The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival—literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the...

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Title:The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author:Heather Morris
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Tattooist of Auschwitz Reviews

  • Fran

    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

    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".

  • Angela M

    Right after I started reading this book there was a story on the local news about a new exhibit at the Jewish Community Center in our area. The exhibit highlights the Holocaust survivors from this area. At kiosks you can click on a name, read a bio but what struck me the most was that you can also see a video of the survivor telling their story. The utmost importance of these stories is reflected at the beginning of this book by author Graeme Simsion: "It reminds us that every one of the unimagi

    Right after I started reading this book there was a story on the local news about a new exhibit at the Jewish Community Center in our area. The exhibit highlights the Holocaust survivors from this area. At kiosks you can click on a name, read a bio but what struck me the most was that you can also see a video of the survivor telling their story. The utmost importance of these stories is reflected at the beginning of this book by author Graeme Simsion: "It reminds us that every one of the unimaginably large number of Holocaust victims was an individual with a unique story...." . It's really not possible to know what it was like in Auschwitz or the other camps no matter how much we read about the Holocaust, but it is through the stories of the survivors that we can try to understand, even if only a little . Heather Morris has retold the story of Lale Sokolov, a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz who becomes the camp tattooist and while there finds the love of his life, Gita. This stared out as a screenplay she wrote as Lale told her his story and has been developed into this "novel".

    Lale from the first day he arrives in Auschwitz by cattle car, makes a vow to himself that he would survive this and after falling in love with Gita, he makes a promise to her that they will have a life together when they are out . That he can speak multiple languages saves Lale multiple times as well as connections made with other people imprisoned, with workers from the outside and even a German guard. With jewelry and cash gotten from the women who work in the building where belongings are sorted, Lale with his savvy, his courage and with some luck barters for time with Gita for the price of chocolate, a piece of sausage , a hunk of bread, a diamond or ruby. But he also provides as much food as he can to others. He helps many people along the way putting himself in danger each day as each day he tattoos numbers onto the arms of the new inhabitants. He does seem to have an existence in some ways better than most in the camp and better than when he first arrived until he is caught with the jewels. It is obvious that he survives, so there's no spoiler here that Lale continues to have the capacity for hope and love that seems impossible as he endures.

    This is a story told with love about courage in the face of the horrors of the camps and loss of family, courage sustained by the strength of the human spirit and it's a love story that I'll never forget. There is not much more I can say other than what Lale himself tells Morris - that he wanted his story recorded so "It would never happen again."

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Bonnie Zaffre through NetGalley.

  • Cheri

    as this states on the cover, this is the story of Lale Sokolov and Gita, the woman who he meets at Auschwitz, both prisoners there. At first Lale is working on a roof, and this is what he does for a while until his kapo says he needs a boy to do his bidding, run errands, bring him food and the like. Then fate intervenes somewhat again for Lale when he becomes the tattooist, the

    for both Auschwitz and Birkenau, a position under the Political Wing t

    as this states on the cover, this is the story of Lale Sokolov and Gita, the woman who he meets at Auschwitz, both prisoners there. At first Lale is working on a roof, and this is what he does for a while until his kapo says he needs a boy to do his bidding, run errands, bring him food and the like. Then fate intervenes somewhat again for Lale when he becomes the tattooist, the

    for both Auschwitz and Birkenau, a position under the Political Wing that answers only to Berlin.

    He meets Gita, whom he only knows by the number he tattooed to her arm, no words exchanged of course. A slip of paper with the number that was to be permanently marked on her skin were the only words that accompanied her. Eventually, he manages to introduce himself through channels and messages passed. Eventually an infatuation turns to love.

    But love is not the only emotion he feels there, having to stand by as the likes of Mengele get pleasure from inflicting terror and humiliation on all, but especially the female prisoners. Impotent rage, horror, fear, sympathy and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness engulf him, not only for him, but for all those prisoners subjected to the torture, abuse, humiliation.

    I’ve never been to Auschwitz or Birkenau, but many years ago I went to Dachau when I was in Munich on business. A group of us went there together, even the memory it still makes it hard for me to breathe. Photographs of the conditions, of how it appeared for those who were held captive – not so much living, but barely existing there. Each had their own stories, but we don’t often have access to an account such as this one, which makes it all the more important. That these people are more than just numbers to be totaled, they are people who loved, who were loved and had hopes and dreams.

