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“I devoured The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a powerful book based on a true story, in two sittings. Lale, a Slovakian Jew at Auschwitz-Birkenau, becomes the Tatowierer—the man responsible for tattooing every prisoner who arrives at the concentration camp. Seen by some as a collaborator, Lale must make impossible choices to keep himself and his friends alive. Incredibly, Lale tattoos the woman who will become the love of his life. The power of their love in the face of unmitigated horror makes for one of the most compelling WWII books I have ever read.”
— Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY
“Holocaust survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov met with author Heather Morris for three years before his death in order to recount his harrowing experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. His story was developed in this novel about an Auschwitz prisoner (Lale) who survives by learning to tattoo numbers onto the arms of incoming camp prisoners. After tattooing one woman, he is determined to have her as his future wife, and resolves to survive the war. Traumatic events in the camp threaten to destroy him and his girl. In the back, Morris includes photographs, a map of the camp, and a postwar follow up on Lale, his wife, his family, some of the prisoners, and his guards. Agonizing, yet triumphant.”
— Robin Allen, Forever Books, St. Joseph, MI
#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.