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The book Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Book Tattooist of Auschwitz is fictionalized version of the true story; incredible story about Auschwitz – Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved. This book is actually based on very touching real story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz death concentration camp and later create their home in Australia.

The story is full of beauty and hope, heart-wrenching and unforgettable. It is actually collected from years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Lale Sokolov.

Link to a Paper book: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Link to an eBook: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Story

Lale is charming well-dressed man and he is also a Jew. As many other Jews in 1942, he was forcibly transported with train to concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. There he become a prisoner number 32407. When his captors discovered that he speaks several languages they assigned him a job as Tätowierer (german word for tattooist), with ink color he was scratching numbers on hands of his fellow prisoners, this sign later became as one of the most strong symbols of Holocaust.

After year or two when he was imprisoned, Lale was a witness to horrific atrocities and barbarism but at the same time he was a witness to amazing acts of bravery and compassion. At his work in Auschwitz he had just a tiny piece of freedom and that privilege position he used to risk his life and do something what he was able to do at that moment, mostly trying to help other prisoners.

It was one `ordinary` day in Auschwitz if we can call it so. In a line where prisoners wait for their `signature` appears a young girl terrified and shaking. Her name was Gita, she became a prisoner with number 34902. Lale who was a bit of a chancer, this was love at first sight. Lale`s life changed here and from now on he was determined to survive the concentration camp, but not only for himself but he was ensured that also Gita will survive. He started to care for her and instead of horrible circumstances in Auschwitz their love spread out.

Lale found out that he can start some secret business in a camp. Gita and other women prisoners worked there in a warehouse with clothes and other stuff which were taken from dead prisoners. The women were then smuggling some jewelry, diamonds or watches. These smuggled things then they use as a bribe to get some food or to have some other benefits, of course in very limited way. They did it very secretly and quietly, the reason was very obvious; SS guards shouldn’t notice. If someone would be caught at that act, he would be executed in very short time.

In year 1945 Nazis started to empty concentration camp that they would disperse prisoners because of soon arrival of their enemies (our allies actually). Gita was chosen to leave the camp, but Lale couldn’t do it. At the end of the war he came back to his home town in Czechoslovakia but he never forgets Gita. He spend weeks sitting at the train station in Bratislava and wait for her. Bratislava was the place where survived prisoners from Auschwitz traveling through. And some day he finally met her.

My opinion

The Tattooist of Auschwitz story is a pure proof that even in the darkest circumstances human love and humanity can survive. I think it`s a bit insane that we imagine or hope that love story which starts in such conditions can have the happy end, but like we see in this case, it is so.

Anyone who has ever visited a concentration camp gets an immediate sensation upon entering, it`s not easy to describe but it is like some silent sense of hopeless emptiness. One very important thing is that in all brutality of SS units, people behave different like they would be outside, their social aspect gets other view; there are no differences and limits between them. Lale surprisingly discovered, that instead of horrible conditions in Auschwitz-Birkenau, humanity prevailed and not Darwinism as someone would expect.

The story`s plot is love story between Lale and Gita. At the same time we can see clearly the background which shows us brutality of life in concentration camp. There are other important characters in this story. One is the Lale`s teacher of tattooing, who later in story disappears somewhere. There are also Nazi guards, some of them are cold as ice, but some of them are ready to accept some bribe to do a favor. After some part of story we can see Mengele, a `Doctor Death` who is walking around searching for people to make his human experiments.

I really like the fact how this book`s story connects history and love story, both united in very impressive novel. I recommend this book for history and novel lovers. I need to say also that this is a must read for those who read Schindler`s List, The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Link to purchase: Paper book or an eBook.

Luka

16 Comments

  1. Wow, this sounds like a powerful story and I have added it to my book list on Amazon.  Thank you for your review, it makes me eager to begin reading it, of course I need to finish the book I’m reading now.  ha ha

    It’s sometime nice to know that love can survive many circumstances.  Even those most brutal kinds.Laura

  2. Hey Luka. Thanks for this review! I actually wanted to read this book as I really like true stories (even fictionalized). We can find a lot of stories written on the horrors of Auschwitz, but considering that it was one of the darkest times in history, it’s completely justified and should go on. Schindler’s List was a masterpiece – book and movie – I can’t wait to read this one. And it seems to have good review on bookdepository. Thanks!

    • Hey Ben! Thank you for your comment, I`m glad you like the book and other simmilar stories. If some day you`ll read this one then I hope you`ll enjoy in reading!

  3. Sometimes it takes the juxtaposition of something that appears normal (a romantic crush in this case) on top of something so purely evil, that one can see the beauty that underlies what appears to be normal.  If you enjoyed “Life is Beautiful”, this appears to something that would appeal.  I have never visited Auschwitz, but I have been to Dachau.  Even now, there seems to be a resonance of evil in these places.  The though – even fictitious – that something good could survive such a place and time is encouraging to the soul.

  4. Hi Luka.

    I have one question. If this is the true story of Lale and Gita, why is it being described as historical fiction?

    I’m halfway through this incredible story and I’m already in love with Lale & Gita. Thanks to the amazing Lale for telling her story and allowing her to put it on paper and share it with the rest of the world! Thank you!

    • Hey!
      Thank you for your comment and positive opinion! The story is described as fictional because many things in story are fictional even it has a strong base on true happenings, I understand it so.

  5. Thanks for the wonderful story, This story between Lale and Gita shows that love is a very strong bond that can overcome all odds and adversity,Distance is nothing when love is stronger, This shows that even when there is no reason to believe or hope for something better love can keep us going.Human feelings for one other goes beyond words but in deeds and actions. 

  6. This looks like a very interesting and moving story. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to visit the Dachau concentration camp. There was a man there who had actually been a prisoner himself. Also, our tour guide said her childhood friend had been in the camp. The friend survived, but looked much older when she came out. It was very sobering, and something I will never forget.

    • Thank you for your comment. The visit of concentration camp is unforgettable experience I can understand, I was once in Auschwitz and Birkenau, once you are there you can just stare and think about what actually happened so many years ago.

  7. Give me a love story and I’m usually sold.  I don’t like dark subjects, so I probably would not choose this book, except your write-up of the story line makes me actually want to read it.  I love a happy ending, I love how the spirit can prevail through such trying times, and so this might just be the type of inspirational book I’ve been looking for.  I find that so many of the love stories are predictable and just unrealistic.  This sounds amazing.

    • I appreciate that you like this book, it is worth to read it definitely. Sure it is more interesting when you think this actually happened. Thank you for your comment!

  8. Hello Luka, I have heard the title “Tattooist of Auschwitz” before. I have not yet had the chance to read it though. It has a nice ring to it. You write a very impressive summary which is very helpful. This book reveals a terrible story about Auschwitz, but also shows that love has the upper hand. Thank you for making me aware of this. 

    • I appreciate you like this book, if you`ll read it I hope you`ll enjoy. Thank you for your comment!

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