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Survival in Auschwitz

(Auschwitz Trilogy #1)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  41,032 ratings  ·  1,710 reviews
SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ (or If This Is a Man), first published in 1947, is a work by the Italian-Jewish writer, Primo Levi. It describes his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.
Kindle Edition, 154 pages
Published July 26th 2013 (first published 1947)
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It's hard to say anything about this magnificent book that hasn't been said many times before, so I won't even try but just write a note on why I have an abiding sadness when I think of the author.

Primo Levi lived all his life in the house of his birth in Turin, Italy apart from when he was in the concentration camp. Luckily he lived, just, through that awful, murderous year, and to all intents and purposes resumed the life of a chemist and author that the Nazis interrupted. He wrote
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
This book is said to be one of the most important books ever written about Holocaust. What I am referring here are not the history books but the first-hand experiences written and narrated by the people who were there when the Holocaust happened. Since I read a handful of these, I can't disagree. I even think that, in some aspects, this could be the MOST important of them all.

You see, Anne Frank wrote her diary The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank at 13 while hiding in her house with her family so she was not able to include her harrowing e
Sidharth Vardhan

"Only an animal worries all the time about the next meal."
- Naguib Mahfouz

The desperation of the quote arising out of the idea that poor forced to live meal-to-meal might not be able to enjoy a human life can be found in Levi's memoir too. It's title coming from the poem that begins:

"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 does not know
Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every person alive.
I will try not to overstate my feelings on this book.

I believe this is one of (if not THE) most important book ever written. Everyone should read this book. It details Levi's journey from his home in Turin to Buchenwald. It is absolutely beautifully written. Levi's style of writing is unlike any other I've read. It is detailed, incredibly intelligent, moving, poignant, and in some way almost detached from his experience, which makes reading about it all the more moving and painful. To hear him
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every decent person on this planet who can read
There have been so many reviews written on Primo Levi’s “Survival in Auschwitz” that I have very little to add. It has been said many a time that “Survival in Auschwitz” (original title “If This is a Man”) IS THE BEST OF ALL HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS, and it may very well be. Primo Levi not only tells about his horrific experience, he also adds psychological and philosophical reflections, which make this Holocaust memoir unique.

I would like to endorse the following review:

I found it to the point.
"Here there is no why."

Primo Levi was an Italian Jew who came to live in very troubled times. Born and raised in Turin, he was subjected to the fascist racial laws which discriminated against Jews and made finding employment very difficult; after the German occupation of Italy began, he joined the resistance movement but was quickly caught and transferred to an internment camp. When the camp itself came under German control, the authorities started arranging mass deportations of captured Jews to la
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is perhaps easier to read than one might imagine.

Primo Levi, aged 25, was attached to a resistance group in Italy. He had recently graduated from Turin University as a chemist, and he was Jewish.

He was captured by German forces in 1944, and deported …. And from then on followed a year of hell in Auschwitz.

Levi writes beautifully, but with a cool voice, so the reader is able to stand slightly back from the horrendous experiences that he describes.

Survival in Auschwitz
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

A well-written, accessible testimony of day to day life in the Lager of Buna-Monowitz (Auschwitz), from January 1944 until its liberation on 27 January 1945.

The struggle with hunger, cold, tiredness and sickness becomes almost tangible while reading the many true stories which are absorbingly told.

The author's intelligent, insightful thoughts on the de
Si c’est un Homme
By Primo Levi (1919-1987)

This the narrative of the author’s ordeal during his detention at the Auschwitz death camp from his arrest in February 1944 by fascist Italian militia.
To his liberation in January 1945 by the arrival of the Russian Army.

Much has been written about the Nazi death camps, but few books have been written by survivors. There were very few of them. From all Italian prisoners transferred to the camps, only about five percent
Luís C.
It is not necessary to consume mountains of books to understand the atrocity, inhumanity, visceral cruelty of war. Only One. No need to cram definitions and issue cries to understand what an organized genocide. Only One. Needless to collect thousands of testimonials to get an idea of the trauma experienced by those who escaped the carnage in extremis of the death camps. Only One. No need to make multiple detailed diagrams to explain the process of dehumanization carefully meditated to destroy al ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. A recount of Life In Hell on Earth.
First off, I must point out that I think it is very difficult to rate someone's personal and emotional account of an event in their life, and even more so when it was a tragedy like the holocaust. That being said, I of course rated the novel five stars, because it is not only a completely true account but it was also written brilliantly. I had the chance before I read this book to read "Man's Search for Meaning", which is another book about the experiences of a survivor of a concentration camp, ...more
Lewis Weinstein
A remarkable telling of the horror the Germans created at Auschwitz, and what was necessary in order to survive.

From the first arrival ... We have to form rows of five, with intervals of two yards between man and man; then we have to undress and make a bundle of the clothes in a special manner, the woolen garments on one side, all the rest on the other; we must take off our shoes but pay great attention that they are not stolen.

Many incredible reflective passages ...

What do you say about a book such as this? Other than it’s important to read it? I’m not sure.

This is Primo Levi’s eye witness account, his version of his personal experiences being a prisoner in Auschwitz during WWII. It’s not exaggerated, it’s not put into a neat narrative, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Which may be what makes it all the more powerful. He writes in a way that’s almost analytical, each chapter covers a particular subject or theme. There’s little thought given to chro
A well-written, accessible testimony of day to day life in the Lager of Buna-Monowitz (Auschwitz), from January 1944 until its liberation on 27 January 1945.

The struggle with hunger, cold, tiredness and sickness becomes almost tangible while reading the many true stories which are absorbingly told.

The author's insightful thoughts on the dehumanization caused by this constant struggle and the humiliation of the Jewish prisoners, make this book a superior, timeless and mandatory read.

Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most tragic things about this book for me, other than the fact that the events of the book themselves transpired, is that Primo Levi committed suicide. Not that the man and his book need an introduction, but I need to make a point. I'm going to refer to the book by its intended name: If This is A Man, and here's why. For the entirety of the book, in more ways than one, Levi challenges the reader to change their perception of what makes a man. Some of this has to do with the way one is tra ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, energy, fascism
A disturbng and important book. Levi's distinction between the drowned and the saved in ch. 9 is especially interesting. The writing is a bit formal and the translation also is slghtly stuff. And, of course, we have all read s omuch of this now (and seen so much of it -- in other this horrid century) that its force (pub. in 1958) is somewhat attenuate. Yet Levi's ntelligence is such that the book retains a permanent value.
Tracy Towley
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most difficult books I've ever read. Not in it's word usage or general prose style, but reading about this man's experience in Auschwitz and knowing that it was real . . . I had a really hard time getting through it.

This was the story of Primo Levi, a man who lived in Auschwitz and managed to survive. As I was reading this, I kept thinking about how strange the human's want to survive is. If I were in his position, I am not sure that I would continue fighting. I'm
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
If Goodreads had a ten-star rating scheme, I would have wanted to give this book eleven stars. This book is a message from the dark heart of the darkest century. Everyone should read this book; if they did, it might help make the 21st century less calamitous than the 20th century.
Adam Dalva
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really incredible piece of writing whose non-American title, If This Is A Man, gets the point of the work across much better. This is no retroactively heroic how-to guide, but instead a bewildered, surreal look at the draining horror of the mundane in Auschwitz. Levi's lack of sentimentality is remarkable, and the book mixes compulsive page-turning with sharp analysis of the human condition. It is, of course, brutal, but its insights and moments of practical beauty make it a must read. The last ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz is a memoir about Levi's:
good fortune to be deported to Auschwitz only in 1944, that is, after the German Government had decided, owing to the growing scarcity of labour, to lengthen the average lifespan of the prisoners destined for elimination; it conceded noticeable improvements in the camp routine and temporarily suspended killings at the whim of individuals.
Levi refuses to offer his readers a sugarcoating of what life in a concentration camp was like. Consequently, there is
Dhanaraj Rajan
I would also like to say along with many others that it is one of the important books specially relating to Auschwitz.
The life in the infamous concentration camp is narrated by who is counted among the few luckiest ones to survive the camp-life. Primo Levi was there for a year. But then his observations and narrations are very clear and vivid that the reader can imagine the hard life within the barbed wires. It is not an elaborate book. It is a straight forward book with just 180 pages. Bu
Will Ansbacher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, biography, history
a compelling though very difficult book to read, and to comment on; in fact all comment seems superfluous.

Primo Levi’s writing is always so precise, yet so moving. This is an utterly bleak but realistic report of what is was like to live through more than a year in Auschwitz. The title is wrong, of course – it is not at all about how to survive (which sounds altogether too deliberate and upbeat). The original title “if this is a man ...” was far more accurate, as Levi documents how fast one’s h
Sotiris Karaiskos
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
One of the most staggering books about the Holocaust, and especially about the terribly things that happened in the largest concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. But this which makes it stand out from the multitude of related books, is the fact that it actually involves much more than a denunciation of the greatest crime of the Nazis. Through its pages, of course, this is highlighted but the author insists more on the effect this situation had on the prisoners of the camp and on those involved ...more
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi is one of the must-read books. This necessity does not arise from its amazing plot, excellent multidimensional characters, intriguing twists, and etc. This reading necessity can be compared to a polio vaccine. It is something that must be done. In the hectic life of the twenty first century and brain-numbing historical ignorance, the biggest cultural and moral disease the humanity ever experienced – The Holocaust- seems to be sidelined in the modern world. Yes, people know ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scheissbegleiter...really, how can anyone understand such a thing? Primo Levi takes you into the awful hell of Auschwitz to show you what life was like and how they survived or not. Such a powerful book and one that everyone should read at some time. After a "selection" of prisoners who will soon depart for the gas chambers, Levi sees one praying and thanking G0d that he was not selected. How can one imagine a "Providence" in such a time? 5 Stars It was truly amazing.
Stella Cannon
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another unbelievable Survival Story which was packed with intense details of the situation.

I do highly suggest everyone to read this story.
"Survival in Auschwitz" is a work by the Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi. I almost said it is a novel, but it isn't really a novel, the back of my copy calls it, a stark prose poem, an account, a testament, a work of art, and a work, so I went with just a work. "Survival in Auschwitz" seems to be more known by the title "If This Is A Man", I'm not sure why the title was changed in the Unit ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Primo Levi was a young Jewish man living in Turin, Italy when he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Due to a combination of luck and calculation, he survived.

I truly, truly hate to give any Holocaust memoir less than five stars. They are all important and they should all be read.

That said.

Somehow I never got drawn into this book. It took me two weeks to read a book that is 190 pages long. Crazy, right? I can't put my finger on what my problem was. Bear with me as I try
Yigal Zur
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important books ever written after the holocaust. A must read
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Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]) was a chemist and writer, the author of books, novels, short stories, essays, and poems. His unique 1975 work, The Periodic Table, linked to qualities of the elements, was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain as the best science book ever written.

Levi spent eleven months imprisoned at Monowitz, one of the three main camps in the Auschwitz

Other books in the series

Auschwitz Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Reawakening
  • The Drowned and the Saved
“Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfect happiness is unrealizable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect unhappiness is equally unattainable. The obstacles preventing the realization of both these extreme states are of the same nature: they derive from our human condition which is opposed to everything infinite.” 159 likes
“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.”
More quotes…