10 Jan 2018

Who is the Slovak that tatooed thousands in Auschwitz?

For years, Eisenberg was afraid of sharing his story. He thought that people would accuse him of collaborating with the Nazis and taking advantage of his position in the concentration camp. 

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Who is the Slovak that tatooed thousands in Auschwitz? - NewsMavens
Auschwitz tatoo. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

history

Ludwig "Lale" Eisenberg, born in Slovakia in 1916, was taken to Auschwitz in 1942. There, by accident, he learned the art of tatooing and after the main tatooist of the camp disappeared, Lale took his place. 

One day, while performing his duties, Lale, now prisoner number 32407, met prisoner 34902, who turned out to be the love of his life, Gita. They survived the camp and tried to live in Slovakia after the war but ultimately emigrated to Australia. There they both worked in textile industry.

For over 50 years, Lale's past was a secret. He was afraid of sharing his story, being accused of collaborating with the Nazis and taking advantage of his position in the concentration camp. In reality, he had never felt like a collaborator, despite the fact he was officially working for the SS. He simply did what he could to stay alive. 

After the death of his wife, Eisenberg decided to open up about his experiences. Writer Heather Morris turned his story of survival into a bestseller "The Tatooist of Auschwitz". 

 

Details from the story:

  • Lale Eisenberg became a tattooist thanks to the ability to speak five foreign languages -- German, Russian, French, Hungarian, Polish.
  • The novel "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" was published in English because Eisenberg left Europe after the war and lived in Australia for the rest of his life.
  • Eisenberg's family is from the small Slovak town Krompachy. His wife Gisela "Gita" Furman grew up in Vranov nad Topľou.
  • Although Lale Eisenberg was born into a Jewish family, when he decided to share his story, he wanted to find a non-Jewish author that would not be influenced by religion or history. 
  • Originally, the book was co-funded via Kickstarter.
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