Middle Grade Holocaust Nonfiction

No moment in history is more horrific than the Holocaust of World War II. When the Titanic sunk, women and children were saved first. During the Holocaust, they were killed first. Some of these books provide darker details of the Holocaust than others. I have listed them in order from least to most disturbing.

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

This is the story of how Hana’s suitcase came to be in the possession of the curator of a small Holocaust museum in Japan. Fumiko becomes obsessed with finding out the story behind the suitcase. With much effort she finds Hana’s brother alive in Canada and learns the tragedy of Hana’s death at Auschwitz.

Irena’s Children by Mary Cronk Farrell

When the Nazi’s invaded Poland Irena Sendler watched helplessly as her Jewish friends were ordered into the Warsaw ghetto. Since Irena was a social worker she was allowed clearance to enter. She smuggled in food and medicine and eventually began smuggling children out at her own risk.

Somewhere There is Still a Sun by Michael Gruenbaum

Few people know about the “model” concentration camp, Terezin, set up to give the Red Cross and foreign officials a false impression of Jewish imprisonment. Michael was at Terezin for 2 ½ years thinking there couldn’t possibly be a worse place. When the prisoners arrive from Auschwitz barely alive, he realizes the horror he was spared.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

When Lieb Leyson’s family was sent to the Krakow ghetto, his father was one of the Jews employed by Nazi member Oskar Schindler. They were eventually deported to the Plaszow labor camp, but Schindler managed to obtain work permits for the family. Consequently they were spared the horrors of the concentration camps.

Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren

Jack was a teenage boy when he was separated from his mother and sister by the Nazis and forced into a labor camp. Over three years he endured the horrors of starvation, cold, and cruelty. By the end, he had been shuffled around to seven camps, and still managed to survive for three years. He was the only one of his family to survive.

I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia E. Bitton-Jackson

Elli was a teenage girl from Hungary when the Nazis invaded, taking away her freedoms and forcing her family into the ghetto. All of that was nothing compared to the life she faced at Auschwitz and Dachau death camps. Elli put her own life at risk again and again for her mother who never would have survived without her. 

Tell Them We Remember by Susan Bachrach

This is a documentary overview of Hitler’s rise to power, the erosion of Jewish freedom, the deportation to concentration camps and the liberation. It’s an informational book rather than a memoir, and provides everything you want to know about the Holocaust. Full of photographs from the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

Survivors: True Stories of Children of the Holocaust by Allan Zullo

This book gives a short perspective of eight different child survivors of the Holocaust. Although they came from different countries and backgrounds, they were all Jewish and targeted for extermination. They all saw their freedoms eroded by the Nuremberg laws, but their paths to survival were different.

Survivors Club by Michael Bornstein

Michael was born during the early years of World War II and never knew freedom until the war ended. Since his father was the most influential member of the Jewish Council, his family was one of the last to be deported to Auschwitz. Nearly all children were exterminated upon arrival, but inexplicably 4-year-old Michael was spared and avoided certain death multiple times. 

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