Five Important Books to Read for Holocaust Memorial Day

recommended by Daisy Reynolds

Holocaust Memorial Day which is commemorated every year on the 27th of January – the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp – is dedicated to remembering victims of the Holocaust under Nazi persecution. To honour the lives tragically lost, take some time to immerse yourself in these real life stories and personal accounts of Auschwitz survivors.

  • 1


    Chicken Soup Under the Tree: A Journey to Hell and Back
    by Ivor Perl

    After many requests from his family to hear ‘his story in his own words’ Holocaust survivor Ivor Perl BEM has written his harrowing yet heartwarming memoir some 50 years after the terrible events of the Holocaust took place. 'Chicken Soup Under the Tree' documents Ivor’s early life, his brutal internment by the Nazis at Auschwitz and looks back at a lifetime of work dedicated to keeping the stories of the Holocaust alive for future generations. In the book, Ivor recollects his struggles surviving the Nazi death camps. Transported in a cattle truck to Auschwitz, Poland, Ivor was separated from the majority of his family, except his older brother Alec. Known as number 112021, Ivor recalls the heart wrenching stories of torture, malnutrition and surviving certain death on more than one occasion with remarkable clarity. Ivor’s journey did not end at Auschwitz, as the Germans retreated from Poland he was sent to Kaufering and then Dachau, Germany, where he was kept through the liberation in early May 1945. Ivor’s tale turns to one of promise. He and his brother Alec were soon to relocate to England where Ivor finishes his story of rebuilding his life, finding love and starting his family, and also years later returning to his roots in Mako, Hungary.

  • 2


    A Gypsy In Auschwitz: How I Survived the Horrors of the ‘Forgotten Holocaust'
    by Otto Rosenberg

    'A Gypsy in Auschwitz' tells the real life story of Otto Rosenberg, a 9-year-old living in Berlin, poor but happy, when his family are first detained. All around them, Sinti and Roma families are being torn from their homes by Nazis, leaving behind schools, jobs, friends, and businesses to live in forced encampments outside the city. One by one, families are broken up, adults and children disappear or are 'sent East'. Otto arrives in Auschwitz aged 15 and is later transferred to Buechenwald and Bergen-Belsen. He works, scrounges food whenever he can, witnesses and suffers horrific violence and is driven close to death by illness more than once. Unbelievably, he also joins an armed revolt of prisoners who, facing the SS and certain death, refuse to back down. Somehow, through luck, sheer human will to live, or both, he survives. The stories of Sinti and Roma suffering in Nazi Germany are all too often lost or untold. In this haunting account, Otto shares his story with a remarkable simplicity. Deeply moving, 'A Gypsy in Auschwitz' is the incredible story of how a young Sinti boy miraculously survived the unimaginable darkness of the Holocaust.

  • 3


    The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele’s hell
    by Eva Mozes Kor

    In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz. Within 30 minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old. While twins at Auschwitz were granted the 'privileges' of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele's sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp. In a narrative told simply, with emotion and astonishing restraint, 'The Twins of Auschwitz' shares the inspirational story of a child's endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil. Also included is an epilogue on Eva's incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. For anybody looking for a moving read this Holocaust Day, then this one is for you.

  • 4


    The Boy From Block 66: A WW2 Jewish Holocaust Survival True Story (Heroic Children of World War II)
    by Limor Regev, Never Again Press & ReadMore Press

    In January, 1945, 14-year-old Moshe Kessler steps off the train at Buchenwald concentration camp. Having endured the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, lost touch with his entire family, and survived the death march in the freezing European winter, he has seen more than his share of tragedy. Moshe knows only one thing about Buchenwald. Everyone knows it. If you want to survive, you have to get to Block 66. The Germans are cruel and determined – but they are not prepared for Buchenwald’s secret resistance, which rises up with one mission only: to protect the camp’s children from harm. 'The Boy From Block 66' is the incredible true story of Moshe Kessler and Block 66 – the children’s block that was at the forefront of one of the most shocking and inspiring stories of Holocaust survival.

  • 5


    The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story (Holocaust Survivor True Stories)
    by Nechama Birnbaum

    Rosie was always told her red hair was a curse, but she never believed it. She often dreamed what it would look like under a white veil with the man of her dreams by her side. However, her life takes a harrowing turn in 1944 when she is forced out of her home and sent to the most gruesome of places: Auschwitz. Upon arrival, Rosie’s head is shaved and along with the loss of her beautiful hair, she loses the life she once cherished. Among the chaos and surrounded by hopelessness, Rosie realises the only thing the Nazis cannot take away from her is the fierce redhead resilience in her spirit. When all of her friends conclude they are going to heaven from Auschwitz, she remains determined to get home. She summons all of her courage, through death camps and death marches to do just that. This victorious biography, written by Nechama Birnbaum in honour of her grandmother, is as full of life as it is of death. It is about the intricacies of Jewish culture that still exist today and the tender experiences that are universal to all humanity: family, coming of age, and first love. It is a story that celebrates believing in yourself no matter the odds. This is a story about the little redheaded girl who thought she could, and so she did.

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