How will these resources help you?

Teaching about the Holocaust is difficult for many reasons. The scale of the Holocaust – the sheer magnitude of the history, the numbers of people involved and the geographical spread of the events – makes it difficult for us to know where to start and end our study. It is impossible to visualise six million victims, and often in textbooks the voice of the victim is lost to the actions of the perpetrators. Survivor testimonies provide a different perspective on the events – reading them enables us to personalise the history, find human connection, hear the voice of the victim and humanise the study. Each story is unique and sheds a distinct light on how the Holocaust happened in different places and at different times. To understand the Holocaust, and teach effectively about this challenging subject, it is essential to look at authentic personal accounts of those who lived through it. Note: The books on this list are for adult reference only. They are not suitable as teaching resources due to the graphic detail of the subject matter. I’d encourage all teachers to study the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance recommendations to ensure the subject is taught in an ethical manner. 

Recommended reading

IHRA Recommendations for Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust

published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) was formed in 1998 and consists of 34 member countries. Their recommendations for teaching and learning about the Holocaust were written by a group of international experts and designed to help educators by giving a set of principles for teaching the complex and nuanced history of the Holocaust in an educationally sound manner. Their recommendations cover questions of why, how and what to teach, giving clear guidance on the need to look beyond the iconic spaces of the Holocaust and engage with its complexity. I found this incredibly helpful as a tool to measure my planning and teaching against. In many ways, these recommendations can be read as principles for teaching any difficult subject.

One woman’s experience of Auschwitz

Return to Auschwitz

by Kitty Hart-Moxon, published by House of Stratus (second edition), (2020), 9780755101368

In this book, Hart-Moxon gives a brutally honest account of her experience during the Holocaust, during which she spent close to two years in the women’s camp at Auschwitz II: Birkenau. The author gives a deeply personal picture of life in the camps as a female prisoner. Following the war, Hart-Moxon came to Britain and has lived here ever since. She has made it her life’s work to tell others what she witnessed during the Holocaust. Reading Hart-Moxon’s story gives us a particular insight into the workings of the Birkenau camp, as she survived there for much longer than most. In a place of ‘choiceless choices’ the variety of work duties she did and survival strategies she employed show her strength of character even in the most horrific circumstances.

The experience of a Hungarian Jew


by Elie Wiesel, published by Penguin, (2006), 9780140189896

This book is Wiesel’s account of his Holocaust experience, including being forced into a ghetto in his native Hungary, the transport to Auschwitz in a packed cattle wagon and surviving the brutal life inside Auschwitz II: Birkenau. He describes how he lost his mother and sister at the ‘Selection’ on arrival at the camp and how he endured a crisis of faith. This short but incredibly powerful book is essential reading for those who wish to get a glimpse of the reality of the Holocaust from the perspective of one of its victims.

A survivor’s account of Treblinka extermination camp

Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory

by Chil Rajchman, published by MacLehose Press, (2012), 9781849163996

Rajchman was one of just 67 people to have survived Treblinka extermination camp, which claimed the lives of between 750,000 and 900,000 Jews between 1942 and 1943. His account lays bare the brutality of the camp and the shocking aspects of his time there. I’d recommend this book as a means of learning about one of the less-well-known sites of the Holocaust, as an alternative to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In our teaching about this subject, it is important to learn and reflect on the range of experiences and locations where the Holocaust took place. The content is hard to read at times, but it gives the reader an understanding of the grim reality of the Holocaust in ways that other texts cannot. 

Audiovisual clip

The Last Survivors - School photo

published by BBC, (2019)

A very intense testimony by an Holocaust survivor from Prague.

Further Materials

I Witness: One Voice at a Time (online interactive resource for teachers) Access this resource
The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman, published by Penguin, (2003), 9780141014081 Find this book
If This is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi, published by ABACUS (Hachette), (2019), 9781405528191 Find this book
Kitty: Return to Auschwitz (documentary), published by Real Stories (licensed from ITV), originally produced by Yorkshire TV in 1978, (2016) Watch this video
Ben Fuller is an education officer at the Holocaust Educational Trust. He was previously a teacher of history, politics and sociology and has written educational materials for the Winston Churchill Archive. He teaches an MA module on pedagogy at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. 

Text © Ben Fuller, 2021.