Some events may seem too heinous to be possible. But these 9 books provide personal perspectives into the realities of the Holocaust and will all leave you more rattled and informed than a textbook ever could.

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Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

Born survivors

Like most books about the Holo­caust, this one is dif­fi­cult to read, the cru­el­ty beyond com­pre­hen­sion. The three moth­ers, Priska, Rachel, and Anka, defied death to give their chil­dren life. Torn from their fam­i­lies by the Nazis, they were first sent to Auschwitz, then Freiberg, then final­ly Mau­thausen. Despite being strangers to one anoth­er, these women had some­thing in com­mon: all were a few months preg­nant and need­ed to keep this a secret from their Nazi cap­tors. To find out if women were preg­nant, Dr. Josef Men­gele would squeeze their breasts to see if any milk leaked out. Those dis­cov­ered were either sent to their death or were used for genet­ic testing.

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Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero

broken angels

Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance — intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.

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Tango of Death by Mikhail Baranovskiy

Tango of Death

In an age where we are becoming desensitized to horrific events, Tango of Death's characters give voices, emotions and personalities that will stay with readers for a long time after the book is done. Jacob Mund's blissful life as a brilliant musician is everything a composer could ever dream of, but that all changes with the onslaught of Nazi Germany's rise and the ban of Jewish composers in Vienna. With a close companion and a beloved wife, Mund flees with the promise of something better - not to mention safer - but how long will it last? Tango of Death based on the true story of conductor Jacob Mund, his orchestra, and dozens of thousands of other Jews who lived in Poland at World War II. This book includes 60 documentary photos to show the violent truth of the Holocaust.

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A Train Near Magdeburg by Matthew Rozell

In this book, the true story behind an iconic photograph taken at the liberation of a DEATH TRAIN deep in the heart of Nazi Germany—brought to life by the history teacher who discovered it, and went on to reunite hundreds of Holocaust survivors with the actual American soldiers who saved them!

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First One In, Last One Out by Marilyn Shimon

First one in, Last one out

In this grisly memoir, Marilyn resurrects Murray Scheinberg’s stories of six hellish years in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The Polish Jew was one of the first eight men to enter Auschwitz, as a political prisoner in 1940, and one of the last to escape Dachau. Rejected by a publisher in the 1960s because of its incredible details, this true story, finally available to the public, will shock, horrify, and touch readers.

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Invisible Jews by Eddie Bielawski

Invisible Jews

For three long years, starting in 1941 when the Nazis started the deportations and mass killings, Eddie and his family hid in secret bunkers that were dug in fields, under sheds, or constructed in barn lofts. It seemed that the only way that a Jew could survive in wartime Poland was to become invisible. So they became invisible Jews.

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Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning

Ordinary Man

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. The general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

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I Only Wanted to Live by Arie Tamir 

I only wanted to live

This is the incredible inspiring story of a little Jewish boy who managed to survive all possible levels of hell as he clung on to life. For six long torturous years, Leosz sees and goes through everything: myriads of overcrowded transports headed for concentration camps, life on the streets of occupied Poland as an abandoned child, hiding from cruel Nazis, forced labor under conditions of starvation and the constant threat of death.

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Scattered Rays of Light by Dovit Yalovizky

Scattered Rays of Light

The quiet life of the family was disrupted abruptly when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Soon, its members were deported to a faraway village where they suffered horrific torments at the hands of the Germans and their collaborators. The head of the family, who was blessed with sharp instincts, grasped what was about to take place and instructed his children to disperse in different directions, in the hope that at least some of them would be able to survive.

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