Quite hard to be able to articulate too many words about the story behind The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s been a few days since I’ve finished reading the book and watching the new limited series based on it, but I still don’t know where to start.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz was written by Heather Morris many years ago and published in 2018. According to my research, the author struggled to find a publisher for about 10 years. The book is based on the true story of the Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov, but fictionalized in part as stated in the first pages. The Tattooist of Auschwitz was originally wrote as a screenplay, but because the author couldn’t get the perfect recipe for it, it was suggested to her by a family member that she should write Lale’s story as a book instead.

Heather Morris and Lale Sokolov met for 3 years after his wife’s death, up until he passed away in October 2006. It took her quite a few years after to finalize the book and find a publisher. Suffice to say, the book went on to become a worldwide bestseller, but the reviews are somewhat mixed. The writing of the book is quite basic. You can tell it was written by somebody with no much experience in storytelling – this was Heather Morris’ debut novel – but I still ugly cried towards the end.

The book is now part of a collection based around Auschwitz stories alongside: Cilka’s Journey, Three Sisters, and Sisters Under The Rising Sun. All of them have been published in Romania by Humanitas; The Tattooist of Auschwitz is available on their website.

Lale Sokolov’s story is very hard to even try to describe. Is something that must never happen again. But what makes me happy is that books and series like The Tattooist from Auschwitz are being written and produced now for the new generation that maybe did not have access to the fantastically painful Schindler’s List, for example. We need awareness around subjects like this now more than ever. However, I would very much appreciate if we didn’t try to dramatize and romaticize these stories that were just full of darkness. I know people need to see the hope and the light in the darkness, but sometimes you just have to show it how it is (or how it was) to get the impact needed in changing perspectives.

How can someone do this to another human being? He wonders if for the rest of his life, be it short or long, he will be defined by this moment, this irregular number: 32407.

Saying this, I have the same issues with the limited series. There were some scenes shown that could have never happen in a place like the concentration camp in Auschwitz. I don’t want to spoil the story for anybody, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but please pay attention to the hopeful moments that were written in the script – I know we want to believe that sometimes the bad is not all bad, but here it was. We need to stop painting colours over tragedies such as the Holocaust.

The cast of The Tattooist of Auschwitz was lead by Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid) who starred alongside Anna Próchniak, Melanie Lynskey, Harvey Keitel, and Jonas Nay. In the making-of episode (which in the UK is available on Sky Atlantic/NOW TV, as well as the rest of the series), it was mentioned the importance of casting people who are related to Jews, who are from countries such as Poland or Germany, plus many other behind the scenes facts. For example, in order to avoid any clashes with a possible real tattooed number, apart from the numbers of the main characters, all the other numbers showed in the series had the letter T randomly added in between.

Lale Sokolov survived Auschwitz by becoming part of the process. He became the tattooist. This new reality changed his life forever, but he got to live the rest of his life alongside his wife, Gita, who he met while tattooing her arm in the camp. His son’s words at the end of the book are bittersweet. While talking about his beautiful childhood and the way he witnesssed his parents love each other, he also mentioned that he never saw his father cry. When he was young, he asked Lale why he never cries and the answer was heartbreaking; Lale said that he saw too much death for too many years which made him unable to cry anymore. According to Gary’s words, his father cried again when his mother died.

If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz is available on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK & Sky Showtime in Romania.

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