The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Zaffre | January 11th, 2018
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
“To Save one is to save the world.”
There are many stories about the Holocaust – and there will be many more – Morris does a brilliant job of telling Lale and Gita’s heartbreakingly, beautiful story about their time in Auschwitz and the horrible things that take place during that time. You can easily feel Lale and Gita’s emotions throughout this whole book: Lale’s desire to survive and escape, Gita’s refusal to accept that she will ever leave Auschwitz, and their love for one another. The way Morris writes is as if you were there, experiencing it all for yourself.
When I began reading this book I was not aware that it was a true story, which only made it that much more heartbreaking. The things that took place in concentration camps during the Holocaust were inhumane and beyond terrible. Prisoners worked all day, had little food to eat, slept in crowded and unclean quarters, and were killed for any reason that pleased an officer. Can you imagine being taken to these camps because of your religion, race, or just because? This book captures those things as they happen to the main character and how he never loses his desire to live and eventually be free from that terrible place.
Although it was heartbreaking to read about the cruel things that happened in Auschwitz and to the people there, the story has a beautiful ending and I enjoyed reading it very much. I haven’t read many books about the Holocaust, but I do know that it was a horrible time for anyone who did not conform to the Nazi’s. It is always interesting to read stories that are true and actually took place. I felt like I was sitting across from Lale as he was telling me his story. It’s books and stories like these that make you appreciate what you have and the people you love.
Whether you enjoy historical novels or not, I believe everyone would enjoy this book.
Thank you, NetGalley and Bonnier Zaffre Publishing for an Advanced Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.