Book Review – The Tattooist of Auschwitz

I recently set up my publishing website over at showcasing my current and future books. Take a look and give the site a follow if you can.

Covid driven staycations have also had me reading more than usual as an imaginary escape, so I have decided to leave reviews of the books I read.

I have just finished Tattooist, so here is my brief review.

The  Tattooist of Auschwitz

Everything that is to be said about the Holocaust has been written already, right?

Well not quite actually. 

This astonishing book tells the true story of Slovakian Jew Lale, a confident would be entrepreneur prior to the War, who is sent to the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau along with hundreds of thousands of fellow Jews, as well as multitudes of romanies, all destined it seemed to perish at the hands of the cruellest of captors. 

Entrance to Auschwitz

Imprisoned in the spring of 1942, Lale resolves to survive by using his wit, determination, cunning and extraordinary language skills. 

He manages to secure the ‘privileged’ role of camp tattooist, whose job it was to permanently mark every prisoner with four crudely scratched numbers which became their sole identity in the eyes of the SS. 

Entrance to Auschwitz

What Lale had not reckoned with was falling in love with a girl who bore his mark. This only heightened his determination that he and fellow Slovak Gita would have a future together. 

Told through Lale’s eyes, this is a story that cannot be put down. A story of cruelty, degradation, sorrow, death and hardship, but also a story of human spirit, ingenuity, selflessness, incredible will power and true love. 

The writing puts you right there alongside Lale and his fellow prisoners as the appalling conditions, sadistic captors and knife-edge existence are brought to life in vivid detail. 

Highly recommended.

I am yet to visit Auschwitz despite visiting nearby Kraków several times. I must put this right for sure and the visit will be all the more poignant for reading this fine novel.

Old Town Square,  Kraków, Poland
Old Town Square, Kraków


  1. Good point Will. I thinks that a lot of people thought that the film ‘Schindler’s List’ drew a line under the holocaust but in fact it just unearthed a lot more stories that need to be told.

    1. I am now reading about Bosnia War and loads more ethnic cleansing. The world never learns.

      1. That was just as dreadful.
        Anyone visiting the Balkans should read the history before they go.
        I was once in Croatia and told our hosts that we were travelling to Montenegro. They didn’t speak again. I didn’t know at that point that Montenegro was responsible for the siege of Dubrovnik.

      2. Yes they were part of Serbia then of course. The tensions are all still there and will probably flare up again one day. Kosovo is on permanent guard and half of Bosnia is still Serb.

      3. It is a complicated part of Europe. The concept of Yugoslavia was always a bad idea in 1918.

      4. The whole Balkan region is one big disputed territory. As unsolvable as Israel/Palestine. Just uneasy peace. Turkey is at it again in the Aegean trying to agitate Greece into retaliation.

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