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Steven Katz's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Steven Katz recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Steven Katz's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto

Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto is the moving account of the horror of the Warsaw Ghetto - written by the recognized archivist and historian of the area while he lived through it. Through anecdotes, stories, and notations - some as brief as "I was slapped today in Zlota Street" - there emerges the agonizing, eyewitness accounts of human beings caught in the furor of senseless, unrelenting brutality.

In the Journal, there is the whole of life in the Ghetto, from the erection of the Wall, in November 1940, for hygienic reasons, through the brief period of deceptive calm to the...
Recommended by Steven Katz, and 1 others.

Steven KatzThis again is a way of having access to the Jewish side of the tragedy. There was an organisation started in the Warsaw ghetto by a great man named Emmanuel Ringelblum. Ringelblum had been a historian before the war, and when the war began he had a stroke of genius, of tragic genius. He organised a team of people to go out and save all the material they could find about the life of the ghetto. He... (Source)

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During World War II, more than five million Jews lived under Nazi rule in Eastern Europe. In occupied Poland, the Baltic countries, Byelorussia, and Ukraine, they were stripped of property and “resettled” in ghettos. The German authorities established in each ghetto a Jewish Council, or Judenrat, to maintain minimal living standards. The Judenrat was required to carry out Nazi directives against other Jews, to supply forced labor, and eventually to cooperate in the Final Solution. Did the Jewish leaders of the ghettos, who were also victims, assist their murderers? If cooperation with the... more
Recommended by Steven Katz, and 1 others.

Steven KatzThere is always a discussion and emphasis in films and in various kinds of public conversation about the role of the Germans: What did Hitler order? Why was Hitler obsessed with the Jews? Why did the Third Reich do what it did in the way of anti-Semitism? What was the logic of their racial policy? Why did they create death camps, Einsatzgruppen [see below] and ghettos? But the story is only... (Source)

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First published in 1961, Raul Hilberg's comprehensive account of how Germany annihilated the Jewish community of Europe spurred discussion, galvanised further research, and shaped the entire field of Holocaust studies. This revised and expanded edition of Hilberg's classic work extends the scope of his study and includes 80,000 words of new material, particularly from recently opened archives in eastern Europe, added over a lifetime of research. less
Recommended by Steven Katz, and 1 others.

Steven KatzWhat happened is that there had been prior books about the Holocaust, for example by a Frenchman named Léon Poliakov, and they were important first steps. But the real professionalisation of the discipline, a tremendous change in the recognition of the importance of the Holocaust, came from the publication of Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews in 1960-1. (Source)

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Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of  RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these...

Lawrence KaplanThe takeaway from reading this horror-filled book is that depredations on the scale of those that Browning describes can be perpetrated anywhere and by anyone. (Source)

Norman NaimarkThe essential lesson of Ordinary Men is that genocide is not the exclusive preserve of fanatics, racist thugs and homicidal maniacs. It is part of the human condition, especially of humans living in society. (Source)

Steven KatzThe reason this is such an important book is that when you study the Holocaust you ask almost immediately: How could people do this? How could men who had their own children, go out and murder other children? Or husbands take women and rip open their wombs and kill their infants and shoot them behind the ear? This book raised that question in a very, very strong and powerful way, based on... (Source)

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Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the...
Recommended by Johanna Reiss, Steven Katz, and 2 others.

Johanna ReissElie Wiesel wrote..that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. (Source)

Steven KatzProbably the best known memoir that has been written about the experience of the death camps. (Source)

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