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The Holocaust History Project.
The Holocaust History Project.

The Holocaust: Suggested Reading

There is a wealth of information about the Holocaust. So much has been written, in fact, that it can be difficult to determine where to start. This reading list is collected from recommendations from other members of The Holocaust History Project. It is not a complete bibliography but represents our opinion as to what are the most useful starting places for research. Since this list concentrates on works that are easily available and useful to a person unacquainted with the history of the Holocaust, many excellent books which are rare or out of print are not listed.

Another class of books that are not included is works that are controversial because of their contents or the unusual theories they propose. Some of these are excellent works, others are not. But we feel that the reader for whom this list was compiled would not have the knowledge needed to evaluate these discussions of the legitimate controversies about the Holocaust. Just as a medical student must learn anatomy before he or she is taught surgery, someone studying the Holocaust must know the factual background before some of the more technical studies can be understood.

As well as general works we have included books of specialized interest concerning the matters about which we at The Holocaust History Project are most frequently asked. Many of these books deal with more than one subject, but in the interest of brevity we have not cited a book more than once.

General history of the Holocaust

The Holocaust was not just an event. It was a process that continued for over a decade and involved millions of people. No single book could cover every aspect of the Holocaust. Those listed below will give the reader a general idea of the historical realities of the Holocaust.

Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York (1975)

Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, Henry Holt and Company, New York (1985)

Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Revised Edition New York (1985)

Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution, Revised Edition, London (1968)

Leni Yahil, The Holocaust, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York (1990)

Michael Berenbaum, The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Little Brown & Company (1993)

Reference works

In addition to the general history of the Holocaust, it is sometimes helpful to have works where a specific question can be easily answered:

Israel Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Vols. 1 & 2, MacMillan Library Reference (1995)

USHMM, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, MacMillan Publishing Company (1995)

Martin Gilbert, Atlas of the Holocaust, William Morrow & Company (1993)

Raul Hilberg (Ed.), Documents of Destruction: Germany and Jewry 1933-1945, Quadrangle Books, Chicago (1971)

How people reacted to the Holocaust

History is not just a chronology, it is a study of how the flow of history involved those who were caught up in the events. The following books will help you understand the Holocaust from the perspectives of those were the victims, those who were the criminals, and those who were neither but had to deal with the reality of the Holocaust. The Holocaust History Project recommends Dr. Hilberg's book as a good introduction, especially for teachers, of the human dimensions of the Holocaust:

Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders, HarperCollins, New York (1992)

Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York (1981)

Lucien Steinberg, Not as a Lamb: The Jews Against Hitler, Saxon House, UK (1974)

Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, HarperCollins (1992)

Tom Segev, Soldiers of Evil: The Commandants of the Nazi Concentration Camps, Domino Press, Jerusalem (1987)

Martin Gilbert, The Boys, Douglas & McIntyre (1996)

Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess (Eds.), The Good Old Days, Konecky & Konecky, New York (1991)

Gitta Sereny, Into that Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder, Andre Deutsch (1974)

Robert Edwin Herzstein, Waldheim: The Missing Years, Paragon House (1989)

Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners, Knopf (1996)

Resistance to the Holocaust

During the Holocaust many Jews took up arms to fight their oppressors. Because much of this active resistance was in eastern Europe, it is been only recently that it has been studied by historians.

Yuri Suhl (Ed.), They Fought Back, Schocken Books (1978)

Shalom Cholawski, Soldiers From the Ghetto, The Hertzl Press (1980)

Israel Gutman, Resistance: the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Houghton Mifflin (1994)


The first people to be systematically murdered by the Third Reich were not Jews or "gypsies" (properly the Roma and Sinta), but Germans who were considered "useless eaters" and "life not worthy of life." More than 70,000 were murdered, many in gas chambers, before Hilter was compelled by public pressure to end the campaign. Even after the public end of the program, the murder of the sick and helpless continued in the Third Reich:

Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill (1995)

Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: 'Euthanasia' in Germany c. 1900-1945, Cambridge University Press (1994)

Persecution of the Jews before the "Final Solution"

The Holocaust occurred in various stages. Before the extermination of the Jews, the Third Reich persecuted Jews both with perversions of law and violence.

Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1, HarperCollins, New York (1997)


The systematic, organized violence against the Jews began on November 10, 1938 with a progrom known as Kristallnacht. This progrom is considered one of the most important steps that lead to the attempt to exterminate Jews:

Anthony Read and David Fischer, Kristallnacht: The Unleashing of the Holocaust, Peter Bedrick Books, New York (1989)

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler and his obsessions will always remain at the center of the Holocaust. While it is probable that no-one will ever understand him completely, we must try. The Holocaust History Project especially recommends Professor Fleming's book on how the philosophy of National Socialism developed into the Holocaust.

Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Harper and Row, New York (1962)

Joachim Fest, Hitler: A Biography, London (1974)

Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Los Angeles (1982)

John Lukacs, The Hitler of History, Knopf Press (1997)

Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil, Random House, New York (1998)

Other Accomplices

Adolf Hitler, of course, did not act alone. Many high officials of the Third Reich were as intent as he was in the persecution of the Jews. Unfortunately good biographies of many of these people are rare. These book should help you understand how they thought:

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Peter Smith Pub (1994)

Jochen Von Lang (Ed.), Eichmann Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police, Da Capo Press (1999)

Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth, Vintage Books (1996)

Dan Van Der Vat, The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer, Mariner Books (1999)

The Third Reich

Adolf Hitler and his accomplices did not just take over Germany. They tried to create a new Germany based on their ideology. These books will help you to understand what was done and how it affected Germany.

Martin Broszat, Hitler and the Collapse of Weimar Germany, Berg, Oxford (1987)

William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Shuster, New York (1960)

J. Noakes and G. Pridham (Eds.), Nazism 1919-1945, (Vols. 1-4) University of Exeter Press (1996,1998)

Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Macmillan Press, New York (1970)

Joseph Borkin, The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben, The Free Press, New York (1978)

David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford (1992)

The SS

The SS gradually grew in power as the Third Reich endured. It was the agency that was not only primarily responsible for imposing the ideology of National Socialism but carried out the extermination of the Jews

Gerald Reitlinger, The SS: Alibi of a Nation, Viking Press, New York (1957)

Charles W. Syndor, Soldiers of Destruction, Princeton University Press (1990)

Albert Speer, Infiltration, Macmillan Books (1981)

Heinz Hoehne, The Order of the Death's Head,, Pan Books, London, 1969

Helmut Krausnick, Hans Buchheim, Martin Brozat, Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Anatomy of the SS State, Walker and Company, New York (1968)

Edward Crankshaw, Gestapo: Instrument of Tyranny, Da Capo Press, New York (1994)

Robin Lumsden, The Black Corps: A Collector's Guide to the History and Regalia of the SS, Ian Allen Publishing, Surrey, England; Hippocrene Books, New York (1992)

Doctors in the Third Reich

The ideology of the Third Reich permeated and corrupted all aspects of life in Germany. Science and medicine were no exception. The Third Reich found men willing to ignore the historic ethics of their profession and participate in some of the most horrible crimes perpetrated in the Third Reich:

Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors, Basic Books (1986)

Robert N. Proctor, Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis, Harvard University Press (1988)

Justice in the Third Reich

No institution in Germany was more corrupted by the Third Reich than the system of justice. The courts enforced the ideological laws of the Third Reich against Jews and the harsh measure that oppressed ordinary Germans almost without protest.

Ingo Muller, Hitler's Justice, Harvard University Press (1991)

H.W. Koch, In the Name of the Volk, Barnes & Noble (1989)

The military and the Third Reich

The role of the military in a modern state is a mixture of military professionalism and politics. The same was true in the Third Reich.

