Every year, we compose a list of  suggested books, films, and podcasts for CSA participants to enjoy in addition to the materials participants are required to read or watch for the program. You will find the required materials first, followed by our recommendations. 

This list helps you prepare for the seminar and is made up of works that will make you laugh and cry while giving you essential cultural context for the historical period we will discuss at the Summer Academy. 

Below you'll find a list of recommended materials to read, watch, or listen to. For each country that the Summer Academy will visit, we have provided a list of books and films that will help you gain a greater understanding of their culture and history.  Keep checking back for updates!

- Your Centropa Summer Academy Team

Required readings & podcasts

Each participant has required reading depending on their elective. Soon you'll be able to download the required tasks for each elective below.

In the meantime, we are asking everyone to read Goetz and Meyer, a short novel by David Albahari.  It is available in Serbian, English and German, and please check online bookstores in your language to see if it is available.  Here is Nicholas Lezard’s stellar review in The Guardian and here is the link to the English version of the book on Amazon.

Below we have a list of recommended books, films, and podcasts, that participants might find additionally useful. While it is not required that you read them, you'll find that these materials should provide a comprehensive background to the history and locations you'll visit during the summer academy.

- Your Centropa Team.

Recommended Books, Films, Podcasts


We ask our participants to get to know the countries we’ll be visiting, and in Hungary’s case, please start here http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17380792.

BBC also provides a useful timeline of Hungarian history

Another excellent source is The Economist Intelligence Unit http://country.eiu.com/hungary

Recommended Books

The masterwork on the Holocaust in Hungary, The Politics of Genocide, was written by Randolph Braham. The book is more than 1,200 pages and is divided into two volumes. You will be relieved that it is not required reading. This is a link to the abbreviated edition. 

If you find the time, Kati Marton wrote this entertaining book, The Great Escape: Nine Hungarians Who Escaped Hitler and Changed the World, which is an easy read through the careers of some remarkably talented Hungarian Jews, who didn’t just film the world (Michael Curtisz gave us Casablanca, Alexander Korda produced scores of films), but through Leo Szilard and Edward Teller, they could have destroyed the world through their work on the atom and hydrogen bombs) 
Review by Kirkus Reviews 

Although not a required reading, Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz is a remarkable novella, both wise and cynical.
Review by The Guardian (scroll down to third review)

Although not a required reading, The Circumcision by György Dalos is a remarkable novella, both wise and cynical, which we hope you will all read.
Review by The Guardian (scroll down to fourth review)

A fine history of Hungary was written by the Hungarian-born, Vienna-based broadcaster Paul Lendvai. The Hungarian novelist Tibor Fischer wrote this entertaining review of Lendvai’s The Hungarians for The Guardian (click on link below):
Review by The Guardian

Recommended Films

On Hungary 1956: Cry Hungary. This 48 minute documentary was produced by Jeremy Bennett in 1996 for BBC’s Time Watch. Highly recommended https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaR8pxjnskY

Sunshine, by Istvan Szabo. This chronical of a Hungarian Jewish family over four generations that covers assimilation, antisemitism, and Communism. Some have praised the film. Others not. Here is an insightful review of the film by Roger Ebert http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/sunshine-2000

Podcasts & Other Resources

Bridget Kendall’s 13:00 minute podcast, Cold War: Stories from the Big Freeze, about three participants in the Budapest uprising of 1956

On the Holocaust in Hungary, we recommend Yad Vashem’s short summary

The US Holocaust Museum provides a more detailed online study and is very much worth reading


We ask all participants to spend a bit of time getting to know Serbia—it’s current politics and economy as well as its history and culture. You can begin with this profile from The Economist Intelligence Unit http://country.eiu.com/serbia

Here is the BBC country profile of Serbia

and here’s BBC’s Serbian history timeline,

Recommended Books

If you have some extra time, we suggest Chernobyl Strawberries, by Vesna Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy describes growing up in Belgrade then marrying a Brit and settling into a foreign culture and language. Even though English is her third language, she’s an exquisite writer.  Available in English and Serbian. 
Review by The Guardian 

This book is also available in English and Serbian but is long out-of-print in the US. Ernst Pawel wrote Life in Dark Ages while he was dying of cancer in the early 1990s. A German-born Jew, he fled as a teenager to Belgrade with his parents in the 1930s. The first half of this book makes for fascinating reading, and he lived in a world where German refugees sat in their Serbian hotel, “inhaling nostalgia for all they had lost and exhaling disgust thinking of their current state.” 
Review by the LA Times

  • The Jews of Yugoslavia in 1979 by Harriet Pass Freidenreich

Here is a link to a unique study that we have on PDF for you. In the 1970s, Harriet Pass Freidenreich, then a US doctoral student, traveled to what was then Yugoslavia to research a book on Yugoslav Jewry between the two world wars. Spending months in archives in Zagreb, Belgrade and Sarajevo, her study was published as The Jews of Yugoslavia in 1979. For the purposes of our 11th summer academy, here are links to:

 Belgrade: The Serbian Capital.pdf
 The Pressure of Politics.pdf
 Epilogue - The Surviving Remnant.pdf

Recommended Films

Perhaps one of the finest documentary series made in the past half century, The Death of Yugoslavia was produced by Norma Percy for BBC in the late 1990s and covers the rise of Slobodan Milosevic, the break-up of the country and the wars in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia (1991-1995).
All the political players, who assumed that when they gave these interviews they’d escaped prosecution, tell the story in their own words. Which were, in time, used against many of them in the Hague war crimes trials. Here’s a link to Part One of Six; the others flow just after it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdS9M7oSVOg

The Death of Yugoslavia was already in circulation when Serbia launched a war of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, which brought down the wrath of NATO. That war is brilliantly covered in this three parter from BBC and once again relies on first hand testimonies.

Part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJjgC7IOtKk
Part two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVGjGAmy34
Part three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MOMaUDnN7I

Podcasts & Other Resources

The US Holocaust Museum provides an in depth online study on the Holocaust in Yugoslavia and is very much worth reading.