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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
5 out of 5 stars (9,133 ratings)
Regular price: £34.99
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Summary

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival. 

There have been many books about the Holocaust - and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov's incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive - not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also - almost unbelievably - a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale - a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story - their story - will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances. 

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story. 

©2018 Heather Morris (P)2018 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heart-rending story, sensitively narrated.

First of all I'd like to say that I did not experience the kind of volume/tonal problems in the sound that other reviewers have mentioned. There were one or two small glitches here and there but nothing really terrible and they certainly didn't spoil the recording or my enjoyment of it.

This is a truly shocking tale of what can happen to humanity when evil ideologies and actions permeate the political elite of a society and, ultimately, the people who carry out that elite's policies. It is harrowing, horrifying and difficult to comprehend the enormity of what happened but I am so glad that I saw it through to the end. I had never heard of Lale Sokolov before listening to this book but I finished it believing that he was a truly remarkable human being, who did what he had to do in order to survive the Holocaust.

Forced to tattoo his fellow Jews in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Lale manages to survive the horror of his job, the cruelty of the SS guards, the evil experiments of Dr.Mengele on some of his friends and the realisation that people were being killed ,en masse, around him. He finds friendship, even love, within the camp and takes terrible risks to save his friends and as many of his camp-mates as he can. Throughout this ordeal and the imprisonment that follows the liberation of the camp by Russian forces, Lale manages to maintain his humanity and decency, even a sense of humour.

The epilogue and author's note were very moving and brought a lump to my throat. The sense of injustice meted out to one of the female characters after the war was profound.

I thought the narration was superb. The tone of voice, the pacing, the sombre quality, the accents and even a sense of menace at times were all well judged and appropriate to the subject matter. It is difficult to use the word 'enjoyment' in relation to this book. I was left with a feeling that it was an important tale of witness and one that should be widely read, so that we never forget how quickly human beings can fall into depravity if we do not challenge evil.

122 of 128 people found this review helpful

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Superb

Harrowing but with a strong theme throughout of determination to survive. Excellent book, had me gripped. The inter woven love story amongst the inhumane treatment of the characters by the Nazis, won through. A beautiful memoir that all should read irrespective of their faith, to prevent the holocaust ever happening again x

97 of 102 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathst
  • E-yorks United Kingdom
  • 25-02-18

one of the most moving books I've ever listened to

what a beautifully written book. the author should be very proud. I am very grateful too have listened too and own this book. thank you so much

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping, emotional and humbling.

I could not stop listening to this book. I found myself engrossed. Despite other reviews, I found no issues with the volume. This story stops you in your tracks. I would highly recommend.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A true survivor

Having always had an interest in biographies and real life stories from the war, this has to be one of my favourite listens so far. A fascinating story where the writer does a great job of describing enough to inform but not over indulge. All I can say is a massive thank you for sharing this story, highly recommended listen to anyone interested in the darkest history of the war.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Disappointing - wasted potential

I had very high hopes for this book and was left disappointed. The story is remarkable, moving, and the book is worth reading because of it but the writing is lacking depth and character. It’s like a school paper, as if the author just wrote down what she heard during her interviews without putting any personality or style into it. I didn’t feel the story. I didn’t feel the devastation, the grief, the hopelessness. Nor the outrage, the love, the desperation. Such wasted potential!
The narration is extremely irritating. The narrator himself is very good, nice voice, good voice acting, but the sound editing is just terrible! Almost like every sentence was recorded in a separate sitting - his tone and voice keeps changing so many times and sometimes so much it sounds like a different person, which is highly confusing. Not to mention that I have a suspicion he must have mispronounced the main character’s name many times, but instead of re-recording those affected chapters (or at least sentences), it sounds like the name itself was re-recorded and inserted into the existing narrative, and it sticks out like a sore thumb many times.
I didn’t enjoy this audiobook but I’m glad I heard this story. Sad to think how much better it could have been done, both written and narrated.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

mesmerising

very touching and profound book that will leave you thinking for a long time after

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jez
  • Leatherhead UK
  • 21-02-18

Poor recording spoils the story

After waiting for this moving story to arrive on Audible for quite a while, it has ended as a real disappointment. As mentioned in other reviews Richard Armitage is a wonderful narrator but all that is lost where the sound seems to have been recorded at different volume levels and tonal quality. The story deserved much better and in my opinion, should be re-recorded.

68 of 77 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Read this one don't listen to it!

This is an amazing story. It is real. It is tragic. It is beautiful but I suggest it is better heard in your head than brought to life by Armitage.

Sadly the bizarre and incredibly inconsistent acting and (worse) accents (including cockney for some perhaps clever but nonetheless inexplicable reason) are just simply not convincing. I wanted to love the characters / real folk we were being introduced to by Morris and to understand their plight, yet I found myself thinking 'why are you speaking like that?' and 'that accent makes no sense in this context'. Accents were at best inconsistent and at worst just plain awful. The constant tremor given to Lale was simply out of character. He was a damn sight stronger than THAT!

I know if had I read this book I would have loved it but this audio interpetation was just awful

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story let down by bad narration and editing.