    My deepest respect goes to the author for having the compassion and emotional stamina to hear these stories directly from Lale Sokolov, and bring these stories to us in such a truly lovely ode to love and the will to survive. Lale’s story broke my heart into a hundred pieces and then you somehow managed to put it back together again in this poignant story of the saving grace of a love found even in the darkest of times.

    Pub Date: 01 Feb 2018

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Bonnier Publishing Australia / Echo

  • Miriam Smith

    Considering "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" is a harrowing true story, it was truly compelling and utterly unputdownable. It's without a doubt one of only a few books that will stay with me a very long time, it's that unforgettable and one that keeps you thinking about the story well after you've put it down.

    Lale Sokolov is a well dressed, charming ladies' man - however he is also a Jew. On arrival at Auschwitz in 1942 he immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners who save his life when he tak

    Considering "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" is a harrowing true story, it was truly compelling and utterly unputdownable. It's without a doubt one of only a few books that will stay with me a very long time, it's that unforgettable and one that keeps you thinking about the story well after you've put it down.

    Lale Sokolov is a well dressed, charming ladies' man - however he is also a Jew. On arrival at Auschwitz in 1942 he immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners who save his life when he takes ill. In the camp he is put to work in the privileged position of the 'Tatowierer' - the tattooist - to mark his fellow prisoners as they arrive in camp. One of them is a girl called Gita who captures his heart immediately. Given a reason to survive Lale uses his position for the greater good even through struggles and extreme suffering, with the hope of one day being with Gita forever, outside of the camp.

    Although upsetting, saddening and at times quite unimaginable, there is such a beautiful love story at the heart of the tale that you can't help smiling at. I immediately took to all the real life characters, they were excellently portrayed whether good or bad and could imagine the whole true scenario with such clarity.

    The author Heather Morris took several years to write Lale's story in her book with the input of the main protagonist himself and even becoming a very good friend with him. She has ultimately written a story Lale would be very proud of and which tells of his and Gita's tale of wanting to be together through one of the worst and sickening periods of our history with the utmost care and consideration. Compassionately written with sensitivity, its emotive, thought provoking, awe inspiring and certainly puts your own everyday problems into perspective.

    This book wasn't as brutal and as hard hitting as some holocaust books I've read although equally saddening, therefore I feel this could be read by slightly younger readers without offending or upsetting.

    I really can't recommend this stunning book highly enough, it a definite must read for 2018 and it gets a fantastic 5 stars for a heart wrenching unforgettable read.

  • Debra

    I'll never hear Yiddish again....

    I'll never go to the German Consulate with her again...

    I’m gutted reading this book. To some I have shared that my family's "MA" was in Auschwitz (everyone called her MA - her daughters, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her friends, etc.). She used to say "I have lost everything that can ever be lost “and "I have given everything can that ever be given". She passed away this year (really in 2017 - I haven't wrapped my head around that it's 2018) at the

    I'll never hear Yiddish again....

    I'll never go to the German Consulate with her again...

    I’m gutted reading this book. To some I have shared that my family's "MA" was in Auschwitz (everyone called her MA - her daughters, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her friends, etc.). She used to say "I have lost everything that can ever be lost “and "I have given everything can that ever be given". She passed away this year (really in 2017 - I haven't wrapped my head around that it's 2018) at the age of 95. We just had her headstone unveiling. This was probably not the best book for me to read at this time - but then again maybe it was...In the last years of her life, I would go with her to the German Consulate to prove she was still alive, so she could continue receiving her reparation checks. She would get dressed in her best outfit and walk in proudly to announce she was still alive. There used to be a long line of survivors waiting to go in, the last time I went with her, we were the only ones in the waiting room. I used to dread going there with her. It was a production. Days before she would get her hair washed and set, the day of she would get up early and do her makeup and fuss over her outfit. I would always say "why do you dress up to go there?" She would always say "I am proud of who I am." and tell me not to embarrass her by wearing my "schmata" and would it kill me to put on a little red lipstick. Then she would announce to everyone in the room that I was her granddaughter. Now I will never go again. Last year we had our first Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas without her (I have a half Jewish - half Christian family). There are not many survivors left in the world which is why I am glad that books like this exist.

