Heather Morris "The Tattooist of Auschwitz"

This novel by Heather Morris is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov and his wife Gita who survived the concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. It has also been turned into a movie.

Lale, a Slovakian Jew, volunteers to be deported in order to save his family and finds himself in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Due to his command of several languages he is chosen to help register the new arrivals by tattooing a number into their forearms.

This position gives him relative freedom of movement, his own room and the chance to contact Polish workers to trade valuables found in the confiscated luggage of new arrivals for food and medicine. He uses these extra rations to help his former block mates and other fellow prisoners.

During his work he falls in love with Gita, another Slovakian Jew, whom he is able to help through an illness. He also finds a privileged job for her and in turn she encourages him to keep up his hopes for a common future beyond the concentration camp.

When some valuables Lale uses to trade for food are found under his mattress, he is put in prison and tortured. However, one of Gita‘s friends who has been forced to become Lagerfuhrer Schwarzhuber’s lover uses her influence to save his life and get back his job as tattooist.

When the Russian army is close, Lale is transported to Mauthausen and loses sight of Gita, but after the war has ended they find each other and finally start a new life in Australia.

An interesting and moving read about the situation of Jews under the Nazi regime also available in the German translation.

Prof. Münzer-Jordan