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The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel
by Heather Morris

Published: 2018-09-04
Paperback : 288 pages
113 members reading this now
189 clubs reading this now
16 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 7 of 7 members

 

#1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 International Bestseller

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 ...

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Introduction

 

#1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 International Bestseller

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.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2018: Based on the real-life experiences of Holocaust survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, author Heather Morris’s novel is a testament to the human spirit and the power of love to bloom in even the darkest places. And it’s hard to imagine a place darker than the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. In 1942, Lale is rounded up with other Slovakian Jews and sent to Auschwitz. Once there, he is given the job of tätowierer, inking numbers into the arms of frightened prisoners at a sickening rate. One of these prisoners is a young woman named Gita--and in spite of their plight, they fall in love. Lale’s position as the tätowierer gives him privileges but does not shield him from the brutality of the camps. Time and again he risks his life to help his fellow prisoners, and my heart was in my throat at the chances he took for Gita and others. Despite the passing of years and the ever present threat of death, Lale and Gita never stop believing in a future together where they can live as husband and wife. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a beautiful and life-affirming novel. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review

Excerpt

No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

1. How did you feel about Lale when he was first introduced, as he arrived in Auschwitz? How did your understanding of him change throughout the novel?

2. What qualities did Lale have that influenced the way he was treated in the camp? Where did those qualities come from?

3. Survival in the camp depended on people doing deeds of questionable morality. Lale became the tattooist, but how did Gita’s choices affect her survival? What about her friend who befriended a Nazi?

4. Inmates in the concentration camp had to make life-or-death decisions every day. Why did some make the “right” decisions and survive while others did not?

5. Discuss some of the small acts of humanity carried out by individuals in The Tattooist of Auschwitz. How did these small acts of kindness have greater implications? Did it make you reconsider what you believe to be brave or heroic? Did this make you think differently about the impact of your own everyday actions?

6. The Tattooist of Auschwitz makes clear that there were also non-Jewish prisoners in the camp. How did the treatment of Jews differ from that of non-Jews? How did differences manifest themselves?

7. Had Gita and Lale met in a more conventional way, would they have developed the same kind of relationship? How did their circumstances change the course of their romance?

8. In what ways were the relationships between Gita and her friends different from the usual friendships between teenage girls?
In what ways were they similar?

9. In what ways was Lale a hero? In what ways was he an ordinary man?

10. Lale faced danger even after the camp was liberated. How did his experiences immediately after liberation prepare him for the rest of his life?

11. How does The Tattooist of Auschwitz change your perceptions about the Holocaust in particular, and war in general? What implications does this book hold for our own time?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by tonya_k@ymail.com (see profile) 10/20/19

 
by LynnTH (see profile) 10/15/19

 
by patricia@mckeithen.net (see profile) 10/14/19

 
by testedly@mailinator.com (see profile) 10/12/19

 
by kerrihemmett@harbourfrontwealth.com (see profile) 10/10/19

 
by eshasson@gmail.com (see profile) 10/03/19

 
  "Touching story of the power of love"by zodejodie4 (see profile) 10/02/19

4 & 1/2 stars - I read a LOT of books set during this time period & about various aspects of the history. There are so many stories. It shouldn't be surprising & yet it still is just how many stories there... (read more)

 
by rachel.bassett@knoxschools.org (see profile) 10/01/19

 
by janet.martin@peelregion.ca (see profile) 09/20/19

 
by Ttundidor826 (see profile) 09/11/19

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