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Survival in Auschwitz

(Auschwitz Trilogy #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  54,456 ratings  ·  2,272 reviews
The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was a
Paperback, 187 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Simon Schuster (first published 1947)
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Heidi Yes. In the original Italian it was published as If This Is a Man (Italian: Se questo è un uomo) (see wikipedia)

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Petra-X has been locked down for one full year
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 The Periodi
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 16, 2009 rated it liked it
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 h
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 peace
Who fights for a scrap of
Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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:
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
"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 Jew
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it

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.

Not everyone is the same in the camp. N
Greta G
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 dehumanization caused by this constant struggle and humiliation of the Jewish prisoners, make this book a superior, timel
Roy Lotz
It is difficult to say anything about this book that has not been said a thousand times before. Survival in Auschwitz is a horrific account of Levi’s internment in the most infamous of concentration camps. Personal accounts of death camps have—tragically—become something of a genre in the 20th century. Yet no matter how many times one reads about this historical atrocity, the shock is just as powerful.

Levi’s book is no doubt among the most moving and insightful of these testimonies, for his eloq
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 succeeded in returning home.

Primo Le
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Very well written. A recount of Life In Hell on Earth.
Unbearable, unbearable, intolerable, this testimony is the demonstration of pure horror carried by a fine intelligence and strength.
Without either hatred or victimization, Primo Levi tells the things seen, the things felt with disturbing but strangely captivating accuracy.
What arouses interest here is this demonic machine in motion, this well-oiled Nazi system and this blatant dehumanization in which vice, hierarchy, and the hunt for death persist.
To those who will say that it is useless to read
Lewis Weinstein
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...

... There is nowhere to look
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just after reading a few pages, I didn't want to continue reading the book. I felt like it would get more depressive and perhaps gruesome. Somehow I continued to reading, and realized that Levi is such a wonderful man. The writing is measured, humane, and above all wise. As I finished reading it, I felt like I was in a good company. His way of telling the story is nothing but constructive. Not with big acts of cruelty but with small gestures he would reveal what people can do to one another.

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
Greta G
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.

Tracy Towley
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 not sure I
Adam Dalva
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fascism, energy, germany
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. ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
137th book of 2020.

In the wake of books like this, anything I say is rather useless. I don’t believe in “essential” books – I never seriously implore that someone must read any certain books (other than wanting friends to read my favourite novels). Primo Levi is possibly the one writer who I would say to the world, This is essential reading.

This book was published here in England as If This is a Man; my parents returned recently from Tavistock with a Folio of this book as a gift. I own the book
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
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
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I don’t know why this book did not speak to me more than it did. I read any and everything I can about the Holocaust – a subject I am obsessed with for some unknown reason.

Levi was in the camp for a year and describes the horrors in what seemed to me a very dispassionate manner. He speaks of the constant hunger and the freezing cold with insufficient clothing, but his ‘voice’ is like coming from an onlooker.

I found the camp’s ‘trading system’ he describes of interest – an entire chapter is devot
Will Ansbacher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history, ebook
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
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. Co
Dhanaraj Rajan
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. But then
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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 c

Other books in the series

Auschwitz Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Reawakening
  • The Drowned and the Saved

News & Interviews

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
24 likes · 5 comments
“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.” 185 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…