Book Review- The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

What transpired at Auschwitz or any concentration camp during World War II is chastely sickening, vicious, brutalized, and deeply heart-breaking.

Nevertheless, every time I read or hear the stories of survivors, I become fascinated with the catalogs of these prisoners who managed to forgive, discover love, looked for happiness, and somehow dwelled a full, prosperous life subsequently.

This Historical Fiction book titled “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” is based on the mostly true story of Lale Sokolov and Gita Furman, two Slovakian Jews and Holocaust survivors.

It is a story of two ordinary people living in an extraordinary time, compelled of their freedom, their dignity, their homes, and even their names (which are replaced by numbers), and how they withstood Auschwitz concentration camp.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov (prisoner number 32407), a Slovakian Jew, was forcibly sent to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors learned that he converses several languages, he is assigned to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), assigned with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Confined for more than two and a half years, Lale bystanders horrific atrocities and barbarism; but also unbelievable acts of bravery and kindness. Endangering his own life, he uses his privileged position of Tätowierer to swap jewels and money from slaughtered Jews for food, a dangerous attempt to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, while reassuring a shivering young woman named Gita Furman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm, Lale vows to himself that he will somehow survive the camp and marry her.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the shadiest possible conditions. It was heart-breaking yet humbling to see the resilience of the human spirit in the face of death.

An “Additional Information” section at the back of the novel offers basic facts about the real story and adds gravitas to the book. Interestingly, the section raises questions about how we talk about what is true in a novel based on a true story.

This book is a read for experiencing a life journey, the hopes amidst the varied dismay, witnessing the love for life, a resolution to survive, and a desire for a happy ending.

“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”

“Remember the small things, and the big things will work themselves out.”

‘As long as we are alive and healthy, everything will work out for the best.” (My Favorite)

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