Horror and Hope

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a book that I will never forget. 

Lale volunteers himself to go to a working camp as a representative for his family, but he ends up at the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camps.  By a strange twist of fate (and there are many), he is chosen to assist the tattooist until eventually becoming the full-time tattooist.  He must tattoo the number on every person entering the concentration camp.  This is a job he does in order to survive.   It is how he first sees the woman, Gita,  who becomes his true love and his reason for pushing on.

Lale and Gita’s relationship might be the truest love story I’ve ever read.  They fall in love amidst the death and horror around them, and their love for each other gets them through terrible years in the camp.  Together, they survive the atrocities that they witness.  

Lale has a powerful personality and charm; I grew to care and admire him greatly throughout the book.  He has intuition of when to be assertive or quiet, when to take risks or not, and a genuine care/interest in helping people that gets him out of near-death situations (more than once).   

Lale and Gita endure three years as prisoners before finally gaining their respective freedom.  It takes some time, but Lale is able to reunite with Gita so that they may live their promise with one another.

I wish my words could properly capture my response to this book.  It’s a story of the concentration camps during WWII, a love story, a survival story, a story of terrible loss, horror and hope.  It’s everything.

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