In search for a new book that would open my mind and bring with it a new perspective on life, I stumbled across The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. I read the blurb and upon discovering that it was a love story, I knew that this would be one incredible romance. A romance that could spark within the worse death camp in history, would sure be interesting to read. Would they both survive? What if only one survived? I had to read it.
When I began to read this novel I had some basic understanding of what went on at Auschwitz, who the prisoners were etc. However, no documentary or history book could have prepared me for reading a true account of a prisoners experience. Automatically assuming that the tattooist of Auschwitz would be a German guard, I suddenly realised what the prisoners had to do to survive in this hell.
Documentaries about the holocaust and text books cover the facts alone. In my opinion, the victims of Auschwitz become a statistic and we never really get to slightly comprehend what it must have been like for them. Heather Morris sophisticatedly writes Lale Sokolov’s story in a way which brings light to the emotional and psychological struggle these innocent people experienced. Morris conveys the moral struggle that Lale faced having to ‘defile’ other prisoners bodies in order to stand a better chance of survival. He would tattoo hundreds (maybe even thousands) of new prisoners with their numbers, which would become their identity to the guards during their stay at Auschwitz. Being given an insight into Lale’s state of mind, it is hard to even comprehend the horrific acts against humanity which took place here.
Any true story written about the holocaust needs to be read and then read again. It is extremely important that we, as humanity, do not forget about what happened so that it will never happen again. There is one moment that stood out to me in this book, which I think I will always remember. (If you have not read this book then this is a spoiler alert). At the end of the novel, Lale and Gita’s son writes a tribute to his parents. In this, he writes about a time after his parents had just found out their business was going bankrupt. That evening, he saw his mum dancing and singing around with happiness. Surprised by this, Gary asked his mother how she could be so happy, given the circumstances. She replied that after experiencing what she did at Auschwitz, every day was a gift, the business failing didn’t require her to be unhappy.
I think this is an important life lesson to learn. When times are tough, you should remember there is always someone out there that’s had it worse. We should smile every day because every day is one to be grateful for. For this reason alone, I think The Tattooist of Auschwitz should be read by everyone.