Books centered around the Holocaust and written from the perspective of Holocaust survivors have increased in popularity over the last few years. As someone of Jewish heritage this is important to me. I am fully aware of how the lack of active education on Jewish life, history and the Holocaust can impact the lives of Jewish people. The increased use of first-person narratives, especially those of girls, has increased in use recently. This is because writing from the first person and from the perspective of girls is a strong way in which people can experience others stories. It is also a way to learn how strong the people society often views as most weak are.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a fictional book written from the true historical account of Lale. Lale was a Jewish man taken to Auschwitz and forced to tattoo the arms of his fellow prisoners. It is a story about pain, persecution, survival and friendship. The interesting thing about this book is that through the love story of Lale and Gita we explore how girls who lived and survived (or didn’t) in the Nazi camps in a way that we before haven’t. We see Gita with a gaggle of friends negotiating her new life. One of the key roles being that of Cilka, in the story.
It’s hard for me to describe the plot in much detail without ruining it for those who have yet to read it. I am not easily moved to tears by books or movies, yet I recall the audible gasp I let out when reading this book on the tube when I learnt of the real fate of Gita’s friend Cilka. From my perspective it is the girls in this book that mean that the story has such strength and can progress in the way that it does. It is the girls that helped me gain a true understanding and empathy with the events taking place. This book teaches us that girls can survive, have strength and continue to rely on one another.
If this book is of interest to you, I could not recommend it enough, I would also suggest reading the sequel Cilka’s Journey. This second book, if like me her fate most affected you, will help you answer any unanswered questions. It will allow you to explore the failures of the justice system when it comes to girls.
Girl Museum Inc.