In light of Holocaust Remembrance Day, it seems like a powerful moment to recommend these three books to read in succession. I’m hoping no one in the world will experience the horror, participate in, or be the victim of these types of atrocities fueled by racism and divisive, egotistical goals again.
All The Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner is the true story of an American woman in the German resistance in Nazi-ruled Germany. Mildred Harnack was 26 when her PhD studies took her to Berlin. From 1932, a small band of activists started holding secret meetings in her apartment.
This group grew into a significant underground force that opposed the Nazi regime, eventually catching the attention of Hitler himself. Donner’s book pieces together clips from letters, journals, newspapers, notes, pictures, flyers, and government forms to give us insight into the life of a remarkable woman, the only American in a position of leadership in the German resistance, at a time when Nazi brutality cast a shadow over the world.
The book is very thoughtful, beautifully written, and expertly researched. It highlights how important it is to hold onto our ethics and morals, even in the most troubled times. I was reminded how important courage is when standing up against repression of any kind, a crucial warning in today’s world.
It’s an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.
Eight Days in May: The Final Collapse of the Third Reich by Volker Ullrich tells the story of what happens to Germany after Hitler discovers that he has been defeated. It captures the day-to-day events that led up to the German surrender to the Allies. Ullrich provides a closer look at the remaining Nazi leadership, their egos, and their political maneuverings.
It’s a very detailed narrative that is tough to read, but reminds us all of the atrocities of war and what we must never forget or repeat. It’s a book that everyone should read.
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955 by Harald Jähner is an interesting and enlightening book on Germany’s immediate postwar period. Jähner does a wonderful job of showing how political events altered everyday life in Germany, from the wreckage on the streets, to the abstract art in museums, to the way that Germans rebounded and lived.
It’s a fantastic book to add to your library of Holocaust literature if you want to learn more about Germany’s recovery and move towards a free society once again.
The most impressive message from these books is that this can happen in sophisticated societies with normal people that get sucked into the madness. Common tactics of marginalizing particular groups of people as inferior, or banning certain books, are sure signs that we need more education and constant reminders of historical facts.