The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #1)by Published 04 Sep 2018
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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.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #1) Reviews
A unsettling but gripping novel, based on the true story of Lale, a Slovakian Jew caught up in the horrors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during WW2. He speaks several languages, so soon finds himself employed in the camp as the tattooist, the man responsible for inscribing prisoners numbers on their arms. He soon meets and falls in love with Gita, a fellow inmate., but can their love survive the horrors of life inside a concentration camp?
This is a beautifully told tale, Helen Morris captures the essence of the camp well. I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau earlier this year and found it to be chilling and disturbing. One can only speculate at the deranged minds of those that caused such suffering. I read through this book it quickly in one sitting, and though it outlines the horrors of war, it shows the strength of the human spirit, and that there is always something to hope for. Highly recommended, this is one that will stay with you for a long time.
What a waste of an amazing story on an incapable writer. There is no 'prose', there is really just "he did this, and then he did that". No depth of emotion, no depth of characters, heck - no characters! I couldn't tell you ONE personality trait of Gita's. Lale also, is so thinly drawn I know nothing about him other than he is supposedly charming.
The dialogue between characters is ridiculously empty and the whole thing feels like the most superficial experience of Auschwitz possible.
The love story, which I'm sure had depth and feeling in real life, is like a disney retelling.
A sad sad waste :(
The German government needed workers for their labor camps. In 1942, all families in Slovakia were ordered to provide a child eighteen or older for work detail or risk having the entire family sent to concentration camp. Lale Sokolov hoped that by going to Prague to await these instructions his family would be safe. He did not expect to be forced into a cattle wagon and be transported to Auschwitz. He was determined to do as he was told, reveal little about himself and always be observant.
Lale's upbeat manner as well as deference to his capo helped him secure the job of "Tetovierer", the tattooist. Rules: Look down. Be quick and efficiently tattoo the five numbers written on each person's piece of paper. In order to survive, he had to defile innocent people. The job of "Tetovierer" did have some perks. Lale was given his own room and increased food rations which he hid under his sleeve to distribute to others when possible. One day, Lale saw a girl with the darkest brown eyes. Gita. He made a vow to himself. He will leave Auschwitz a free man. He has just met the love of his life!
Through cunning, luck and love, Lale is instrumental in setting up a barter system with paid bricklayers, Victor and Yuri. Food and medicine are exchanged for gems and currency smuggled out of the "Canada" building where some of Gita's friends work to empty the pockets of clothing from
new arrivals at Auschwitz. Diamonds and chocolate entice an occasional guard or capo as well.
"The Tattooist of Auschwitz" by Heather Morris is based upon the harrowing experiences of Lale Sokolov in Auschwitz and Birkenau. The chilling accounts of total disregard for life are occasionally tempered by selfless goodness and sacrifice without which Lale and Gita's love story could not have been told. This slim tome documents less familiar aspects of Holocaust literature. A must read.
Thank you Bonnier Zaffre and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Tattooist of Auschwitz".
I recall, as a child, accompanying one or the other of my parents to our family jeweler countless times. It seemed as if some piece always needed to be repaired or purchased for one occasion or another. For my tenth birthday I received a small sapphire and diamond ring which was too large and needed to be resized. One day after school off we went to see Marty and Irv. It was an unseasonably warm fall day and Irv had his shirtsleeves rolled up. When he placed his arm on the glass countertop, I saw the tattooed numbers on his arm for the very first time. I felt, also for the first time, a cold clenching my stomach. That very day, at the age of ten, I had watched Night and Fog as part of my fifth grade curriculum and my physical reaction was the painful shock of recognition. It was disturbing to me that this kind and gentle man had been subjected to and survived the death camps. I was raised to be a polite child so I didn’t say anything but I do remember having a serious conversation with my mother about it on our way home.
This experience, which is still so vivid to me, is one of the many reasons I find it difficult to rate ‘based on true” accounts about the holocaust. What I will say about this book is that it tells a story of hope amid horror. I will also say that the writing is sophomoric. However, I do think this is a book that is well suited for young teens as an introduction to this very dark part of history.
“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”
This was a really tough novel to read - I mean obviously, it is set in Auschwtiz - it was hardly going to be a walk in the park!
I don't think I quite prepared myself, or wasn't able to entirely remove myself from the novel, so became completely invested and because of this, it absolutely tore me apart.
Based on a true story - Lale uses his education and knowledge of languages to get himself a job as the Tatowierer after each Jewish family must volunteer one young male for 'work'. This 'work' turns out to be the concentration camps on Auschwitz and Birkenau.
We witness first hand the atrocities Lale sees happen, and also the cruelty and torture he endures at the hands of the Nazi's. Despite knowing this was a 'memoir' of sorts, and that Lale would eventually escape, I was still terrified when reading this. Books like this need to be published and read, as I think that despite everyone knowing what the Holocaust was, I think people might be in danger of forgetting just how truly horrifying it was, and the lowest depths of humanity.
Though not always 100% gripping, I feel that it added to storytelling. Not everyday was filled with violence, some days nothing happened at all - and the prisoners whiled away the days, too starved or beaten to really do anything. Non-fiction books aren't always designed to be enthralling, and for me this story's purpose was more for education and the sharing of someone's past, rather than to simply entertain the reader.
I've seen a few reviews commenting on the writing style, how it is written quite factually rather than emotionally, and to be honest I do agree. It is written more as a timeline, than a novel. There is a lot of focus on the romance, where I would have rather had more info on the other prisoners/conditions etc. But I understand it was done this way because it is the couple's story to tell; I just would have preferred more detail in other places. [spoilers removed]
"Politics will help you understand the world until you don't understand it anymore, and then it will get you thrown into a prison camp. Politics and religion both."