by Heather Morris (Goodreads Author)
The tattooing has taken only seconds, but Lale’s shock makes time stand still. He grasps his arm, staring at the number. How can someone do this to another human being? He wonders if for the rest of his life, be it short or long, he will be defined by this moment, this irregular number: 32407.
THE BLURB: The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.
There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive – not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.
Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story. (Publisher’s Summary)
MY THOUGHTS: Oh! The inhumanity of human beings towards other human beings knows no bounds. And, worst of all, I don’t believe we have learned a damned thing because we just keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and always with a sense of righteous justification.
Lale and Gita’s story is indescribable. But it is important that it be told. We can read these stories, and be horrified, appalled, but we can never really know, in our hearts or our heads, how it felt to endure what they endured. We cannot even begin to understand what they went through, and for that we shall be grateful. Grateful that we shall never have to experience standing outside with the ashes of our friends raining down upon us from Crematorium chimneys. Grateful that we are not ripped from our families, herded like cattle, starved, beaten, and experimented upon like laboratory rats. And let us show our gratitude by ensuring that anything like this can never happen again, be it on the massive scale seen in WWII, or on a personal level. Please be kind to one another, help one another, respect one another. Because if we don’t, are we any better than the SS?
Thank you to author Heather Morris for her perseverance. A lot of what she was told by Lale cannot have been easy to listen to or transcribe. I would imagine she had more than a few nightmares.
Thank you to Bonnier Publishing, Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2260897164