Surviving Auschwitz

In “Survival in Auschwitz,” Primo Levi spoke to his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp for ten months.  As the title suggests, Levi spoke to how he managed to survive in such awful conditions.  Early on during his time in Auschwitz, Levi spoke to a time in which he was thirsty and opened the window, hoping to snatch an icicle.  However, a guard on duty quickly took the icicle away from Levi. When he asked the guard why, the guard responded, and said, “there is no why here,” (29). From this experience, Levi learned, “in this place everything is forbidden, not for hidden reasons, but because the camp has been created for that purpose.  If one wants to live on must learn quickly and well,” (29).  With this, it became clear that one way method of survival in Auschwitz was to never question guards, for questioning was a sign of disrespect.

Another example that Primo Levi gave in his account is that “everything is useful,” (33) and “the value of food,” (33).  Levi argued that in order to survive, a prisoner must understand that “everything is useful” because prisoners were not given much and it was imperative to hold onto the things you did have.  Furthermore, Levi argued that prisoners must be aware of their surroundings and hold onto their possessions, for “everything can be stolen,” (33).  This was especially important for prisoners, for they were not given much and if you had something stolen from you, that could mean the end for your survival.  In regards to “the value of food,” Levi argued that food was crucial because food was hard to come by.  With food being so hard to come by, Levi argued that prisoners must “scrape the bottom of the bowl,” (33) for that food had to sustain you for a day’s work.  Lastly, Primo Levi spoke against the idea of hygiene.  The reason?  Levi believed that taking the time to wash yourself simply was not worth it, for you were wasting your energy when you could have been resting.  Ultimately, Primo Levi and his account provide tremendous insight on what life was like in Auschwitz and how best to survive such terrible conditions.

One thought on “Surviving Auschwitz

  1. It is extremely difficult to wrap one’s head around just how much we take things for granted today. The experiences Levi brought to life through his vivid stories and memories provided us with a taste of just how horrific the conditions in these concentration camps were. While we waste food and drink in the cafeteria or quarry, “Levi spoke to a time in which he was thirsty and opened the window, hoping to snatch an icicle” only to have the icicle snatched away by a guard.

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