I am still very 'old school' and haven't yet got into reading books via a Kindle or any sort of digital reader; definitely preferring to have my 'hard drive' with a cover on either side, paper sheets within and a bookmark attached somewhere in the middle. I also find that since writing for Weekend Notes, most of my time is taken up with researching for articles, so the desire to actually read a book has somewhat waned.
But…I still love reading and usually try to discipline myself with one fiction read, alternating with a non-fiction read of 'something riveting'. Many of my book-reading choices are as a result of radio shows where a book and author (preferably local) have been discussed at length, resulting in me sourcing said book. And, this is how I stumbled onto my next non-fiction read, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
A cover on either side with paper sheets within - my style of reading
Heather Morris, the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is a writer native to our 'across the ditch' neighbours, New Zealand, but has chosen our 'lucky' country to reside in. In 2003 Heather Morris was introduced to Lale Sokolov, who entrusted her with the innermost details of his life, during the Holocaust. Initially, Heather Morris wrote Lale's story as a screenplay, which ranked highly in international competitions, before restructuring it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of two ordinary people who, through horrendous circumstances during the Holocaust, were deprived of their freedom, their dignity, their names and their very identities.
Lale Sokolov was a Slovakian Jew, who was forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discovered that he could speak several languages, they put Lale to work as the Tatowierer, which is the German word for tattooist. Lale had the gruesome task of permanently marking his fellow prisoners with nothing more than a nail attached to a piece of wood.
The gates to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland, circa 1965. The sign reads 'Arbeit Macht Frei' - 'work makes you free' - Image: www.cbc.ca
One day in 1942, Lale Sokolov, prisoner 32407, was comforting a petrified young woman, waiting in line to have her number 34902, tattooed onto her arm. Her name was Gita, and in that first meeting, Lale promised himself that somehow they would survive these devastating concentration camps and would ultimately marry.
Heather Morris has very proficiently re-created Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners, with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, into a totally un-put-downable book. The tortures and torments experienced by the captives of the Auschwitz-Berkenau concentration camps have been lightly touched upon. Not to minimise the monstrous goings-on within these two camps, but more to constantly keep the reader on their toes to the living hell being experienced, by a 'normal' couple, who were doing everything in their power to stay alive.
A quote from the book - Image: Booklover Book Reviews
I must mention here, that I am in no ways a big fan of reading books on war-time crimes, but in the case of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author, Heather Morris kept my attention from the minute I started reading, until I put the book down, all the while managing to convey an extraordinary story of love and dedication, so courageous it sustained people, enduring the unimaginable.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a true testament to everlasting love and human compassion, in the darkest possible conditions. Not too depressing, not too romantic, but somewhere in-between, would be a perfect synopsis.
Read it and share it - it's an unforgettable story!