The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

I’ve read a few Holocaust novels over the years, but when I read a review of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I knew I had to read it.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the memories of Lale Sokolov, a Jew who spent three years at Auschwitz Two – Birkenau. The author, Heather Morris, met Lale in 2003. His beloved wife had recently died and he wanted to share his incredible story before it was too late. Heather Morris pieced this story together over the course of four years of working with Lale and it is well worth a read.

Every prisoner who arrived at Birkenau and Auschwitz was tattooed with their own unique number. Lale was the prisoner who tattooed them. While he hated violating people in this way, his job gave him privileges, which he used to help his fellow prisoners. He would trade stolen jewels and money to buy food and medicines to help his friends survive.

While in Birkenau, Lale fell in love with Gita, a fellow Jew, and used his unique position to enable him to spend time with her. He always believed the two of them would one day be free of Birkenau and free to marry. It’s not a spoiler to say that they did survive and they did marry and they spent a long and very happy life together.

Holocaust stories are always a really tough read. It is impossible to get your head round that these things really happened. That human beings would think it was right to starve, beat and kill other human beings. But, in many ways, this is an easy read. Lale is a very likeable character and The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an uplifting story of his strength, his character and his will to survive. It is the triumph of the human spirit.

Whether you’ve never read a Holocaust book before or you’ve read hundreds, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is definitely worth a read.

There are still terrible things happening in the world and reading about them is not everyone’s cup of tea. But I think it important that we read about the Holocaust to remind ourselves of the very worst of humanity and to make us aware and alert that these things could happen again in the world.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Heather Morris, Book review

Author: Sarah Mummy

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17 Comments

  1. Sarah,

    Years ago, I knew someone who had a number tattooed on the inside of his wrist. I wasn’t in much doubt as to the circumstances in which that had been done, so I never asked him about it, in case the subject was too painful.
    If we ever do learn any lessons from history, we seem to forget them quickly. All too often, yesterday’s victims are today’s oppressors.

    Post a Reply
    • I only heard about the tattooed numbers in recent years. What an awful thing to have been through.
      I wrote this a few days ago, before the stuff about the Mexican families being separated came out. I couldn’t believe that human beings are still treating other humans so badly.

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  2. Oh yep, this ticks all the boxes for me. Definitely going to add it to my list of books to buy. Thanks for the fab review.
    Nat.x

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    • You’re very welcome! I’m sure you will enjoy – it’s so moving and so full of hope and strength.

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  3. Funnily enough we were at the Imperial War Museum at the weekend looking at parts of the holocaust so this book seems fitting! Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

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    • You should definitely give it a read while it’s fresh in your mind. It’s a horrible thing to read about, but so important to be aware too.

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  4. I’d not heard of people being tattooed before. It sounds like Lale really struggled with doing it but I’m glad he got a happy ending.

    #ReadWithMe

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    • I was only vaguely aware of it, but it was interesting to read about it in such detail.

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  5. I tend to shy away from true stories because they upset too much. I might try reading this if I come across it in the charity shop.

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    • I can definitely understand that! I don’t read many true stories, but like to read them every now and then.

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  6. I’ve seen so much about this book. You review has sealed the deal, I’m going to choose it for my next Book Club read as it sounds like a great one for conversation

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    • You definitely won’t be disappointed! It would make a great book club read – really inspiring and an eye-opener at the same time.

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  7. It is a difficult theme to read. I’ve just received a book due to be published next month, about the little known holocaust of disabled children, something I hadn’t heard about previously #readwithme

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    • Wow, I hadn’t heard of that before, that must have been a very tough read. This book is at least full of a lot of hope.

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  8. I have the audiobook of this so I’m going to have to get to it next!

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    • Let me know what you think of it! I’m sure you will enjoy it.

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  9. Books about the holocaust are always a hard read but they are so necessary to ensure we never forget. #Readwithme

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