Telford Taylor, Sword and Swastika, Barnes & Noble (1952, 1980)

Harold C. Deutsch Hitler and His Generals, University of Minnesota (1974)

The Einsatzgruppen

During the invasion of the Soviet Union the Third Reich formed four units which followed the armies and murdered opponents of the Third Reich and Jews. They were called the Einsatzgruppen. During their existence they murdered more Jews than were killed at Auschwitz. They were gradually phased out as the gas chambers of the concentration camps came into use.

Ronald Headland, Messages of Murder, Farleigh Dickenson University Press (1992)

Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Schmuel Spector (Eds.), The Einsatzgruppen Reports, Holocaust Library (1989)


Auschwitz has become the symbol of the Holocaust. Over 1,000,000 Jews were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz or died from starvation, disease, torture, shooting or in the horrible medical experiments carried out there. The gas chambers were only one part of a large industrial complex.

Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, Owl Books (1989)

Deborah Dwork and Robert-Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present,, W.W. Norton and Company, New York (1996).

Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum (Eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp,, Indiana University Press in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994)

Rudolph Hoess (Steven Paluski, Ed.) Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant of Auschwitz, Da Capo Books (1992)

Miklos Nyisli, Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, Arcade Paperbacks (1960)

David Olere, Witness: Images of Auschwitz, D & F Scott Pub Inc (1998)

Bernd Naumann, Auschwitz: A Report on the Proceedings Against Robert Karl Mulka and Others Before the Court at Frankfurt, Pall Mall Press, London (1966)

Jadwiga Bezwinska and Danuta Czech, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, Howard Fertig, New York (1994)

Filip Müller, Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers, Stein and Day, New York (1984)

Rebecca Fromer, The Holocaust Odyssey of Daniel Bennahmias, Sonderkommando, University of Alabama Press (1993)

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, Collier Books (1995)

Wieslaw Kielar, Anus Mundi: 1,500 Days in Auschwitz/Birkenau, Times Books, New York (1972)

Olga Lengyel, Five Chimneys: A Woman's True Story of Auschwitz, Academy Chicago Publishing (1995)

Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land, University of North Carolina Press (1986)

Marco Nahon M.D., Birkenau: The Camp of Death, The University of Alabama Press (1989)

Other concentration camps

There were literally hundreds of concentration camps established by the Third Reich. Only a few were camps where systematic extermination occurred. Others were camps for slave labor or the confinement of enemies of the Third Reich.

Eugen Kogon, The Theory and Practice of Hell, Farrer, Strauss (1950)

David A. Hackett, The Buchenwald Report, Westview Press (1995)

Yitzak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington (1987, 1999)

Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, and Adalbert Rückerl (Ed.), Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas, Yale University Press (1993)

Raymond Phillips (Ed.), The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others (The Belsen Trial), William Hodge and Company, Limited, London (1949)

Barbara Distel, Ruth Jakusch, Concentration Camp Dachau 1933-1945, Comitè International de Dachau, Munich (1978)

Mitchell Bard, Forgotten Victims : The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps, Harper Collins (1996)

The world and the Holocaust

One of the most controversial aspects of the history of the Holocaust, is how the outside world reacted and whether the actions of the United States or other nations could have been more effective in preventing the Holocaust or saving its victims.

Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York (1981)

Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died , Random House; 1968

David Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews, Pantheon, New York (1984)

Leonard Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, University of Columbia Press (1982)

Walter Laqueur The Terrible Secret, Owl Books (1980)

William R. Perl, The Holocaust Conspiracy: An International Policy of Genocide, Shapolsky Publishers, New York (1989)

Robrt Abzug, Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps, Oxford University Press (1985)

Deborah Lipstadt, Beyond Belief: The American Press & the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945, The Free Press, New York (1986)

Tom Bower, Nazi Gold, HarperCollins (1997)

The Nuremberg trials

After the surrender of the Third Reich, the criminals who had perpetrated the crimes of the Third Reich were placed on trial. The most famous of these was the trial before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich. Later there were trials of individuals accused of the crimes. While there are many books on the first trial, there is unfortunately no general history of the later trials.

Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, Harper & Row (1983)

Whitney Harris, Tyranny on Trial, Southern Methodist University Press (1954)

Joseph Persico, Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, Viking Press (1994)

Bradley F. Smith, Reaching Judgment at Nuremberg, Basic Books (1977)

Bradley F. Smith, The Road to Nuremberg, Basic Books (1981)

Telford Taylor, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials, Little Brown (1992)

Eugene Davidson, The Trial of the Germans: An account of the Twenty-two Defendants before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, University of Missouri Press (1997)

G. M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diaries, DeCapo Press (1995)

Hillary Gaskin, Eyewitnesses at Nuremberg, Arms and Armor Press (1990)

Airey Neave, On Trial at Nuremberg, Little, Brown (1978)

Historians and the Study of the Holocaust

As with any historical event, the perceptions of historians change as new material is unearthed and new insights developed. These books explain how historians have viewed the Holocaust:

Lucy Dawidowicz, What is the Use of Jewish History?, Schocken Press (1992)

Lucy Dawidowicz, The Holocaust and the Historians, Harvard University Press (1981)

Raul Hilberg, The Politics of Memory: The Journey of a Holocaust Historian, Ivan R Dee, Inc. (1996)

Michael Marrus, The Holocaust in History, Meridian Books (1987)

Children in the Holocaust

One of the questions most asked of The Holocaust History Project is about the chilling fate of the children caught by the Holocaust. These books are suitable for younger readers.

Elie Wiesel, Night, Bantam Books, New York (1960)

Anne Frank (et al.), The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, Doubleday Books, New York (1989)

Hana Volavkova (Ed.), Chaim Potok, I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944", U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, (1993)

Kitty Hart, Return to Auschwitz: The Remarkable Story of a Girl Who Survived the Holocaust, Atheneum, New York (1983)

Denial of the Holocaust

Since the end of World War II, a movement which calls itself "revisionism" has developed. Frequently the denial of the Holocaust is covered by a pretense of serious "scholarship." Almost invariably this is a transparent excuse for outright anti-Semitism and an attempt to resurrect Adolf Hitler as a respectable leader of Germany. We have also included some works on the anti-Semitic philosophy that formed the ideological base of Hitler's philosophy:

Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, The Free Press (1993)

Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust, Columbia Univ Press (1994). (This book is available in its entirety in English and en français at the website http://www.anti-rev.org/.)

Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things, W.H. Freeman (1997)

Ralph Ezekial, The Racist Mind, Penguin Books (1995)

Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, Serif Press (1967, 1996)

Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth, Barnes & Noble (1971)

Internet resources

The Holocaust History Project was founded from the realization that the starting point for research today is often a search of the Internet. Fortunately there are many good places to find information about the Holocaust. These are the some of the most informative sites available.

Our website, The Holocaust History Project, is at http://www.holocaust-history.org/.

The Nizkor Project is at http://www.nizkor.org/.

The Einsatzgruppen page is at http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/ .

The Cybrary of the Holocaust is at http://www.remember.org/.

A description of all the concentration camps is at http://www.jewishgen.org/ForgottenCamps/.

A site maintained by victims of the medical experiments at Auschwitz is at http://www.candles-museum.com/.

A site detailing the treatment of the gypsies is at http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/holcaust.htm.

A site which analyses the subsequent trials of the German military who committed war crimes is http://law.touro.edu/Publications/internationallawrev/vol6/part5.html.

Two sites which would be of special interest to teachers are: http://www.levandehistoria.org and http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/holo.html.

We maintain a list of internet links at: http://holocaust-history.org/links/

The Holocaust History Project dedicates this reading list to Stig Hornshøj-Møller (1949-1999), who dedicated his life to educating the world about the Holocaust.

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Last modified: July 5, 2003
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