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review 2018-10-05 14:41
Incredible tale of love that begins in Auschwitz!
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz- Heather Morris, author; Richard Armitage, narrator.

This novel tells the story of Ludwig Eisenberg and Gisela Fuhrmannova. Essentially, it is a love story that defied the odds as it took place in the most unusual of places. Ludwig was known as Lale. In 1942, he was a prisoner in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. His job was to tattoo incoming prisoners. He met Gita (Gisela), just a teenager of 17, on the day she was brought to him to have her tattoo redone because it had faded. For Lale, it seemed to be love at first sight, and he took it upon himself to protect her and insure her survival.  

Every Holocaust story brings with it a unique history of events, and this one is no different. It reminds the reader of the brutality and sadistic horror that the Germans, under Hitler’s Third Reich, systematically inflicted upon innocents who were guilty only of not being pure Aryans, although some were also marked because they held opposing political viewpoints. It is sad that fewer sane minds prevailed. Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally ill were among those who were persecuted and systematically tortured, starved, worked to death or murdered outright so that Germany and Germans could enlarge their territory and prosper. The means justified their end goals.

 At first, I was drawn into the story because I thought it was the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov (Lale changed his name from Eisenberg to Sokolov, his sister’s married name). As I read it and realized that the author had taken a great deal of poetic license in her presentation of events, I still enjoyed it, but not quite as a piece of history. I found it to be a compelling presentation of a romance that defied reality, and in some cases, some of the descriptions of events and experiences seemed to even defy credibility. I began to wonder how much of the story was based on fact and how much on the fiction that the author had to create when she put pen to paper. Since she did not hear actual conversations and had to rely on Sokolov’s memory and description of events, she surely had to embellish a great deal. There was so much that had to be filled in by her in order for her to write a cohesive and realistic story. Sometimes she was more successful than others as the narrative often went off into the world of a fairytale as characters that behaved with vicious brutality were often being presented with an occasional softer side. The author seemed to struggle to paint a positive side to the evil many exhibited, as if each villain had a redeeming trait to fall back on, in spite of their taking great pleasure in cruel, violent, evil behavior. To me, that softer side seemed to be far more of an anomaly and not the rule of thumb.

From the description of events, it appeared almost miraculous that Gita and Lela survived what they were forced to undergo. As with many survivors, a good deal of their ability to survive was because of luck and the occasional kindness of others. Yet, even the kindness of others seemed to have had a price, since nobody seemed to turn down any of the bribes offered. It seemed as if few did anything simply out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather they did it also for the reward they would reap.

The reader may well question if such a romantic relationship could have developed and thrived in a place filled with guards who relished and enjoyed their power, brutality and capacity for carnage. Still, the idea that there were some strong enough or lucky enough to survive through whatever means they could find comes through loud and clear, even when doing what was necessary meant sacrificing others to save themselves. Bargains were struck and compromises made in order to insure their survival. There were unusual friendships and choices that had to be made. Sometimes the line between collaborator and survivor was blurred.

No matter how many books you read, non-fiction or historic fiction, you can never full realize the complete extent of the Holocaust horror.

The narrator did a phenomenal job using perfect and appropriate accents, excellent expression and tone to present mood and the moment.

 

 

 

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review 2018-03-24 23:34
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
They stood in a line for it was their only means of escape. Those that didn’t make the line, their fate was sealed. There were rules for those who stood in line and rules for those who processed these selected few. The room was quiet as these individuals stood waiting for their turn in front of the official table. The tattooist looked at each wrist and at the new number which would become the new identity of the individual who stood standing in front of him and he would begin his job of scratching the wrist of Auschwitz’s newest prisoner. There would be no eye contact and no words spoken. Wrist, number and scratching; all day long until the last person in the line was marked.
 
