The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

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
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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 The content itself was interesting and I'll always advocate for victim stories to be shared and read.
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What an incredibly moving story of love and survival! It is a heartbreaking, but beautiful story of Lale and Gita and the horrors they faced in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. But also of their undying love for each other that was born out of such an awful time and place. I have read quite a bit of historical fiction about the Holocaust, but never a true story told with so much detail and raw emotion. It's so important that this story is told, painful as it may be to read, in order for us to understand what the prisoners in those camps endured in order to survive so that history may never be repeated. I urge everyone to move this book to the top of your reading stack and share it with others.
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What' a phenomenal book. It is well written, and I couldn't put it down. I can't believe the horrific things that were done to people. By the end I was bawling my eyes out. I voluntarily read and reviewed and advanced reader copy of this book from netgalley.
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A very moving story covering a period in history that must always be remembered. How one person makes a determined decision to survive in a death camp by doing whatever he needs to do.  Yet, despite the horrors that are going on around him, in a place devoid of emotion, he manages to fall in love.  His fight for survival now has even more reason.  To save himself and the girl that he loves.  Sounds crazy, but it's true.
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They stood in a line for it was their only means of escape.  Those that didn’t make the line, their fate was sealed. There were rules for those who stood in line and rules for those who processed these selected few. The room was quiet as these individuals stood waiting for their turn in front of the official table.  The tattooist looked at each wrist and at the new number which would become the new identity of the individual who stood standing in front of him and he would begin his job of scratching the wrist of Auschwitz’s newest prisoner. There would be no eye contact and no words spoken.   Wrist, number and scratching; all day long until the last person in the line was marked.  

Papan chose Lale to assist him.  Papan needed to move the line along quicker so he asked the guard if he could get an assistant.  Lale was hesitate to accept the position as he didn’t want to cause any more pain to the prisoners.  Papan chose Lale because he knew Lale had a soul and would cause the prisoners less pain.  When children and women began to join the line, Lale discomfort grew even more.  One day, Papan doesn’t show up for work and Lale becomes the head Tattooist.  This responsibility comes with benefits and the considerate and clever Lale immediately jumps into action.  This respectable responsibility comes with extra rations, nice sleeping quarters, and others within the camp respect him more even though he is still a prisoner.  Lale immediately asks for a assistant and Leon is assigned the position.  Lale takes chances, he takes risks that are for the benefits of other prisoners and for himself.   I feared for the day that Lale’s actions would be discovered but, in the meantime, I was cheering him on.  There were a few close calls and things gets dicey but to Lale, it is all worth it and he gets dangerous. It becomes a business affair to Lale, a trade, and his job becomes a front, as he tries to make life inside the prison camp tolerable to those who matter to him.

I liked the idea of the novel, I like how Lale used his position to benefit others and himself and to make the life inside the death camp bearable. I enjoyed the relationships in this novel especially the one that Lale had with his guard and the one that he had with his girlfriend.  I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it if you enjoy reading novels based on this time period.   4.5 stars

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Bonnier Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
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This book grabs you from the first page. The plot just keeps your attention as well as wanting to read more.
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I was so interested in the premise of the book. The real life aspect reminded me of the Liberian of Auschwitz  and it was such an interesting story. I was gripped from the first page and the way the plot continued throughout was done really well. I'm really glad i picked this up and will look forward to similar texts in the future.
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Wow, this one was so hard to put down! The author does such a great job in balancing the horrors of concentration camps with giving the people a sense of identity. I feel in a lot of things I’ve read about World War II, it’s always been in the viewpoint of overall horrors of the events that took place during that time. What was different here was that it gives the readers an insight that there was some hope and even romance during this terrible, terrible time.

While reading, I feel in love with Lale and Gita’s relationship and how it grew over time. Though we don’t learn too much about Gita and just some of Lale’s background, I found that this worked. Identity is such a major theme here, so it makes sense if we don’t learn a lot about of their backgrounds since they felt such a loss of identity during the Holocaust. Of course this relationship was real, but the words on the pages made it seem more real and so sweet. My appreciation of their romance grew even more so when I read the “Afterword” from the author and how she sat with Lale over a few years to learn about his experience.

The plot flowed well and was fast-paced. I appreciated that the author gave some realities of the cruelty done against the Jewish and Gypsy communities, but not too much that could deter a lot of people. This would be great for those who would like to read about the realities of concentration camps, but cannot stomach too much. The scenes aren’t too graphic or drawn out.

I did find the ending to be a bit quick, but that also could have been how Lale felt during that time. Because of this, I am okay with the slightly faster pace.

Overall, I really liked reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I appreciate that it was written and given the opportunity to read it. I would highly recommend this to those who would enjoy reading a sweet romance during the Holocaust. Also, for those who would like to learn a bit more about the Holocaust without many graphic scenes, The Tattooist of Auschwitz would be a great one to read.
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After reading this, I don't even know what to write. Not many books are as big of a punch to the gut as this one is. I've read a substantial amount of literature, both fiction and non-fiction regarding the Shoah. Heather Morris was chosen by a survivor of the Shoah to tell his story, and the story set forth in this novel is one of the most nuanced books I have read.

While the book is categorized as fiction, it is based on the real experiences of Lale and Gita Sokolov. Lale was taken from Slovakia to Auschwitz and Birkenau and through a series of circumstance became the man who tattooed all of those who were transported to Auschwitz and Birkenau. Rarely do books discuss the fact that some of those in the camps were forced to make horrible decisions for survival in which they had to cooperate with the Nazis. Many in this novel sacrificed a huge part of themselves participating in the positions the Nazis requested of them so that someone with malicious intent would not reign down even worse actions on those in the camps. It's hard to understand the actions, especially in situations where it may involve killing another, but there were mercies and many took actions that would help the greater good.

While many Germans plead that they had no idea what was happening in the camps, this book shows that people from the community were actively involved in the camps. I feel like I need someone else to read this novel just to digest and talk through so much of what happened. It's hard enough reading this book, I can't imagine living through the events of the Shoah and then having to return to a "normal life." There's just no way. The trauma of the Shoah did not end with those who lived through it, and there is new research that shows that trauma such as this can actually change the genetics that are passed down to the new generation. We cannot look at the Shoah as an event that happened in the past, it is an event that is still impacting new generations every day.

Emotionally, I am wrecked after reading this book. This is a personal opinion, but books like this MUST be read by everyone. We cannot forget what has happened in the recent past as people like the ones who committed atrocities in the Shoah were regular people. In the U.S. more and more people who would commit the same horrible acts are being given a platform and treated as if their points are valid. The systematic destruction of whole communities and populations as happened in the Shoah people would like to say could never happen again, however there have been multiple genocides in the decades since World War II.  There are lessons to be learned still even decades later. Our generations will be judged by if we chose to learn from them or continue to make the same horrendous decisions. I could continue writing a lot more about this novel, but I encourage readers to pick up the book and then reach out if they would like to have a discussion.

Please be advised that I received this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any opinions expressed are that of my own and not a reflection of anyone else.
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