Bookshop tour 2016

It was my great pleasure to spend a day touring some of London's best booksellers, accompanied by the extraordinary Tom Avery, senior editor at William Heinemann publishers. Here are a few of the tweets from the day.


Off to Printer...

THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE is being printed today (today!) in Clays, the giant printing works in Bungay. Can't wait to see a copy ....


The House By The Lake almost ready to be sent to printer. Just a couple of weeks away now. Index done (check), Maps done (check), Illustrations done - yes there are hand-drawn illustrations! (check)... oh yes, and text done (check!). 

It's all very exciting!


Conville & Walsh literary agency are delighted to announce that Thomas Harding has won the prestigious JQ-Wingate Literary Prize for his book Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz.In a rare departure from the norm, Thomas shares this year’s prize with Michel Laub who also won with his novel Diary of the Fall. The winners were announced last night at the winner’s event at the Jewish Community Centre London JW3 where both authors received a £2,000 split prize.

Harding, on accepting his award, said “Over the course of the six years of writing Hanns and Rudolf there were many moments in which I believed that the book would never be published. To be recognised by the judges of the Wingate Prize is that much more extraordinary. It is humbling.” Harding’s tale is a story of 2 opposing but parallel lives: his great uncle Hanns, a German Jewish Nazi hunter, and Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz.

Hanns and Rudolf reveals the untold story of Hanns Alexander, the man who brought a mastermind of the final solution to justice – it reveals, for the very first time, the full, riveting account of Rudolf Höss’s capture, an encounter with repercussions that echo to this day. Moving from the Middle Eastern campaigns of the First World War to bohemian Berlin in the 1920s to the horror of the concentration camps and the trials in Belsen and Nuremberg, it tells the story of two German men- one Jewish, one Catholic- whose lives diverged, and intersected, in an astonishing way.

The JQ-Wingate Literary Prize was established in 1977. The prize of £4000 is awarded annually to the best book to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.

It is the only award in the UK to recognise writing by Jewish and non-Jewish writers that explore themes of Jewish concern in any of its myriad possible forms.

Hanns and Rudolf posters up on London Underground

Penguin Random House has launched a publicity campaign for Hanns And Rudolf this week.

Across theLondon Underground posters of the books have been pasted to walls. I think they look amazing, don't you?

The book is also available now in Tescos and WH Smith. 

Anna Abraham and Cäcilie Bing - Both Remembered

Candles at sunset.JPG

70 years ago today, Anna Abraham was murdered in Auschwitz having been deported from the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

72 years ago, Cäcilie Bing, was deported from Theresienstadt to Treblinka. 

Anna had a weekend house in Groß Glienicke. You can read about her story here.

Cäcilie Bing

Cäcilie Bing

Cäcilie Bing was Henny Alexander's aunt, she would have visited the Alexander's house in Groß Glienicke. You can read about the Alexander story here. 

Both are remembered. 





Hanns and Rudolf is #7 Bestseller

Hanns and Rudolf was the #7 in bestseller in the UK category: general paperback non-fiction.

This will be announced on the  Sunday Times on 18 May 2014. 

Hanns and Rudolf was released as a paperback on 1 May 2014, this is the first full week it has been in the bookshops. 

Hanns and Rudolf was chosen as non-fiction book of the month by the bookseller Waterstones.

Film deal for Hanns and Rudolf



Currently non-fiction Book of the Month for May in Waterstones, HANNS AND RUDOLF, Thomas Harding’s highly acclaimed debut work of history has just been optioned at auction by The Ink Factory. The company’s co-founder Simon Cornwell agreed the deal with film agents Nick Marston and Camilla Young at Curtis Brown, acting on behalf of Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh.


Based in London and Los Angeles, The Ink Factory won the film rights in a competitive auction and are in talks with Sir Ronald Harwood, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of THE PIANIST and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, to translate the book to screen. Sir Ronald Harwood is represented by Judy Daish. 


HANNS AND RUDOLF tells the twin lives from childhood of Rudolf Höss and Hanns Alexander, respectively the Kommandant of Auschwitz and a young Jewish soldier who, after the war, tracked down and arrested Höss where he was hiding on a farm in Northern Germany.


