"Katerina" by Aaron Appelfeld is an original look at The Holocaust. This is a piece of history, an event that has been written about countless times, but this writer's perspective is unique. The book is a historical novel; however the circumstances he describes could have, and probably did happen in very similar form.
The protagonist Katerina is not a Jew, she is not raised to respect Jews, and her surroundings are that of anti Semitism. However events lead to her working for a Jewish Family, and as the years pass she learns to understand their culture and their religious beliefs. As her knowledge grows so does her respect for them and with it a steady degrading of the hatred for anti-Semitism she can no longer justify.
A horrifying act of cruelty to which she reasonably responds leads to her imprisonment. And it is in this prison setting the Author creates for her decades of fear and loathing of those she came from and their hatred of Jews for which she feels such contempt. Her one consistent visitor is her Lawyer, again a Jew. She is kept in this prison where the trains that carry the Holocaust's victims pass by each day. She lives with people who happily celebrate the genocide while clothing themselves in the victim's clothes and other personal effects that were confiscated.
After half of her life is passed in prison the War ends and the prisoners walk free. Even her freedom is tainted, as she is forced to endure the celebratory attitude of her fellow prisoners that all the Jews are gone, the killers of Christ have themselves been killed. So even when she returns to her village that she left behind 63 years in her past she does so knowing the people she adopted as equals have been decimated, and people that never knew her then, now know her as the murderess, the legend she has become.
The Author portrays a scene of this very old woman coming upon what was a Temple, and the effect of the writing is as galvanizing as any thing you may read. This is a book that is unlike others books about the Genocide of WWII, all the horror is there, but it is left more to your mind's eye than placed before you in all its historical butchery. The emotional trauma this woman endures during the War combined with the balance of her suffering in life, is of a magnitude that is awesome both in its scope and depth of despair.