Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Title: the tattooist of auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia / Echo

Publication Date: Available Now! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1785763649

Source: NetGalley

In 2016, according to this Time magazine article, there were about 100,000 Holocaust survivors still alive.  In 2014, there were 500,000.  So how many are there in 2018?  I couldn’t find the numbers.  But what I do know is that we will soon be in an era where there are no first person witnesses.  That is why books like this continue to be important and why I continue to read them.  To keep the memories alive and honor the victims of the tragedy.  When there are ridiculous people trying to deny the impact of the Holocaust or say it never happened with living proof, I shudder to think what will happen when all the survivors are gone.

Also with many survivor’s reticence to talk about their Holocaust stories, every one is precious.  With each one that is told there are millions that have that have been lost.  Within these true stories ye get to see human ingenuity, human kindness, and above all, love in horrible situations.  Some people do break.  Some survive.  All matter.

This novel details the experiences of Lale Sokolov who was a tattooist at Auschwitz, found love in the camps, and survived to make a life outside afterwards  He only chose to tell this story after the loss of his beloved wife in 2003.  I won’t say much about the plot because me words don’t do it justice.  But this book is important that I am honored and humbled that Lale shared his story.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Bonnier Publishing Australia / Echo!

Side note:much thanks to Inge @ thebelgianreviewer for making me aware of this book’s existence.  Check out her review here!

EDIT as of 2/12/19: Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest discussed how there have been some dispute about the accuracy of this “true” story.  To read the aritcle by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center click here!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Heather Morris – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the tattooist of auschwitz – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

15 thoughts on “Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

  1. Wow! I’m impressed with all the thoughtful and well-articulated reflections on your post. You have some smart friends, Captain.

    I’m glad you pointed out that we’re losing those who experienced this traumatic event. This is a part of life, but it’s important for these stories to be gathered while we still can. I’m certain WWII and the Holocaust will be a ripe field for fiction for many years to come. But I worry the sources of truth will get lost amongst the romanticism.

    As you know, I haven’t read this yet. But I will. Oh, I will. I am really curious to see what I think of this tale! Great post, Captain. I’m off to read your reflection.


  2. Thanks for the link.

    You make an important point about first-person witnesses. When I did most of my Holocaust reading (in the eighties), we had a Holocaust survivor speak to us at school. I realise how privileged I was to hear from her now.

    I think it’s interesting that inter-generational trauma is the theme of Holocaust writing now. It makes sense obviously but I think important because their second-generation stories may resonate with others with inter-generational trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yer welcome about the link. I only read part of the article so far but downloaded it to read the whole thing. I also was able to hear a Holocaust survivor speak at me school and while the specifics have sadly blurred there were 3 things that stuck with me very clearly. One was her courage for reliving her pain to share her story, one was her talking about the guards putting their cigarettes out on her body, and the third was getting to see her tattoo. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.

      In terms of inter-generational trauma, I think those stories are interesting and would like to read more true accounts. I know from me own background that having relatives and friends who don’t speak about their past is hard. I get why they don’t and PTSD is serious but the bottled up emotions and stories can cause consequences for others that is hard to deal with. Not that survivors should be forced to tell their stories. It’s just that the suffering can have a trickledown effect on subsequent generations. I try to keep reminding meself that there are good people out there. Thanks for the comment.
      x The Captain


      1. It’s the tattoo that I remember as well and I think that’s why this book has been so popular – the tattoo is a very strong symbol of the Holocaust.

        I agree with you regarding the release there is in telling our story – it doesn’t have to be a public thing but unquestionably sharing trauma helps relieve it.

        Lily Brett wrote a book a few years ago, called Lola Bensky, which deals with inter-generational trauma beautifully. Worth a read if you can locate it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Personally I think the tattoo is one of the best illlustations of losing identity. Literally being told yer name doesn’t matter and being branded by a number like an animal. And then being treated worse then an animal. Ugh.

        I looked up the Lily Brett book and remember seeing it around. I don’t normally read music related books but I have to admit that this sounds weirdly interested. Have added it to the list. Arrrr!
        x The Captain


  3. “we will soon be in an era where there are no first person witnesses. That is why books like this continue to be important and why I continue to read them. To keep the memories alive and honor the victims of the tragedy.”

    So well said. Stories like these, while hard to read sometimes, are some of the most important books to read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I normally read for enjoyment and escapism. But non-fiction is extremely important. Me history education was lacking in many ways and there are topics, like the Holocaust or American slavery, where the truth is lost or purposely hidden. It is important in this era of record keeping to continue to spread the truth and to discover new facts if possible. Our current world leadership many be lacking but I hope that the tireless effort of the media and others to spread the truth will come to light. And in this era one cannot deny the power of the grassroots movements.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a written in an easy to read style even if the subject material isn’t so easy. I just wrote a follow up posts about some thoughts related to the novel today actually. I continue to think about it.
      x The Captain


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