History Review—Book Review The Tattooist At Auschwitz

Hey all! Fridays are going to be historical fiction day. To be honest, I love reading books related to 1930s, holocaust and World War II era so most of the historical fiction books I read are based on those topics. Today I will be doing a review on The Tattooist at Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

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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 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.

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Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Though the work is a fiction, it is based on a true story of Slovakian Jew named Lale Sokolov who comes to Auschwitz camp in 1942. Due to his ability to speak in many languages, he becomes a Tatoweirer meaning tattooist where he will tattoo the numbers of the prisoners coming to Auschwitz. Despite the darkness and atrocities that is happening around one of the well known concentration camps in, there is also a love story that was blossoming between Lale and another Slovakian Jewish girl named Gita Furman.

I have always been fascinated with the stories of Holocaust survivors and so this is no exception. I truly enjoyed reading this book–even admired the bravery and courage of Lale, who smuggled gems and jewelry in exchange for some food like chocolates and sausages. This story is a story of courage, brave and how to survive in a place filled with death and darkness.

I enjoyed reading this book and give it a five star rating!

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