The Tattooist of Auschwitz certainly lives up to the Instagram/global hype that it thoroughly deserves. This story based on true events was raw, impactful, and painfully real.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Genre: Historical Fiction
Published on: 4 September 2018
Pages: 272 (paperback)
Published by: Harper Paperbacks
“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”
Bringing the truth to light
Lale Sokolov was a Slovakian Jew, transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale was given the job of ‘Tätowierer’ tasked with inflicting pain and permanence on his fellow camp mates. Of the thousands of numbers he etched, there was one he could never forget: 34902 belonging to Gita – the woman he fell in love with and vowed to live for.
As Tätowierer, Lale became a known face among both the prisoners and the guards. He often accumulated jewels and money, exchanging them for food that he shared out among the hungriest. He cheated death on many occasions, always hopeful for a way out, living purely for Gita. Though this story encapsulated the horrors of the Holocaust, it was also an enduring love story that strained to survive under impossible conditions.
“To save one is to save the world.”
One thing I kept coming back to while reading this book was the overpowering sense of realism. It wasn’t a story of fiction, though I’m sure everyone wishes it wasn’t true. But the fact is, this was a real life account of one man’s experience in the concentration camps. I was constantly reminded that these events physically happened, making it impossible to process the vile actions taken against innocent people. It touched me in ways I couldn’t imagine. The grief, the death, the inhumanity of it all. It’s a harsh reality that you can’t ignore.
“We stand in shit but let us not drown in it.”
I have to praise Heather Morris here for her writing style which was completely detached and focused solely on Lale. She didn’t inject her own opinion or sanitise the events – it was a raw account that was heartfelt, honest and emotional. I felt like I was on a personal journey with Lale and felt every emotion, from pain and anguish to strength and love.