Interesting Books Related to Being a 3G

A Dog of War-Heather Gregson

Farm dog, Tierza, is devoted to her human boy, Aaron.  Their idyllic life is interrupted when the German army invades.  Forced from their farm, Tierza accompanies her family to the Warsaw ghetto.  Together with her boy, they try to live as normal a life as possible under terrible circumstances.  For Tierza, all of that ends when Aaron is taken by German soldiers and forced onto a train.  Relentlessly, she follows the train tracks.  During her journey, she meets different people and tries her best to aid them any way she can, but she never stays for long.  Her love for her boy drives her onward to the end of the tracks and her boy’s fate.

 A Hat of Glass- Nava Semel

The first Israeli book to focus on the children of Holocaust survivors.

After Long Silence: A Memoir- Helen Fremont

In her mid-30s Helen Fremont discovered that, although she had been raised in the Midwest as a Catholic, she was in fact the daughter of Polish Jews whose families had been exterminated in the Holocaust.  The memoir chronicles the voyage of discovery she took with her older sister, ferreting out information from Jewish organizations and individuals and worrying about its impact on their angry, overpowering father and reticent, nightmare-plagued mother.

After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust- Eva Hoffman

In seven short essays, Hoffman focuses on the consciousness and experience of the Holocaust’s second generation-the children of survivors-as theirs is a “strong case-study in the deep and long-lasting impact of atrocity.”  Synthesizing personal history (born in Cracow, Poland, in 1945, Hoffman left at the age of 13 with her parents) with astute gleanings from the fields of psychoanalysis, sociology and literary criticism, the book considers such diverse concepts as how the “trauma” of the Holocaust is constructed, the role of emigration and national identity in shaping the second generation’s narratives of their lives and how works as diverse as Marguerite Duras’s The War: A Memoir and Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader helped shape a series of conflicting ideas about victimhood and responsibility.

And the Policeman Smiled- Barry Turner

Atlas of the Holocaust- Martin Gilbert

Becoming Gershona- Nava Semel

Living in Tel Aviv in 1958, twelve-year-old Gershona is surrounded by an adult world filled with secrets she doesn’t understand.

Bending Toward the Sun- Leslie Gilbert-Lurie

A story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror.  The book chronicles Leslie’s mother’s remarkable journey from Holocaust survivor and refugee to American citizen.

Bittersweet Legacy- Creative Responses to the Holocaust- Edited by Cynthia Moskowitz Brody

Emerging from meetings between survivors and children of survivors in the San Francisco area in 1994, these works of art became for many of the contributors a therapeutive way to process either personal experiences of the Holocaust, or the emotional legacy passed on by parents who had experienced it.

Black Bread- Blu Greenberg

Poetry infusing everyday activities with references to horrors not personally experienced.

Child of Our Time: A Young Girl’s Flight from the Holocaust- Ruth David

Children of the Holocaust- Helen Epstein

A ground-breaking book that is part autobiography, part interviews.  Epstein does not sentimentalize, soften, or patronize her subjects.  Some are proud Jews, others pass.  Some break the most sensitive of taboos (incest), others conform.  Some are productive members of their societies, others struggle.  All live with the Holocaust experiences of their parents as either presence or absence.

Children of the Shadows: Voices of the Second Generation

The children of survivors of the Holocaust, the second generation, are in middle life, their own children already independent.  This volume contains a collection of personal reflections of “the child” and what it meant to grow up in a home affected by the shadows of the Holocaust.

Daughter of Absence- Edited by Mindy Weisel

Twelve essays by daughters of survivors.

Daughters of the Law- Sandy Asher

Ruthie starts a frienship with Denise just when she is having more and more difficulty coping because of her parents’ experiences.

Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust- Joseph Berger

A New York Times reporter recounts what it was like being a child of Polish refugee survivors and details the lives of his parents.

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust- Robert Rozett and Shmuel Spector

Everything is Illuminated- Jonathan Safran Foer

A young American Jew journeys to Ukraine in search of Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Nazi liquidation of Trachimbrod, his family shtetl.

Fear and Hope: Three Generations of the Holocaust- Dan Bar-On

Genia spent two years in Auschwitz.  Ze’ev fought with the Partisans.  Olga hid in the Aryan section of Warsaw. Anya fled to Russia.  Laura lived in Libya under the Italian fascist regime.  All five survived the Holocaust, emigrated to Israel, and started families there.  How the traumatic experience of these survivors has been transmitted, even transformed, from one generation to the next is the focus of Fear and Hope.

Hiding Places: A Father and His Sons Retrace Their Family’s Escape from the Holocaust- Daniel Asa Rose

The author searches for something that will repair the damage done to his family by divorce, and will connect the family to something larger than themselves.  Ultimately, the trip is about finding out why he wants to take the trip.

I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors- Bernice Eisenstein

Children of Holocaust survivors carry an unusual burden, but you don’t come across many who consider their status a form of “cachet” that they can “socially trade on.”  Eisenstein not only freely admits to just that, but does it with an eloquent irreverence and a blend of self-absorption and self-awareness that make her debut captivating.

In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Second Generation- Aaron Hass

What are the effects of growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust?  Drawing on interviews and survey materials, Aaron Hass provides a vibrant account of the experiences of survivors’ children.  Now in their thirties and forties, these men and women describe their relationships with their parents and offer their perceptions of the impact of the Holocaust on their families.  They give voice to memories and feelings about which some of them have never spoken before.  A child of survivors himself and a distinguished clinical psychologist, Hass writes about the lingering presence of the Holocaust in his own life.

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport- Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer

Jew Boy- Alan Kafman

Jew Boy tells the story of a young boy growing up in the complex shadow of his mother’s survival of the Holocaust.  He struggles to comprehend what it means to be Jewish as he deals with the demons haunting his mother and attempts to escape his wretched home life by devoting himself to high school football.  He eventually hitchhikes across the country, coming face-to-face with the very phantoms he has fled.

Jewels and Ashes- Arnold Zable

The Australian son of Polish Jews travels to Poland to discover his family history and better understand the present-day inner lives of those like him.

Justice Matters: Legacies of the Holocaust and WWII- Mona Sue Weissmark

In 1992 Weissmark brought together 22 Jews and Germans for a four-day meeting at Harvard University.  They were sons and daughters of concentration camp survivors and sons and daughters of Nazis.  Weissmark, a psychologist and the child of Holocaust survivors, undertook a study to examine how injustice influences interpersonal behavior as the participants tried to come to terms with the past and with each other.  Drawing on interviews and the conference findings, the book uncovers a complex story and reveals how unjust, painful events of years ago continue to shape the legacies of both survivors’ and Nazis’ children.

Kindertransport Memory Quilt- Hanus, Kirsten and Anita Grosz

Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction- Martin Gilbert

Last Dance at the Hotel Kempinski: Creating a Life in the Shadow of History- Robin Hirsch

A family history beginning with the meeting of the author’s parents in prewar Berlin.

Maus- Art Spiegelman

The book alternates the stories told by Spiegelman’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, about life in Poland before and during the Second World War, with the contemporary life of Art, Vladek and their loved ones in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City.  The book recounts the struggle of Vladek Spiegelman living with his family in Radomsko, Czestochowa, Sosnowiec and Bielsko in the late 1930s and his tragic odyssey during the war which ultimately led him to Auschwitz as prisoner 175113.

Miriam’s Kitchen- Elizabeth Ehrlich

Preservation of recipes, immigrant stories, childhood memories, droll musings over ritual, and sincere habits of the heart.  It is an exploration of the need to connect with the past and with tradition, and of our hunger for meaning in a chaotic world.

Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust- A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past- Fern Schumer Chapman

Edith Schumer returns to Germany with her daughter, Fern, who knew almost nothing of her mother’s past.

My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped- Lev Raphael

Haunted by his parent’s horrific suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, Lev Rafael grew up loathing everything German. Those feelings shaped his Jewish identity, his life, and his career.  While researching his mothers’ war years after her death, he discovers a distant relative living in the very city where she had worked in a slave labor camp, found freedom, and met his father.  Soon after, Rafael is launched on book tours in Germany and, in the process, redefines himself as someone unafraid to face the past and let go.

My Grandparents’ Holocaust- Noah Lederman

For years, Noah’s grandparents had kept the stories of their Holocaust a secret.  However, determined to uncover the memories of their past, in 2006, Noah began documenting their lives and writing a book of narrative nonfiction: My Grandparents’ Holocaust. Please click here to view a blog featuring excerpts from the book and related stories.

My Jewish Legacy- Elyse Bodenheimer

Elyse Bodenheimer started a project as part of her Bat-Mitzvah education building a website and hoping that it would become a starting place for kids and teens to share stories about their grandparents’ journeys in escaping or surviving the holocaust.  Her goals are to learn more about what it was like to be a child living during the holocaust, and to also document what happened to her own family.  Please click here to view her site.

Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation- Muriel Emanuel and Vera Gissing

Remember their Stories- Jessica Karr

As the survivor generation ages, it is important that their personal accounts of the Holocaust are collected and preserved in order to share and educate future generations. ‘Remember Their Stories’ is a forum for children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors to voice and document their family’s history.  Please click here to view this blog.

Second Generation Voices: Reflections by Children of Holocaust Survivors and Perpetrators- Edited by Alan L. Berger and Naomi Berger

Twenty-nine writers discuss the effects of being children of survivors and of being children of perpetrators.  The survivors’ children focus on personal relationships to legacy.  Perpetrators’ children confront the conflicts of love for parents and condemnation and shame of their parents’ sympathies and actions.

Sister, Sister- Anna Rosner Blay

Anna, through recollections and dreams, describes the lives of her mother and aunt from the marketplaces of pre-war Krakow, through the Holocaust, to Schindler’s factory, and finally in suburban Melbourne.

Soul Reflections- The Journey: A Survivor’s Child Speaks- Miriam Jaskierowicz Arman

Author was born in post-war Germany, came to the U.S. in 1962 and became a voice teacher, a visual artist and a poet.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Young Jews in Germany and Austria Today- Peter Sichrovsky (Jean Steinberg- Translator)

The reflections of 13 COS on being Jewish in a land full of ghosts and hostility.  Mostly they are alienated from parents, Germans, and the official Jewish community, and feel rage, despair and a strong need to justify living where they do.

The Keeper of Memory: A Memoir- Irene Reti

Author discovers she is Jewish and the child of survivors at age 17 and tries to integrate her story with her parents’ silence and inventions.

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million Jews- Daniel Mendelsohn

Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost is the deeply personal account of a search for one family among his larger family, the one barely spoken of, only to say they were “killed by the Nazis.”  Mendelsohn, even as a boy, was always the one interested in his family’s history, but when he came upon a set of letters from his great uncle Schmiel, pleading for help from his American relatives as the Nazi grip on the lives of Jews in their Polish town became tighter and tighter, he set out to find what had happened to that lost family.  The result is both memoir and history, an ambitious and gorgeously meditative detective story that takes him across the globe in search of the lost threads of these few almost forgotten lives.


The Pages In Between- Erin Einhorn

When reporter Erin Einhorn found the family that hid her mother from the Nazis during World War II, she thought she’d created a made-for-TV-reunion for two families thrown together by history.  A man who knew her mother as a child threw his arms around her and – tears streaming down his face – told her the little girl had been a sister to him.  But the initial embrace soon gave way to half a century’s hurt feelings and resentments.  Erin found herself apologizing for choices made years before she was born, untangling a real estate deal made on a handshake by people no longer alive and struggling to prove the death of a great-grandfather born in 1868.  Then, as she confronted the heart-wrenching circumstances of her family’s tragic past, unexpected events in her own life altered her mission completely.

The Rat Laughs- Nava Semel

The Rat Laughs is a five-part novel dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust and the influence of this harrowing chapter of human history on man’s relationship with God; on the understanding of human nature; on the need to forget in order to survive; and on the need to remember, nonetheless.

Part One is the story of a nameless five-year-old child, as it is told to her granddaughter years later.  The child`s parents entrust her to a family of farmers living in a remote, picturesque village.  She is hidden in a dark potato cellar for approximately a year, with little food and only a rat for company – and raped repeatedly by the farmers` son.

Part Two is the granddaughter`s diary, which sheds more light on the survivor`s story as well as on the title of the novel.  The rat, according to the alternative myth of creation related by the grandmother, demanded that God grant him the gift of laughter, but soon came to realize God`s most miserable mistake: “… in a world where children must be hidden …chaos is not simply an incidental “bug,” but a complete systems breakdown.  Such a world should be destroyed from its foundations and rebuilt from the start.”

Part Three, a collection of poems ostensibly written by the survivor child, is followed by a research report (Part Four) written in the year 2099 by an anthropologist bent on uncovering the origins of the widespread “Girl and Rat” myth.  This chapter, which defines myth as “encrypted historical memory,” is also a reflection on the nature of memory – its persistent presence in man`s consciousness; its scarring effects; and the possibility of subsequent hope: “A historical scar is indeed no guarantee that horrific events will not repeat themselves; the existence of memory can, nevertheless, grant some hope.”

Part Five, the novel`s final chapter, is the diary of the priest who takes the child in.  In an attempt to restore her speech, her hope and her faith in God and mankind, he discovers that he has lost his own.

The Silence: How Tragedy Shapes Talk- Ruth Wajnryb

Silence is often the most powerful form of communication and it is silence that still dominates the homes of Holocaust survivors and their families, even after half a century.  Through interviews with children of survivors, this book explores communication in survivor families from the perspective of the postwar generation. Explaining the effects of trauma on communication, this book offers an understanding of the language of silence that often becomes the first step to healing.

The Third Generation –  Joan Zawatzky

Ella is Jewish, born in the 1960’s in Leopoldstadt, once a ghetto in Vienna, but has no sense of her background. Her undemonstrative mother is unwilling to talk about the past and her father, a survivor of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, died shortly after her birth. Locked in an unsatisfying marriage to Richard, and with few ties to the wider society, she finds comfort in Vienna’s welcoming cafes and in a long-term love affair with her childhood non-Jewish sweetheart, geologist Luke.
When Richard is offered a promotion in Australia, she reluctantly joins him with their youngest son. In the outer suburbs of Melbourne, she struggles to find her footing in the dissimilar culture. To cope with her turmoil, she drifts back to her scattered memories and attempts to weave them together.
She decides to sell her mother’s old home in Leopoldstadt to developers and when demolishers find a portfolio of her father’s paintings in the study, one painting is thought to be valuable. This discovery will shape her future.
Meanwhile, on the death of his mother, a horrified Luke discovers documents revealing his grandparents’ roles as guards in a concentration camp. His guilt leads him to immerse himself in the study of Judaism and later, to even considers conversion. During a visit to an Australian university to present a paper on geoscience, Ella and Luke meet and he tells her of his guilt.
The Third Generation is a gripping story of one woman’s heritage; a discovery to pass on to her children what she believes is rightfully theirs.

The War After: Living with the Holocaust- Ann Karpf

The author journeys into her parents’ past and examines how it transmitted to her a struggle for identity.  Her struggle becomes more clear when she has children.

What Papa Told Me- Felice Cohen

What Papa Told Me, written by Felice Cohen, the granddaughter of a Survivor, is the story of Murray Schwartzbaum, a young Jewish boy from Poland, whose courage and sheer will to live helped him survive eight different labor and concentration camps in the Holocaust, start a new life in America, and keep a family intact in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide – one of the Nazis’ last victims. Click here for more information.

Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search For Her Mother’s History- Helen Epstein

The author traces her maternal family history through several generations to its Central European roots while exploring the effects of assimilation, national identity, and the Holocaust on Jews living in the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia.