The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

I haven't read a WWII book quite like this. What an incredible story of hope and survival. Lale's story is such a unique perspective into life at Auschwitz, and it's truly an emotional ride as you flip from the horrors of Auschwitz to Lale and Gita's love for each other. I couldn't stop reading. The only reason it's not five stars for me is the writing is awkward at times, maybe because it was originally written as a screenplay. Overall, it was a beautiful and heartbreaking read.
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A totally compelling and moving book, so wonderfully written, This is one of the subject I'm always afraid to read as this really hits me hard every time. So I was a bit tentative to start this book but it was wonderful that I did. But ultimately this book is so hard to review because it's a book that makes your heart ache and brings tears to your eyes but all I know is it deserves far more than 5 stars ......
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I just finished this book last night and wow!! I could not put it down.  Ms. Morris transported me right into Auschwitz.  I could NOT put this book down. I have read many, many books centered around and about the Holocaust and this is one of my new favorites. If you enjoyed The Nightingale, The Baker's Secret, The Kommandant's Girl then you will enjoy this. Great book!!  Lale’s and Gita's personal accounts of how they survived is amazing and the love between him and Gita are a demonstration of the power of true love. What a story and brilliantly told. Well done Heather Morris.
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I have read a lot of WWII fiction. Both based on true story and purely fictional. In all the books I've read, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is, by far, the most harrowing, beautiful, desperate and lovely true story of them all. Unlike most WWII historical books, this one starts at Auschwitz, instead of ending there. The build-up to the war is a paragraph and instead the core story here is surviving and enduring a concentration camp. Over four years time we learn the story of Lale and those he encounters. Lale is a Slovakian Jew who finds his 'place' in the camp as the tattooist. This is a story that is so unbelievable; that were it not right from one man's truth it might be deemed impossible.

The Numbers
The significance of being demoted to a number cannot be understated here. A person is only really a person with a name, identity and story. Reducing a human to a number is just incorrigible, in so many ways. The real-life Lale, who told his story to author Heather Morris over three years time, was terrified that he would be seen as a Nazi sympathizer. Someone who abet the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Let me assure you, after reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz I don't think anyone could possibly think, for even a moment, that Lale was a part of the problem. His work, to scar humans with a number, was merely a means to an end, a way to stay alive. Bearing his own number all his life, he knew what it was like to be a number at many different moments and so I do not believe that it's possible for him to be considered in any way allied or aligned with the activities at either camp he was involved with. .

The Hope Amongst the Horror
I personally cannot possibly imagine keeping hope in conditions such as those in Nazi concentration camps. Be they in Poland, Germany or elsewhere. These were places of utter and complete desolation. Where people were made to move rocks all day long, only to move them back to the same spot the following day. No 'work' was 'fruitful' in these camps; except that doing some work kept you alive for another day of starvation and torture. 
What is truly special about Lale and Gita's story is that somehow, someway they found slivers of hope. A desire, love and drive to stay alive. It takes truly resilient people to keep even a thread of hope when faced with starvation, torture, rape and death every moment of everyday. However, it is clear in Lale's story that there was some luck involved too. This is perhaps one of the most interesting things about this true story. How do you survive four years in Auschwitz and live to tell the story years later? A lot of strength of body and mind; and some four-leaf clover luck. 

All Range of Emotions
I think I went through all of the possible emotions that exist in the mere hours it took me to devour Morris' novel. From utter hatred to all-encompassing love, despair to hope, fierce anger to desperate grief; there is not a single moment in this book that you won't feel something. Even if it's a moment of utter and complete nothing. Something Morris' captures in a way most other writers cannot is the way it may feel to feel nothing. You might think, why on earth would you want this or experience this? In extreme situations humans often shut-down to feel nothing. It's a difficult thing to understand if you have never experienced it; but something that is absolutely truthful in horrifying conditions like those lived by the captives in camps and Morris' captures all of these feelings good, bad and otherwise. 

Overall
No words I could ever write will do justice to the importance or incredibility of this novel. It's such an insane story that you couldn't make it up. Honest. Lale's decision, in the last years of his life, to tell this story is probably his biggest contribution to the world; and this is a man who certainly saved dozens (if not hundreds) of people's lives at any given time through his compassion, generosity and willingness to do what he could when he could. This is the key reason, in my mind, why you could never say those like Lale are at fault for working inside the unreasonable and terrifying parameters given to them by the SS soldiers at these camps. 
Most important is that Lale's story can now be told to others and provide hope in bleak times. While not everyone is as lucky as Gita and Lale were; it's nice to know that out of the most horrifying time in recent history a love and devotion could blossom. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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A totally compelling and moving book, so wonderfully written ..so hard to review a book that makes your heart ache and brings tears to your eyes but all I know is it deserves far more than 5 stars ......
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This life-changing one of a kind book gives a very human voice to the unimaginable brutalities that happened at Auschwitz and left me with a physical ache in my heart.  Beautifully written with a gorgeous flow, but brutally difficult to read in places.  It's not often I have to stop because I can't see the page for tears but it happened several times with this book.

This book should be on the curriculum as it really brings to life what happened on a day to day basis in that most barbaric of places.  We all know the statistics but do we really understand it all until we read this book.

A must read for everyone.

Full blog post at link below
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*****GIVEN A COPY FROM NETGALLEY*****
I had to mentally prepare myself for this book, when you know the event you are going to read about especially this event you have to prepare.  
I was prepared to cry, and I did, I wasn't prepared for hope and joy.  Reading Lale story and how he survived was something I wasn't prepared for.  How he had to remain almost unemotional yet he was so full of emotion just to survive.
How he compartmentalized and and try to stay positive about what is going  was just remarkable.  While most were giving up, Lale tried to help other's also stay positive and almost thankful to be there and alive.  To find love in a time like this, in a place like Auschwitz one would think would be impossible.  Who could think of  love in a place full of death and other horrible things going on.  

I love that the author told the story mostly from Lale's perspective, since he is the story teller, but she also told a little bit of Gita's side as well.  Not only is there story of what happened to them in the camp remarkable but so is how they finally found each other when that too seemed almost impossible.

I never thought I would read a love story set in a concentration camp, but I am very happy that I did read this story.
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I liked it but, as with all Holocaust stories, I get depressed for a couple of days. I bow to stop reading them.... until a new book comes out and I read them again.
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The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a remarkable and such poignant story of survival and the blossoming of love in the most horrendous conditions. This is Ludwig (Lale) Eisenberg, a Slovakian Jew and his personal account of the time in Birkenau and Auschwitz concentration camps for 4 years, where he met his life long love Gita. A love so powerful it gave them both the strength and the will survive. Lale’s knowledge of multiple languages was an asset him and the Nazi’s. They assigned Lale to the job of a tattooer - tattooing the numbers of frightened new comers to the camps. This position of a tattooist provided Lale with special privileges; additional rations and access to the off limits areas of the camps and administration buildings. Brave and selfless man that he is, Lale used those privileges to feed, help and care for as many fellow prisoners as he can, knowing he will face death if he’s ever caught. 

Through Lale’s story we get startling and horrific view of the life in the concentration camps from real people. The author wrote it in a way that you always knew they were real. Lale was the voice of the most courageous people, Dana and Cilka, who risk their own life to keep their fellow prisoners alive. He took me to places that will break the human spirit, and he showed me the worst side of humanity. It was dark and yet inspiring story, showing the strength of love, what a human beings will endure and rise up from unimaginable circumstances. 

Lale kept his story a secret for over 50 years from fear of being judged as a Nazi collaborator. Lale died before the book was released. I wouldn’t imagine there would be many people alive today, who lived through this terrible time in our history to tell their story. This is a rare, and rewarding opportunity for readers all over the world and for that, I feel quite privileged to be part of it. 

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my review copy.
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"This book of historical fiction  is based on Lale Sokolov,a Jewish man from Slovakia who was sent to Auschwitz, the horrific concentration camp, during World War II.  Lale is forced to tattoo the concentration camp numbers on his fellow inmates' arms as they arrive.  While there, he finds the love of his life, Gita, and both survive the war.
What's fascinating about this story is that it is based on truth. The characters are so real that the reader feels a true investment in the outcome of their lives which is not only amazing but, ultimately,  uplifting.  This is a remarkable addition to the stories of the Holocaust.
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Morris originally wrote this as a screenplay and turned the story into a novel. A love story, based on a true story, and a tale of survival. Gita and Lale bring a snapshot of life to all of the death of the Holocaust. Sent to Birkenau, Lale was the tattooist and he fell in love. This is that story and it is the setting that is so important. Surviving and remembering the concentration camp and sharing it with others as Lale has done will hopefully keep this chapter of history alive so we don't forget. The author brought this story to life.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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If you’re familiar with local (and international) bestselling book lists of late, you’ll recognise the title The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. This widespread regard is well-deserved, for the novel handles the balance between the intimacy of the central love story while accounting for the atrocities that were occurring at the same time.
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Really enjoyed this story, told in beautiful prose by a very sympathetic, emotive writer. 
And the cover is amazing. Definitely worth picking up.
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I have read a few books about the Holocaust, and a couple of them included first-hand accounts from some of the prisoners. This book takes you directly to Auschwitz-Birkenau alongside Lale and Gita as they experience what feels like a lifetime of inhumanity to the reader, but realistically is merely three years. This story is one of survival for not only Lale and Gita, but also the temporary friendships they made with others and the heartbreak of their dissolution. Lale tattooed the numbers on the arms of incoming groups to the concentration camp, but he found a way to help those with whom he came into contact by smuggling them his extra rations or working with outside sources. 
By the end of this book, I delved back into the feelings of shock and helplessness which always arise in conjunction with this topic, but I believe this is a story worth knowing. There are feelings of hope to be found in these pages and I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to hear a firsthand account of two survivors from this terrible time in history.
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The Tattooist of Auschwitz was included on The Librarians' Choice Top 10 list for February 2018 http://www.librarianschoice.org/
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It is totally OK starting a review by just saying 'Go read this book' and stop here right?
This is a book based on a true story. The person tattooing the numbers on the arms of the prisoners telling his story. A prisoner himself. A heartbreaking story about survival, love, fear and loss. The only thing that annoyed me in reading the book was the writing at points. The book was written as a screenplay initially and this is still obvious while reading disturbing the flow at points. But let this not stop you from reading this story.
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With the abundance of Holocaust literature that floods the market today, one can be forgiven to feeling slightly de-sensitised to the horrors that are presented to us in each offering.

But every now and then a piece of work comes along to shake us up out of our sensory overload. A book that reminds us of exactly what we are meant to feel about Holocaust writings – that even the novels are not novels: they are all fact-based; all have some aspect of non-fiction about them.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is, actually, based on the life-story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who arrived at Auschwitz and was given the job of tattooing the newly arrived inmates with the infamous tattoos that marked them with their identity while they lived in the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. It had never occurred to me before that Jews were tasked with this horrific job – yet another atrocity that the Nazi’s forced upon them. But what marks Lale out even more than his particular type of work in the camp is his determination to survive against all odds. And once he meets the frail, but beautiful Gita, who arrives in front of him one day, waiting for her number to be etched into her flesh, he becomes untiring in his ongoing fight to keep her alive too.

The writing is strong and although the subject matter is harrowing, I found that Morris did not tend to be over-emotional or dramatic. She tells it as it is and spares no details.

One fact that I feel bears mentioning is Lale’s relationships with the Romani gypsies in the camp. Although 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust – the largest group to be murdered during WWII for religious or racial reasons, other minorities were also persecuted, and the Romani gypsies were the second largest minority to be hunted down by the Nazi’s. 1.5 million of them lost their lives in what they call the “Porajmos” or ‘mass killing’. It was only in the 1970’s that the West German Federal Parliament acknowledged that these deaths were on racial grounds! And only in the 1980’s did scholars begin to acknowledge them. Until such very recent times they were largely ignored!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a must read, especially for those who consider themselves to be Holocaust mavens. I am sure this will be added to the school setwork lists in coming years, going the way of ‘The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas’. It is a work that holds great weight, and gets 5 big glittery stars from me.
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The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on true events and I was pulled in from the first page. I love historical fiction and this heartbreaking story is now on my favorites list!
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Many thanks go to Bonnier Publishing, Heather Morris, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I cannot begin to acknowledge how difficult Eisenberg's life was as a tattooist. How does one live with that choice: to either do this or die? Someone has to do it. And he wants to survive to have a wife, have children, live a better life than what's been fished out so far. I find it difficult to review books about the Holocaust because the situation is one that I am not worthy to judge. All I can do is express my opinion on how it was written. And the account was written really well. I felt the despair and frustration, the fear and hunger. The only thing I rarely ever read about in any of these types of books is hatred of the Germans. The Germans hated the Jews, but it's not typically reciprocated. So odd to me. This was a touching story and it makes one wonder what she would do in the same position.
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Hmmmm...I don't know. I felt like this book fell flat for me. The writing and plot weren't bad but they didn't really...work? The content itself was interesting and I'll always advocate for victim stories to be shared and read.
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