The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Un devoir de mémoire/duty to memory. Audiobook Review

Synopsis

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 more than 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.

Audiobook review

 

4,5 stars (but 5 stars for the story itself)

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.”

Sometimes I don’t have better words than these of the synopsis to express the essence of a book.

 

This is a book of survival and it was a punch in the face.

I think I’ll never get used to the atrocities committed against mankind in WWII. I know other persecutions existed after WWII but this always hits so close to home thanks to my great grand-mother stories.

Every time I read a story about WWII focusing on what the Nazis did, I am overcome with so many emotions and this read was no exception.

Rage. Impotent rage! Overwhelming rage. Because HOW COULD THEY? I can’t believe that these men, these SS present at Auschwitz and Birkenau, did not know that what they did was wrong! I just simply can’t fathom how men could inflict this on mankind!

Every time that I read about Dr Mengelei, how he lurked around Lale, what he did to Leon and to all these young women I just want to vomit.

Every time Lale had to agree with his guard, every time he had to turn his eyes downcast as not to attract attention and the ire of some SS I was trembling with rage.

And when Silka had to do what she’s done, just because she wanted to survive, I was horrified.

 

Sadness is another powerful emotion. Sadness for all these men and women who were promised that their families would be safe if they followed the Nazis, just to arrive after unbearable days in a train car meant for cattle in a camp and be deprived from all their belongings. Sadness because they were born in the “wrong” belief or had another skin tone or another sexual preference or …

Sadness for Lale. Because he too did what he had to. He made a promise at the very beginning: to survive. And that’s what he did. Tattooing other prisoners. Reducing someone’s identity to a number is dispossessing of his humanity. He has no name anymore. He has become a number. That’s so much easier to defile and kill a number than a person.

 

Respect and admiration. Luckily some positive emotions too. Respect and admiration because amidst the chaos, amidst the savagery, the degradation and the humiliation many helped each other. Many tried to retain some dignity. Many clung to their humanity. This was the last shred of their identity as human being. Braving the danger like Lale did to buy food and share with the other prisoners was something that I will always be in awe of.

 

Knowing that this exceptional story Is inspired if not an exact retelling of what Lale, Gita, Silka and many others lived is poignant. And looking at all that happens in today’s world with the refugee crisis, some politician with wrong morals promising to “separate” his country thanks to a wall makes me despair in mankind. When will we learn? When will we stop repeating the past’s mistakes?

 

Sorry for this heartfelt review that did not give you many information about the book but as you can see, if one thing is certain about The Tattooist of Auschwitz, it’s that I was totally immersed in its world and deeply affected by Lale’s extraordinary and horrifying story. I recommend that book to everyone because we have to be educated about what happened in order to never relive it again.

 

Just some words about the narrator as this was an audiobook. I have since learned that Richard Armitage is a famous actor and voice actor but his interpretation did not convince me. Or at least not for a long time and I would probably have loved this book even more if I simply had read it instead of listening to it.

 

Have you read that story? Or Cilka’s story already?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Sophie

 

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18 Replies to “The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Un devoir de mémoire/duty to memory. Audiobook Review”

  1. Great review Sophie, and I’m thinking this would probably annihilate me emotionally. I’m trying to think on audios I’ve listened to by Armitage, but I”m glad you still enjoyed it overall!

  2. Olivia-Savannah says: Reply

    I have read this one and I really appreciated the book! Did you know the author is an Australian author? I got to meet her before I came and it made my day! I am glad you could feel all the emotions when reading this. I could very much relate to a lot of them too.

  3. This would be a very emotional read for me. And it would also be a fascinating movie. Great review, Sophie!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Laura!!!

  4. This sounds like an incredible read. I almost picked up a copy at the bookstore this weekend but may go the audio route now after reading your review.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I hope you’ll love it Caro!!

  5. I have this one for a long time and this is exactly why I am scared of picking it up. Not sure I am ready for an emotional rollercoaster

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      That’s true that you’d have to be in the right frrame of mind!

  6. I will never read this book, just like with books about slavery, the emotions i feel make me lose my shit, and I instantly feel gloomy and I cry so hard. Your review is great Sophie, but I was curious about this book but no more, it’s too heavy.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Lara that’s true that the book is heavy as what was done to Jews and other minorities is atrocious so I can completely understand why you don’t want to read it!

  7. Beautiful review, Sophie! This is why I love picking up at least one WWII story every year. They are always so powerful and heartfelt! I’ll definitely look out for a copy of this bad boy! 😀

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I hope you’ll love this one Lashaan and I can’t wait to read your review!

  8. I have had this one on my radar and have been saving it because it sounds like it will rip my heart out. I absolutely feel the same way about reading these atrocities. Lovely review, Sophie. <3

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Lori! I hope the day you’ll want to read it you’ll love it as much as I did!

  9. Wonderful review, it’s clear this novel touched you very much, as it should of course. I felt rage and sadness too, but was grateful there was also hope to be found in here. I haven’t read Cilka’s journey yet, I’m always afraid to read sequels and same-books from another POV. I’ll wait for your verdict

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Inge! I plan to read Cilka’s story at the beginning of 2020 so I promise a review by then 😉

  10. Hi .. It has been a long time since I blog hopped .
    Super review!!❤

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Priyasha!

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