The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Easter is a time of hope. It therefore seems the perfect moment to explore the riveting survival tale of the Jewish man who tattoed prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War 2. His story has not come to light until now because of the incredible guilt he carried about what he was forced to do to his fellow prisoners.

Let’s explore his story shall we? No spoilers, I promise.

Lale Sokolov was a Jewish man from Slovakia who was sent to Auschwitz in April 1942. He thought he was saving his family by ‘volunteering’ to work for the Nazis.

The Fool Reversed: Unable to imagine the nightmare that awaited

He was immediately confronted by the horror of the situation he found himself in.

The Moon Reversed: A psychotic environment

Right from that start, Lale was constantly evaluating his circumstances to maximise his chances of survival.

Page of Wands: Looking for solutions

He fell ill and almost died soon into his internment, but others came to his aid and kept him alive.

The Star: Having guardian angels

By chance, he was offered the role of tattooist. This involved carving a number into the left forearm of every prisoner who arrived at Auschwitz.

Eight of Pentacles: Processing work

The job came with small perks, including, a room to himself, extra food and the freedom to roam freely around the compound. Such perks could make the difference between life and death in a place like Auschwitz.

Nine of Cups: Experiencing luxury Auschwitz-style

Lale was constantly torn between his need to survive and his desire not to lose his humanity.

Two of Pentacles: Balancing different priorities

He shared his extra provisions with camp mates.

Six of Pentacles: Supporting others

He even put himself in danger, stealing jewels from the Nazis to buy extra food and medicine for his fellow prisoners.

Seven of Swords: The thief

Even though he was in a privileged position as the camp tattooist, his life was in constant danger and he had to always be on his guard.

Nine of Wands: The seasoned fighter

Incredibly, he fell in love with another prisoner and they managed to steal many moments together.

The Lovers: Making a choice to be with someone

Every now and then though, he’d experience something that would tip him over the edge.

Five of Cups Reversed: Depressive episode

Incredibly, he managed to survive for three years, and go on to create a very happy life for himself and his family in Melbourne, Australia.

Ten of Cups: Happy family

However, the guilt he felt over his role at Auschwitz haunted him, and prevented his story being told until recently.

Judgement Reversed: Shame

He was afraid he’d be considered a collaborator, and for good reason. One of his fellow inmates, a woman who was chosen as a sex toy by a high-ranking Nazi official, was sentenced to 15 years hard labour in Siberia for being a ‘Nazi conspirator’. Her story will be told in a future book by the same author.

Justice Reversed: Terrible injustice

I won’t tell you how the story ends. You should read it for yourself!

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