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.

Does not ingenuity consist in the finding or creating of connections between apparently extraneous orders of ideas?)

He came to a sudden dissolution. The door was opened with a crash, the darkness eccheggio 'foreign orders, and of those barbaric barking of Germans when they command that seem to give the wind to a centuries-old anger.

I beg the reader not to go in search of messages. It is a term that I detest because it distresses me greatly, for it forces on me clothes that are not mine, which in fact belong to a human type that I distrust; the prophet, the soothsayer, the seer. I am none of these; I?m a normal man with a good memory who fell into a maelstrom and got out of it more by luck than by virtue, and who from that time on has preserved a certain curiosity about maelstroms large and small, metaphorical and actual.

If we could draw two conflicting philosophical consequences: the praise of purity, which protects from evil like a coat of mail; the praise of the impurity, which gives rise to the changes, that is, to life. I discarded the first, disgustingly moralistic, and I lingered to consider the second, I was more congenial. Because the wheel rotates, so that the living life, we want to impurities: even in the soil, as is known, if it has to be fertile. It takes the different, the different, grain of salt and mustard: Fascism does not want them, forbids them, and that's why you're not fascist; He wants all the same and you're not the same. But even the spotless virtue exists, or if there is a detestable thing.

It is a pretty structure isn?t it? It makes you think of something solid, stable, well-linked. In fact it happens also in chemistry as in architecture that ?beautiful? edifices, that is, symmetrical and simple, are also the most sturdy: in short, the same thing happens with molecules as with the cupolas of cathedrals of the arches of bridges.

Ka-Be is the Lager without the physical discomforts. So that, whoever still has some seeds of conscience, feels his conscience re-awaken; and in the long empty days, one speaks of other things than hunger and work and one begins to consider what they have made us become, how much they have taken away from us, what this life is. In this Ka-Be, an enclosure of relative peace, we have learnt that our personality is fragile, that it is much more in danger than our life; and the old wise ones, instead of warning us 'remember that you must die', would have done much better to remind us of this great danger that threatens us. If from inside the Lager, a message could have seeped out to free men, it would have been this: take care not to suffer in your own homes what is inflicted on us here.

One hesitates to call them living: one hesitates to call their death ?death?, in the face of which they have no fear, as they are too tired to understand.

Stand back, leave me alone, submerged people, go away. I haven't dispossessed anyone, haven't usurped anyone's bread. No one died in my place. No one. Go back into your mist. It's not my fault if I live and breathe, eat, drink, sleep and put on clothes.

The living are more demanding; the dead can wait.

They all keep repeating that the Russians will come rather soon; all were convinced and still nobody hoped deep down. Because the bearings person loses the habit hopes even confidence in your own mind. To think the camp is unnecessary because the events occurred unpredictable and harmful, because this habit kept alive sensitivity, which is a source of grief and that provident natural laws dull as suffering pass certain limits. One gets tired not only of joy, fear and grief, but also of expectation

Today I think that if for no other reason than that an Auschwitz existed, no one in our age should speak of Providence.

We spoke of strangers: Gramsci, Salvemini, Gobetti, the Rosselli; who were they? There was therefore a second story, a parallel story to the one that the school had given us from above?

Each of us bears the imprint of a friend met along the way; In each the trace of each.

He could hardly read or write but his heart spoke the language of the good.

I believe that it was really due to Lorenzo that I am alive today; and not so much for his material aid, as for his having constantly reminded me by his presence, by his natural and plain manner of being good, that there still existed a just world outside our own, something and someone still pure and whole, not corrupt, not savage, extraneous to hatred and terror; something difficult to define, a remote possibility of good, but for which it was worth saving. The personages in these pages are not men. Their humanity is buried, or they themselves have buried it, under an offense received or inflicted on someone else. The evil and insane SS men, the Kapos, the politicals, the criminals, the prominents, great and small, down to the indifferent slave H„ftlinge, all the grades of the mad hierarchy created by the Germans paradoxically fraternized in a uniform internal desolation. But Lorenzo was a man; his humanity was pure and uncontaminated, he was outside this world of negation. Thanks to Lorenzo, I managed not to forget that I myself was a man.

If we had to and were able to suffer the sufferings of everyone, we could not live.

It is curious how this animal-like condition would repeat itself in language: in German there are two words for eating. One is essen and it refers to people, and the other is fressen, referring to animals. We say a horse frisst, for example, or a cat. In the lager, without anyone having decided that it should be so, the verb for eating was fressen. As if the perception of the animalesque regression was clear to all.

Let us now imagine a man deprived not only of the people he loves, but his house, his habits, his clothes, everything, in short, literally everything he has: it will be an empty man, reduced to suffering and need, devoid of discernment, forgetful of dignity: for it is not unusual when you have lost everything, to lose oneself; it will be a man we can decide of life and death with a light heart, without any consideration of human order, if not, at most, the utility criterion. So we understand the double meaning of the word extermination camp and what we mean by hit bottom.

One of them declared: 'Doing this work, one either goes crazy the first day or gets accustomed to it.' Another, though: 'Certainly I could have killed myself or got myself killed; but I wanted to survive, to avenge myself and bear witness. You mustn't think that we are monsters; we are the same as you, only much more unhappy.

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