These short stories about the Holocaust take place leading up to the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, or have characters who are coping with its effects. A book worth checking out is When Night Fell: An Anthology of Holocaust Short Stories. See also:
Holocaust Short Stories
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.
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.
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.
Holocaust Short Stories, Cont’d
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.
Those Are As Brothers | Nancy Hale
At a Connecticut country house, the gardener, a Jewish refugee, stops to talk to the German governess. Mrs. Mason, the owner, had a difficult life, being mistreated by her husband. She feels an affinity to Mr. Loeb, the Jewish refugee, because they have both suffered.
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 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.
Holocaust Short Stories, Cont’d
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ll keep adding short stories about the Holocaust as I find them. See also:
- Summary of The Little Liar by Mitch Albom (novel)