The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Published: January 11, 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.
I don’t read a lot of historical books. But this has been on my list for a while and I’m doing a “Spring Bingo Book Challenge” and one of the prompts was to read a book that was set during the Holocaust. So it was finally time, I knew I was going to read this to fulfill that bingo prompt. What I didn’t expect was to read this so quickly. I thought I was going to have a really hard time going through his as to the nature of such heavy topics. And I did have to stop at times just to sit and reflect and remind myself that these were actual true events. True atrocities that happened in the world.
That being said, I enjoyed this book, but at the same time I felt a little let down by it. I felt as though maybe things moved too quickly? I can’t really put my finger on it. But I know Heather Morris took so much time and effort to talk to Lale and get his story and I feel like unfortunately maybe it’s the writing that didn’t do it justice? It just felt like a lot was glossed over, and maybe it’s also the fact that Lale was in a privileged in his role as the Tatowierer so things couldn’t be shown in the light of what we know Auschwitz-Birkenau to truly be.
I couldn’t get over how Lale and Gita survived it all and ended up finding each other outside of the concentration camp. I knew it was going to happen, it had to. And just seeing it all unfold and the life they had together, it’s really a touching and hopeful story. I’d recommend this to anyone, really. It’s a good book, a great story of hope, perseverance and love. And I’d take some time to look into Lale afterwards too. I read a bunch of articles after reading this, and it really is truly amazing.
Rating: 3.75/5 Stars