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The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel

The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel

Written by Heather Morris

Narrated by Richard Armitage


The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel

Written by Heather Morris

Narrated by Richard Armitage

ratings:
4.5/5 (3,888 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 4, 2018
ISBN:
9780062866998
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as ebookEbook

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Editor's Note

Audie Award winner…

This moving story of love and hope amid atrocities (based on the real-life experiences of a Holocaust survivor forced to tattoo fellow prisoners at Auschwitz) won the 2019 Audie Award for fiction. AudioFile praises the “superb narrator” for capturing “every emotion from fear to trepidation to hope and even to love with understated warmth.”

Description

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

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.

Publisher:
Released:
Sep 4, 2018
ISBN:
9780062866998
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.



Reviews

What people think about The Tattooist of Auschwitz

4.3
3888 ratings / 318 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Poignant! Stark take if surviving and living in a concentration camp. Indescribable mans’ inhumanity to others. In the author’s notes we see a glimpse of the author’s interviews with the main character, Lale.
  • (4/5)
    Well written. Interesting book.
  • (4/5)
    The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book that blurs the lines between history, fiction, memoir, and historical fiction. Because the subtitle of the book is "A Novel," that is how I began reading it. But I had only read a few chapters when I began to suspect that it was weighted more toward memoir than novel. A blurb reads "Based on the Powerful True Story of Love and Survival." But how far along that scale between fiction and history was it? It's a question I struggle with often, along with how accurate are memories (and translations). Then I finished the book and read the appendices, which include three photos of the couple and an afterward by their son. The author was able to interview the protagonist, Lale Sokolov, over a period of three years. Evidence that slides the book further toward the history/memoir side of the scale.Lale Sokolov is a smartly-dressed ladies man with a bright future when the Nazis order one man from every Slovak family to join a group of would-be workers for the Germans. Lale volunteers, and arrives at the rendezvous point in a sharp suit and with a suitcase of books. The true purpose of the selection becomes more clear when the men are loaded into cattle cars heading toward Poland. Lale's story of life in the camps, how he landed a protected job in the camp, and how he met Gita is honest, but upbeat and a bit sugarcoated. It's an unusual tone for a Holocaust book, but seems to suit his personality (both in the book and real life).Despite being a close retelling, there are a couple of errors, I found puzzling. Lale's name is actually spelled Lali, and Gita's tattoo was the number 4562, not 34902. This latter has created some consternation among historians and survivors. The tattooed number was used to replace a person's name and make it easier for the Nazis to think of people as things, dehumanized and nameless. It was both an ugly practicality and a symbolic loss of self. To not correctly associate a survivor's tattooed number with their name, is to further separate the person from themselves. To many survivors, this was an affront. Overall, I found the book a quick and not depressing book, which I enjoyed more when I read the matter at the end of the book. Knowing the details of the real Lali and Gita added depth to the fictionalized account. 3.5 stars
  • (5/5)
    Although I’ve read many Holocaust books and memoirs the Tatooist of Auschwitz is different. I hesitated reading this one for a long time but I’m glad I persevered. Unusual memoir (fictionalized true story) written in spare precise language. Gives testimony to Nazi atrocities as well as testimony to the kindness and love that Jewish and Romani prisoners showed each other in the darkest of circumstances. The powerful survival instinct that Lale and Gita had was their resistance. This strength and commitment to resistance explains how people were able to endure the worst tortures and losses. Explains how holocaust survivors could coninue to hope and promise to tell of their experiences. It’s still incredibly hard to believe the depth of the final solution plan perpetrated by the Nazis. It’s hard to believe the cruelty and evil perpetrated by collaborators. BUT it’s the truth and it’s so important for the world to be reminded as these stories continue to emerge. No matter how many Holocaust books I read, it’s necessary for all people to have more and continual reminders. Thank you Heather Morris for this important book!
  • (4/5)
    I grudgingly read this book, as it was a book club selection, because I only had intentions in my life to ever read one more book about the Holocaust: The Diary of Anne Frank. I've read several over the years and while I don't think I've read a bad one, I much prefer my senseless murders to be the result of crazed fictional serial killers. It's too hard for me to read books or watch movies about non-fictional accounts of war: it is always far to real and can't enjoy them regardless of how good they are.This book lived up to its tagline as "based on the powerful true story of love and survival". Lale, the Tatowierer of Auschwitz, is a young man with remarkable kindness, charisma, and just plan luck who is able to work his charms with both men and women in order to survive the horrors of Nazi internment. He lucks/charms his way into a job assisting the current tattooer, a position that comes with a more leeway and privileges than most prisoners receive. Lale, who has always had an eye for the ladies, notices Gita while tattooing her and it's love at first sight. The story follows their stolen moments over the years imprisoned and how their love and his assured promise for their future keeps them going from one day to the next. Lale, with his personality and his position, is able to make connections throughout the camp that allow him to provide small amounts of assistance and protection for Gita, other friends he has made, and himself.This is not to say that there are not accounts of horrendous acts of violence, senseless deaths, and just unbelievable inhuman treatment, but Lale's outlook while put in an impossible situation is something to aspire to achieve.
  • (4/5)
    This book was raw and edgy. It weeped emotion and stirred feelings that I never knew I had. The war story was brutal, but the romance was epic. There was hope in Lale’s character and danger in the sacrifice, lies, and secrets. I definitely recommend it to all historical fans. It didn’t exactly live up to the Bronze Horseman, but it had a similar premise and a love that lasted through turmoil.