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.
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Aw man, I had such high hopes for this one, but sadly this fell a bit short for me. First of all, this is a beautiful true story about Lale Sokolov and his time at Auschwitz-Birkenau as the Tätowierer. I can’t imagine what he and all other prisoners had to go through just to survive to the next day.
What lost me was the writing of the story. At times, the story was hard to follow along as the scene would change without any warning. One reviewer wrote that she couldn’t tell you one personality trait of Gita (Lale’s love interest) and I have to agree. I was hoping for more emotion whereas it just fell flat.
I felt the most emotion reading the Afterword from Lale’s son. It was beautiful and filled with so much love for his parents. I wish that he had written the entire novel!
3 calculators out of a potential 5. A generous 3 calculators since I only found the novel to be ok due to the writing.