HANNS AND RUDOLF was first published in 2013 in hardback by William Heinemann, and shortlisted for the biography section of the Costa prize. Published by Windmill in paperback on the 1st of May 2014, HANNS AND RUDOLF has sold into ten foreign languages and to Simon & Schuster in the States and to Anansi in Canada.


In the UK the hardback of HANNS AND RUDOLF went to No 5 in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller list, whilst in Italy it went to No 1 and in Israel to No 3. Further translation editions are being published throughout this year.


World-wide the review coverage has been extraordinarily good, ranging from John le Carré’s “A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history” to Ben MacIntyre’s “remarkable….meticulously researched and deeply felt” to James Holland’s “This is a stunning book….both chilling and deeply disturbing” to Max Hastings’s “Thomas Harding… has uncovered a remarkable story… This is a remarkable book, which deserves a wide readership” and Cynthia Ozick’s “In this electrifying account Thomas Harding commemorates (and for the tired revivifies) a ringing biblical injunction: Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.


The Ink Factory, which enjoys a unique relationship with celebrated novelist, John le Carré, is currently in production on OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, a major new film adaptation of the author’s work. This year will see the release of the company’s first production, A MOST WANTED MAN starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, with a number of film and television projects from various writers in advanced development.


For further details please contact:


Simon Cornwell and Rhodri Thomas at The Ink Factory at or +44 207 096 1698


Camilla Young and Nick Marston at Curtis Brown at or or + 44 207 393 4400


Tom Avery and Sophie Mitchell at William Heinemann/Random House at or + 44 207 393 4200


Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh Ltd at or + 44 207 393 4200


To see press coverage of the announcement here

Hanns and Rudolf is Waterstones Book of the Month

The UK's largest book retailer has selected Hanns and Rudolf as their non-fiction book of the month for May. 

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award Hanns and Rudolf tells the story of two German men whose lives crossed in an shocking way.

Hanns, the son of a prosperous family, fled Berlin in the 1930s for London. Rudolf, farmer and soldier, became the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. After the Second World War a British War Crimes Investigation is assembled to hunt down senior Nazi officials. Hanns is lead investigator, his most elusive target, Rudolf.

I also wrote a blog for the Waterstones website

Teaching about the Holocaust in the 'Post-Survivor Era'

Here is something I wrote to Huffington Post today:

Who is going to educate young people about the Holocaust when the survivors are no longer with us?

That is the question I keep asking myself in the days leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2014. Because the further we get from the end of the Second World War, the fewer survivors we have to share their powerful stories.

During a recent book tour in the USA I was hosted by a Holocaust educator in each city, and every one of them told me that they were worried that they would soon have no survivors to help them with their work.

And they have good reason to worry.

To have a Holocaust survivor talk to a group of young people is a precious thing. It makes the tragedy real, visceral. It has impact.

I have seen this frequently. The room goes quiet. The survivor tells his or her story. The kids are changed.

I observed this at one of my book events. I had been speaking for over an hour, people were growing restless, one man even asked if it was time for lunch. Then a survivor stood up, the room hushed. With a microphone to her trembling lips she said that when she had left Auschwitz she had weighed fifty-eight pounds. In those few words she said so much more than I ever could in an hour. It was terrible. She had survived. And she was brave enough to tell the tale.

When I spoke to an expert at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington DC, she said that they are well aware of the issue, they even have a name for it, the 'post survivor era.'

A lady who works at one of the leading Holocaust research centres in England told me that they are carrying out a 'strategic review' on the subject.

But most people I ask tell me not to worry so much. 'We have thousands of hours of interviews with survivors,' they say, 'We have books and graphic novels. We have artefacts, memorials and exhibits.'

All of which I know, and is good, but it is not quite the same. And I do worry, especially about the teaching materials.

When I ask which books teachers are using I am told, "Well, there is the Diary of Anne Frank". It has sold millions of copies, it has been translated into scores of languages, it's true and it's powerful. Fair enough.

What else? I ask. "Well," they say, now wincing, each and every one of them - from Brooklyn to Birmingham, from North West Washington DC to North West London - "teachers are increasingly using the Boy with the Striped Pyjamas." They add, it's an easy teach: it's about children, it's very well written, there's even a movie the kids can watch.

