Analytical Essay on Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz

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The Holocaust, a Greek word meaning “a burned offering,” describes an incomprehensible event in history: the genocide of six million Jews. This tragedy has remained in the public mindset due to the eye witness accounts of the atrocities, reminding the public to never forget. Out of the six extermination camps, Auschwitz was the largest and longest in operation. In Auschwitz, despite the constant threat of selections, the minute-by-minute struggle to survive became routine. Adaptation was important in Auschwitz; adapt and hopefully live to breathe another day, however, failure to do so was certain death. “Aufstehen!”1 marked the beginning of a new day by erasing the desires that resided in peoples’ dreams and initializing another day in hell. A typical day in Auschwitz began with making the bed and this was an important task. Make a great bed and no threat of punishment, however those who made the bed poorly, known as “schlechte Bettenbauer”2 were punished. After roll call, the inmates to began a march to their work site where their clothing provided little protection against the frigid conditions. The inmates’ work varied, depending upon their skills or lack their of. For example, the inmates were required to unload a large and heavy cast iron tube from a wagon. Although a tube of this epic portion would appear to be a daunting task, “it {was} notoriously less exhausting to work with big loads” 3 because the work was better delegated. A siren would signify the approach of midday and the calling of lunch time. Although their stomachs were growling, no one wanted to be first, “{since} the first person {received} the most liquid.”4 A hour of serenity allowed the men to eat and reside safely in their dreams until the words “alles heraus” were spoken; it is time to resume their work.

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