The Tattooist of Auschwitz

“The kind of book you lose sleep over, and not just because you can’t put it down … They will be reading this book in 100 years’ time. In fact, it may still be on the bestsellers list.”

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer – the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz has the quality of a dark fairytale. It is both simple and epic, shot through with compassion and love, but inescapably under the shadow of the most devouring monsters our civilisation has known. Everyone should read it.’

(Journalist, foreign correspondent, TV newsreader and author of Minefields)

February 1, 2018, Echo Publishing, An imprint of Bonnier UK


In December 2003, I was introduced to Lale Sokolov. His wife had recently died and I was told he had a story that might be worth telling.  That was the first of many, many days I would spend with the Tätowierer, the tattooist of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Lale’s life was forever changed the day he looked into the eyes of a young girl, as he tattooed her left arm. In return, as he told me, she tattooed her love into his heart.

What I got from Lale was a love story set in the horrific world of the Holocaust. The possibility of survival for our lovers was remote. But prisoners 32407 and 34902 did survive. They survived a place now etched in history as a Dante-esque circle of hell; they survived a death march; they were separated, reunited; they married and lived happily in Melbourne, Australia, for 58 years.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of Lale and Gita.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a profoundly moving, immense story of loss and courage, exploring the depths of the human heart. Written in unflinchingly spare prose, it will make you cry tears of both outrage and wonder. Morris climbs into the dark miasma of war and emerges with an extraordinary tale of the power of love.

(Author of  The Waiting Room)