For the next Challenge 2020 book, I thought it would be apt to choose this one, as it is now the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. Now before I begin, I’d like to state that there may be swear words in this review due to quotes taken from this book. There may also be things I write about in this review which you may find upsetting and I feel you are all due this warning.
This is the tale, based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who sacrificed himself so that his family could remain at home. Safe.
“What they all share is fear. And youth. And their religion.”
During his time in Auschwitz, Lale became responsible for one of the most recognisable symbols of the Holocaust…the blue numbers tattooed on prisoners arms upon their arrival to the concentration camps. Lale was the ‘Tätowierer.’
“ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work will make you free.”
But this new position gave him slight ‘perks’ if you can call them that – a room and a bed to himself, extra portions at dinner and a little more freedom than most prisoners. These perks allowed him to secretly accumulate jewels and money from those Jews that had been murdered at the concentration camps and exchange these for food from those few that come and go into the camps.
“We have fists, they have rifles – who do you think is going to win that fight?”
Alongside this, he also managed to save food from the extra portions he got given at dinner. All this extra food he didn’t save for himself though, instead he risked everything to feed other prisoners in the camp. He risked his life to do this and many owe him their survival.
“To save one is to save the world.”
There are many books out there such as The Diary of Anne Frank and others about the Holocaust but the difference with this book is Lale Sokolov knew exactly what was happening at the camp, he knew what was in store for himself and his fellow inmates.
“Lale has witnessed an unimaginable act. He staggers to his feet, standing on the threshold of hell, an inferno of feelings raging inside him.”
Determined to live his life to the full, Lale was determined to survive and once he met Gita, it was love at first sight and that was just something else to keep him going, a future that he wanted.
“…he responds with words of encouragement, trying to turn their fear into hope. We stand in shit but let us not down in it.”
This is a book of love and courage, survival and hope. In the worst possible circumstances, here lies the best of humanity. In the two and a half years spent in the camp, Lale witnessed atrocities that we can’t even begin to comprehend and suffered barbaric treatment at the hands of the Nazi’s.
“Death alone persists in this place.”
We also meet Cilka, another campmate who features in the sequel, Cilka’s journey. Her journey, what we read of so far in this book, is horrific in its own way so it’ll be intriguing to read her story from start to finish.
“He doesn’t want to make friends. Not tonight. Not ever.”
If someone asked me for my opinion on this book, I would say 100% would recommend reading, 5 stars and I would definitely read it again. Considering how horrific the background of this true story is, it feels weird to say this but I really enjoyed it and it was an easy read because it was written so well.
Find it on Amazon, I would highly recommend this book!
Until next time,