Survival in Auschwitz Summary
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi is a highly insightful book. It is his story of being persecuted and arrested in the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz. It goes into great detail describing everyday life in the camp, from merely survival tactics all the way to the “economics” of the camp. His vivid details and metaphors give the reader very powerful images of what the hell inside the camp was like. I’ll start with his journey to Auschwitz, He started in an internment camp with other Jews at Fossoli. Here, they were treated okay and were able to eat decently and remain with their families. But then they were given word that they were to be transported elsewhere. This frightened everyone, as they had heard the stories of what was to come and Levi stated in the book that their last night in the internment camp was a strange one, some were drunk, some were with loved ones, others packed their things (unknowing what was to come). They were informed that roll call would be in the morning and that for every person missing, 10 would be shot. That morning, 650 Jews were crammed into cattle train cars for a two week journey to the camp. When they arrived there was mass confusion, 96 capable men were selected to work, the rest were never seen again.
The first few days of the camp were an awkward and confusing time, prior to even mentioning the horrible conditions. The were to sleep in places called “huts” each of which were numbered and were crammed with bunks, and even more crammed with a stupid amount of people having to reside there. The “haftlinges” were given one ration of bread and watery soup per day (which is their only form of money). They were stripped naked and waiting for hours, waiting to shower and be shaved by one of the barbers. They took all of their clothes and belongings and gave them ratty pants, shirt, light jacket and beret; along with shoes with wooden soles that never fit right.