So, this is my first official book review of 2023.
If you are somewhat familiar with my routine when it comes to books, I tend to leave anything to do with the Holocaust to the end of the list. I mainly do it because I’d rather not start off the new year with really emotional books, although I’ve had no problem with ones that discuss disability, so think about that for a minute… I definitely don’t regret it because I totally obsessed with this story, but I probably should have planned a little better for it as I was always drained after finishing a couple of chapters.
A tale based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
taken from Goodreads.
This book has been on my TBR (to be read) since it came out in 2018. As sad as it, I do have a weakness for books that discuss World War II/Holocaust, but I was ultimately intrigued about the cover –which usually happens, I will always be pulled into a novel because of a captivating cover design. For this story though and based on my knowledge of the people who were imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau, they did not have any hair. It was shaved off once they arrived at the camps in a way to cut down on diseases within the blocks; I always found odd because why would the Nazis care about that if they wanted to get rid of the Jews in the first place. However, once you begin reading this book you will understand why this could happen in the camps.
He, too, has chosen to stay alive for as long as he can, by performing an act of defilement on people of his own faith.
Lale as a whole was an interesting main character, he was a different person compared to what I’ve read about in other books, as he always seemed calm in difficult parts. Of course, he was angry with the Germans, their mythology and everything else. You also get a chance to see Lale as a normal guy in the better part of the 1940’s and how he thoroughly enjoyed being and working around women he was acquainted with on a daily basis, but not in a creepy way though. When you begin reading, you are able to see pieces of his life prior to arriving at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps and see how much he respects his mother and I really enjoyed seeing those scenes play out, everything he did with Gita and the other ladies in the camps was lovely and he seemed to make sure to treat them as women outside of the war and Holocaust in general.
This book is the first in a trilogy, as the next book discusses a character mentioned in this story, her name is Cilka, and she is a fascinating person because she was a favorite to one of the generals of the camp. I may end up reading that one later on in the year, but it’ll depend on how long I will be interested in these types of books. Honestly, I hope I can get out of it before spring, but until then I’ll be going with the flow.