This was a great story based on the real life experiences of an Auschwitz prisoner. Unfortunately the narration and editing were appalling. The narrator’s tone of voice changed every time he took a break and at several points in the book it sounded like there were two people narrating and speaking alternate paragraphs! This really disturbs the flow of the story.

It also seemed as though the narrator had a problem speaking the main character’s name as this was really clumsily edited in at numerous times throughout the story.

Perhaps this is a story best read rather than listened to.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna E.
  • 21-02-18

Recording Technical Issues are distracting

What disappointed you about The Tattooist of Auschwitz?

While I love hearing RCA perform in audio books (David Copperfield is the best),the quality of this recording is jarring and interrupts the flow of the story. It seems as if two or three different recording sessions were cobbled together to make the final cut, but you can hear the change in recording levels, the change in RCA's voice (one segment strong and clear, the next segment raspy and farther away from the mic). This is noticeable from one paragraph to the next, sometimes one sentence to the next. I've not noticed this issue with any other Audible book, so not sure what happened this time. But you Quality Control Dept or Recording Engineers need to listen before they release.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lale, he did what had to be done in order to survive

What about Richard Armitage’s performance did you like?

Always love his performances, but the aforementioned technical issues were messy and made listening less enjoyable.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I guess I'm inured to holocaust stories. My mom was a nurse in the 3rd Army stationed in Munich in WWII. She was one of the first groups to go into Dachau, I heard her stories and saw her photos all my life. So, at least in this story, there was a "happy" ending, they lived.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Valentina Ancilotti
  • 04-03-18

Thank you

A moving story.... a marvellous voice to give it new life. Thanks to Ms Morris and to Richard Armitage. And to Lale and Gita.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • 21-02-18

What?!? Only 3 Stars For Richard Armitage? Yes...

Don't get me wrong--generally, Armitage absolutely elevates prose to dizzying heights, and when I saw he was to be the narrator of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I was thrilled.
Uhm, no.
The book is fraught with tragedy, has tenderness, has passion, but Armitage delivers it all in the same ponderous, oh so ponderous, tones. I had to speed the whole thing up to x1.25-x1.5 speed as what sensitivity there was within the text is lost in such slooooow and serious reading. He does well with accents, well with dialogue, but for the most part... ouch!
And this is very much an Ouch-ish kind of book. Lale and Gita have nothing, no power of choice, little dignity; all they have is each other in horrific circumstances. They live moment to moment, never knowing when the SS will come for them. Never knowing when they can laugh, when they can kiss. The book depicts the terrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau quite well, the determination to just get through each day, surviving at all costs--even if that means "defiling" your fellow human being with tattoos that turn a person into a number rather than a name (but don't worry--Lale shows his humanity in numerous other ways).
While a good book, I don't think it merits 5-stars as it's fairly easy to put down/put away for a time, and I'm very much into cover-to-cover listens.
Maybe it was Armitage (whom I would still gladly listen to in another work), maybe it was a certain dryness of the text. I don't know.
I'm glad I listened to it, but I wish it had been more engaging...

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cwooden
  • 24-02-18

Audio quality is not the best.

What about Richard Armitage’s performance did you like?

I bought this book because Richard Armitage was the narrator but the quality was sub-par in the editing. Very inconsistent voice tone and quality.

Any additional comments?

I'm not going to add anything more about the story because it is amazing. I do want to comment on the audio quality. Normally I love Richard Armitage as a narrator but this reading often sounded like they patched together different reading sessions. The quality is inconsistent and it's aurally disruptive and annoying to the story when the narrator's voice changes frequently, sometimes from sentence to sentence. Audible usually has much better quality products and this one was very recently recorded so it's doubly disappointing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Caron
  • 22-02-18

dreadful narration

I listened to Kate Quinn ..The Alice Network.. absolutely brilliant, so downloaded this one. The story summary looked great, but the narration is appalling... I've given up.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • BonBon
  • 22-02-18

Extremely Moving

I have read many books about the Holocaust, but this one moved me more than any other on the subject that I can remember. Thank you, Heather Morris, for this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel Maritz
  • 22-04-19

Disappointed by the narration

I was so distracted by the narrator that I did not enjoy the book as much as I could. The narrator’s pitch and tone vary so much, it sounds like some parts have been inserted afterwards. The difference in tone and pitch is not related to the different characters, but occurs frequently and sometimes in a single narrative paragraph. In chapter 24 it sounds like the word/name ‘Lale’ has been inserted afterwards due to the change in pitch and tempo. I counted this about 8 times and then stopped counting. The quality of the narration was very disappointing. I will now buy the book and rather read it myself.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Muriel
  • 18-02-19

Inspiringly beautiful

What an amazing book. So full of emotion, beautifully told and and so inspiring - beautiful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • diana mackenzie
  • 03-02-19

superb and very moving

great reading...everyone needs to be reminded of the camps
excellent on every way.young people need to listen to this brave story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Liza de Koning
  • 09-10-18

Gripping, inspiring, heartbreakingly

A beautiful story of love and survival under the most horrific circumstances. Inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.