'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' May Not Be Entirely Accurate but Is True to Its Source

"Every reasonable attempt to verify the facts against available documentation has been made," reads the novel description.

Brandon Charles - Author

May 1 2024, Published 3:17 p.m. ET

Anna Próchniak and Jonah Hauer-King in 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'
Source: NBCU

The new Peacock miniseries, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is based on the bestselling novel of the same name. Although the book is a novel, and presented as a novel, some may think it’s entirely accurate.

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Novels aren't historical documents. Although many people assumed the story of Holocaust survivor Ludovit Eisenberg and his wife Gisela "Gita" Fuhrmannova is 100 percent factual, it just can’t be or it would be in the non-fiction section of the bookstore.

Jonah Hauer-King in 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'
Source: NBCU
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'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' is mostly historically accurate.

According to the Auschwitz Museum, the novel that the Peacock series is based on isn’t accurate enough for it to be recommended as a historical document. They published a report on the 2018 novel in their November 2018 journal. The extensive 12-page piece, “Fact-Checking 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz,'” clears up any confusion on what’s real and what’s fiction.

It begins, “The novel verifies the assurance of its factual and documentary character. Although the story is built around the fate of an authentic KL Auschwitz prisoner whose stay in the camp and a part of his camp life may be confirmed by surviving archival documentation, the book, however, contains numerous errors and information inconsistent with the facts; as well as overinterpretations, misinterpretations and understatements on which the overall inauthentic picture of the camp reality is built.”

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The report goes in depth about the inaccuracies in the book. Auschwitz Memorial Research Center Wanda Witek-Malicka writes, “Much of the information presented in the book is not confirmed in sources and literature on the subject. The book should, therefore, be perceived as an impression devoid of documentary value on the topic of Auschwitz, only inspired by authentic events. The proportion between testimony and factography and the narrative fiction are definitely shifted towards literariness.”

Harvey Keitel and Melanie Lynskey in 'The Tattooist Of Auschwitz'
Source: NBCU
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It concludes, “Given the number of factual errors, this book cannot be recommended as a valuable title for persons who want to explore and understand the history of KL Auschwitz.”

Put simply, it seems like author Heather Morris’s main source was the book’s subject and due to memory being unreliable, there are some inaccuracies, hence the book is considered a novel.

The book and the Peacock series make it clear 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' isn't a historical document.

The current edition of the book has sold millions of copies and states: "Every reasonable attempt to verify the facts against available documentation has been made."

The publisher makes clear that The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a novel. On the cover of the paperback edition of the novel, "a novel" is clearly printed and part of the title. Initial copies of the book may have confused readers. Rather than have "novel" on the cover, it instead read, “Based on the powerful true story of Lale Sokolov.”

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Source: YouTube

The first line of the Peacock show description reads, “The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an event series inspired by the real-life story of Jewish Holocaust survivors Lali and Gita Sokolov.” "Inspired by" gives the series license to include events that didn’t actually occur.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz premieres on Peacock on May 2.

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