The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Finished: January 01, 2019

Goodreads link


I found this book at the New Orleans airport right before my flight to Seattle and I picked it up because the title was compelling. This is the story of a Holocaust survivor named Lale with a unique and terrifying story filled with the worst of human horrors but also the simplest and most beautiful acts of love and human kindness. It is a story filled with many strange juxtapositions of human cruelty beside human camaraderie, of mind-numbing survival instincts beside great depth of empathy. I was struck deeply by the simplicity of the storytelling, devoid of an abundance of flowery language or of unnecessary speculations. The story just was. It is the story of a man who endured terrible crimes against humanity for over three years, of a man who lost his family and his faith but was able to survive Auschwitz because of his one unwavering hope -- to one day be able to live and love his one true love, Gita.

To say I learned something about human kindness, cruelty, compassion, extremes, nuances from this book would cheapen the story. The story reminded me the importance and ephemeral nature of all of the happiness around me now, and at the end of the day, the only thing a man (or woman) has stripped of family, friends, possessions, dignity, names, is their memories and their character. Lale was able to survive so long because of his charm, his wit, his keen observation skills, and his fluency with many different languages. It reminded me that the best thing I can work to improve now and today is myself, and the best way I can spend my time is to appreciate my friends, my families, and the little details of life.