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If I personally knew family members who had been in the camps, then I would do it as a rememberance of them and to honor them. I think that what he did is a great thing and I admire him for doing it.

If people start doing it en masse, it would lose its meaning very quickly. To me, it would become like the yellow wrist bands everyone wears. In the beginning, they meant something. In the end, they were simply a fashion statement.


Liked the Generation J piece. Sounds like an interesting event.


Wow that Israelity thread is plagued with comment spam.


Well, I can only criticize so much someone who chooses to honor their ancestors, but the guy sounds like a nutcase. The fact that he's violating Jewish law gives the game away: this has more to do with the American cult of victimhood than with anything Jewish. I really think the fixation on the Holocaust is in the long term unhealthy for Jews; maybe I'll do a post about it.

On a side note, I don't really buy the whole N-word-as-self-empowerment-tool for black people thing, since you never see, say, middle- or upper-class blacks using the word. But that's a story for another day.


But Yaron, this guy was in Beersheva - couldn't he have been an Israeli? I don't think it has to do with the "American cult of victimhood" (what is that, by the way?).

It does give me the creeps, however - whenever I see a number tatooed on someone's arm, it means that they are survivor of a horror that I can't imagine. I think that if someone of a younger generation has such a tatoo put on, it is a kind of appropriation of the experience of the Auschwitz survivor, without actually having been a prisoner there.


Ah, so it is; I must have missed that before. Well, there goes my whole point - something to do with how, in the U.S. especially, some people like to define themselves by the collective grievances of whatever ethnic/religious/racial group they belong to, above even any positive aspects of that group (not on this blog, of course!) It may be that this kind of persecution politics played a part in this story, but now it looks a little doubtful.

when are you people going to stop the self-pity about something you made up in the first place? The only good thing is that the generation that supposedly went through this will soon be gone, and forgotten, so the rest of us don't have to "tread lightly" around you poor delicate jews.


I was just thinking about this the other day. I was thinking that the last of the survivors will be gone in my lifetime, and I was wondering if someone would do something like this. It's quite a commitment, and it impresses me that someone would do it.


I've actually been thinking about this for about over a year or so, i have major respect to the victim in the holocaust, my great grandmother[recently died] was a victim and barely survived this part of history, She came to America and changed her surname.[I'm not allowed to tell you]

Jordan Kahlenberg

I came across your post in a search for Holocaust tattoos. The article, about the young man who got a tattoo in the likeness of his grandmother's Holocaust Tattoo was extremely interesting and moving to me. I myself have considered getting a tattoo of a similar fashion. I won't bore you with the details of why, but part of the reason is b/c of my cantor at the synagogue I went to growing up who was a survivor that lived through the entire ordeal as an entertainer (singer, obviously) for nazi officers. Being 27, and having no relatives who had gone through the holocaust (mine allready were in the USA and fought in WWII), I'm not entirely sure if it is appropriate for myself to get this tattoo, but you can count me in as one who approves of the idea. If we forget the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

Isabella Warner

I am 17 (soon 18) and I think this is a wonderful way of keeping the individual horror of the holocaust present, to remind us that the victims of the camps were not the nameless masses, but were real people with names and faces.


I came across your post while searching for a bar mitzvah speech...

In the 60's, my dad, a loud obsequious Type A salesman, used to take us to a nice restaurant called the Hungry Tiger. We usually were served by an elderly German fellow, whose name I can't remember, so I'll call him Hans. Naturally, one day good ol' dad had to make some comment about us Jews winning the war or something, with the implication that Hans was on the other side. Hans rolled up his sleeve...


I'm actually here because I've been researching the type of lettering (font, if you will) used for those tattoos. I'm not Jewish, or German, nor do I personally know any survivors. I'm getting a tattoo - a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff (German Romantic. A lot of his poems were put to music by Schumann), and wondered if it would be inappropriate to use it. The font, I mean. I have reasons, of course - I studied WWII as a child and was terrified and grieved and fascinated in turns, all at a very young age. I'm not sure why I did - it was all on my own steam, so I could have quit any time - but it really left an impression. Also, the poem itself is about one's soul spreading itself, as if it were wings, and flying through a moonlit night towards home. I thought the script juxtaposed with such comforting imagery - especially of the sacredness of Home - would be my way of expressing sorrow and remembrance. If any of you have input - for or against - I'd be really grateful.

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Cerise, I am in a similar situation as you- I would love to get a better idea of the type of font used in the tattooing. Unfortunately, from what I gather from various photographs, it was not uniform. I know from personal experience that my great grandmother's tattoo was blue, and thin and crisp like a typewriter punched it out. A18917. For those who do not know, these numbers were issued so that the Nazis could keep track of their enslaved labor force. The entire system relied on the use of a new computing machine (Hollerith) manufactured by IBM. There was one of these machines at every concentration camp.

I've been planning on getting this tattoo for over a year now, and this story is only the second I have read of this commemorative act. I do sincerely hope that it does not become a trend amongst descendants of survivors, and it would greatly lose its meaning and significance.

I know that I will be confronted for the remainder of my life, and I know that some might vehemently oppose my choice. It is the personal statement to myself and my family- to NO ONE ELSE- that matters to me.

If my indelible ink, a symbol of incredible suffering and humanity gone awry, touches those that view it, or elicits a conscious reminder of the Holocaust, to me - that's just a bonus.

It's not something for everyone, but I am quite resolute. That tattoo is the reason -despite which- I am alive today. And being raised by Survivors has never, not even for a day, made me forget how lucky I am to be alive.

Andrea Portante

I am italian, non jewish and thinking about doing a similar tattoo to keep the memory of the Holocaust especially in the current ugly situation of italian politics. I thought of using the number of Primo Levi, the italian writer that survived Auschwitz (and killed himself in 1987). This is how I came across this discussion.


I think that it is a wounderful thing he has done for his Grandmother. Just because she had to go through the Camps in no way makes him Jewish. He could have converted or maybe it is his Paternal GFrandmother and jewish her. runs on the womens side not the Fathers. If it was with her blessing then I admire his will to where her number and keep this alive in his heart as a reminder of what really happened ONLY 60 years go. It would be a different story if his Grandmother was against him getting the tattoo.

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