Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz #1
Author: Heather Morris
Release Date: September 4th 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.
What a powerful novel! More so since it's based on a true story, the life of Lale Sokolov while a prisoner in Auschwitz/Birkenau.
I never want to forget about the Holocaust and fiction books based on it are always found on the top of my TBR. I've read many non-fiction books about it over the years and I'm always affected by the lack of humanity by the nazis and the perseverance of the imprisoned.
Lale Sokolov was taken in April 1942 when he was a young man. He was living with his parents in Krompachy, Slovakia when his sister brings a poster her boss had given her to place in the shop window. The announcement said that each Jewish family had to give up a son aged eighteen or older to work for the Germans. Lale surrenders himself instead of his older brother Max and he's taken to Auschwitz/Birkenau.
After arriving, Lale makes a promise that he will survive whatever the concentration camp sends his way. With his knowledge of different languages, he's soon placed to become the Tatowierer. It takes pieces of his soul to mark other human beings but he is just doing what all prisoners were trying to do: to survive.
As the Tatowierer, he has more food rations and he can move more freely. He becomes involved in exchanging jewels and money (found on dead prisoners) for food and medications and he starts helping whoever he can.
Lale also falls in love with Gita. The first time he sees her is when he has to tattoo her arm with the number 34902.
What follows is a tale of horror, sacrifice, and hope.
I wonder how many people were able to live one more day with the help of Lale. He took a huge risk over and over again to help others. He was forced to do the job he hated. He had no other choice but he found a silver lining in hell.
I'm glad Lale decided to tell his story and talked to the author. She went to see him for three years to gather all the information of what he remembered, which if I go by the author's notes at the end of the book, was a lot and quite clearly. He did it so it could never be repeated.
The Tattoist of Auschwitz is a story of perseverance and determination in a moment in history where giving up was the expected path.
I'm glad Lale decided to tell his story and talked to the author. She went to see him for three years to gather all the information of what he remembered, which if I go by the author's notes at the end of the book, was a lot and quite clearly. He did it so it could never be repeated. It also makes me happy that he and Gita had a long life full of love. They deserved it.