Analysis of the Theme of Survival in Auschwitz

Powerful Essays
Survival in Auschwitz tells of the horrifying and inhuman conditions of life in the Auschwitz death camp as personally witnessed and experienced by the author, Primo Levi. Levi is an Italian Jew and chemist, who at the age of twenty-five, was arrested with an Italian resistance group and sent to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp in Poland in the end of 1943. For ten terrible months, Levi endured the cruel and inhuman death camp where men slaved away until it was time for them to die. Levi thoroughly presents the hopeless existence of the prisoners in Auschwitz, whose most basic human rights were stripped away, when in Chapter 2 he states, "Imagine now a man who is deprived of everyone he loves, and at the same time of his house, his habits, his clothes, in short, of everything he possesses: he will be a hollow man, reduced to suffering and needs, forgetful of dignity and restraint, for he who loses all often easily loses himself" (27). With Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi provides a stark examination of human survival in the dehumanized society of a Nazi death camp. Throughout the book, Levi reinforces the theme that the prisoners of the death camp are reduced to being no longer men, but instead animals that must struggle to survive day by day or face certain death.
In Chapter 2, appropriately titled "On the Bottom", Levi discusses his experience of being processed as a prisoner into Auschwitz and the realization that they will not be treated with any human regard. He and all the prisoners who arrive with him are stripped of everything they own and are shaved, disinfected, and tagged like they were livestock. Once the prisoners have been processed and they see what they have become, Levi describes the supreme indignation of their treatment as "the demolition of a man" and all realize that "It is not possible to sink lower than this, no human condition is more miserable than this, nor could it conceivably be so" (26-27). All the Jewish prisoners of the camp have



Bibliography: Cahnman, Werner J. "If This Is a Man." American Journal of Sociology. May 1960, Vol. LXV, No. 6: 638-639. Denby, David. "The Humanist and the Holocaust." The New Republic. July 28, 1986, Vol. 195, No. 4: 27-33. Hughes, Stuart. "Two Captives Called Levi." Prisoners of Hope: Silver Age of the Italian Jews, 1924-1974. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983: 55-85. Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. New York: Simon Schuster Inc. 1996.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    Survival in Auschwitz

    • 1718 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Survival in Auschwitz The Holocaust is considered one of the worst genocides in history, known for it’s merciless killings and torture of Jews and other outcasts. The cruelness of the genocide can be witnessed first hand in the novel Survival in Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz was written by Primo Levi, an Italian Jew who was a prisoner in the concentration camp of Auschwitz when he was the age of twenty-four. He managed to leave Auschwitz alive, and dedicated the rest of his life to writing…

    • 1718 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Survival in Auschwitz

    • 296 Words
    • 1 Page

    To Survive in Auschwitz requires luck as well as the strength of one’s personal ability, and physical capability as Primo Levi describes in his book Survival in Auschwitz. Primo Levi an Italian Jew, was 24 when he was sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He managed to survive the horrific memories throughout the Holocaust, one of the most devastating events in history throughout world war II. The Holocaust represent a time when Hitler and his Nazis army killed 6 million Jews men women and children, and an…

    • 296 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Survival in Auschwitz

    • 1008 Words
    • 5 Pages

    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…

    • 1008 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Primo Levi’s novel Survival in Auschwitz is an autobiographical telling of Levi’s experiences throughout the Holocaust. Through Levi's telling of the novel, he tries his best to tell his story through an objective lens. He describes what happens to him and how he survives the camp. Due to the fact that Levi is subjected to many horrendous crimes against humanity he changes, anyone would after going through these things, but this does challenge the way scholars have resented the victim in the history…

    • 1555 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Survival in Auschwitz

    • 1266 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz; The Nazi Assault on Humanity. 1st edition. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996. I. Survival in Auschwitz is the unique autobiographical account of how a young man endured the atrocities of a Nazi death camp and lived to tell the tale. Primo Levi, a 24-year-old Jewish chemist from Turin Italy, was captured by the fascist militia in December 1943 and deported to Camp Buna-Monowitz in Auschwitz. The trip by train took 4 long days in a jam-packed boxcar…

    • 1266 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Survival In Auschwitz

    • 562 Words
    • 3 Pages

    of nearly 11 million people, at least 6 million of those were Jewish. Fortunately, one of the survivors was Primo Levi who documented his journey in the book Survival in Auschwitz. There are multiple instances of evil in his book but I will look deeper into chapter 1 and how it relates to the logical problem of evil. Evil in Auschwitz The Fascist Militia captured primo Levi on December 13th 1943 and placed him in a detention camp. On the morning of February 20th a group of German SS men…

    • 562 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Survival in Auschwitz

    • 1000 Words
    • 4 Pages

    11 million people exterminated and countless others put into concentration camps with unimaginable conditions. But most people do not try to explain how the German soldiers could do these things to other human beings. Primo Levi in his book Survival in Auschwitz attempts to answer this question. He begins by explaining the physical and psychological transformation of the prisoners and how that enabled the Germans to see the prisoners as inhuman and therefore oppress-able. Levi believes that the Germans…

    • 1000 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Hitler’s death camps. After reading Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, I was a Doctor in Auschwitz by Gisella Perl, and This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski, one can begin the interpret the true meaning of the age ole phrase “Hell on Earth.” In the following pages, these three stories will be reviewed, and hopefully, by the end of this essay, all readers will understand why such an act can never happen again. First, this analysis will begin by taking a look at the the…

    • 2549 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    EXAM QUESTION 1 PART A Survival in Auschwitz written by Primo Levi is a first-hand description of the atrocities which took place in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. The book provides an explicit depiction of camp life: the squalor, the insufficient food supply, the seemingly endless labour, cramped living space, and the barter-based economy which the prisoners lived. Levi through use of his simple yet powerful words outlined the motive behind Auschwitz, the tactical dehumanization and extermination…

    • 859 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In Rudyard Kipling's fiction story, "Rikki-tikki-tavi", the theme of survival is demonstrated through Rikki's actions during his many conflicts within the story. For example, Nag and Nagaina discuss that they should kill the family to raise their young Cobras,safely(28),Rikki-Tikki kills Nag in the bathroom to protect his family(29), Rikki-Tikki kills Nagaina to save Teddy (33). Rudyard first introduces the idea survival in the scene where Nag and Nagaina discuss that they should kill the family…

    • 327 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays