The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 288
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.
“To save one is to save the world.”
When the Tattooist of Auschwitz first hit the blogosphere, I knew I had no chance of passing up this historical fiction. I set the bar high for it. And while I loved the imagery of hope, resilience, and survival, my expectations fizzled out by the end. I wish I loved it. But I can’t.
It is a horrifying tale of hope. With that said, I’m not entirely convinced that many facts in this novel are accurate. In fact, the Auschwitz Memorial has put doubt of the events that took place. I am not criticizing a novel about Auschwitz or the Holocaust. I am critiquing the storytelling, the authenticity of what has been told, and claims the author put into her work.