The Upstairs Room

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The Upstairs Room
The Upstairs Room cover.jpg
Author Johanna Reiss
Language English
Genre Young adult literature
Publisher Thomas Y. Crowell Co.
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 196
ISBN 978-0-690-85127-4

The Upstairs Room is a 1972 Holocaust survivor autobiography by Johanna Reiss documenting her childhood in occupied Holland during the Nazi invasion.


Reiss is known as Annie de Leeuw during the period of the book. Because the de Leeuw family are Jewish, the Nazi occupation of Holland causes Annie and her family to be in grave danger. Fortunately, a Gentile family, the Oostervelds, offer to help them by taking them in. Annie and her elder sister Sini are hidden away for two years. They struggle through many hardships, such as their mother's illness and eventual death.


Elie Wiesel reviewed the book shortly after its publication. He wrote in part "This admirable account is as important in every aspect as the one bequeathed to us by Anne Frank. Annie's ambivalent relationships with her father, her sister, the family that sheltered her, her discovery of concentration camp horror – we laugh with her and cry with her. With her we await D-Day and liberation, sharing her anxieties and her dreams. In the end, we are grateful to fate for having spared a child who can reminisce with neither hate nor bitterness but a kind of gentleness that leaves us with a lump in our throats."[1]

The book won many awards including a 1973 Newbery Honor and the 1973 National Jewish Book Award for best children's book.[2][3][4]

A 2009 The New York Times article noted about the book: "Compared with Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, it is sparer and sterner: Frank, unaware of her tragic fate, radiated lively, optimistic, girlish intensity, while Reiss wrote 'The Upstairs Room' after much of her hope and appetite for life had been extinguished. One expects the survivor to be the more expansive writer, but like so many Holocaust victims, Reiss was left emotionally crippled, fearful of being violently murdered, always ready to hide."[5]


  1. ^ Wiesel, Elie. "The Telling of the War." New York Times Book Review, November 5, 1972, pages 3, 22.
  2. ^ Drew University Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study. "October 22, 2001 Conversation With Johanna Reiss" at the Wayback Machine (archived August 27, 2006). Accessed May 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Association for Library Service to Children. "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present." Accessed May 19, 2013.
  4. ^ Jewish Book Council. "NJBA Winners." Accessed May 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Garis, Leslie. "Twice Stricken." The New York Times, February 20, 2009. Accessed May 19, 2013.