Famous Books About the Holocaust

These novels take place leading up to, during, and after the Holocaust. The narrative shows the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the trauma.

Holocaust Novels

Kaddish for a Child Not Born | Imre Kertesz

The unnamed narrator is a middle-aged Hungarian Jew staying at a resort in Hungary. He writes but it doesn’t provide him solace, only some escape. His stream of consciousness narration covers the significant events of his life–his upbringing, his time at Auschwitz, his ex-wife, and his secular work.

Sophie’s Choice | William Styron

Stingo is an assistant editor at a publishing firm who wants to be a writer. At his boarding house, he meets Sophie and Nathan. Sophie is a gentile, but she ended up at Auschwitz. Nathan is a manic-depressive schizophrenic with drug and alcohol issues, and is abusive to Sophie. They become acquainted as Stingo tries to write a novel.

Schindler’s List | Thomas Keneally

Oskar Schindler is a Czech-born factory owner, charming, and a womanizer. When the reality of the Holocaust becomes evident, he risks everything to try to save the lives of his Jewish workers. Interspersed thru this narrative are stories about various people before, during, and after the war.

The Painted Bird | Jerzy Kosinski

World War II begins and Eastern European Jews are being killed or sent to concentration camps. A six-year-old boy goes into hiding, bouncing around from village to village and home to home, experiencing varying degrees of mistreatment and help and witnessing acts of violence and sexuality.

Night | Eliezer Wiesel

Jews in Sighet, including Eliezer and his family, are shipped off to Birkenau, a sub-camp of Auschwitz. The men and women are separated, and they see children being burned alive. The atrocities continue as the men are marched to Auschwitz and other camps.

Briar Rose | Jane Yolen

Becca is visiting her grandmother, Gemma, in a nursing home. Over the years, Gemma had repeatedly told the story of Sleeping Beauty. Now she claims the story is real – she was the princess and was saved by a prince. After Gemma’s death Becca looks thru a small box of her former possessions such as pictures, papers, and a monogrammed ring. She investigates her grandmother’s story, which leads to a Jewish refugee camp.

Stones from the River | Ursula Hegi

This novel takes place in Germany from 1915 to 1951. Trudi is a dwarf, which isolates her from others. Her father runs a pay library from their home. Trudi eventually mingles with people in the library, finding out a lot about their lives. A portion of the narrative deals with the persecution of the Jews under Nazi rule.

Holocaust | Graham Green

The Dorfs are a German family, loyal to the Nazis. Their son Eric, a lawyer, becomes an SS officer. The Weiss family are Jewish Germans now in line to be exterminated. Rudi Weiss leaves his family to fight the Nazis.

The Devil’s Arithmetic | Jane Yolen

Hannah, a Jewish girl living in New York, is attending a Passover Seder. She is bored by her grandparents’ talk of the Nazi’s during World War II. As part of the ceremony, she opens the door for the prophet Elijah; she finds herself in 1942 Poland. She is sent to a concentration camp.

Read “The Devil’s Arithmetic”