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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

By Heather Morrispaperback1 February 2018
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Booklovers earn $1.60 in rewards
This book made it to #87 in our Top 101 2023! Every year we ask our Booklovers to vote for their favourite book. From that, we share the Top 101 winners for everyone to enjoy. Discover the rest of the books that made it into our Top 101 list.

Dymocks Book of the Month - February 2018

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tetovierer "the tattooist" to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.

"Extraordinary - moving, confronting and uplifting... a story about the extremes of human behaviour: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I recommend it unreservedly" - GRAEME SIMSION

"The Tattooist of Auschwitz has the quality of a dark fairytale. It is both simple and epic, shot through with compassion and love… Everyone should read it" - HUGH RIMINTON

"An extraordinary story of a single and singular life and its great love" - ASHLEY HAY


  • Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
  • Author: Heather Morris
  • Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia
  • ISBN: 9781760403171
  • Languages: English


1/02/2018 8:45:08 PM - Greg
There is arguably no more powerful word in the English language than ’Auschwitz’. Bringing ideas, visions, images, and thoughts of the darkest and most evil, despicable days of humanity to mind, any book with this word in it’s title has the potential to be a work of total and idealistic nightmare. And yet, paradoxically, intriguingly, and ultimately disappointingly, TATTOOIST is inherently a love story. It reminds the reader how powerful that emotion can be, of how much strength it can lend to those that are able and willing to draw on its powers, and of course how it can give somebody - anybody - reason enough to keep on living. The story is beautifully written, using story telling prose that is exceedingly easy to follow, and of course it’s as addictive as all heck. The story follows the three year journey into hell and back, of Mr Lale Sokolov, who, as fate would have it, finds himself in a Nazi concentration camp but is gifted at the story’s beginning with the opportunity to be the camp’s tattooist. And not being a fool, Lale takes the job. Many in the camp may well have considered the role equal to that of a traitorous and self-interested collaborator, but there is no evidence of this in the book, apart from a passing mention from minor characters. The position gifted to Lale makes him ultimately prominent to all new inmates and therefore easy to trust. This, naturally enough, leads him to befriend many, which gives him power of sorts, and of course leads our hero to his own personal salvation, in the form of the mysterious Gita. Obviously I cant comment on the realism of the story telling contained within, but as I have mentioned previously, the book is very hard to put down, and once you do, you may well find yourself counting down the minutes before you can start reading again. But all good books are like this. TATTOOIST is no exception, and that may well be its only fault. A book dealing with the ultimate failing and shame of humanity as a race, needs to stand out on the shelf on which it stands, if only to do honour to the memory of those angelic souls that were affected by this horrific age from history. This book reminds us of the power of love, and thats a good thing, but that is about all it does.

1/02/2018 4:56:38 AM - Marianne
a moving and uplifting read.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the first novel by Australian author, Heather Morris. At the age of twenty-five, Ludwig (Lale) Eisenberg, a Slovakian Jew, was transported to Auschwitz. He was tattooed with the number 32407. He was transferred 4km down the road to Birkenau (Auschwitz II) where, possibly due to his multi-lingual knowledge, his grooming and his demeanour, he was assigned to help Pepan, the man who tattooed the arm of each Jew entering the camp. In July of 1942, he was re-tattooing numbers on Jewesses being moved to Birkenau from Auschwitz when he met seventeen-year-old Gisela (Gita) Fuhrmannova. He knew her only by her number, 34902, although he eventually enticed her given name from her. He soon realised he was in love, and he was determined to survive this horrendous experience so that he could live a free life with his beloved Gita. Being the Tatowierer afforded him some privileges (more food, better accommodation, no hard labour and free passage around the camp), and Lale used it to advantage. But not just for himself. He was resourceful, and managed to feed some of the starving and get better conditions for a few. He saved lives, even while around him death was common, cruel and copious. On many occasions, his actions put him in danger, and his survival against considerable odds had one SS officer asking if he was a cat. Morris’s novel is based on a true story, and the way she was given the facts to transform into this story, related in the Author’s note, make an interesting footnote. Also included are some photos of the couple and an Afterword by Lale and Gita’s only son, Gary. The basic facts of their lives are given in the Additional Information section, along with a map of Birkenau. Despite the cruelty and suffering, this is a tale of hope and love: a moving and uplifting read. With thanks to Bonnier Publishing for this copy to read and review.


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