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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

(The Tattooist of Auschwitz #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  714,276 ratings  ·  46,858 reviews
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 atro
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Harper (first published January 11th 2018)
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Heather Morris
Heather Morris - author, historical fiction

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Angela Meyer Hi Deanna and Frank, I'm Heather's commissioning editor, just replying on her behalf. As with Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, the decision was made…moreHi Deanna and Frank, I'm Heather's commissioning editor, just replying on her behalf. As with Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, the decision was made to release the book as fiction 'based on a true story' because of those moments where creative or dramatic license was taken, such as when she had to fill in small blanks in time, or delve into characters' thoughts. At one point she puts Lale and Gita together, when they were not (when the planes fly over the camp), and some of the names of smaller characters, while representative of real people, are invented. The story is based on what Lale shared with Heather over many years, and if you haven't read it yet you'll be amazed at some of the things Lale and Gita went through. I was astonished, when working on it, to learn just how much of it was true (as told by Lale). The dialogue, for example – at first I thought Heather had invented much of what was said, but many of the conversations are word-for-word what Lale told her. I have seen videos of Lale, too, and can confirm this. Of course, he was an old man by then, and so his memory of these conversations is all Heather had to go on, but in terms of the events, researchers revealed that Lale and Gita's story very much waltzed in step with history. We hope you enjoy the read, and all the best.(less)
Heather Morris Hi Bern. Thank you so much for your words. They really mean a lot to me.
Yeah, Lale had a way of grabbing at everyone he touched by the heart strings.…more
Hi Bern. Thank you so much for your words. They really mean a lot to me.
Yeah, Lale had a way of grabbing at everyone he touched by the heart strings. He certainly had me wrapped around his little finger. What I can tell you is that the film rights are being considered. As I originally wrote this story as a screenplay I'm very keen that the story get told through that medium. Stay tuned as they say. As soon as I have something I'm allowed to share, this will be the first place I share it, after my family of course.(less)

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 ·  714,276 ratings  ·  46,858 reviews

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Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll never hear Yiddish again....

I'll never go to the German Consulate with her again...

I’m gutted reading this book. To some I have shared that my family's "MA" was in Auschwitz (everyone called her MA - her daughters, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her friends, etc.). She used to say "I have lost everything that can ever be lost “and "I have given everything can that ever be given". She passed away in 2017 at the age of 95. We just had her headstone unveiling. This was probably no
Natalie Manuel
May 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a waste of an amazing story on an incapable writer. There is no 'prose', there is really just "he did this, and then he did that". No depth of emotion, no depth of characters, heck - no characters! I couldn't tell you ONE personality trait of Gita's. Lale also, is so thinly drawn I know nothing about him other than he is supposedly charming.

The dialogue between characters is ridiculously empty and the whole thing feels like the most superficial experience of Auschwitz possible.

The love sto
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Considering "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" is a harrowing true story, it was truly compelling and utterly unputdownable. It's without a doubt one of only a few books that will stay with me a very long time, it's that unforgettable and one that keeps you thinking about the story well after you've put it down.
Lale Sokolov is a well dressed, charming ladies' man - however he is also a Jew. On arrival at Auschwitz in 1942 he immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners who save his life when he tak
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
This is part of my Goodreads reading challenge for 2019 as the runner up in the "Historical Fiction" category.

It has since been brought to my attention that this isn't historically accurate but it doesn't really change my review.

As awful as it sounds, I felt so… detached from the characters. Characters inspired by true events during WWII.

It wasn’t to reflect the detachment of the characters to the events unfolding in an attempt to protect themselves. It was simply not well written.
You would tel
An interesting tale based on a true story but not really comprehensively told. I enjoyed what was there but there seemed to be so much left out.

Lale was obviously a charming rogue who managed to survive all those years in Auschwitz despite bringing himself to the attention of the authorities repeatedly and in very serious ways. It was amazing that a life long love affair could have begun in such a place, and even more amazing that they both survived and found each other again after the war. Obvi
Angela M
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Right after I started reading this book there was a story on the local news about a new exhibit at the Jewish Community Center in our area. The exhibit highlights the Holocaust survivors from this area. At kiosks you can click on a name, read a bio but what struck me the most was that you can also see a video of the survivor telling their story. The utmost importance of these stories is reflected at the beginning of this book by author Graeme Simsion: "It reminds us that every one of the unimagi
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I recall, as a child, accompanying one or the other of my parents to our family jeweler countless times. It seemed as if some piece always needed to be repaired or purchased for one occasion or another. For my tenth birthday I received a small sapphire and diamond ring which was too large and needed to be resized. One day after school off we went to see Marty and Irv. It was an unseasonably warm fall day and Irv had his shirtsleeves rolled up. When he placed his arm on the glass countertop, I sa ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris, before I read a book that I've put off for too long, Cilka's Journey. Rather than read the print version of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I chose to listen to the audio version, narrated by Richard Armitage, who is becoming a favorite narrator of mine. In this book, we follow twenty six year old Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1942. We learn of his love for a you ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love this book, it fell quite short for me. Perhaps it was the expectation I always harbor for a book about the Holocaust, or perhaps the book contained things that I just had a hard time believing.

