Tag: Primo Levi

Checking Your Privilege At Auschwitz

Primo Levi, 1976 appendix to If This Is a Man: We should recall that in some camps uprisings did take place: in Treblinka, in Sobibór, and even in Birkenau, one of the sub-camps of Auschwitz…In all instances, they were planned and led by prisoners who were in some sense privileged, and so in better physical and spiritual condition than the ordinary prisoners. This should not be surprising: only at first glance does it seem paradoxical that the ones who revolt are those who suffer least.

Primo Levi, “For Adolf Eichmann”

Galleys of the three volumes of The Complete Works of Primo Levi arrived in the mail today. I’ve got my summer reading plans. This poem jumped out at me, from volume 3. For Adolf Eichmann The wind runs free across our plains, The live sea beats on our beaches. Man feeds the earth, the earth gives him flowers and fruit: He lives in torment and joy, he hopes and fears, he engenders sweet children.   …And you have come, our precious enemy, Abandoned creature, man encircled by death. What can you say now, before our congregation? Will you swear by a god? What god? Will you leap joyfully into the grave? Or will you grieve the way the busy man grieves at last, Whose […]

Yom HaShoah: Three Readings

On Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, three readings. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: And night came, and it was such a night that one knew that human eyes would not witness it and survive. Everyone felt this: not one of the guards, neither Italian nor German, had the courage to come and see what men do when they know they have to die. All took leave from life in the manner which most suited them. Some praying, some deliberately drunk, others lustfully intoxicated for the last time. But the mothers stayed up to prepare the food for the journey with tender care, and washed their children and packed the luggage; and at dawn the barbed wire was full of children’s […]

A Fistful of Crazy, Starring Jonathan Rauch, in Which Our Hero Argues that Primo Levi was an American Enemy

This post from Jonathan Rauch—no, not the one where he complains about the blogosphere spirit of “Roman gladiatorial entertainment”—is just a fistful of crazy. According to Rauch: If you wanted a simple criterion to demarcate America’s enemies, you could do worse than ask a single question: Is this country, movement, or ideology antisemitic? Since at least the 1930s, the Axis of Evil and the Axis of Antisemitimism [sic] have been basically congruent (imperial Japan and Asian Communism being the major exceptions). “Simple” is the operative word here. Let’s start with those exceptions.  Imperial Japan occupied a not insignificant portion of America’s attention during World War II.  “Asian Communism” produced the only wars America fought, officially and semi-officially, between 1945 and 1991. […]