Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

“Save the one, save the world.” 

By: Heather Morris

Length: 288 Pages

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Published: January 11th 2018


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.



I made the mistake of picking this book up right before bed, I couldn’t put it down. I was transported to a time where I didn’t want to be, sucked into the world that Lale and Gita had to suffer through. I must say I didn’t shed a tear, so I’m very proud of myself. But while no tears fell, my heart remained inevitably broken.

I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know what more to say about this book and yet I have so much I want to share. It just can’t seem to be translated into words.

There are many stories of the Holocaust and many are left untold. I think the main one most people would know is The Diary of Anne Frank. It was a mandatory read for me during my school years. While as a teen myself just as Anne ( hence why I think they had us read it in the in 8th grade) I found the similarity to be uncanny. Now here I was yet again but I could find the similarity with Lale or Gita. I think because they were adults and they were fully aware of the surroundings and what was to come of them that I couldn’t see how love could be found in such a place. I’m not saying that it couldn’t have happened because it did. I’m saying that I just don’t think, scratch that, I couldn’t have as positive of an outlook as Lale did. He really found a diamond amongst the rubble. (Literally and figuratively)

The writing style was odd, I didn’t mind it, in fact, it made it feel as though you were sitting with Lale himself as he was transcribing the events of his life that lead him to survival.

You get more from this than just the story of the select survivors of the Auschwitz. Throughout the story as in the life, they lived you suffer through the pointless and mindless deaths of fellow prisoners who are met along the way. You cross paths with those who have given up entirely, those who such as Lale will do whatever is necessary to survivor, those who help but only at a cost, those who only followed the orders given those them and those willing to pay the ultimate price to protect just to save one life.

Thank you, NetGalley and Bonnie Publishing Australia.


15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

Add yours

    1. I think that’s what drew me to want to read it. I never put much thought into who actually gave them their numbers. I don’t know why it shocked me to learn that they were forced to brand their own people.


  1. These types of books are always hard to read. I’m glad you enjoyed this and it made such an impact on you. The power of good books to stay with you after you finish them is strong.


    1. It was, there are parts that just boggle the mind of how can a human do that to another. I knew what I was getting into when I picked it up, it was such a rewarding read.


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