This was basically a love story between two people, Lale and Gita who met while she was waiting to be tattooed by Lale and instantly fell in love. They manage to meet on many occasions and share time together and even make love. Lale, meanwhile is able to collect
Kylie D
A unsettling but gripping novel, based on the true story of Lale, a Slovakian Jew caught up in the horrors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during WW2. He speaks several languages, so soon finds himself employed in the camp as the tattooist, the man responsible for inscribing prisoners numbers on their arms. He soon meets and falls in love with Gita, a fellow inmate., but can their love survive the horrors of life inside a concentration camp?

This is a beautifully told tale, Heather
Apr 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It’s not the story that I am giving 1* here, but the godawful writing. Reading this book is literally like reading a set of bullet points. The book is heavy on dialogue (not terribly well written either) with little description in between. The author thanks the real Lale Sokolov for allowing her to write his story, but I wish to god somebody else had written it instead. The absolute worst thing about the author’s take on this story is that she made me feel NOTHING. This is an incredibly emotive ...more
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing

This book tells us the real-life story of Lale and Gita Sokolov in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. The tragic stories of bereaved mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and the fiendish methods of torture in these camps will beset your mind for a long time. Lale and Gita had to go through hell every day, fearing that they will die at any second if a senior officer doesn't like what they do. The empathy amid the chaos, the love amid the hatred will all keep us glued to th
Charlotte May
“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”

This was a really tough novel to read - I mean obviously, it is set in Auschwtiz - it was hardly going to be a walk in the park!
I don't think I quite prepared myself, or wasn't able to entirely remove myself from the novel, so became completely invested and because of this, it absolutely tore me apart.

Based on a true story - Lale uses his education and knowledge of languages to get himself a job as the Tatowierer after each Jewish family must
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The German government needed workers for their labor camps. In 1942, all families in Slovakia were ordered to provide a child eighteen or older for work detail or risk having the entire family sent to concentration camp. Lale Sokolov hoped that by going to Prague to await these instructions his family would be safe. He did not expect to be forced into a cattle wagon and be transported to Auschwitz. He was determined to do as he was told, reveal little about himself and always be observant.

Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a comfort it is to know that, even in the most desperate and tragically unfathomable of circumstances, love and hope are possible and can be found.

this was a truly touching story about lale and gita and how the love they found for each other in auschwitz helped them survive. the story is based on true events, information gathered from lales interviews with the author. lale waited until after the death of gita to open up about his experiences due to fear of being perceived as a nazi sympath
Mary Beth
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4.5 stars!!

This is a historical fiction novel based on a true story. Lale Sokolov tells his story based on true events. He became the main tattooist of Aushwitz and falls in love at first sight with Gita who he first met tattooing her arm. He tattoos all the new prisoners with their identification numbers. Lale is a Jew. He is on the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942. The concentration camp was very horrifying. Lale did have some special privileges, since he was the tatto
Elyse  Walters
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook....narrated by Richard Armitage....( done well):

Survivors guilt.......
a lifetime traumatic tattoo for a tattoo artist.....
Incapable of being apprehended by the mind of the senses.

Stories that need to be told....
This one sat for many years - decades - untold...
Shame - love - guilt - survival - Love ..... it’s all here.

Thank you to the ‘already’ moving & thoughtful reviews which came before me. Sad - Beautiful- powerful - emotional - honest reviews.

Ahmad Sharabiani
The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #1), Heather Morris

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
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If you wake up in the morning, it's a good day."
~ Lale Sokolov

A book based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who was imprisoned during the Holocaust of 1942 at Auschwitz. It gives an in-depth perspective of the lives during that time. The story is narrated in an interesting way, but it feels 'incomplete' and not covered well enough.

From Wikipedia:
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a 2018 Holocaust novel by New Zealand novelist Heather Morris. The book tells the story of how Slovak
Nilufer Ozmekik
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the true story of real survivors who are determined, strong and brave enough to breathe and fight no matter what they’ve been through. They were just chosen innocent victims did what they had to so they could stand against the monsters hid inside human furs and at the end they fought back with their tears, endurance, wit, belief and they won against the vicious, vulgar, savage hand life dealt to them.

