Survival in Auschwitz (If This Is a Man)


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? I am finally reading what I’ve always wanted to read. Yet in the page 74 from 216 of the “Survival in Auschwitz (If This Is a Man)” by Primo Levi, I am already shocked and impressively astonished by the description of the terror lived in Auschwitz. Of course, studying my whole life in a French school, I have studied World War II and the history of Europe more than a dozen times from the facts to the interpretation of testimonies. This said, I’ve always wanted to read that book, and yet, I feel like this is the best history lesson once could get about what happened in the concentration camps. Facts can’t describe this like reading a real testimony that generates conscience among the readers.


The book is an autobiography of Primo Levi who was captured by the fascists in Italy and sent from a detention camp to Auschwitz. The man, who was then only described as a “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” explains during the first two chapters the process he had to follow and the terrible conditions in which we travelled, explaining specifically the feeling of dehumanisation he had. To be honest, it is far from the best well-written book I’ve ever read: it has few style figures and few connection words. However; what I consider incredible is his capacity to explore his memories, even the worst ones, the ones he wouldn’t want to remember, and he shares them. It requires an admirable courage to do so.


Passionated by history, another detail I personally felt incredibly important is the moment when he explains how the selection was made, and thoughts he had. However, he doesn’t keep the suspense and continually tells the reader first what he thought in that moment and then what he actually learned when he left the concentration camp.


What happened to the others, to the women, to the children, to the old men, we could establish neither then nor later: the night swallowed them up, purely and simply. Today, however, we know that in that rapid and summary choice each one of us had been judged capable or not of working usefully for the Reich


He captivates us with quotes like


This is hell. Today, in our times, hell must be like this


that invite us to have a reflexion about existentialism, about the absurdity of the human being. The book is more than an autobiography or a testimony, I personally feel disgusted by human beings and I believe it is important to read this, no matter how hard it is, in order to make sure it will never happen again.


I still have more than a half of the book to read in only a week, but I believe now it will be faster. Indeed, I feel completely curious about the rest of the story, knowing already the objective facts, I want to see history through the ones who have experienced it.


498 words.