An 863-page history of the Nazi concentration camps has won this year’s prestigious Jewish Quarterly-Wingate literary prize.

Nikolaus Wachsmann

Nikolaus Wachsmann

The work of “immense scholarship” by Nikolaus Wachsmann’s won the award, for books of Jewish interest for the general reader. 

Titled KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps‘, the comprehensive chronicle of the camps beat of competition from Claire Hajaj, Howard Jacobson, Zachary Leader, Alison Pick, George Prochnik and Dan Stone.

Chair of judges Samantha Ellis said: ‘“The rise of Nazism will always be of Jewish interest but that is not why we have chosen KL. We think it is a book everyone should read.”

“It is a work of immense scholarship and of vivid humanity,” with Wachsmann’s using  primary sources, and “thousands of individual testimonies”

The panel of judges included writer Samantha Ellis, columnist Hugo Rifkind, Young Novelist Tahmima Anam and Senior Masorti Judaism Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.



Rabbi Wittenberg described the award as “an incredible achievement, one of those rare books you know people will still be consulting a generation from now”.

Nikolaus Wachsmann, said he was ‘greatly honoured’ to accept the prize. “When writing this history of the Nazi concentration camps, I kept thinking about a message buried by a Jewish victim near the Auschwitz crematorium: “may the world at least behold a fraction of this tragic world in which we lived”.

He added, “I hope my book makes a small contribution to this endeavour, to help us see and understand the tragic world of the Nazi camps a little clearer.’

The annual Jewish Quarterly Qingate prize, run in partnership with JW3 is worth £4,000.