Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz

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Sarah Johnson
Personal Response to Survival in Auschwitz
“Why is the pain of every day translated so constantly into our dreams, in the ever-repeated scene of the unlistened-to story” (Levi, p 60)? As I read this quote in my book, I highlighted it and wrote in the margin “foreshadowing”. I feel confident that these dreams signified just that; that the author (amongst the other survivors) would forever re-live those horrors and try tell their stories…and no one listens. The poem at the beginning of the book, Survival in Auschwitz, by Primo Levi, warns us of just this and curses us should we fail to listen. It is imperative that we a global community never forget and forever respect the struggle. I believe that this feeling, of sharing his story over and over again in his books and with people as he goes through Europe on his journey home and not truly being heard could have been a major factor in his deciding to take his own life. With such an important story, why aren’t we listening? Reflecting back on Levi’s words, I think one of the many reasons people choose to not really “listen” and take these stories to heart is because they are extremely hard to bear or even imagine. “Do you know how one says ‘never’ in camp slang? ‘Morgen fruh’, tomorrow morning” (p 133). Nowadays we plan things out in advance; we have 12 year old girls planning out their ideal weddings! The idea that we might not live to wake up in the morning is preposterous. This was their reality. We cannot even pretend to understand what that might be like. So instead of acknowledge that the men among us can do such terrible things to one another, isn’t it easier for us to say “What a tragedy…” and move on with our lives? Isn’t easier on us, to watch the news and see the horrors of the world, and then turn the TV off and pretend like it is all fiction, so we really don’t have to go out of our comfort zone to do anything about it? For those of us who are religious, isn’t our duty to give thanks...
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