The Tattoist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

by Heather Morris

Overview: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 over 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.

Carol Sherman (07/22/19): The faith, endurance and loving relationships that survived the horrible tragedies was amazing. This true story portrays what is really important in our lives.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss (07/21/19): This was not an easy book to read, once again reliving the horrors that existed at the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. The fact that this is a true story and that the main character, Lale, survived to tell the details is about the only relief one gets.

Deanna gives an excellent synopsis of the book in her review of 11/23/18. The book is written well and is engrossing. The love story between Lale and Gita is absolutely amazing in that it began when Lale was tatooing Gita's numbers on her arm upon her arrival at the camp. Love at first sight --- that survives the worst conditions that humanity can afflict on two individuals. At every step, you wonder if either one of these people will survive.

Lale does feel some guilt about his position as the tatooist of the camps. He believes, though, that one must do what one must do to stay alive. He does use his rank as camp tatooist (with its special privileges) to barter with locals for food and medicine. This is a dangerous operation and yet Lale feels that it is his obligation to do this, and it does save some lives. Lale is not perfect, but his heart is in the right place.

My next book will have to be a light summer read!
Rating: ****

Deanna Boe (11/23/18): Like many of you, I have read far too many horrible stories of what life was like for those caught up in the Holocaust and put into concentration camps. Saying that, can there ever be too many accounts when you know just how many people were exterminated during WW II? The war ended 73 years ago, and yet the tales keep on coming about the horrors of those camps and the lives of those who managed to live.

This is another one. It reads very quickly, but the account of the experience of the man who tattooed the numbers on the arms of all those who entered the two camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, shows once more the horrible way that mankind can treat their fellow man.

Lale Sokolov lived in Slovakia, and was regrettably a Jew. He “volunteered” to go work for the Germans thinking it would keep the lives of his family “safe” for a little while longer. Unfortunately, the “work” was in a concentration camp of Poland. Lale was an extremely intelligent and friendly young man who could immediately size up exactly what was happening all around him in the camp and realized those who would survive were the ones who could seize whatever opportunities that might come their way quickly. A man befriended him and convinced him to be his tattoo assistant. (Shortly after that the man was taken by Dr. Mendel who liked to experiment medically on people in the camp.) It was at this point Lale became the head tattooist, and with it came many privileges within the camp.

Lale was free to walk around the camp along as he always carried this certain bag with him. This enabled him to see the young lady, Gita, who he had tattooed, and immediately fallen in love with, to see each other on various occasions. It also gave him the ability to talk to the Polish men who were coming into the camp and doing construction work. Lale was able to set up a system where one man and his son brought him food and medicine in exchange for items that were being taken away from the Jewish people when they arrived at the camp. He got these items from the young ladies who worked in that part of the camp, i.e. jewelry etc. Lale did not do this for himself, but to help others who might not survive; little did he realize how vital that would be for Gita.

This is the first book written by this author. She just happened to hear about this man while living in Australia, since it is where Lale ended up living after the war. It isn’t just a book about the horrors of the concentration camps, but a wonderful love story and how two people were able to survive all that had happened to them and go on to lead what one would call “normal” lives. Once more this is a book that would appeal to all ages and reads very quickly
Rating: *****

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