti-semitism. Carmen Callil, founder of the Virago Press, touches on French (and Catholic) complicity in the horrors of the Holocaust in her interview on 'The Other France'.
In other interviews the wider aftershocks of the Holocaust are assessed. Historian Norman Naimark considers how the Holocaust has influenced legal and ethical thinking about broader issues of genocide. Michael Goldfarb discusses its impact on the politics and culture of Israel and Laurence Kaplan talks about how it continues to influence debates around US intervention overseas. Zainab Salbi relates how she was inspired to set up Women for Women International while studying the Holocaust and reading about the atrocities being committed in Bosnia in the 1990s.
In the years immediately after World War II, the Holocaust was little studied. That all changed with the publication of Raul Hilberg’s book, The Destruction of the European Jews. Steven Katz, professor of Jewish Holocaust Studies at Boston University and former Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies, introduces the best Holocaust books.
Most of us associate concentration camps with Nazi Germany, but they are not, in fact, relics of the past or confined to one particular episode of history. Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, talks us through memoirs and books that illuminate a tool that has been widely used, since the late 19th century, for the mass detention of civilians without trial.
Auschwitz and After
by Charlotte Delbo
Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
The Search: The Birkenau Boys
by Gerhard Durlacher
The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965: Genocide, History and the Limits of the Law
by Devin O Pendas
Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany
by Marie Jalowicz-Simon
Why were so few of the Nazis involved in running Auschwitz brought to justice? Why did some Germans during the Holocaust risk death to hide Jewish people from Nazi persecution, while others were passive bystanders? Historian Mary Fulbrook—author of Reckonings, which won the 2019 Wolfson History Prize—recommends essential reading for understanding Auschwitz and its aftermath.
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
by Christopher Browning
Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany
by Atina Grossmann
A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz
by Goran Rosenberg
Dissonant Lives: Generations and Violence Through the German Dictatorships
by Mary Fulbrook
Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
by Anna Funder
In the 20th century, Germany suffered defeat in two world wars and withstood two kinds of dictatorship. Yet today it is Europe’s strongest economy. Hester Vaizey, fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and author of Born in the GDR, selects five brilliant books on a tumultuous century.
When reading books, we often empathize with a main character and find redemption in our emotional response to their fate. But it’s more important to think, says Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon. Here, he picks the best books on ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’
Why has anti-Semitism been such a problem down the ages, and why does it persist today? The emeritus director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, recommends the best books to better understand anti-Semitism.
War writing extends to all sorts of genres, including blogs and Twitter. Oxford University’s Professor Kate McLoughlin, author of Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq recommends some of her favourite books of war writing.