January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day

The Holocaust – this is a major event in history that is hard to just summarize in a few words…an unbelievable tragedy that will never be forgotten…so we remember the victims by promoting awarenes of the past to those who live today…

Approximately 6 million Jewish people were persecuted and murdered between 1941-1945 (during World War I). The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Gypsies, the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples. Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others…and there is so much more to the story….

Some of you might want to learn more for a school assignment? Some of you might have an interest in our world’s history? Some of you might have even had family who were a part of this horrific event?

There are a great many reading options for teens wishing to explore this period in time – historical accounts of what happened and the perspective of what it was like and what it might have been like to live during this time as told through the eyes of both real and fictitious characters.

Here are some suggested Holocaust reads for teens—

* Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. To fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish, Becca must discover her past. Why doesn’t she know her grandmother’s real name and what does her grandmother’s version of Sleeping Beauty have to do with it all? An exceptional blend of fact and fantasy, Briar Rose is Sleeping Beauty tangled in barbed wire.

* The Lady With the Hat by Uri Orlev. After the concentration camp’s liberation Yulek can see there is no life for him in Poland. He sets out for Palestine with a group of other young Jews. Meanwhile, an Englishwoman looks desperately for the long lost nephew she spotted in a photo of Jewish refugees. Both suspenseful and touching, The Lady with the Hat is an outstanding story of alienation and love.

* Run, Boy, Run by Uri Orlev. Srulik Frydman was eight years old when his father sent him into hiding as Jurek Staniak. Throughout the war Jurek struggles to stay alive and hidden. He struggles with the harsh Polish winters, starvation and the ever present danger: the Nazis. An astonishing true story.

We Are Winesses compiled by Jacob Boas. The Holocaust described by five teenagers who died in the camps. Through the eyes of these children, we experience the bigotry of the common people, the misery of the ghettos, and the agony of hiding. Heartrending and insightful. A devastating book.

* I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson. All Elli wanted was to be a normal teenager. Instead at thirteen years old, she found herself an inmate of Auschwitz. Her story is a heart-wrenching and frightening tale about coming of age in very dark times.

* Malka by Mirjam Pressler. Seven year old Malka falls ill on her family’s way to Hungary and must be left behind. Alone little Malka tries to stay one step ahead of the Nazis and remain alive until the war ends. While Malka hides in alleys and attics, her heartbroken mother searches everywhere for her lost baby. Devastatingly affecting, Malka is a wonderful novel depicting the horror of the Holocaust especially for children.

* Thanks to my Mother by Schoschana Rabinovici. Smuggled to the right side in a backpack by her mother, Susie Welker survived — concentration camp by posing as a seventeen year old. In truth, she was only eleven years old. This is the true story of a mother who did all she could to keep her daughter alive. A very poignant story of a mother’s love.

* The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Linwer. The unwritten story of Anne’s arrest, deportation and eventual death. Tracing Anne through the testimony of six Jewish women, Lindwer does a fantastic job of piecing together the last days of Anne’s short life. Heartbreakingly detailed, a devastating story.

* The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Maus I: My Father Bleeds History
Maus is graphic artist Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek’s story. The unusual format of the graphic novel (Here the Nazi’s are cats and the Jews mice) cuts right to the heart of the story. Vladek’s experiences from the mid 1930’s to 1944 when he was imprisoned in Auschwitz are captured beautifully in this magnificent work. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Vladek’s story continues in And Here My Troubles Began. From his months in Auschwitz to the death march to his liberation and eventual emigration to America, Art races to record his father’s history before he dies in his Rego Park home. As disturbing and emotional as My Father Bleeds History.

* Two Suns in the Sky by Miriam Bat-Ami.
* David and Jonathan by Cynthia Voight.
* Milkweed: A Novel by Jerry Spinelli.
…and many more.

– Carly T.

***Thank you to the Richmond Heights Library in St. Louis, MO for providing an excellent resource page on this subject.***

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