On Friday, May 7, 1915 a German U-Boat sunk the RMS Lusitania. [easyazon_link identifier=”0307408868″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]“Dead Wake”[/easyazon_link] tells the true story and political machinations and personalities behind the tragic event nearly 100 years ago.
Primo Levi was a twenty-five-year-old chemist living in Turin, Italy when he was arrested as an “Italian Citizen of Jewish Race” and deport to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz chronicles the ten months that Levi spent in the death camp and the triumph of human spirit that kept him alive.
January 27, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Levi was one of only twenty survivors in his transport of 650 prisoners. His memoir “If this is a Man” was first released in his home country as a limited run in October of 1947. The version that I read was translated in 1958 by Giulio Einaudi.
[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is a dispassionate account of the Holocaust and Auschwitz Death Camp in a way that seems perhaps a bit odd for an account written a mere few years after the author’s experience. At first I thought that perhaps the removal from the subject was due to the translated text. [easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] reads awkwardly at points as though there really isn’t a translation for certain things. As the book progressed, I came to believe that the objectivity of Levi in the work perhaps highlights the suffering that its subject must have experienced. [easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] reads a bit like a victim having to leave the body emotionally to survive a nightmarish experience. Levi’s experience was raw and brutal. He doesn’t describe events in a graphic way but manages to still convey the awfulness of the experience. In the time he was in the camp, Levi didn’t see himself as a man but a slave.
There is always a fragility of life in accounts we hear of the concentration camps. Levi is able to work and he’s sent immediately to perform hard labor in the camp. Anyone who couldn’t work was immediately put to death and if a person became ill they would be sent to a very short-term infirmary where they’d either improve or be sent immediately to the gas chambers.
[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is not a book designed to horrify the reader but to inform. Levi, as an author, doesn’t read as a man who is looking to inspire his audience with his brave perseverance in horrific odds. Levi instead reads as a man who never wants us to forget. The Holocaust is something that happened to him. He was not a religious man and didn’t consider himself a Jew but he was labeled as such and for that label was sent to slavery, degradation and almost certain death. In Levi’s eyes, he regained his humanity when he was sent to the infirmary for 10 days and spared a march that would have surely killed him.
Levi’s bravery to write such a work and so soon after the experience astounds the reader. Ten months must have seemed a lifetime to this 25-year-old as he saw cruelty and hate and people dying every day. The people that Levi described as emaciated and broken can be viewed in historical footage of the Liberation of Auschwitz. Levi doesn’t seem to hate the Germans in his narrative and the minimization of them seems to be something of a dehumanizing of them. They are the faceless mass. They are the uncertain evil gobbling the souls of those around him.
[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is well written, poignant and simply an important work of nonfiction. Please, take a moment to remember today the 4.1 million people who died at this horrible death camp.
You can read an excerpt and buy Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi on:
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