I have always said that I’ll never give a book 100%, and so the first thing I need to say is this: I was wrong.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, written by Heather Morris, tells the story of Lale Sokolov, who was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau – the most infamous Nazi Concentration Camp – where he was given the job of tattooing the prisoners’ numbers onto their arm as they arrived. That’s all I’m going to say as it is not my place to tell his story.
I’ve read several reviews of this book where people have been intensely critical of the writing. Personally, I found the writing style, void of fancy words, void of any attempts to spruce up the writing, to add her own emotions into it, to be the most respectful way of telling this story.
In my opinion, to have added anything flowery would have been detrimental to the impact of Lale Sokolov’s – and millions of others – story.
Heather Morris didn’t try to sugar-coat her words in the telling of history. I found the entire book to be incredibly difficult to read – not because of a lack of understanding, but rather through the unwavering depictions of the brutality. I cried several times while reading, and have thought about it constantly since opening it for the first time.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, although heart-breaking, has a beautiful theme of the surviving nature of love, and its ability to give the most horrific of circumstances a modicum of hope.
Lale and Gita’s mutual adoration gave the two of them a reason to survive, something to long for: a life together outside the inhumane monstrosities of the camp, a life without barbed-wired fences.
This book is one of the most important I have ever read, and will ever read. Going straight into my Top 10 Books of All Time, I know I will return to its pages time after time. Reading of the horrors of the Concentration Camps is never easy. However, when you realise every picture of a prisoner was someone who had a life before the Nazi started persecuting, people with dreams, hopes, family, friends, it becomes even more essential that this is never repeated.
I don’t think any book has ever put my problems into ‘Big Picture’ perspective as this one. Not only did it break my heart, it reminded me of all the things I have to be thankful for.
An instant classic. I cannot recommend The Tattooist of Auschwitz highly enough.