I visited Auschwitz in 2000. I could not go beyond the first barracks … The atmosphere was painfully overwhelming, even after half a century.
I read “The tattooist of Auschwitz” basically in one go. It is the power of love described throughout the novel that makes it the focus of the attention. The ordeal of the daily life in most horrific times is somehow in the background. That’s the author’s merit.
The novel is based on a true story of Lale Sokolov and Gita who survived Auschwitz and reunited to live a long life together, in spite of all circumstances. It is a work of fiction based on the first-hand testimony of Lale, born Ludwig Eisenberg.
Questions like why did some survive and others not are answered by the qualities Lale had and used while in Auschwitz. His first promise to himself when he entered Auschwitz was “I will live to leave this place”. And he did so 3 years later, having overcome hunger, beatings, ice-cold winters, torture. He also saved lives of as many as he could, with a bit of bread here, a smuggled piece of chocolate there, a piece of information here, a word of wisdom there.
When you feel down, read the book. It works as an instantaneous reminder of the blessings we have.