This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" by Heather Morris. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Lale and Gita were lovers in Auschwitz, but did that love continue after they escaped? Did they get the happily ever after they always longed for?
In the book The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Lale and Gita were lovers in Auschwitz. After the fall of the concentration camp, they both escaped separately and were reunited in Bratislava. They faced many challenges in life, but after what they went through in Auschwitz, Lale and Gita could handle anything together.
Keep reading to learn what the lovers in Auschwitz did after their escape.
The Lovers in Auschwitz Reunite
After escaping from Auschwitz, Lale took his sister’s married name, Sokolov, to avoid trouble with the Russians, and married Gita in October 1945. Lale and Gita were lovers in Auschwitz and that didn’t change after they escaped. They stayed in the city, and Lale opened a business importing expensive textiles from around the world. Business was good, as many local clothes makers were eager to pick back up where they’d left off before the war. His business was a success, and he found a partner to help him run it.
Lale and Gita were lovers in Auschwitz and lived a good life after the escape. They had a lavish lifestyle of resort vacations and fine dining. They were also part of the efforts to create the Israeli Jewish state and gave much of their money to the cause. Gita was instrumental in smuggling donations from wealthy supporters over the border. But everything came to a screeching halt when Lale’s partner got divorced and his ex-wife turned Lale and Gita in to the police.
Lale was arrested in April 1948 for illegal exports of valuables, which was likened to stealing from the newly formed Czechoslovakian government. He was sentenced to two years in jail. Gita used some money they’d hidden to bribe some of their political contacts to help. A plan was made wherein Lale feigned psychological distress. A bribed psychiatrist suggested that Lale take a few days at home before complete madness set in. Once home, Lale and Gita were smuggled out of town.
They first landed in Austria, then lived in Paris for several months. They even saw Josephine Baker, the great American jazz singer, at a cabaret. But no one was hiring foreigners, so they purchased fake identification and boarded a ship to Sydney. In 1949, the couple moved to Melbourne, and Lale started importing fabric again. Gita took a class in dressmaking and added her creations to the business.
Lale and Gita Start a Family
After years of struggle and disappointment, Lale and Gita finally had a son, Gary, in 1961 when Gita was 36 and Lale 44. They lived a life full of love and joy, facing every challenge together and with a grain of salt. When 16-year-old Gary asked how Gita could be so chipper after the business closed and they were forced to move, Gita said that after what they’d survived, there wasn’t much the lovers from Auschwitz couldn’t handle. If they were alive and well, life was good.
Their time in Auschwitz-Birkenau never left them, but they didn’t dwell on it. When Gary was growing up, Lale and Gita made him watch documentaries about the camps, but they never watched with him. Gita still searched for four-leaf clovers, and Lale lost his emotional core. Gary remembers his father crying only once, and that was when Gita died. They fell in love in Auschwitz, they were married for more than 50 years, and they never stopped being in love. They were devoted to each other until the very end. A love born in darkness shining bright forever.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Tattooist of Auschwitz summary :
- How a man used tattooing skills to stay alive at Auschwitz-Birkenau
- How Lale Sokolov fell in love in these unusual circumstances
- How Lale goes from concentration camp to Russian prisoner before finding freedom