Primo Levi, fully Primo Michele Levi

Levi, fully Primo Michele Levi

Italian Jewish Chemist, Writer and Holocaust Survivor

Author Quotes

We who survived the Camps are not true witnesses. We are those who, through prevarication, skill or luck, never touched bottom. Those who have, and who have seen the face of the Gorgon, did not return, or returned wordless.

We will not return No one must leave here and so carry to the world, together with the sign impressed on his skin, the evil tidings of what man's presumption made of man in Auschwitz

When your friend falls down, you do not rejoice, nor could he not have help to get up.

Why does it happen? Why is the pain of every day translated so constantly into our dreams, in the ever-repeated scene of the unlistened-to story?

Willingly or not we come to terms with power, forgetting that we are all in the ghetto, that the ghetto is walled in, that outside the ghetto reign the lords of death, and that close by the train is waiting. by Primo Levi in Drowned

You who live safe in your warm houses, you who find returning in the evening hot food and friendly faces: consider if this is a man who works in the mud who knows no peace who fights for a bread who dies because of a yes or a no. Consider if this is a woman, without hair and unnamed no more strength to remember eyes empty and her womb cold like a frog in winter. Never forget that this was: remember these words. Carve them in your heart being in home because, bed, rising; repeat them to your children. Or have you undone the house, illness impede you, may your children twist their faces from you.

Dawn came on us like a betrayer; it seemed as though the new sun rose as an ally of our enemies to assist in our destruction.

For people condemned to death, tradition prescribes an austere ceremony, calculated to emphasize that all passions and anger have died down, and that the act of justice represents only a sad duty towards society which moves even the executioner to pity for the victim. Thus the condemned man is shielded from all external cares, he is granted solitude and, should he want it, spiritual comfort; in short, care is taken that he should feel around him neither hatred nor arbitrariness, only necessity and justice, and by means of punishment, pardon. But to us this was not granted, for we were many and time was short. And in any case, what had we to repent, for what crime did we need pardon?

Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.

If he believes time has run its course, a man is a sad thing too.

In the space of a few minutes the sky turned black and it began to rain.

It was not worth to have twenty years if we are not allowed the luxury of being wrong way

Nothing can be said: nothing sure, nothing probable, nothing honest. Better to err through omission than through commission: better to refrain from steering the fate of others, since it is already so difficult to navigate one's own.

Sandro was surprised when I tried to explain to him some of the ideas that at the time I was confusedly cultivating. That the nobility of man, acquired in a hundred centuries of trial and error, lay in making himself the conquerer of matter, and that I had enrolled in chemistry because I wanted to remain faithful to this nobility. That conquering matter is to understand it, and understanding matter is necessary to understanding the universe and ourselves: and that therefore Mendeleev's Periodic Table, which just during those weeks we were laboriously learning to unravel, was poetry, loftier and more solemn than all the poetry we had swallowed down in liceo; and come to think of it, it even rhymed!

The institution represented an attempt to shift onto others ? specifically, the victims ? the burden of guilt, so that they were deprived of even the solace of innocence.

There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.

To many, individuals or peoples, it can happen to believe, more or less consciously, that every stranger is an enemy. For the most part this conviction lies at the bottom of the hearts as latent infection; It manifests itself only in occasional acts and uncoordinated, and is not at the origin of a system of thought. But when this happens, when the unspoken dogma becomes the major premise of a syllogism, then, at the end of the chain, it is the Lager.

We felt, and so it was, that nothing full of death where for ten days we strolled as lights turned off had found its solid core, a condensation nucleus: four armed men, but not armed against us; four messengers of peace, from the rough and boyish faces beneath their heavy fur hats. Not greeted, not smiling; they seemed oppressed not only by compassion but by a confused restraint which sealed their lips and bound their eyes to the funereal scene. It was the same shame we know so well, that drowned us after the selections, and every time he touched us assist or submit to an outrage: the shame the Germans did not know, what the right test in front of the wrong committed by others, and remorse that exists, which has been introduced irrevocably into the world of things that exist, and that its goodwill was little, or no, and should not have availed in defense. So for us even the hour of liberty rang out grave and closed and he filled our souls at a time of joy and a painful sense of decency, so we wanted to wash our consciences and our memories of the ugliness that lay: and sorrow, because we felt that this could not happen that nothing ever could happen good and pure to erase our past, and that the scars of would remain within us forever, and in the memories of those who saw it, and in the places where it happened, and stories that we made. Because, and this is the tremendous privilege of our generation and of my people, none better than we ever could grasp the incurable nature of the offense, which spreads like a contagion. E 'foolish to think that human justice can eradicate. It is an inexhaustible source of evil; it breaks the body and soul of the submerged, it stifles them and renders them abject; it returns as ignominy over the oppressors, is perpetuated as hatred survivors; and swarms in a thousand ways, against the will of all, as revenge, as a moral capitulation, as denial, as weariness, as renunciation.

Destroy the home is difficult, almost as much as creating it: it was not easy, it was not fast, but you have achieved Germans. Here we are docile in front of your eyes: our side no longer have to fear nothing or acts of rebellion, or words of challenge, even an accusatory look.

For us, on the contrary, the Lager is not a punishment; for us, no end is foreseen and the Lager is nothing but a manner of living assigned to us, without limits of time, in the bosom of the Germanic social organism.

I am constantly amazed by man's inhumanity to man.

If it is impossible to understand, you need to know, because what happened, can return, the conscience may again be deceived and darkened: ours too.

In this place everything is forbidden, not for hidden reasons, but because the camp has been created for that purpose.

It was the shame we knew so well, the shame that drowned us after the selections, and every time we had to watch, or submit to, some outrage: the shame that the Germans did not know, that the just man experiences at another man's crime; the feeling of guilt that such a crime should exist, that it should have been introduced irrevocably into the world of things that exist, and that his will for good should have proved too weak or null, and should not have availed in defense.

Nothing, Gedaleh said. They?re there to make the Germans wonder why they?re there. We?ve wasted maybe two minutes; they?re methodical, they?ll waste a lot more.

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Levi, fully Primo Michele Levi
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Italian Jewish Chemist, Writer and Holocaust Survivor