"" Writer's Wanderings: Books For The Road--The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Friday, January 18, 2019

Books For The Road--The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

While standing in an airport gift shop waiting for my husband to pay for a bottle of water, I perused the book shelf. The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris caught my eye. Ever since studying the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust in a college history class I have been intrigued with that era and the amazing stories of survival. This book is a novel but it is based on a true life story of a fellow named Lale who became a tattooist at Auschwitz and survived to tell his story.

When I began reading the book, I didn't realize it was based on a true story. I just thought the author was telling the story from the imagined viewpoint of Lale and the girl he meets in camp, Gita. Here is the tease for the book:

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 T├Ątowierer (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.
Along the story line there is a short time Lale is moved to Mauthausen in Austria, a labor camp that we visited when we did a river cruise and Bratislava, Slovakia, visited on that same cruise, was the home of Gita.  
The story is amazing as are so many stories of survival. The unique perspective of one who had to tattoo the arms of the incoming prisoners made it quite interesting. It may be a little heavy reading for some for a vacation. It's not a totally feel good book but it does end well and it is made even more interesting when you read the son's account of his parents and the research and interviews that brought the story together for the novel. 

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