October 30, 2018
Each month I bring you a most compelling or unforgettable character of the month. In October’s last days I’d like to remind you of Lale Sokolov, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Lale is the main character in the first book I read in October and no character has come close to over taking Lale as the most memorable character of the month.
Meet Lale Sokolov
Lale is a Slovakian Jew who survived Auschwitz with cunning, determination, courage, a positive attitude, a winsome personality, a hopeful spirit, and his true love. He takes risks to help others and generously sacrifices his extra food portions to feed a few who are at risk of dying from starvation. Lale meets the love of his life, Gita, while they are both prisoners at Auschwitz. He assumes the grave responsibility for her safety and promises her a future……. that they will survive and enjoy a life together outside of Auschwitz. He has enough hope, determination, and courage for both of them.
One of the aspects I appreciate about the story is hearing Lale’s honest and candid reflections about what went right and what went wrong and his angst about some of the decisions he made. Most worrisome for him is his concern that he might be seen as working with the Nazis in his role as the tattooist. In addition, he wrestles with guilt over the benefits he receives from that assignment, but then he realizes that the extra freedoms and extra food he receives can be used to help others.
Although the writing is less than beautiful in places, the content, compelling story line, and unforgettable character make this inspiring fictionalized biography a must read. You will never forget him. It’s important to hear as many stories as possible from the survivors while we have them with us. The author spent three years interviewing Lale when, near the end of his life, he finally felt compelled to tell his story for history.
When reading these types of stories, it causes me to reflect on what I would do in similar circumstances. Would I have the courage to be a Lale and risk everything to help others, and could I have held on to the hope of survival in a Nazi prison?
Please share your most memorable character from your October reading in the comments.