The Tattooist of Auschwitz

by Heather Morris

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Chapters 4–8

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Last Updated on June 10, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 966

Chapter 4

Lale and Baretski talk about women; Baretski does so in an offensive and objectifying way. Lale asks Baretski how he would feel if someone spoke about his own sister that way. Baretski ponders this, clearly upset about the idea. Baretski shares a bit more about himself with Lale: he is from Romania, from an abusive household.

Lale decides that he wants to write to the girl he is so taken with. Baretski will help facilitate this communication. Lale writes a brief note, passes it through Baretski, and the girl writes back. They arrange a time to meet, and Lale asks the girl for her name.

Lale and Baretksi continue their conversations about women and how to treat them. Lale hopes that he can encourage Baretski to be a better listener, to pay close attention to women and to give them things, rather than simply seeing them as potential sexual conquests.

Chapter 5

On Sunday morning, the day Lale and the girl have agreed to meet, Lale is so nervous he almost forgets his bag of tattooing supplies. When he finally meets the girl, she is surrounded by her friends. He learns that her name is Gita. They are only able to exchange a few words before Gita’s friends take her away.

Over in the women’s camp, Gita has been reading and rereading Lale’s letter to her; her friend Dana teases her about it, but she is happy for Gita. On their way to breakfast, an SS officer harasses the women for being so cheerful.

Lale and Gita have a brief conversation, and he makes her a promise that he will learn more about her before either of them leave the camp. They are both shy, but they vow to see each other again soon.

Chapter 6

Weeks have passed in the camp, and winter is approaching. Lale wonders at the passage of time in such a desperate place. One day, Lale meets the workers Yuri and Victor, a father and son who do not wear stars. They are contracted laborers from the town, not prisoners. They are working on a new building: Crematorium One. One crematorium, Lale realizes, means that there are more to come. As a kind gesture, Victor gives Lale the sausage that he brought for lunch. It starts to snow for the first time that winter.

With the sausage that Victor gave him, Lale goes to the women’s camp, and offers the sausage in exchange for the jewelry and money that the women workers in the Canada—the storage facility where items belonging to the prisoners are kept—often find. The women agree to the arrangement.

Yuri gives Lale more sausage and chocolate. Lale takes his treats to the women to trade for the money and jewelry that they’ve collected. Struck by the significance of these objects, taken from their owners upon their entrance to the camp, Lale finds himself “recoiling from the sad provenance of these objects.” He separates out the treasure, setting aside for himself only a diamond ring and a loose ruby. He keeps these securely in his tattoo bag.

Lale finds Yuri and Victor again, and he pays them in money and jewelry for their food. They have established a trade agreement, in which Lale will provide the father and son with money and jewelry in exchange for sausage, chocolate, and other necessities from the outside world.

By now it is January, and the new year, 1943.

Chapter 7

On a cold winter day, Lale looks for Gita but can only find Dana. Dana tells Lale that Gita is ill—she thinks that Gita...

(This entire section contains 966 words.)

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has typhus, as it’s been going around their block. Horrified, Lale begs Dana to help him save Gita. He knows that Dana will have to look after Gita and ensure that she doesn’t end up on a death cart, the way Aron and Pepan did when he himself had typhus.

Lale knows that Gita needs penicillin in order to live. He decides to try to get it through Yuri and Victor. Victor tells Lale he will do what he can, and the next day, Lale is able to get the medicine from him. Lale sneaks the medicine to Dana, who gives it to Gita. Slowly, Gita begins to recover.

Lale asks a favor of Baretski: that he have Gita moved from her freezing block to the admin building. Lale reasons that Gita will heal more quickly if she can stay warm. As Gita’s health improves, she is transferred to an easier job in the administration building filing SS records. There, Lale and Gita can interact with each other when Lale arrives to pick up his daily lists of arrivals.

Chapter 8

Outside Auschwitz, the war rages on. The Germans have been storming cities across Europe. During processing one day, Lale meets Jakub, a large American man. Lale tells him that he should find a way to make himself useful to the SS so that he can survive in the camp. Later, Lale sees Jakub performing “strong man” feats for the SS and the prisoners.

Lale surprises Gita with some chocolate he has gotten from Yuri and Victor. They rub the chocolate on each others’ mouths and kiss, and Lale cries. Jokingly, Lale offers Gita the diamond ring he saved from the Canada treasure. He gives her more of the chocolate to take back to the other women on her block.

After Lale and Gita part ways, Baretski finds Lale. He tells Lale to come to Auschwitz, explaining that they have work to do there. It is a walk from where they are in the women’s camp in Birkenau. They begin to walk over, and on their way there, Lale watches in horror as Baretski shoots three weak and unarmed prisoners.


Prologue–Chapter 3


Chapters 9–14