Lale and Gita’s heartfelt, poignant, unconditional love and surviving story will always
Sean Barrs
This is an incredible book with a story that demands to be heard.

The year is 2018 and it gladdens me that books like this are still being written. It’s important that we never forget Auschwitz and that we never forget the war crimes Nazi Germany committed. Why? Because we need to know and understand what humanity is capable of, we need to know what extreme hate looks like so we can work towards building a world free from it. This is one of our darkest hours, and we need to remember it.


”Based on an incredible true story” as this states on the cover, this is the story of Lale Sokolov and Gita, the woman who he meets at Auschwitz, both prisoners there. At first Lale is working on a roof, and this is what he does for a while until his kapo says he needs a boy to do his bidding, run errands, bring him food and the like. Then fate intervenes somewhat again for Lale when he becomes the tattooist, the Tätowierer for both Auschwitz and Birkenau, a position under the Political Wing
Diane S ☔
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Reviewing a novel about the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance day seems both apropos, and a great responsibility. Never forget! As long as there are people who need to tell! Their stories, I will continue to read and remember. This is a fictionalized account of a true story, told to the author in the final days of his life. Lale was a young Jewish man from Slovakia, with much to look forward to, when in an effort to save the rest of his family, he is taken to Auschwitz. There he will become the ...more
This is a very, very difficult book to review.

There are certain books that tell a story so important that it overrides other aspects of itself, and therefore can overcome certain narrative shortcomings. The Hate U Give, for example, may not have been the most well-written thing I’ve ever read, nor will the characters stay with me forever - but the story will.

I’m in a similar situation here.

This is the story of Lale, a Jewish man who became the tattooist at Auschwitz and used the relative privil
Jul 22, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of those in the concentration camps of the Second World found themselves seemingly in less deadly positions such as grave diggers, enforced prostitutes and tattooists; but in a way they were in more peril being so close to the SS. This is an adaptation of a true story, the story of a tattooist at Auschwitz, how he became the tattooist, what he did in his position, how he came to attention of true evil, and whether he survived.... and how he fell in love!

When I first began reading this, I wa
3.5 Stars

"Save the one, save the world."

The story of Lale Sokolov is certainly one that needed to be told, to be remembered....his bravery....the risks...his determination to help others....to survive the horrors of Auschwitz....and, of course, how he found the love of his life.

The cattle train, the starvation, the crematoria and the evil Dr. Mengele; it's all here, but still, I did not feel the terror in the narration as compared to the many other holocaust novels I've read.

That being said, I

Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz. Lale, being able to speak many languages, was given the job of tattooing the numbers on the incoming prisoners, he met Gita when she was in his line to be tattooed and was immediately taken with her.
Being the tattooist at the camp gave Lale much more freedom of movement then most prisoners and he came upon money and jewels from the murdered Jews to get food to keep other prisoners alive
Holly  B
Against all odds...

The story of two extraordinary people, Lale and Gita survive the horrors of Auschwitz and find solace in each other. The book is based on their true story.

Lale has the job of tattooist and must tattoo numbers on the arms of countless men, women and children. One day he tattooed #34902 on the arm and Gita. He recalled this day as the day "he tattooed her number on her left arm, she tattooed her number on his heart."

An incredible and memorable story that shows the strong will o
Jan 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ilana by: Bianca
On Writing a Romance Set in an Extermination Camp

A note:
as I keep getting notifications and occasional comments about this review, I can't help myself from rereading it once in a while too, however painful the subject matter. I suppose it has real therapeutic value for me. Today Nov 4/19 I felt the need to summarize my current feelings about this book, as I exchange impressions about it with other readers. It tapped into a very heavy legacy countless humans have to carry; descendants and their
Jack Edwards
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. It was so deeply moving, heartbreaking, and joyous all at once. A tale of human kindness and selflessness juxtaposed in a context of barbarity and suffering, which serves as an important reminder of the conditions of the Holocaust. I would highly recommend this book!!!

[Disclaimer: I have been informed that there are some inconsistencies with true historical events in this book, and so I wanted to add in a reminder that this should certainly be read as a fictional n
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I am a Native of New Zealand now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years I studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an academy award winning Screenwriter in the U.S. In 2003, I was introduced to an elderly gentleman "who might just have a story worth telling". The day I met Lale Sokolov changed my life, as our friendship grew and ...more

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz (3 books)
  • Cilka's Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #2)
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