Warsaw

For Children/Young Adult

The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen, 1988
Twelve-year-old Hannah Stern, a Jewish girl living in New York in the 1980s, is transported back in time to 1942 Poland, where she is sent to a work camp in this historical fiction novel that highlights the importance of family and remembering the past.

Number the Stars, Lois Lowry, 1989
While it’s not set in Poland, this classic historical fiction novel is a great read for young adults. Lois Lowry’s award-winning tale takes place in Denmark and focuses on ten-year-old Annamarie and her Jewish best friend, who pretends to be Annamarie’s deceased sister when the Danish Jews are relocated.

Fiction

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron, 1979
This story about three roommates living in Brooklyn—a writer, scientist and a Polish survivor of Auschwitz—tells of love, relationships and family, and comes to a climactic end when readers learn about a horrifying choice the titular character had to make during World War II.

We Were the Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter, 2017
Based on a true story, this New York Times bestseller follows a Polish Jewish family living in Radom, Poland that is determined to survive the war and, despite being divided throughout Europe, reunite after its end.

Non-fiction

Night, Elie Wiesel, 1956
One of the most outspoken survivors of Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel chronicles his and his father’s time at Auschwitz and Buchenwald with vivid detail in this deposition. The first in a trilogy, Night is one of the most important pieces of Holocaust literature in the world.

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, Jan T. Gross, 2000
Written by Princeton historian Jan T. Gross, Neighbors uncovers the true story of the brutal massacre of Polish Jews at the hands of their neighbors on a summer day in July 1941. The account delves into Jewish-Polish relations, the pressures of war and human reactions to occupation.

Films

Passenger, Andrzej Munk, Witold Lesiewicz, 1963
This unfinished film (Munk died during production) tells the story of Liza, a former guard at Auschwitz, and Marta, one of her prisoners, whose paths intersect again on an ocean liner in the years following the war.

Sophie’s Choice, Alan J. Pakula, 1982
Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her brilliant turn as Sophie, an Auschwitz survivor living in Brooklyn, in this movie version of William Styron’s 1979 novel.

The Triumph of Spirit, Robert M. Young, 1989
The biographical film stars Willem Dafoe as Jewish Greek boxer Salamo Arouch, who is sent to Auschwitz with his family and fiancé. Used by the officers as entertainment, Arouch is forced to fight his fellow prisoners in matches while there.

Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg, 1993
This three-hour-long, Oscar-winning film takes place in Krakow during the German occupation and tells of the incredible efforts of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who deceived the Nazis so that he could employ and protect Polish Jews in his factories, saving them from being sent to concentration camps. Schindler, who is played here by Liam Neeson, has been credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Life is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni, 1998
While not set in Poland, this touching Italian comedy-drama is critically acclaimed and won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Roberto Benigni, who plays an Italian bookshop owner and family man who is sent to a concentration camp with his son. He uses his vivid imagination to hide the horrors of the camp from his young son by turning their experience into a game.

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