“To save one is to save the world.”
When a family member is required to report for work duty for the Germans from Slovakian Jewish families, Lale volunteers to go for his family. He quickly sees the cruel world he is trapped inside and decides to do whatever it takes to live and survive. His ability to speak several languages and his ability to be aware of what is happening around him, gives him the opportunity to be the camp’s tattooist. He tries to be gentle and offer some comfort while he does the job because it gives him extra food and protection, which he then uses to help others.
The Tattooist of Auschwitzis a current bestseller and was the January book choice for my local book club. Most of the members found the book hard to put down and we had a really good discussion about the book.
Against all odds, Lale finds love in the camp. Gita and Lale steal moments together when they can. Lale uses jewels women find when they sort through belongings to purchase extra food and medicine for people in the camp from locals who work on the infrastructure. He and Gita survive to the end of Auschwitz, but are separated as the Nazis walk the women on a death march out of the camp. They both push themselves to survive in order to find each other somehow.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the author’s interviews with a man named Lale Sokolov who wanted to talk to someone about what he saw and experienced in Auschwitz after his wife died. The fact that the story is based on a person’s real life experience made it hard to read in certain parts. The book will make the reader examine what he or she would be willing to do to survive. Would you kill one person to save ten? Would you commit violence so you could live and help someone else?
There is an article that fact checks the book, but whether whole accurate or told through decades of memory, it is a powerful story. The fact check article can be found here.