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Tattoos in the Holocaust

Recently, I have been reading the book ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’. I never actually knew that a prisoner of the concentration camp that was brought in to work was tattooed on their arrival. Those who were sent straight to the gas chambers were never given tattoos.

Originally however, prisoners of the Auschwitz camp weren’t inked. Instead, they were issued a serial number that was sewn onto their prison uniforms. This was always used as a form of identification. As time went on, and sadly more and more prisons were dying in the camp. Some without their uniform, meaning no identification when they passed.

This was when the officers of the concentration camp started to tattoo the prisoners instead. Their initial method wasn’t however the most common method we know today… They had a metal stamp with interchangeable numbers made up of needles around 1cm long. This was used by punching the stamp into the prisoner’s chest. Ink was then rubbed into the bleeding wound. Tattooing today is painful enough, I can only imagine how absolutely horrible this must have felt!

Thankfully, the officers soon found this impractical and they moved to the single needle method for tattooing. They also decided to start tattooing the serial numbers on the left forearm too.

This is where the book really starts. It gives an insight to working in the camp and I would highly recommend this book for a closer look into what happened in the Holocaust.

Survivors of this horrific time have come to symbolize their tattoos as the utter brutality of the concentration camps. The tattoos are also a testament to the resilience and strength of the survivors.

Cara – @dots.and.dreams

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