Survival in Auschwitz

Primo Levi: The Two-Part Victim

The victimization of Primo Levi must be addressed in two parts: the victimization of his body and the victimization of his humanity. The distinction, as menial as it may appear, is essential in placing blame for the horrors of his experiences in the concentration camp. With regard to his physical victimization, internment and forced physical labor, it can be seen that the Nazi efforts, in addition to the forced ineffectiveness of his pre-incarceration activities, are responsible for his suffering. At the same time, though, it is his personal choices and attitude that allow his humanity to be sacrificed.

Primo Levi was an Italian Jew from Turin. Trained as a chemist, he found himself in an anti-Fascist movement that was missing "contacts, arms, money and the experience needed to acquire them" (Levi 13). The fledgling group further suffered from a lack of men fit for fighting and an inundation of refugees searching for "protection, a hiding place, a fire, a pair of shoes". When on December 13th, 1943, the three fascist militia companies swept into the mountain camp, Levi was taken prisoner "as a suspect person" only to later be deported to Auschwitz, a concentration camp in Poland (Levi 13).


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