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Holocaust in “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi Essay

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2021


It is imperative to note that the Holocaust is often viewed as the biggest crime in human history, and this topic is frequently studied by scholars. Many books and articles are focused on this subject matter, and there are many opinions on the reasoning behind this catastrophe. Work by Primo Levi titled “Survival in Auschwitz” is especially fascinating because the author shares his personal experience and explains struggles that he had to go through at that time. A review of this piece can help to get a better understanding of these events and its primary causes.


The central character has to deal with numerous issues and situations over the course of the novel and was able to survive in the end. Moreover, his perspective on the whole situation is valuable because it helps to understand some of the aspects of the Holocaust that are not commonly known. It is necessary to mention that the hatred towards Jews was present on the territory of the Europe even before the propaganda by Nazis. “Even the children, even the old, even the ill” is the line that draws attention (Levi 14). It suggests that such factors were not important to Germans, and they lacked ay empathy towards these people. Individuals were aware

Also, it is important to note that Hitler’s ability to influence people was truly astounding. People were not satisfied with the government, and Hitler has proposed an alternative. He was able to gain an enormous following thanks to his unique speaking abilities. Many viewed him as a dangerous person, but he was able to take advantage of numerous situations to gain power. Hitler was aware of the fact that enormous percentage of the population has hated Communism, and it was an outstanding opportunity to promote his ideas.

Moreover, he could deliver misleading information to ensure that the population is against Jews. One of the core aspects that should not be overlooked is that they were linked to Communism, and it has affected the way they are perceived by others. Another issue that needs to be discussed is that the economy of Germany was hurt because of the World War I, and it has affected the pride of the nation. Many individuals have noticed that some Jews are becoming a vital of the society and are richer than others. Furthermore, it leads to a tremendous tension, and many Germans were jealous and did not want to accept this situation. It can be seen that such ideas were not reasonable, but many individuals were depressed and had to express their anger in some way.

Propaganda has played a critical role, and it was not a hard task to get support from citizens. The role of psychological factors also should not be overlooked, and Nazis understood that they can take advantage of this fact. One of the lines states that “there is the good Häftling, portrayed stripped to the waist, about to diligently soap his sheared and rosy cranium, and the bad Häftling, with a strong Semitic nose” (Levi 39).

This quote indicates that artwork was used to have a psychological impact on Jewish prisoners. Some of their features were quite exaggerated, and the fact that they were viewed in a negative light without any reasoning was especially worrying. It is believed that Hitler had personal hatred towards Jewish people and had many other motives. Also, another problem that needs to be discussed is that they were viewed as incredibly weak and inferior to others.

Guards used force without any emotions or anger because they were used to such actions. The central character has to work in an unsafe environment, and he was viewed as a slave. Most individuals were killed without any doubt, and others had to serve while they were useful. It was evident that the system was already established, and personnel knew what they had to do. Another aspect that is worth noting is that Hitler was elected, and it indicates that the population supported his ideas.

It can be seen in this novel that the way Jewish people are treated is irrational and unjustified, but they were influenced by the Nazi ideologies and believed that it is the only possible option in their situation. “They construct shelters and trenches, they repair the damage, they build, they fight, they command, they organize, and they kill” is another quote that needs to be discussed (Levi 141). In other words, the author believes that one of the primary reasons for such actions is the mentality of Germans that has established over the years.

It is understandable that he did not see any redeeming qualities because the way they were treated was inhumane. However, it is paramount to understand that many people have committed numerous crimes because of obedience. They do not think that they are responsible for the actions because the orders were given by the authority.

One of the factors that allowed such terrible events to happen is an enormous military power of the Germany. Some of the strategies and techniques that were used during the World War I were improved. The army was incredibly motivated and determined to recover its strength. It is necessary to understand that prisoners were isolated from the outside world. Barbed wires and towers were used to protect the camp and to ensure that local population is not aware of what is going on inside.

Any contact with them was strictly forbidden. Moreover, the area was controlled and monitored to avoid leakage of the information. It is evident that Germans wanted this operation to stay secret because they were aware of the fact that numerous complications could occur if something goes wrong. Furthermore, they wanted to minimize records and destroyed any evidence. Code names were used to hide intentions, and it can be seen throughout the whole novel that enormous attention is devoted to secrecy. One of the primary objectives of this approach was to ensure that the population is not aware of the killings, and there are no rebellions. It was much easier to manage people when they did not have an understanding of the policies.


In conclusion, it is possible to state that there were psychological, historical, and economic reasons that have led to the Holocaust. Levi demonstrates that the mentality of Germans has been affected, and the level of hatred towards Jewish people was enormous. Many people understood that their actions are violent and unreasonable, but they believed that they are doing the right thing, and this would increase the power of their country. Nazi propaganda was so powerful that people agreed with almost anything that was said to them because they trusted the authority.

Works Cited

Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1996. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Holocaust in "Survival in Auschwitz" by Primo Levi." September 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/holocaust-in-survival-in-auschwitz-by-primo-levi/.


IvyPanda. "Holocaust in "Survival in Auschwitz" by Primo Levi." September 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/holocaust-in-survival-in-auschwitz-by-primo-levi/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Holocaust in "Survival in Auschwitz" by Primo Levi." September 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/holocaust-in-survival-in-auschwitz-by-primo-levi/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Holocaust in "Survival in Auschwitz" by Primo Levi'. 9 September.

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