Survival in Auschwitz

Topics: Auschwitz concentration camp, Primo Levi, Arbeit macht frei Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: March 17, 2013
Wesley Groll
HIST 102 MWF 10:30-11:20
Survival in Auschwitz Book Review
In Primo Levi’s autobiography, Survival in Auschwitz, he identifies some major factors which he can attribute to his survival including the physical state of a prisoner, ability to find companionship and their mental condition, and the timing of liberation. The horrible acts carried out by the captors at Buna, Krankenbau, and Auschwitz concentration and labor camps were not the focus for Levi’s autobiography, yet it was the survival of these acts that was the focus. Primo Levi being an Anti-Fascist Italian Jew from Turin was arrested in December 1943 and sent to a prison camp immediately before being sent to Auschwitz in February 1943. He accounts that millions of Jews were just murdered and cremated upon being deported to the concentration camps.

Due to Primo Levi’s physical state, he was selected to be put in a work camp, as opposed to being sent straight to a concentration camp. It was astonishing that he survived as long as he did, because the average time of survival in one of these labor camps, such as Buna where synthetic rubber was manufactured, was only 3 months because of the physical stress and malnutrition on the body. Shortly after being deported to Auschwitz Levi records passing under the famous metal archway that reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” in German translating to “work gives freedom” (Levi, 22). This is the first sense of false hope for the inmates that Levi was traveling with. I would wonder for my own sake at this point in time if I was going to die or not. Levi had seen plenty of death at this point in time with only forty men out of over one hundred from his initial work unit being alive still, so this sense of hope motivates Levi to survive. This sense of motivation based on giving purpose to your life must have been hard in a place where purpose was intentionally destroyed by the Nazi captors.

One of the most important factors leading to Primo Levi’s survival was...
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