I was asked if I could recommend some good WWII and Holocaust books. I have compiled a list of books which may not all be bestsellers but do give a deep undertsnsing of this world’s history darkest chapter.
Starting of with a book written by my close friend Dr Mary Honan.
The Literary Representation of World War II Childhood: Interrogating the Concept of Hospitality
This book investigates a cross-section of World War II inspired literature,
both fact and fiction, with children as a central focus, through the concept
of hospitality. It argues for the inter-connection between hospitality and a
network of other Derridean concepts which are used to explore the texts.
This study interrogates the notion of childhood, how it has evolved as a
concept socially and in literature, and how this is reflected in the chosen
The forms and genres of literature studied include diaries, letters,
novels, memoirs, fairy-tales, allegorical novels, comics, graphic novels,
and time-travel novels, from the perspective of real child victims of
Nazism as well as fictional child protagonists.
The Grey Goose of Arnhem
By Leo Heaps.
A book I bought for 50 cents in a flee market. A little gem which has provided me with lots of references.
Leo Heaps was a Canadian paratrooper at the Battle of Arnhem. He was captured,escaped and returned to occupied Holland to organise one of the most incredible mass evacuations of World War II.
That Damned Torpedo: World War II Letters, a Dutch Naval Officer, and His American Bride.
By Linda van Ekelenburg.
A great read and even though I was born long after the war there was just so much in here I could identify with.
Ironically, the adventure that had begun with a fast-talking twelve-year-old runaway on a fishing boat became a nautical career. By 1943, that boy is a debonair young Dutch officer whose ship is sunk by a Japanese submarine. An inquest into the incident brings him to the shipping company’s offices in New York City, where he is captivated by a charming secretary. For Dirk van Ekelenburg and Blanche Waldeck, first glances are enough to seal their fates.
After a whirlwind courtship, they are married for fifty-two years. She moves with him to the West Coast, leaving her parents in New Jersey. He must return to his duties at sea. His family in occupied Holland is suffering and starving. Her brother is an American soldier in England, then France. Only long and frequent letters connect the couple and the families.
Collected here are some of those letters, many of which read with the excitement of an old-fashioned radio program with all of its twists and turns. Despite censors removing restricted defense information, these letters illuminate how wartime punishes nations both weak and powerful, and individuals both military and civilian.
I’m not a Victim, I am a Survivor.
By Eddy Boas
This book got to me, it highlighted not only the Holocaust but also the aftermath and especially the treatment of the survivors by the government of my country.
More than seven decades after his liberation, Holocaust survivor Eddy Boas has written his memoirs. He shares his story with Yael Brender.
“We are the only family that went into the camps together and came out together,” says Eddy Boas, one of the youngest Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and author of I Am Not A Victim, I Am A Survivor, published this month.
Born in The Hague, Holland, in 1940, Eddy was three months old when the Nazis invaded and three years old when his family was rounded up and sent to Hollands Spoor train station. From there, he was loaded into a cattle wagon with his mother Sara, his father Philip and older brother Samuel, who everybody called “Boy”. They were deported to Westerbork concentration camp where they were kept in the largest barrack.
The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945
By Nicholas Stargardt.
Stargardt presents evidence that Germans were aware of the genocide and atrocities being committed by German policy, through word of mouth. Stargardt argues that as the war went on, German media increasingly, “hinted at what people already knew, fostering a sense of collusive semi-secrecy.”This ‘spiral of silence’ (according to Stargardt) produced a sense of quasi-complicity among Germans, even those who did not directly participate in atrocities.
The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler
By Roger Manvell, Heinrich Fraenkel, Roger Moorhouse
The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler investigates the July 20, 1944, bombing of Hitler’s infamous Wolf’s Lair, a conspiracy led by Claus von Stauffenberg, a staff insider with access to the Führer. The first book to reveal the truth about the now infamous Operation Valkyrie.
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