Survival in Auschwitz Ch 1-6

I know that this assigned reading is only one reading (the whole book) but I’m not about to have a page on my blog with only one post on it because that’s just dumb. I divided it. I also know that I had enough time to read this book word for word but I did not, full disclosure.


  • In December 1943 Primo Levi had been captured by the Fascist Militia of Italy after trying to join a resistance movement (Justice and Liberty)
  • After Levi is caught he’s moved to a detention camp (bc he’s Jewish) with a bunch of other people (like, 600 Italian Jewish people) and then the SS shows up and says they were going to move somewhere else
  • At one point the SS says that for every one person missing they’d shoot 10 random people
    • obviously all of this is super fucked up and all but I think this is fucked up for two reasons: one, it’s just fucked up that they’re planning on killing people if someone runs away; people not even involved in the escapee’s escape and two, it’s a psychological thing with everyone in the camp. I’d imagine they start to turn against each other and get all paranoid that someone is going to run away and then just start to hate everyone because everyone is a risk to everyone else. But then the people with more of a conscience are thinking about how to escape (as every rational person would) but are concerned about the ten people that will die if they do so. So basically everyone is stuck where they are out of fear or out of guilt
  • Most people know they’re going to die
  • When they get to Auschwitz they’re separated based on age, gender, and health (if you’re healthy we’re going to take you somewhere to make you unhealthy and if you’re unhealthy we’ll probably just kill you)Image result for will smith oh well
  • Random people go through all of the prisoners’ luggage and Primo is taken off to somewhere else on a truck where the German guard is all “hey can I have your stuff bc you don’t need them anymore” (but actually the quote is “At a certain point he [the German guard] (this is narrated by Levi) switches on a pocket torch and instead of shouting threats of damnation at us, he asks us courteously, one by one, in German and in pidgin language, if we have any money or watches to give him, seeing that they will not be useful to us anymore”) (21).
    • That’s kind of shitty in its own way because this German guy who’s transporting all of these Jewish men basically to their deaths has kind of a paradoxical nature? He’s taking them to where they’re going to work until they die, basically, but he’s asking them “courteously, one by one, in German and in pidgin language [which is like Creole]” which is kind of sweet


  • They pass under a bridge that says (or translates to) “work gives freedom”
    Image result for yeah okay
  • Everyone is really thirsty (same) (that was insensitive, my bad)
  • The prisoners have their stuff taken and their heads shaved and then some guy tells them things that seem nice but Levi is just like Jennifer Lawrence (“yeah, okay” *thumbs up*) and then the shower turns on and the prisoners are given shitty clothes and shoes and then they’re all tattooed and they’re all still really thirsty (still, same) (still v insensitive, still my bad)
  • Some kid named Schlome tells Levi not to drink the water (something is wrong with it) and then hugs him and it’s cute (“he [Schlome] now gets up, approaches me and timidly embraces me. The adventure is over, and I feel filled with a serene sadness that is almost joy. I have never seen Schlome since, but I have not forgotten his serious and gentle face of a child, which welcomes me on the threshold of the house of the dead”) (31).
  • There are a shitload of rules and everyone works an obscene amount and Primo hates it and is suffering big-time
  • Quote: “We Italians had decided to meet every Sunday evening in a corner of the Lager, but we stopped it at once, because it was too sad to count our numbers and find fewer each time, and to see each other ever more deformed and more squalid. And it was so tiring to walk those few steps and then, meeting each other, to remember and to think. It was better not to think” (37).
    • I’m fully aware that this isn’t even the same level (which is kind of why I’m writing this) but sometimes when my anxiety and depression is really bad, the worst thing to do is just think about things because it just makes things worse. So I guess I sympathize here because “it was better not to think” and that’s just on a whole ‘nother level.


  • Primo has lots of questions about everything but the other prisoners shout, “Ruhe, Ruhe! I [Levi] understand that they are ordering me to be quiet…” (38).
    • If I had questions about stuff (especially something in a situation that’s very life-or-death) and people told me to be quiet I’d flip a fucking table
      Image result for I'll flip a fucking table
  • In the morning when everyone gets their morning bread they trade with each other in hopes of getting a bigger piece, but, like, honestly, do you think that’s going to work? I’ll give you a dollar if you give me a dollar
  • But people also use bread for bargaining for other things
  • They’re taken to get washed up and eventually Primo is like, “fuck it, I’ll get dirty anyway” and decides to think about and appreciate his life instead
  • Levi’s friend Steinlauf tells him that “because the Lager was a great machine to reduce us to beasts, we must not become beasts, that even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to certain insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all out strength for it is the last – the power to refuse out consent… e must walk erect, without dragging our feet, not in homage to Prussian discipline but to remain alive, not to begin to die” (41).
  • But Levi thinks, “is it really necessary to elaborate a system and put it into practice? Or would it not be better to acknowledge one’s lack of a system?”


  • Primo is working with a guy that no one wants to work with because that guy (Null Achtzehn, which translates to ‘Zero Eighteen’ because no one has names anymore) is indifferent which is apparently bad, and also no one wants to work with Primo bc he’s a klutz (relatable)
    Image result for 'same' meme (because I am also a klutz, get it, get it, get it)
  • Primo is carrying something, his strength gives out, and he fucks up his foot but since it’s not broken the Kapo (administrative prisoner) tells him to get back to work. But later Levi realizes that it’s, like, really fucked up and he’s like “this is the end”
  • So basically he goes to the clinic, they tell him to come back the next day, he goes back the next day and waits for like 10 hours, is made fun of, and told by the nurse that he’s as good as dead. He gets some time to himself while in the clinic but also learns about the crematoriums and stuff which he’s not really ready for (naturally, bc who could really be ready for that?)
  • He also has time to think about his life which he doesn’t have time to do when he’s being worked like a mule


  • Primo has to leave the clinic because his foot is almost healed, is put into another group, and has his spoon and knife taken away, but his new group has his bff Alberto
  • He has these dreams where he’s at home and he tells his family about what it was like at the camp but no one understands and it’s sometimes like he’s not even there. Other prisoners also have this dream.
  • Everything is disgusting and Levi’s feet are bad again

CHAPTER 6 (bless)

  • Levi gets a new bunkmate guy
  • All the prisoners have to unload a bunch of really big heavy stuff (which is easier because there are more people working on it but more dangerous because if you don’t pay attention u dead)
  • Primo gets to pair with his new bunkmate which he’s happy about because his bunkmate is stronger than he is so Resnyk (the bunkmate) can bear more weight than Primo but still carrying stuff through the snow is a real struggle
  • Primo goes to the bathroom and damn, there’s a guy (the weakest guy in the Kommando) that the Kapo sends with people to the bathroom because he’s weak so people won’t try to escape
    • It’s like taking the key that’s attached to a massive block of wood so you don’t steal the key, but, like, more intense