Short Stories About the Holocaust

Short Stories About the Holocaust
Short Stories About the Holocaust

These short stories about the Holocaust take place leading up to the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, or after, with characters who are coping with its effects. Many of the stories are set in concentration camps, at least in part. A book worth checking out is When Night Fell: An Anthology of Holocaust Short StoriesSee also:

Holocaust Short Stories

Those Are As Brothers | Nancy Hale

Mr. Loeb, a gardener, is a Jewish refugee and was in a concentration camp. In the evenings, he stops at a neighboring house to talk to the German governess, Fräulein. Mrs. Mason, the owner, had a difficult life, being mistreated by her husband. She feels an affinity to Mr. Loeb because they have both suffered. (Summary)

Read “Those Are as Brothers”

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen | Tadeusz Borowski

In Auschwitz, the narrator works “the ramp”, separating incoming prisoners into two groups: those who will work at Auschwitz and those who will be sent to the gas chamber. (Summary)

Read here

This story, as well as others inspired by Borowski’s imprisonment at Auschwitz, is in This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman.

The Shawl | Cynthia Ozick

Rosa is on a death march to a concentration camp with her niece, Stella, and her baby daughter, Magda, whom she keeps hidden under a shawl.

This story and the next one are related; there’s a spoiler for this story in the next description.

Rosa | Cynthia Ozick

Rosa, who is supported financially by her niece, Stella, lives in a home for the elderly in Florida. Her daughter was killed thirty-five years ago in a concentration camp, and Rosa has never recovered from it.

This is a novella-length story.

The Shawl bundles “The Shawl” and “Rosa” in one volume.

Silence | Tadeusz Borowski

A man is seized in a German barracks and dragged into an alley. The mob is broken up when they are warned of an approaching company of American soldiers.

The Watch | Elie Wiesel

The narrator remembers when all the Jews in his home town were chased out. The family were burying some prized possessions on their property, thinking they would be coming back to get them. The narrator buried his Bar Mitzvah gift, a gold watch.

Read here

The Supper | Tadeusz Borowski

In a concentration camp, a group of twenty Russians who tried to escape are lined up. The other prisoners have worked all day without food. They have to wait until the Russians are dealt with.

Winter Night | Kay Boyle

Felicia is home with the maid. Her father is away in the war and her mother is out enjoying herself. The babysitter arrives to relieve the maid for the evening. She seems sad; Felicia reminds her of someone.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank | Nathan Englander

Mark and Lauren, ultra-orthodox Jews from Jerusalem, are visiting the narrator and his wife, Deb, secular Jews in New York. The men gently argue some social issues. They drink and then get high, continuing to discuss life and Jewish matters. Mark tells a  story about Holocaust survivors. A game that Deb used to play comes up in conversation.

The German Refugee | Bernard Malamud

Oskar Gassner is a fifty-year-old German refugee in America in 1939. He has been hired by a university to give a lecture. He engages the services of a young tutor to improve his English and write his speech. He is discouraged by the language barrier; his motivation for his studies falters.

“The German Refugee”

Holocaust Short Stories, Cont’d

The Cage | Heinrich Böll

A man looks through a barbed-wire fence, but doesn’t see anything hopeful.

“Christmas Not Just Once a Year” by Heinrich Böll

Shortly after WW I, a German family is showing “symptoms of disintegration”.  In 1947, when the family’s Christmas tree was being taken down, it fell over, causing Aunt Milla to scream for almost a week. Uncle Franz offers a solution to the problem that causes issues of its own. (This story doesn’t directly deal with the Holocaust but it satirizes Germany’s denial over WWII and the Holocaust.)

The Tenth Man | Ida Fink

Chaim the carpenter returns to his town. He is barely recognizable. He is the first Jew to return since the occupation. Others soon follow.

Suzy and Leah | Jane Yolen

In her diary, Suzy writes about the refugee camp in her town where she and other children have brought candy bars to the children inside. They will be attending her school soon, and she’s not looking forward to it.

In letters to her mother (who is deceased), Leah writes about being in the refugee camp, and the conditions that she and others endured during the war and while fleeing from the Nazis. She is afraid of going to school in America.

They become classmates and are assigned to work together, but they don’t understand each other.

Read here

The Key Game | Ida Fink

A family is living in their third apartment since the beginning of the war. It’s late but they can’t go to bed until they play the key game—the mother imitates the doorbell, the boy stalls while pretending he is looking for the keys, and the father hides.

Read “The Key Game”

A Wedding in Brownsville | Isaac Bashevis Singer

Doctor Solomon Margolin is going to a Sunday wedding. The youngest daughter of his acquaintance, Abraham Mekheles, is being married. Margolin’s wife, Gretl, won’t be bothered to go. Margolin isn’t looking forward to it himself. He’s on a strict diet, doesn’t like the music and dancing, and is bothered by the state of American Judaism.

Read “A Wedding in Brownsville”

On the Train | Rebecca Cantrell

Joachim is in a train with other prisoners. He has a yellow triangle on his jacket. A man with a pink triangle, Herman, says he knows Joachim and starts talking to him. Joachim claims not to know the man. Herman starts talking about escaping.

A Mother’s Tale | James Agee

A calf excitedly approaches his mother, asking her to explain what he’s seen. A large herd of cattle are being driven along by men on horseback and dogs. His mother says they’re going on a long journey, but it’s better to stay home. The young ones’ persistence leads her to tell the story of The One Who Came Back.

This is a beast fable that could be about a refusal to acknowledge the horror of the Holocaust.

Read “A Mother’s Tale”

I’ll keep adding short stories about the Holocaust as I find them. See also: