Hi, since today is the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and people are honoring the memory of six million European Jews were killed during WWII. I’ve had an idea to share with you some of my favorite books about the Jews during the war.
The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff
Emma and Jacob are newly wedded. They are forced to separate, as the german army march into Poland. Jacob must go into hiding and Emma leaves Krakow for a safer place in the country. Struggling to stay away from her husband and get used to her new identity as Anna, a Christian and a niece to Krysia, a woman who welcomes Emma in her home.
One evening during a party that was hosted by Krysia, Emma catches the eye of a new Kommandant, Georg Richwalder. He offers Emma the position of his personal assistant. The work near germans seems unbearable to Emma. Later she understands that can be useful to her husband and his friends from the polish resistance as a spy in Kommanddant’s office.
Longer she works with the Kommendant, Emma realizes that she does not hate him as she supposed to. Soon their relationship goes far beyond dangerous.
With this novel began my obsession with WWII fiction. It was a great, emotional read. The time period described so vividly and made me want to read more about Poland during the war. Not to mention that Pam Jenoff is now one of my favorite authors ever.
My favorite character was the Kommendant (I know, I know, he is a Nazi), sometimes I hated him, sometimes I loved him, but he was the most interesting and complex figure. Imagine my excitement when I found out that there is another book that follows his life before the war (The Ambassador’s Daughter). None of the other characters was boring or uninteresting, and you get to care about everybody.
The Storyteller by Judi Picoult
Sage Singer is working in a bakery and does not like to socialize with the customers since her face covered in scars. She dedicates herself to her passion, the baking, that her grandmother used to teach her since she was young.
The only person she befriends with is an old man, former teacher, and a much-respected man in the community, Josef Weber. They pass time during coffee and chatting, Josef happens to be always the last customer to stay. One day, Josef approaches Sage with an outrages question; would she kill him?
He lived a long life but feels guilty about some of the horrible things he was doing during the war. Although, Sage is overwhelmed but she listens to Josef’s story.
Josef Weber, a former SS guard at Auschwitz camp. As a Nazi, he did many things that he now regrets, and his only wish is to die, as he cannot carry the weight of the guilt no longer. Sage connects the dots between his story and the story of her grandmother, who is an Auschwitz survivor. However, Josef story is not as simple as she thought in the beginning, there are much more secrets that were kept for many long years. Will Sage do the unthinkable and accept Josef’s request?
Be ready, because this novel has some serious mind-blowing plot twists, which would leave you speechless! At first, it seems like a regular steady going novel (obviously with terrible stories, since it is about the Holocaust), but at some point when you are sure that you know exactly what is going on, then BOOM! Everything is changed! It is a great book!
The Lost Wife by Alison Richman
A young Jew Lenka is a normal young girl living in Prague. She studies art in university, spends her time with her loving family and one summer she meets a charming med student Josef. They are in love, very happy and soon get married.
However, unfortunately, their happiness does not last long. The Germans invade Czechoslovakia and start the hunt after Jews. Soon they found each other separated not knowing of the faith of the other. Lenka ends up in a camp, struggling in the unbearable conditions. She believes Joseph is dead. For her great talent as a painter, she gets a chance to survive the horrendous camp life. Around half a century later in New York, they reunite again on the wedding of their grandchildren. They start the journey to the past through the bad memories they both wish to forget.
Be prepared, the book will make you cry… happy tears, sad tears… The story of separated by the war, loving couple is going to tear the heart from your chest. However, the best part is the reunion of the two after long years separation when both thought they lost each other forever.
Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke
Rachel Cramer is the daughter of a genetic researcher in Germany during the WWII. Her peaceful life turns upside down when she receives a letter from her childhood friend Kristin, where she is begging Rachel to take her daughter. Amelie is five and she was born deaf. However, since she is a daughter of high-ranking SS officer and not a perfect Arian, her life is in terrible danger. After discovering some horrible facts about her own birth, and determinate to find out the rest of the truth was kept from her and help her friend and rescue little Amelie, Rachel escapes to Munich. With help of American journalist Jason, she connects to the resistance and gets involved with rescuing more children.
This book gets you hooked from page one. The fascinating story of Rachel, the secrets of her birth that were kept by her parents and little Amelie who was not wanted by her own father keep you interested until you turn the last page. It was also nice to see the German’s life during the war.
The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff
Helena and Ruth are sisters but very different. While Helena is pretty, independent and opinionated her sister Ruth is quite and gentle. They struggle to survive through the difficulties coming upon them with the Nazi invasion of Poland and caring for their little siblings. The situation gets more complicated when Helena finds a wounded English paratrooper in the woods. Despite the risk, she puts herself and her family in; she decides to hide the soldier in old, abandoned church. Sam is not only an allied pilot but also a Jew.
Shortly Helena gets close with Sam and dreams to escape with him. However, the unpredicted outbreak of jealousy in Ruth puts them all in great danger.
I enjoyed the difficulty of sister’s relationship and the complexity of the characters. They are far from flawless and keep secrets and that is exactly what makes them so fascinating!