The story of the Tattooist of Auschwitz

February 26, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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March of the Living Australia in partnership with Courage to Care Victoria and the Jewish Holocaust Centre hosted an event marking the recent release of the already best-selling novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

The 450-strong audience at Melbourne’s King David School heard  and paid tribute to just one of the millions of incredible stories related to the Holocaust, so many of which have not and unfortunately, will not, ever be told.
Heather Morris, the author, and Gary Sokolov, the son of the late Lale Sokolov, the tattooist of Auschwitz, were on hand to share this eloquent and touching account of a truly remarkable story that simply had to be told. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an intricate and sensitive portrayal of a brave, tenacious, determined, yet caring, romantic, generous, self preserving, but beautiful soul, told against a despair-filled, catastrophic environment with scenarios too harsh to even imagine. The story of Gita and Lale’s steadfast and enduring love for each other in one of the most inhumane and sub-human circumstances known to mankind, alongside the cruel and harsh reality of ‘choiceless choices’ creates a dramatically vivid picture which captivates, inspires and enriches.
Joining Heather and Gary in discussion and sharing their incredible insights into the many hard, harsh yet inspiring accounts of their harrowing experiences or those of their parents and some of the repercussions of this upbringing were fellow panelists, Milan Bierenkrant, himself a tattooed survivor of Auschwitz and Joe Tigel, son of Survivors, whilst Sue Hampel, distinguished Holocaust educator, ably led the discussion. Lively interaction from the audience was encouraged with wonderful contributions, amongst others, by Survivors Abe Goldberg and Tuvia Lipson who emotionally recalled and recounted vivid memories of being tattooed by Lale Sokolov and the fact that Lale confided to him many years later (at an encounter at the Jewish Holocaust Centre) that he (Lale) had made a conscious decision to break regulations and make the size of the tattooed numbers smaller than usual in order to make it less painful for the Lodz Ghetto prisoners, amongst whom Tuvia was counted!
Organiser Cedric Geffen, Co-President of March of the Living Australia welcomed everyone by mentioning that like so many things in life, things happen for a reason and that if it were not for a chance encounter between his wife, who had just recently returned from her March of the Living journey, and Heather the author, in one of the many staff lunch room areas of Monash Hospital in Clayton, the incredible friendship and bond that has evolved between Heather and his family over the last few months, and which resulted in this evening may never have happened. It was just meant to be.  Geffen said: “We Will Never Forget.”

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