Survival In Auschwitz

Published: 2020-07-05 23:16:05
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Survival in AuschwitzIn the History of the world there havebeen few incidences of atrocities that equal the treatment of the Jewsin Europe during World War II. It is difficult to accept thelevels of systematic cruelty and terror experienced during this period.
In the book Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi paints a picture with disturbingdetail that is meant to serve as a reminder of the unimaginable horrorsmillions of men, women and children were forcefully subjected to as a resultof hate.

As a Jew, Levi knew he was in danger whileliving in fascist Northern Italy. By 1943, the Nazis had moved southand set up holding camps around Italy to detain political prisoners andthose of the Jewish nationality until they could be transported to establishedconcentration camps such as Auschwitz and Dachau. This book depicts whathappened to Levi after his arrest in 1944. Along with 650 others,he was loaded into a freight train for a four day journey without foodor water and without the liberty to leave the train at anytime. Upontheir arrival at the camp of Auschwitz, Poland, the first of a precessionof selections took place. The German SS Soldiers separated thosethey deemed capable of work from those they deemed incapable, such as women,children and elderly. Only 135 of the 650 from Levi’s train were admittedinto Auschwitz, the other 515 went immediately to the gas chambers. Thesemethods of selection were to a degree, a logical means as compared to otherrandom selections. Later, a simpler method was adopted that involved merelyopening both doors on the train. Without warning or instructionto the new arrivals, those who by chance climbed down on one side of theconvoy entered the camp; the others went to the gas chamber.”(20)He was herded with the others into thecamp and after being striped naked and having his head shaved, he was givenan old striped uniform and the identification numbers 174517 tattooed onhis arm. Levi recalled with remarkable accuracy the humiliation and confusionfelt as he was forced to assimilate into his new surroundings. Thefood rations were too insufficient to stave off the hunger. Thousandsof others around him were suffering and unavoidably dying as a result ofthis insufficient food supply. Although he was new to the camp, hisexperiences with others and his own observations told him that the Germansmilitant nature was at its worst. In order to outlive the war andsurvive, he found ways to maintain the illusion of usefulness with theleast possible exertion. Any protest or disobedience from prisoners endedswiftly with beatings and death.

An iron sign above the front gates proclaimedthe camp slogan Arbeit Macht Frei”. This translated to; work givesyou freedom. ” Prisoners of Auschwitz were forced to work seven days aweek with two Sundays off a month which were filled with tedious, exhaustingtasks and were often the only opportunity available was to attend to personalhygiene needs. The bulk of their time was spent working 16-hour days infactories and around the camp, making supplies for the war and other itemsfor the Germans. With little food and inadequate clothing, it was easyto fall ill or die from exhaustion while working in the snow and rain.

Levi was lucky enough to be sent to (and return from) the Ka-be or theinfirmary to recover from an injury to his Achilles tendon. The Ka-bewas overcrowded, and was populated by individuals with deadly, communicablediseases such as typhus and dysentery. There were no medicines availableto relieve the symptoms and the pain and suffering was widespread. Despitethis he was able to rest and build up some strength before returning backto work. Much of the work assigned to them was needless. Itwas given for the purpose of wearing down the prisoner and making him weaker.

A weak prisoner was less likely to protest or attempt to escape.

Levi described how many of the prisoners,after long hours of manual labor, would gather in a corner of the campfor a market. They would trade rations and stolen goods. Suchgoods as a spoon or buttons were as valuable as gold. The market followedall the classical economic laws. This seemed to show the ability of peopleto live and think and work in the most adverse of conditions. Insidethe barbed wire, the prisoners had created their own social and economicalworld in order to endure.

Primo Levi seems to write as

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