In the years immediately following the Holocaust, many survivors did not speak about the atrocities they experienced at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. But in the 1950s,the publication of two books brought international attention to the horrors of the Holocaust — Elie Wiesel published his semi-autobiographical novel Night in 1958, while the English translation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was released in 1952. Frank’s diary has since been translated into more than 70 languages, and both books have been read by millions worldwide.
Since then, hundreds of Holocaust survivors have published memoirs about their experiences. Here are 10 lesser-known memoirs that provide an unparalleled look into the diversity of Jewish experiences during the Holocaust.
Love In A World Of Sorrow
by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller
The author was 18 when the Nazis invaded her hometown in what is now Ukraine. Heller details the agony of struggling to survive as she and her family were hidden in a cramped space by a Ukrainian soldier who was in love with her. Heller’s account is not only harrowing, but provides a rare glimpse into the myriad of difficult choices that are made in times of persecution.
Monastir Without Jews: Recollections of a Jewish Partisan in Macedonia
by Žamila Kolonomos
Macedonia’s Jewish community was deported in three transports to Treblinka. Kolonomos is one of just a handful who went into hiding and survived. After escaping from the Nazi deportations, she rose through the ranks of Yugoslavia’s Partisan army and recounts her experience as a Jew in the Yugoslav resistance movement.
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Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story
by Dan Vittorio Segre
Born into a Jewish family that supported fascism in Italy, Segre discovers how quickly he is othered when Italy passed its first round of antisemitic laws in 1938. Segre’s comfortable adolescence ends as he flees to a kibbutz in pre-state Israel. Wiesel himself described Segre’s story and his artful retelling of it as a “captivating narrative.”
We Share the Same Sky: A Memoir of Memory & Migration
by Rachael Cerrotti
While this memoir was written by a 20-something, third-generation Holocaust survivor, Cerrotti tells the story of her grandmother, who survived by winning a lottery run by a Zionist youth group. Cerrotti expertly weaves together her grandmother’s diaries and letters from her family back home, creating a “guidebook on how to live a life empowered by grief.”
The Girl in the Green Sweater
by Krystyna Chiger and Daniel Paisner
Chiger and her family spent more than a year hiding in the sewers of Lvov after most of the city’s 150,000 Jews were deported or murdered by the Nazis. Only seven at the time, Chiger’s recollection of those 14 months spent underground conveys both the evil of the Holocaust and the kindness of non-Jews who helped the family survive.
When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains
by Ariana Neumann
While traveling in Prague, Neumann happened upon her father’s name on a memorial for Holocaust victims — despite the fact that he was alive at their home in Venezuela. Her father had evaded all questions about his prior life and it was only after his death that Neumann finds papers from that take her on a journey to uncover the horrors of her family’s history.
The Choice: Embrace the Possible
by Edith Eger
Deported to Auschwitz at 16, Eger struggled with survivor’s guilt for decades following the liberation of the camp and the murder of her parents. After immigrating to the United States and becoming a clinical psychologist, Eger returned to Auschwitz to confront her past and transform her trauma into a tool to help others.
Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance
by Jack and Rochelle Sutin
Jack and Rochelle first met at a dance as adolescents, but the pair did not cross paths again until 1942, when they were hiding from the Nazis in a forest. This memoir weaves together the couple’s love story with powerful accounts of resistance, grief and the will to keep going.
From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Back: Memories of a Survivor from Thessaloniki
by Erika Kounio-Amarilio
While the Holocaust is often remembered for devastating Ashkenazi communities in Europe, Kounio-Amarilio’s memoir is a reminder of the Sephardic culture destroyed by the Nazis. The author describes the thriving Jewish life that existed in Thessaloniki and takes the reader on her journey of survival that spanned Greece, Germany, Poland and Yugoslavia.
The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust
by Edith Hahn Beer
Beer was a law student in Vienna when she was sent to a labor camp. A Christian friend aided her in taking on a different identity so she could move to Munich. While the war continued, a Nazi officer proposed and the pair married, even after she confessed her true identity. The author uses personal documents, photographs, memories and poignant observations to take the reader with her through the years spent living in fear and hiding in plain sight.