Upon reading the last page of this book, carefully closing it, and placing it down on the table in front of me, I was immediately in tears. These were not uncontrollable sobs, but instead I felt a gut-wrenching sadness which I couldn’t contain. I’m fairly certain that this is a pretty standard reaction to reading about the holocaust, and yet, this felt different. While the contents of this book were devastating, the Tattooist of Auschwitz is also an incredibly uplifting story of the power of love. For Lale Sokolov and Gita, the main characters in this book, love means survival.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz details Lale Sokolov’s experience in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The author of this book, Heather Morris, met with Lale over a three-year period towards the end of his life to hear his story. While certain aspects of this book have been fictionalised, the author made every attempt to keep it as factual as she could. I think that she did a beautiful job.
As the title suggests, Lale worked as the tattooist of Auschwitz-Birkenau, meaning that he was responsible for permanently branding his fellow prisoners with their identification number. While, based on this job, it may seem on first impression that Lale was a cruel man, he was not at all. The story shows how Lale uses the perks of his position to help his fellow prisoners, by giving them extra food and even medications.
Lale’s instincts for survival are strong, and he tells himself that he will make it out of the camp alive. This drive for survival becomes stronger when he meets Gita, a female prisoner. Lale and Gita fall in love within the confines of the camp, and they are determined to survive, together. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a truly incredible love story. The fact that two people were able to find love within these horrific conditions, and then spend a lifetime together, is inspiring.
It has now been more than seventy-five years since the holocaust took place, and yet stories from this horrifying time in history are still incredibly powerful. Books like The Tattooist of Auschwitz remind us of the horrors of the past, but they also provide crucial lessons for the present and the future. Stories of the holocaust remind us to be tolerant of our fellow human beings, to love deeply, to have compassion, and to take advantage of every single day that we are lucky to spend on this beautiful planet.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a truly powerful, moving, uplifting, and also heart-breaking story of the power of love and compassion in the face of evil. It is a book that I firmly believe that everyone should read at least once.
As always, comment below if you’ve read this book and let me know what you think!