The personal accounts of the Holocaust take us right into the concentration camps and show us the life of a prisoner. Each account is different as each of the prisoners were from different backgrounds and experienced the camps in different manners. Primo Levi tells in his book, Survival in Auschwitz, of his own personal time in the camp as a young scientist who learned how to survive.
In reading Survival in Auschwitz, one sees the cruelty of the Nazi guards and even of the other prisoners who become traitors or just want to survive. One can see the hope vanish in the eyes of the prisoners as their bodies fade from lack of food and too much exposure to the elements What Levi gives that many others do not is the soul of Auschwitz.
The reader gets to see into the social structure that develops even within the concentration camps. The world outside was forbidden so the prisoners tried to create their own version within the barbed-wire borders. Those that could not survive died. Those that were determined to live to the next day found their place in the new world and forged a new identity.
Levi describes how he manages to use his scientific skills to work in camp labs and to obtain extra food and tools. The treasure of a spoon cannot escape the reader. The value of the weak food is made abundantly clear. Life is not easy in Auschwitz, but life did not completely die.
Reading Leviís book gives the reader a sense of actually being there. You will not find grotesque descriptions of the fires or the bodies. Little is actually focused on the gas chambers. Levi references the deaths as men are chosen from the ranks and disappear completely. Instead, he gives a tale of his survival which in turn also shows us many of the others that touched his life and how they managed in such horrific conditions.
This is a book on the Holocaust that is invaluable in understanding how those that survived Auschwitz and the other camps did it. It takes the reader into their lives and exposes the cruelty and despair. Levi has done a wonderful job in retelling his experiences in a way that one who has no experience in such conditions can get a taste of what really happened.
Disclaimer: This book was purchased by the authorís own funds.