I finished this book in 24 hours.
I typically avoid Holocaust genres because the topic is horrifyingly disturbing and I see enough sad things every day at work. But this got so many great reviews and many of my readers (YOU) raved about it, so I had to try. It was wonderful.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a true story about the love between Lale Sokolov and Gita Furman, two Jewish prisoners sent to Auschwitz and the neighboring camp, Birkenau, during WWII. When Lale is tasked with tattooing identification numbers on his fellow prisoners, he reluctantly takes the position, mainly because it has perks (extra food rations) that allow him to help his friends. There he meets Gita, a Jewish prisoner from Slovakia, and together they rely on their love to find a glimmer of hope in a sorrowful place.
I read this book while I was on vacation at the beach and it made me realize how thankful I am to never (PLEASE GOD) see this type of horror in my life when so many can’t say the same. I can’t believe human beings could ever be convinced to treat other humans this way.
Concentration camps were filled with Jews, Gypsies (e.g. Romany ethnicity), criminals, and political prisoners. Some camps were work camps and other camps were created for the sole purpose of killing humans. In this novel, Heather Morris illustrates how Sokolov and his Jewish companions were required to “report for work” in various cities during the early part of the 1940s. From those cities, they were herded like cattle into filthy trains and transported to various concentration camps. Upon “check in”, they were stripped of all their possessions- including the clothes on their backs and any belongings they came with- had their heads shaved (even women), and assigned numbers that were tattooed on their left arms for identification purposes. They were crammed into barracks, starved, raped, and forced to work. Those too tired to work or who became ill were shot as the Nazis considered them better off dead. “Doctors” came to the camps to perform “experiments” on the prisoners, which included castration and eye-gouging.
The Nazis removed prisoners from Auschwitz and Birkenau only after Russian troops began closing in on the area. These malnourished and weak prisoners were lined up and sent on “death marches,” where they had to walk in freezing weather to other camps in Germany and Austria. Ones who warily lagged behind were shot dead.
This books tells the tale of survival of Lale and Gita. (Spoiler alert: the story line will give you a hangover from the happy ending.)
I was born in 1982 and can’t believe atrocities of this nature- which you might expect from the dark ages- happened 40 years before I was alive and in our grandparents’ generations.
This book was only 250 pages… very easy to read and short paragraphs- you won’t wan to put it down.
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