Auschwitz, the name sends a chill of terror up the spine. The word expresses the deepest depth of inhumanity. There are innumerable books about the Holocaust, none of them easy to read, all of them, a reminder of what man is capable of doing – and must never be repeated. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a glimpse into the true life of one prisoner, Lale Sokolov expressed as a work of historical fiction. One man, among the millions, submerged involuntarily into Dante’s darkest circle of hell.
The story is told in plain simple dialogue. In my mind it reflects the atmosphere – the nonstop hum of danger much like the electrified fence. Communication between the imprisoned had to be sparse and reflect deep meaning in a short amount of time. A glance, a touch, a need to find a kernel of hope for survival in a field of despair. It reflects the motto – Save the one, save the world.
The setting and circumstances of Konzentrationslager (KL) Auschwitzcan play a harsh backdrop. The cruelty hard to read.
His job in the camp as the Tätowierer offered him special privileges such as freedom to roam in the camp, a private room, and extra food rations. This was a mixed blessing – he was scorned by those who saw him as a cohort of the Germans and worshiped for those he smuggled extra food and traded black market items to the guards in exchange for favors for others
Yet at the heart of the story is optimism. A tale of one extraordinary man who knew six languages and used his wily curiosity and daredevil spirit to survive the Holocaust. Within the confines of the world’s most horrific death camp complex, he discovered his life-long love, Gita.
As much as this is a love story between Lale and Gita, it is also a love story of human dignity and compassion. It shows the amazing ways those suffering and dying prisoners extended a helping hand of kindness to one another in the hopes of saving the one – someone to tell their story to the future.