Summary Of Survival In Auschwitz By Primo Levi

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Primo Levi was an Italian Jewish citizen and chemist, deported from his hometown Turin to Auschwitz in 1944. His memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, recounts the ten months he spent in Auschwitz prior to Soviet troops liberating the camp in January 1945. In the preface, Levi states his book does not aim to “formulate new accusations” on the nature of death camps but rather to “furnish documentation for a quiet study of certain aspects of the human mind”. His memoir stays true to this statement by going beyond just a recapitulation of life in a Nazi death camp as Levi uses his personal experiences to elucidate aspects of the human mind- namely how in extreme situations of survival, humans will adapt their conceptions of morality.
Seldom do works fully capture the horror of the Holocaust, but Levi manages to do so. He gives the reader a personal insight into the barbaric conditions of Auschwitz that made it so lethal. For the prisoners that were not immediately sent to the gas chambers, the process of demolishing their sense of humanity began the moment they entered the camp, as they were
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Most did not. Of the 1,095,000 Jews deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp complex between 1940 and 1945, approximately 960,000 of them died while there. Within the camp the “struggle to survive [was] without respite because everyone [was] desperately and ferociously alone”. Survival in the camp was typically dominated by random luck because the difference between living and dying could come down to picking the wrong shoes or a mistake during selections. However, Levi notes there were other factors that helped distinguish those who would die and those who would probably live - the “drowned” and the “saved”, respectively, as he referred to them. Aside from luck, the saved were the ones who adapted their notions of morality to survive in the camp while the drowned failed to do

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