Papan chose Lale to assist him. Papan needed to move the line along quicker so he asked the guard if he could get an assistant. Lale was hesitate to accept the position as he didn’t want to cause any more pain to the prisoners. Papan chose Lale because he knew Lale had a soul and would cause the prisoners less pain. When children and women began to join the line, Lale discomfort grew even more. One day, Papan doesn’t show up for work and Lale becomes the head Tattooist. This responsibility comes with benefits and the considerate and clever Lale immediately jumps into action. This respectable responsibility comes with extra rations, nice sleeping quarters, and others within the camp respect him more even though he is still a prisoner. Lale immediately asks for a assistant and Leon is assigned the position. Lale takes chances, he takes risks that are for the benefits of other prisoners and for himself. I feared for the day that Lale’s actions would be discovered but, in the meantime, I was cheering him on. There were a few close calls and things gets dicey but to Lale, it is all worth it and he gets dangerous. It becomes a business affair to Lale, a trade, and his job becomes a front, as he tries to make life inside the prison camp tolerable to those who matter to him.
 
I liked the idea of the novel, I like how Lale used his position to benefit others and himself and to make the life inside the death camp bearable. I enjoyed the relationships in this novel especially the one that Lale had with his guard and the one that he had with his girlfriend. I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it if you enjoy reading novels based on this time period.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Bonnier Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

 

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review 2018-03-02 00:00
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris The power of Love. The Tattooist of Auscwitz is a love story that has stood the test of time and a book that portrays one mans determination to survive against the odds

This is the true story of Lale Sokolov the tattooist of Auschwitz and how found love in the concentration camp. The book is well written, emotional and the story itself is interesting and uplifting. A love story that develops against all that is evil really is worth telling and reading about.
I have read quite a lot of Non Fiction books on the Holocast but I think this was my first book about a romance within the camp.
The book doesn't go into depth on the War although it does depict the horrors of the camp quite well but the story centers more around the romance between Lale and Gita. While I enjoyed the book and found it as nice easy read I was left wanting and I think I had expected more from this one but this is me and not the book as I know so many of my friends have loved this one.
I listened on audible and found the narrator adequate but didn't add anything to the experience for me. I did like the notes at the end as this does clarify what happened afterwards and I believe the hard copy contains photos which I googled as this is something you miss with audio eversion.

An interesting read but not one for my faviourites shelf.
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review 2018-01-31 00:58
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris

This was such a great book for me. I loved the characters especially and sped right through it.

I loved that, for the most part, the gas chambers, crematoriums and the other human atrocities were scenery. Not to say that it wasn't prevalent, but it wasn't the gist of the story.

The story was about a man who did everything he could to save himself and still be able to live with himself. And, also what he could do for the people around him. He was responsible for saving many lives by sneaking in food, hiding people, etc., whatever it took.

Such a great, great book! I loved it!!! A really strong feel good read, despite the atrocities, that had me speeding right through this one.

Thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-11-11 11:07
When all that's left is hope
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris

A beautifully written harrowing story of one man's will to survive in Auschwitz concentration camp during the 2WW. Lale Sokolov is transported from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942; an educated man fluent in many languages who also happens to be a Jew. His proud bearing and individuality immediately sets him apart from his fellow detainees and when he is offered the privileged job as tatowierer "the tattooist" he readily accepts. His job is quite simply to "mark" his fellow prisoners as and when they arrive, stamping them with a 5 digit number that will forever remind them (that is those who survive) of the hell of Auschwitz. He uses his position to help and befriend where possible fellow inmates and early on in his arrival meets and falls instantly in love with a young woman called Gita.

 

The centre of this remarkable story is the relationship of Lale and Gita and how they managed to sustain their love whilst all around death and slaughter is the order of the day, and it seemed only a matter of time before they met the same fate. We witness firsthand the cruelty of man and the barbaric acts carried out on the weak by those who saw themselves as true followers of the Fuhrer adhering to his orders by cleansing society of undesirables. The reality was that they themselves were no better than murderers and robbers. Yet Lale's account is much more than this; it is a story of hope and endurance and a beauty that emerges when all around is painted in black. As a reader you cannot help but be affected by this account the simplicity of the story telling only adds to the poignancy of the moment the sense of dread, the unexpected and the wait for the knock when death comes calling.

 

Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for sending me a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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