    "To Save one is to save the world."

    This book is based on a true story. I always love books based on true stories. In many ways, I think they are the best kind. I also love the pictures of Lane and Gita Sokolov. Lane told his story over the course of three years to the Author. Lane became the Tatowierer "Tattooist" of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Being the tattooist gives him special perks - more rations, better sleeping conditions, ability to move around the camp more freely. He also was able to exchange the money and prized possessions of those who died in the gas chambers for food and medicine. He was generous and provided for many. He saved lives and I wonder how many survived due to him acquiring medicine and extra food for them.

    While giving a tattoo, he meets Gita and feels an instant attraction to her. This book is not only a book about survival during the bleakest of times, it is about triumph of the human spirit, about being pushed to the breaking point but never breaking, about love, about compassion for others, about hope, about losing your faith and about never losing your faith. It also shows brutality, hatred, and evil but what I hope people take away is the compassion, strength, dignity and resilience that Lane and so many others named in this book showed. This book is about a lot of things but mainly one man's inner strength which allowed him to go on, to never give up, to have compassion for others, who risked his life many times to help others. During the darkest times, there will always be those who shine and Lane Sokolov was one of those.

    Like many survivors, Lane and Gita moved around until they found their place in Australia, began a family and lead a happy and successful life. Lane proved to have "nine lives" and I was happy to see that he was able to prosper and be reconnected with Gita after the war.

    I thought this book was well written and I was sucked me into Lane's world. Although there are scenes of violence and murder/killings, they are not incredibly graphic. With any book dealing with the Holocaust, you know it is going to be sad and scenes are going pull at your heartstrings. This one will as well. I think most will really enjoy this book and hopefully learn a few things. For instance, I always thought the tattoos were put on using crude tattoo machines/guns similar to the one used when I got a tattoo. I was wrong. My family member talked about it. I wonder did Lane give Ma her tattoo? Who knows.?

    I think reading the Author's note at the end of the book is beneficial. Again, there are pictures of Lane and Gita there. It was nice to put faces with the names. When reading books such as this, I think most readers will wonder, could they have survived. I believe most of us will never know what we are capable of until we are placed to the test. God willing, none of us are ever placed to this test.

    4.5 stars

    I received a copy of this book from Bonner Publishing Australia and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    See more of my reviews at

  • Holly  B

    Against all odds...

    The story of two extraordinary people, Lale and Gita survive the horrors of Auschwitz and find solace in each other. The book is based on their true story.

    Lale has the job of tattooist and must tattoo numbers on the arms of countless men, women and children. One day he tattooed #34902 on the arm and Gita. He recalled this day as the day "he tattooed her number on her left arm, she tattooed her number on his heart."

    An incredible and memorable story that shows the strong will o

    Against all odds...

    The story of two extraordinary people, Lale and Gita survive the horrors of Auschwitz and find solace in each other. The book is based on their true story.

    Lale has the job of tattooist and must tattoo numbers on the arms of countless men, women and children. One day he tattooed #34902 on the arm and Gita. He recalled this day as the day "he tattooed her number on her left arm, she tattooed her number on his heart."

    An incredible and memorable story that shows the strong will of human survival and the risks that so many took to save not only their own lives, but those of others. The story follows their years together at Auschwitz and beyond the war. The writing was straight forward without a lot of depth into the characters emotions, yet as a reader, it stirred up all my feelings of intense sadness, fear and shock of what they endured.

    Many thanks to Bonnier Publishing/Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Diane S ☔

    Reviewing a novel about the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance day seems both apropos, and a great responsibility. Never forget! As long as there are people who need to tell! Their stories, I will continue to read and remember. This is a fictionalized account of a true story, told to the author in the final days of his life. Lale was a young Jewish man from Slovakia, with much to look forward to, when in an effort to save the rest of his family, he is taken to Auschwitz. There he will become the

    Reviewing a novel about the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance day seems both apropos, and a great responsibility. Never forget! As long as there are people who need to tell! Their stories, I will continue to read and remember. This is a fictionalized account of a true story, told to the author in the final days of his life. Lale was a young Jewish man from Slovakia, with much to look forward to, when in an effort to save the rest of his family, he is taken to Auschwitz. There he will become the tattooist, the man who tattoos those horrendous numbers on the prisoners arms. A prestigious job in the camp that gives him priviledges many don't have, also a certain freedom. How he uses this freedom is a big part of the story. A story with many horrors terrors and yes even love.

