|This German statue stands in memory of those killed at Dachau.|
I am drawn to novels about the Holocaust. I’ve read dozens and am always surprised when I read a new one that offers a different slant or perspective, broadening the scope of the Holocaust even more.
Below are my favorites from the past few years.
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
Two Jewish children are sent into the woods by their father and stepmother to escape the Nazis. Their father begs them to call themselves Hansel and Gretel and to never reveal their Jewish identities. The author provides incredible descriptions of the forest and the atrocities the Nazis inflict on the Jews they catch. Throughout, the author alludes to the well-known fairy tale, but with much scarier overtones.
Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer
This book was fantastic. It should be used as a social studies text book. Although I've read dozens of books about the Holocaust, this is the first time I understood what was happening in Germany. We got parallel accounts: one from a young man growing up in the Hitler Youth, the other from a young Jewish woman. The author did a fantastic job of helping me wrap my mind around all the numbers that made up the 6 million killed, and gave an incredible account of the liberation.
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
The back blurb describes the author’s experience in interviewing Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg's project. I kept thinking about that as I read. I thought her twist on the interviewing project in the book was a great idea. And I wondered how many of the Holocaust/War stories in the books might have been based on things she heard?
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The sense of setting and time were so precise that every time I sat down to read this I was transported to Holland in the late 30's/ early '40's. I could clearly visualize the streets, the people, the watch shop, and the Beje. I liked the fact that the book started years before Germany occupied Holland. It drove home the fact that things changed gradually, and without warning. The book captured the growing fear among everyone, and the subtle changes in lifestyle that finally meant that this was war and nothing would ever be the same.
Shanghai Diary by Ursula Bacon
This novel told the story of Jews who escaped Holocaust by moving to Shanghai – an aspect of history I was not familiar with. It was odd to read about the ordeal of Jews escaping Hitler without reading of the tortures of the Nazis. Instead, they were affected by the war between Japan and the U.S.