The Ghost Tattoo
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte
For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Watchmakers, a powerful, profoundly moving Holocaust memoir from a rarely told perspective—the story of a son’s quest to understand his father, a heroic, complicated Jewish survivor—and to uncover the hidden past and desperate choices he made when the Nazis recruited him to police his own people in their Polish ghetto.
Growing up, Tony Bernard knew that his father, Henry, had been in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He was familiar with the tattoo bearing his Auschwitz number—B1224—and the faint scar resulting from a suicide attempt while in a camp in Blizyn. As an Australian boy growing up on Sydney’s sunny Northern Beaches where Henry was a well-respected doctor, Tony simply accepted these facts. Only as a young man, on a trip to Poland with his father, did he begin to uncover the secrets that filled Henry with regret, anguish, and guilt.
Henry’s experiences in the concentration camps were harrowing, and he survived through ingenuity, grit, and countless miracles of chance. Yet there was another, deeper story—of what happened before his deportation to the camps. In 1940, Henry was recruited into the Jewish Order Service in his Polish hometown—an organization set up by the Nazis to help maintain order among Jews. Like many other young recruits, Henry believed he would help protect his community. Instead, the ghetto police, as they became known, were forced to assist the Nazis in the subjugation and mistreatment of their own people. Faced daily with impossible choices, desperate to keep his loved ones alive, Henry was both victim and unwilling participant.
The Ghost Tattoo is a haunting, emotionally resonant memoir of war and its aftermath. It is also a singular account of resistance, resilience, and hope. Henry was eventually called to Germany to testify in a trial against Nazi murderers, where his evidence proved pivotal. After decades of silence, he seized the chance to bear witness—for history, for his family, and for all those who did not survive.
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