Primo Levi: Survival of Auschwitz-
Within the reading of Primo Levi, I found that I actually strongly enjoyed the story he told. Most intriguing to me though, was the hierarchy that could be seen within the concentration camp at Auschwitz. More than that, the prisoners were able to maintain a certain social structure after the SS guards had left camp. They found their own community within the fences, despite the fact that there was a possibility of escape.
When Primo first arrives at the camp, several things are revealed to him. One of the most important is that experience matters. Despite the fact that the people who have been there the longest have already been weakened, they gain power in the social system by knowing how the camp operates. Therefore, experience is extremely helpful. Further above them, are Prisoners of War, German criminals, and SS Guards.
I find it very interesting that even in a system that is meant to strip people of their meaning entirely, the prisoners still find a way to attempt to set themselves higher than one another. It goes to show that we as humans seek to be better than one another no matter the situation. While this may seem very negative, and in any other setting it would be, I believe that in the concentration camps it provided some sense of normality. Even if that normality is cruel, it allowed the prisoners to believe they had some sort of control in their lives.
Following the abandonment of the camp by SS Guards, the prisoners remained set. Besides dividing into their own factions, there seemed to be a relative cooperativeness among groups. At this point, Levi had grown to be a significant leader in the camp and showed mercy and generosity among people who were not even in his “faction”.
Overall, I felt that the book did an excellent job at showing the different types of people in the world, all condensed down into an unfortunate situation. In each type of worldly situation you examine, there always seems to be some sort of system of hierarchy which negatively effects a type of person involved.
-How small of a line did they walk at the Ka Be?
-Was it hard to keep the secret economic system from SS guards or did they just choose not to notice?
-If they could go get potatoes, why didn’t they leave?