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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz PDF

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Book Reviews:

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 in 2017 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 Lale and Gita Sokolov. Lale told his story over the course of three years to the Author. Lale 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 Lale 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 Lale Sokolov was one of those.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita moved around until they found their place in Australia, began a family and lead a happy and successful life. Lale 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 Lale’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 never talked about it. I wonder did Lale 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 Lale 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

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.

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