For those who don't know, the Boy with the Striped Pyjamas is about the son of a concentration camp kommandant who befriends a Jewish boy prisoner. While fictional, it is clear that the story is largely based on the family of Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz.

Now I know a little about Rudolf Höss' family. In 2009, I travelled to Auschwitz with Rudolf Höss' daughter-in-law and grandson, and then a couple of years later, I interviewed Brigitte, the Kommandant's eighty-year-old daughter, who now lives outside of Washington DC.

And I can tell you, having spent time with the Höss family, with a great degree of confidence, that the Kommandant's children never played with Jewish kids, let alone befriended them. To the contrary, the Höss children pinned triangles and stars to their shirts and pretended to be prisoners, like Cowboys and Indians.

So we have a second problem, a fictional holocaust is increasingly being taught to kids.

This week I gave the annual Merlyn-Rees Lecture for the Holocaust Education Trust at the Houses of Parliament in London. The room was packed, with over three hundred people: camps survivors, Members of Parliament, journalists and students. The audience was alert, committed, and eager to learn.

Afterwards at dinner, I sat next to Holocaust survivor, Ben Heflgott. He told me that when he was nine-years-old he had been forced into a ghetto in Poland, a few years later he was sent to Buchenwald and then Theresienstadt. With the exception of one sister, his entire family was murdered by the Nazis. Now, almost seventy years later, I asked him what he thinks about holocaust education in the so-called 'post-survivor era'.

He put down his fork, turned to me and said, "it's simple, the next generation will have to do it. And they will be even better."

That is the answer to my question. We will just have to do it. Better. It is that simple.

On 25 February, Thomas Harding will be talking about his book 'Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz' as part of Jewish Book Week



Follow Thomas Harding on Twitter:


Israeli publisher launches Hanns and Rudolf

In January 2014, Israeli publisher, Keter, launched Hanns and Rudolf. The link to their site is here


Key information:

Translated from  : English 

Translation  : Cilla Elazar 

Editor  : Dana Eleazar Halevi 

Year  : 2013 

Number of Pages  : 344 

Dankod  : 10-540343 

ISBN  : 978-965-07-2209-8 

Price:  98.00   NIS 

Hanns and Rudolf ... Summary of best book of the year reviews

It's been quite a run with the end of the year reviews for Hanns and Rudolf. Here is a summary:


Shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for Biography


'A chilling portrait of the banality of evil'. - Ben Macintyre, The Times Books of the Year


‘[an] extraordinary story…The tale of how he then doggedly tracked down Rudolf Hőss, the merciless commandant of Auschwitz is stunning – not just because it is so gripping, but because Harding interweaves Hann’s life story fascinatingly with Hőss’s…A compelling, remarkable picture of war and its aftermath.’   - The Sunday Times Books of the Year


‘Harding sketches the parallel lives of the SS officer with notable skill. The book is a moving reminder of what an extraordinary amount Britain gained by the Jewish flight from Europe in the 1930s.’  - Max Hastings, Guardian Books of the Year


‘Hanns and Rudolf tells the mesmeric tale of his uncle’s hunt for an arch perpetrator of the Jewish Holocaust.’  - John le Carré, The Telegraph Books of the Year


'This superlative look at two men - one, Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz; the other, Hanns Alexander, the man who arrested him - makes for uncomfortable, but essential reading.' - Stuart Evers, Netgalley Books of the Year


'The detective story approach worked well in Thomas Harding's Hanns and Rudolf'. - Ben Shephard, Observer History Books of the Year


'An unexpected delight … It is amazingly well researched, resists judgement, and above all is an utterly compelling read.'  - David Shrigley, New Statesman books of the year


'As gripping as a Le Carré thriller, this is the remarkable story of two Germans who took radically different paths in life that converged when one tracked the other down as part of the British War Crimes Investigation Team.' - Metro Newspaper,


“Hanns and Rudolf” by Thomas Harding (Simon & Schuster, $26) was the standout book of the year for its ability to wring a series of emotions from the reader: shock, disgust, despair, excitement and relief. The true story of how a British Jewish soldier tracked down and caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz is at one point a sobering account of the darkest chapter of the 20th century and then, once the chase is on, an electrifying thriller that has us cheering for the hero. Victim becomes victor in a book with an ending that offers the ultimate in cathartic release.' - Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune, books of the year