    I dislike rating these stories. I always feel like I am rating, in this case, a man's life, passing judgement on his horrifying experiences. They were, but this young man was fortunate, not a good word to use obviously, in many instances that found others either shot or beaten to death. He had a sunny personality and vowed to survive the camp, maybe the reason the tone of this was more light than many others of the camps that I have read. Maybe this is the story he needed to remember to survive, only he can know that. The writing is less emotional than some, a kind of storytelling tone, which I guess makes sense as the author was telling a story. For me though, often times, I felt an emotional disconnect. It is though, impossible not to like Lale, he indeed uses his position, well. We meet other important characters, the young woman who he would come to love, her friends. Some of the guards, and all play their parts in this story.

    I do love how at the end of the book the author lets the reader know what happened to some of the main people in this novel. One young women's fate I found particularly unfair. At the end there is an added bonus and it is here that I felt all the emotions I had been missing. Never forget!!!

    A sisters read that provided a very interesting discussion.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Elyse

    Audiobook....narrated by Richard Armitage....( done well):

    Survivors guilt.......

    a lifetime traumatic tattoo for a tattoo artist.....

    Incapable of being apprehended by the mind of the senses.

    Stories that need to be told....

    This one sat for many years - decades - untold...

    Shame - love - guilt - survival - Love ..... it’s all here.

    Thank you to the ‘already’ moving & thoughtful reviews which came before me. Sad - Beautiful- powerful - emotional - honest reviews.

  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*

    4.5 stars!!

    This is a historical fiction novel based on a true story. Lale Sokolov tells his story based on true events. He became the main tattooist of Aushwitz and falls in love at first sight with Gita who he first met tattooing her arm. He tattoos all the new prisoners with their identification numbers. Lale is a Jew. He is on the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942. The concentration camp was very horrifying. Lale did have some special privileges, since he was the tatto

    4.5 stars!!

    This is a historical fiction novel based on a true story. Lale Sokolov tells his story based on true events. He became the main tattooist of Aushwitz and falls in love at first sight with Gita who he first met tattooing her arm. He tattoos all the new prisoners with their identification numbers. Lale is a Jew. He is on the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942. The concentration camp was very horrifying. Lale did have some special privileges, since he was the tattoist. He had lots of freedom than the other prisoners. He was so brave and had lots of courage. He would exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he was caught he would of been killed. Many prisoners owed him their survival. He was a leader among the other prisoners.

    Their are some graphic scenes that are a little dark. This book stands out from other Holocaust related novels. It is an emotional read. The Nazi guards are monsters, they kill and hurt human beings. Lale was determined to survive. This is a terrible story but it also is a story of hope and courage.

    I really did love this story. It was almost like reading a memoir, but a little different than a memoir. This story is an emotional read, but I also found it uplifting at times.

    The Holocaust was horrific and couldn't believe all the awful things that happened in the concentration camp. I would say this is a safer read than other Holocaust novels.

    I really loved Lale's true story. I am so happy that the author spent a lot of time with him, to tell his story.

    She really did an amazing job on his character. All the characters were very well done and made this novel come alive. I loved the love story between Lale and Gita and how they fall in love at first sight. I love a romance in a novel only when there is lots of suspense. Its always the suspense that I am looking for and this one has ok

    plenty of it.

    I felt so sad for Cilka, and everything she went through. I also felt sad for Leon. There are some scenes that are graphic but this is the Holocaust, a horrifying time and as I mentioned before this is a safer read than other Holocaust books.

    I could not put this book down. It was a page turner. I loved the writing style. I am really loving historical novels more and more because I think they are needed because we need to remember what happened so that history isn't forgotten.

    This was a Traveling Sister read and I loved reading this with them and it was a wonderful discussion. This is a great book to do as a group read.

    I want to thank Netgalley, the publisher and Heather Morris for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

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