Thoughts on The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tatooist of Auschwitz, and the difference between race and religion.



On the recommendation of my writing coach, I read the novel as a primer on how to write a story that will appeal to readers. This novel has been on everybody’s lips who is interested in World War II. This assignment was because I have been trying to write a novel about my parents’ experiences during that life-altering period in their lives before I was born—World War 2.

I began work in 2016. The first year I exclusively spent on reading, reading, reading, everything and anything I could lay my little hands on. My novel is now in the stage of pre-publication as a manuscript.

My greatest fear in putting the story down was the enormity of the project and the many mistakes I would undoubtedly make. I didn’t want to romanticize the harsh reality of the time or exploit the death of millions that put World War II in people’s mind. I doubted that I could pull it off to write this story as a new writer. All those fears materialized when I read The Tattooist, which in my opinion is well written, but indeed trivialized the horrors of the place and made it go down as a romance for avid readers.

In this time of increased anti-Semitism and the political reality, in which some politicians attempt to foment feelings of hate against “the other” in our society—just like the Nazis did in 1930—I think it is extremely important to understand one’s own society, where you come from, and who you are now. This is the reason why I delve into the book and want to add my review to the many other voices.

Below I quote parts of Allison Wood’s review in The Guardian from Dec 7, 2018.

From The Guardian (Alison Flood): Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz attacked as inauthentic by the camp memorial centre.

The novel is the story of how the Slovakian Jew “Ludwig ‘Lali’ Eisenberg (who changed his last name to Solokov) fell in love with a girl Gita Furman, born Gisela Fuhrmannova he was tattooing at the concentration camp, has been one of the year’s bestselling novels.

“The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum concluded that the novel is “an impression about Auschwitz inspired by authentic events, almost without any value as a document”….. “Given the number of factual errors, therefore, this book cannot be recommended as a valuable title for persons who want to explore and understand the history of KL Auschwitz.”

“A spokesperson for her (the author’s) publisher told the Guardian on Friday: “The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a novel based on the personal recollections and experiences of one man. It is not, and has never claimed to be an official history. If it inspires people to engage with the terrible events of the Holocaust more deeply, then it will have achieved everything that Lale himself wished for.”

“Paweł Sawicki, editor-in-chief of Memoria, Auschwitz Memorial’s magazine, said numerous historical details of the camp are wrong. But Sawicki took issue with Morris’s response. “Can ‘a story’ be told without paying attention to the reality of the story? If this would be a completely fictional story, we could say that the author does not know much about the history of Auschwitz. This book, however, tells a story of a real person, his real tragic experiences, and this puts much more responsibility on a person who tells this story to the world,” he said. “The number of different errors in the book – not only in simple basic facts but also in the depiction of the reality of Auschwitz – can sometimes create more confusion than understanding. It turns a real story into an interpretation – very moving and emotional – that however blurs the authenticity of this true experience. We believe that the survivor’s story deserved better.”

“Sokolov’s son Gary told the New York Times that it bothered him his father’s name had been misspelled “Lale”, rather than “Lali” in the novel.”

So far what others said.

My main objection is that the writer has bought into the Hitlerian theory that Jews are a “race” in themselves. This is a fallacy and factually, incorrect. Hitler spread this lie, so he could identify, isolate, and eradicate “the other” without much resistance from the European world in which Jews lived.

When Ms. Morris writes down Lali’s thoughts on page 185: “How can a race that is spread out across multiple countries be considered a threat?” the question for me is whether Mr. Sokolov really was thinking that, or was the thought the authors’ interpretation, using poetic license—a writer’s prerogative?

The fallacy in this line is that Jews are adherents of a religion, just like Catholics, or Muslims, and not a separate race. Originating in the Mediterranean—the tribes of Israel from the Palestine region—Jews are the brothers and sisters of Muslims of the region. Like any religion, Jews also have intermingled with people of other races, with people who adhere to a different religion, and people who are atheists.

The author apparently has no idea (like so many who have no grasp) on what the Jewish religion is or who Jews are, and she mixes the concepts of religion and race, just like Hitler and his propaganda machine did. If you have seen the cartoons and the Nazi propaganda on posters of the time, you will get the picture. It is important to understand this fact and its consequences. What you believe, is what you get.

The people that held on to their Jewish religion have spread throughout the world. Modern times have divided the members of this religion into several factions and given names to these groups: Ashkenazy (Hebrew) from east-German descent, and Sephardic from middle-eastern descent. Those ancient people split off from the ancestors of today’s Middle Easterners more than 20,000 years ago, with a founding group of about 3,500 to 3,900 people, according to the study I quoted from (

There are just a few races (if we still even want to use these classifications) and none of the progeny of any race is pure anymore, due to the intermixing over many centuries.

From the internet, I quote:

“The mid-20th-century racial classification by American anthropologist Carleton S. Coon, divided humanity into five races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race.”

So, if you consider their original source—in the Palestine area and/or east Germany—Jews are Caucasian, but if you believe Hitler, they are non-Caucasian: meaning NOT of the same race as the Germans.

The poor morons within the various hate groups of our current time have no clue that their hatemongering, fascist thought is based on ignorance. But what else would one expect of Trump and his neo-Nazis?

By the way, why call them neo-Nazis? They have shown themselves to be real Nazis, in other words, fascists.

Jeez, and again that hateful man props up……

I would welcome your comments.






About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
This entry was posted in Agents, Author circles, Babyboomer, book review, Creative fiction, Diversity issues, eBook, EU, Global immigration, Hitler, Immigration, International politics, latest news items, memoir writing, Publishing, religion, The truth, Uncategorized, war and resistance, war crimes, world issues, Writing life. Bookmark the permalink.

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