The #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller
This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.
“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Tattooist of Auschwitz isn’t an easy book to read. But it’s a book everybody should read. Heather Morris recounts the true story of Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov, the “Tätowierer” of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The Jewish captive is given the unthinkably difficult job of branding tens of thousands of fellow prisoners with permanent numbers that become their identities—erasing their names, lineages, and occupations. Morris also writes of Sokolov’s relationship with Gita, the love of his life, whom he meets in the camp. This immensely moving book is more than a story of one of history’s darkest hours; it’s a story of spirit and the will to live.
Based on a true story, Morris's debut fictionalizes the romance between two concentration camp prisoners during WWII. In 1942, Lale, a Slovakian Jew, is given the position of tattooist, tasked with numbering the arm of every new inmate who enters Auschwitz-Birkenau. He uses his position to procure black market items, which he trades away in return for favors. One day, he tattoos the arm of a young woman named Gita and promptly falls in love with her. They begin meeting on Sundays, the only day of rest in the camps. He vows to Gita that he will marry her when they are freed, a boast that Gita is dubious of but nevertheless clings to. Lale even becomes something of a guardian angel to Gita, providing her with penicillin when she contracts typhus. Separated at the end of the war by the fleeing SS, Lale and Gita set out to find one another again in postwar Europe. To many, this book will be most appreciated for its powerful evocation of the everyday horrors of life as a prisoner in a concentration camp, while others will be heartened by the novel's message of how true love can transcend even the most hellishly inhuman environments. This is a perfect novel for book clubs and readers of historical fiction.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This is a MUST READ!
As soon as I finished the last page, I wanted to reread it all over again! I didn’t want it to be over! Heather Morris does an amazing job of telling Lale’s incredibly true story. She bring his story to life for us younger generation to connect to history.
Not worth the expense!
I found this a novel of fiction. I am not a historian but have read numerous accounts of the concentration camps.
Lale made it seem easy to get food and gems and hide them away to share with his starving inmates. These unfortunate people were starved and worked mercilessly. They were shot and killed for the smallest infraction.
He had so many gems that he shared one with an SS guard! Come on. The SS guards were terrifying to the people. They had total control and lacked sympathy or empathy.
This novel trivialized what these millions of people suffered in the camps and not just Auschwitz but the thousands of camps in Germany and Poland.
Terrible unlikely story of a heartbreaking time in the history of the world.
Quick read and great book. Super interesting to hear about some of the details of his life.