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Survival in Auschwitz

The harrowing experience of Primo Levi, detailed in his book Survival in Auschwitz, was the experience of millions of people in World War II. The book is powerful and affecting, and it also serves as a very strong portrayal of the entire era of which the Holocaust is a part. This book presents the real effects of history, not the changes in leadership and the movements of armies but the changes in the lives of real individuals who become the victims of other people's hatreds an ambitions. No single book can be considered a complete history of the "final solution" or its aftermath, but a book such as this one provides strong insights into the effect such horrors had on the people against whom the Final Solution was directed. As we consider what Levi has to say about that era and his description of what was done to himself and others, we will certainly ask ourselves how such things could occur and whether this era can be considered a deviation from the norm, an aberration, or a logical result of the development of Western European society. In some ways, it can be all three. The atmosphere that made the rise of the Nazis possible was clearly a logical development of history if not of Western civilization as such, though the form taken and the horrors perpetrated are an aberration deriving from the peculiar mindset and charismatic abilities of Adolf Hitler and some of his followers.

Primo Levi was a 25-year old chemist and an Italian of Jewish descent, according to the Nazis, when he was sent to Auschwitz in 1943. He would spend ten months in that German death camp before his release. After the war, he traveled through Europe and wrote about his time in Auschwitz and other matters, continuing to write while managing a chemical factory in Turin, Italy. He retired from that post in 1977 and died in 1987.

The story of the Holocaust has been told numerous times, yet each account adds something to our understanding. Some stories...

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Survival in Auschwitz. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:32, August 12, 2020, from