I bought this book in the Birmingham airport a few weeks ago and finished it on our day of travel. It is fantastic. Deeply moving.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I do not usually buy books in airport stores because they are incredibly overpriced. We flew from Birmingham to Chicago to Austin and then drove to Waco. That meant I had 9 hours of travel on my hands. I have been seeing this book and had it on my wish list, but had not picked up a copy. With the recent shooting in the Jewish Synagogue (and Jewish nurse working on the shooter), my heart was pricked to remember the story once again. Angry, empty people are everywhere looking for a target. It’s good to remember the people who stood against atrocity. It’s good to reread the horrific acts and see the hidden heroes in unlikely places. That’s what this is.
I had wondered if this was a true story because it says it’s historical fiction. The publisher tells us that the designation because it can not verify every conversation. The story seems to check out though. They have done quite a bit of fact checking. There are pictures and our author spent many days interviewing the tattooist.
This is a behind the scenes story that will make your heart fall and rise. We are given a first hand look at what a savage society looks like. We see death, physical and sexual assault, starvation, belittlement, and fierce courage. I simply could not imagine seeing the face of every single terrified person to enter Auschwitz. He drug a needle through their arm and dumped ink into it. Men, women, children. He numbered them all. He watched people get shot, worked to death, be beaten, & be gassed. Somehow, he held on to the resolve to survive the camp. The story of his love for a woman he tattooed is remarkable. Read it and remember. Read it and be filled with the hope of the beauty of the human spirit. This is one of those books you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
View all my reviews
Book Description from Publisher: The #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller
This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.
“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project
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.