World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day

January 27 is World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day



I found this photo of Auschwitz at the Jewish Virtual Museum, a project of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and a wealth of information on the Holocaust.


Today, January 27, is World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, established in 2005 through a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly. The date was selected in memory of the largest of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, which was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.


I hadn’t heard of this holiday when I began organizing my blog posts for 2016. But there it was, on a calendar I had just downloaded. I was intrigued and the question quickly became, how to best honor it?


My first thought went to one of the many holocaust memoirs that I’d read, Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, and I knew whatever I did, I had to include this book.


I was given this book as a gift in 2001, in The Netherlands.


Before 9/11, before Peace Corps, Woody and I traveled much, giving workshops around the globe to people who stutter and the professionals who work with them. During those travels we always made extra time to visit with the friends that Woody and I had made over the years.


On one such occasion, in the summer of 2001, our friends had taken us to see the home of Holocaust victim Anne Frank. Perhaps that is why, I never asked, but as we were about to walk through our gate at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Sjaantje, my Dutch friend, held out a book to me, saying, “I want you to have this. I think you’ll enjoy it.”


I read it on the plane home. Less than a month later the Twin Towers fell.


Written in 1971 with help from an American couple John and Elizabeth Sherrill, ten Boom’s story is what I thought of in the days and weeks following 9/11.

“If she could do it, so can I.” 


But there are countless other heartrending, life changing, memoirs from survivors of that horrific time.  Here are the ones that have made it onto my bookshelf, virtual or concrete. I’ll link to the reviews of the ones I’ve read.  (I can see I need to get some more reviews in)

  1. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
  2. The Diary of Anne Frank — which needs no explanation
  3. Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex
  4. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, by Willy Lindwer
  5. Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival by Clara Kramer
  6. Outcry: Holocaust Memoirs  by Manny Steinberg
  7. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
  8. They Shall Not Have Me by Jean Helion
  9. A Gift from the Enemy (A True Story of Escape in War-time Italy) 
    by Enrico Lamet, Peter Schults
  10. Wallenberg: The Incredible Story of the Man Who Saved  by Kati Marton
  11. Such Good Girls: The Journey of The Holocaust’s Hidden Children by R. D. Rosen


There are hundreds, probably thousands of other Holocaust memoirs. These are the ones that have caught my eye and gone onto my To Read list: 

  1. The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust by Barbara Rosenblat
  2. All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein
  3. Night by Elie Wiesel
  4. A Scrap of Time and Other Stories by Ida Fink
  5. The Journal of Helene Beer
  6. The Last Jew in Treblinka: A Memoir by Chil Rajchman
  7. Rena’s Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam
  8. Women Heroes of WW II by Kathyrn Atwood
  9. Things We Couldn’t Say by Deet Eman
  10. Boy 30529 by Felix Weinberg
  11. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
  12. All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein
  13. Five Chimneys: AWoman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz by Olga Lengyel
  14. The Girl in the Green Sweater by Krystyna Chiger


These are the stories of the survivors. And it is only through their words that we come to know the victims, those we honor today.



Can you add other titles that you’ve read or want to read?


You might want to check out these links to The Jewish Eye and Goodreads for more more suggestions.

Let’s read all we can; let’s keep ourselves and the generations coming after us informed.

Let’s never forget.




7 Responses

  1. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    I had seen info that today was Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day on FB yesterday. Thank you for the list of books, Janet. I can’t think of others at just this moment. The Anne Frank Center, the Anne Frank House, and the Holocaust Museum all have Web sites with lots of information, and they are also on social media. Author David R. Gillham, who wrote the wonderful novel, City of Women, (set in WWII Berlin) often posts information on Anne Frank and the Holocaust. I think he may be working on a book about her.

    I think we may see the movie, “Son of Saul” today.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Merril. I am so out of the loop on current movies. Haven’t heard of Son of Saul. Used to be Woody and I would be at one of the Ritz’s in Philly every Friday night. Long, long ago …. in a Galaxy far, far away. . .

  2. Ronny Herman de Jong
    | Reply

    Hi Janet,

    Thank you for this information. Today would have been my Mom’s 106th birthday (she died of old age when she was almost 102.

    To my knowledge, there is no Asian Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day. Yet, more innocent victims succumbed because of the cruel treatment by the Japanese in POW camps. You will remember my Mom’s memoir RISING FROM THE SHADOW OF THE SUN; I just published a second edition: the full story.

    Indeed,let’s never forget…

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Ronny. It’s nice to have you return. And to be descended from a mother who lived to 102; that is quite a privilege, particularly given what she was put through during the War, as you clearly point out in her memoir.

      I trust you plan to surpass her 102 marker.

  3. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Our news bulletins have all featured this as the lead item today, so nobody has the excuse of saying they haven’t heard of it. I’ve read a lot about the holocaust in the past and may give it a miss this time. I shall simply sit and think abut all those poor abused souls and then wonder why the world never learned the lesson from those terrible deeds.
    It’s happening again right now in Iraq and Syria, with the ISIL terrorists trying to exterminate the Yasidis and Christians. Worse than that, they’re massacring muslims – just because they belong to the wrong sect. Its the same mindless brutality, seeking to destroy those who don’t fit the idealised mould, who dare to have beliefs of their own, and only want to be left in peace to get on with their lives.
    During the Holocaust there were rumours, but to a great extent the Nazis managed to keep it all behind closed doors until they were defeated.But toady we know what is going on, it’s all over our TV screens and the internet, with endless repeats and gruesome images.
    And what are we doing to stop it? Virtually nothing. Our pilots drop a few bombs, blow up the odd oil installation, and take out the odd terrorist with a drone strike from 30,000 feet, but that’s not dealing with the problem.
    We should use this day to kick ourselves and our governments in the backside, to stir us into action and put a stop to the barbarism.
    And when that is done we need concerted action to stop all arms sales, to collect up every weapon we can and put it beyond use; melt it into ploughshares or something useful, and stop slaughtering people. The world has enough problems without continual genocide.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Ian. And thanks for putting into words what many of us feel. Melting our weapons into plowshares. Costa Rica actually states in their constitution they will have NO standing army. “The Army as a permanent institution is proscribed.” Think of the funds that frees up! No wonder it’s a remarkable country.

      As for what we’ve learned, we HAVE learned that everyone of us has the capacity to do great harm under certain circumstances. The Milgrim and Asch experiments in the early 1950s are chilling in what they taught us about ourselves. How best to counter these tendencies remains to be seen. I tend to side with Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” And it starts within each of us.

      As always, thank you for being here.

  4. […] year, in my post on this day, I listed the holocaust memoirs I had on my book shelf (virtual and […]

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