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September 23, 1960 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1960-09-23

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS -- Friday, September 23, 1966 —

Italian Jew Tells Experiences in Auschwitz, Exposes Bestialities in Shocking Account

Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish
chemist, was among the victims
of Nazism. He was incarcerated
in the Fossoli camp, together
with other sufferers from the
plague that struck Italy and
the rest of Europe. Then he was
transferred to the Auschwitz
horror camp.
An account of his humiliat-
ing and terrifying experiences
appears in his "If This Is a
Man," published by Orion Press
(30 5th, N.Y. 31), in a trans-
lation from the Italian by Stu-
art Woolf.
"If This Is a Man" is a deeply
moving story that will, once
again, shock the sensibilities of
the readers. It now forms part
of the record that continues to
be compiled against Hitlerism
and the German terrors.

It isn't entertaining read-
ing, but it is among the most
revealing accounts of one of
the most brutal periods in
history, and it should be
read widely for an under-
standing of Nazi tactics.

Captured on Dec. 13, 1943, at
the age of 24, by the Fascist
militia, after fleeing with the
resistance forces into the moun-
tains, Levi admitted his status
of "Italian citizen of Jewish
race," was sent to Fossoli, near
Modena, where there already
were 150 Italian Jews, whose
number grew to 600, and whose
numbers soon began to dwindle
as a result of the wholesale
massacre by the beasts who
then ruled in Italy, and "only
a minority of ingenuous and
deluded souls continued to
hope . . ."
Prepared for 'transfer to an
unknown destination, "dawn
came on us like a betrayer; it
seemed as though the new sun
rose as an ally of our enemies
to ' assist in our destruction,"
Levi states in describing the
commencement of the sufferers'
inferno, "We suffered from
thirst and cold . . . The hours
of darkness were nightmares
without end."
They craved for a handful of
snow, for water, but it was de-
nied them.
As the movement began
towards Auschwitz and to de-
struction for most of the vic-
tims, the pious gathered to fin-
ish "preparations for the jour-
ney in order to have time for

"When all was ready, the
food cooked, the bundles tied
together, they unloosened
their hair, took off their
shoes, placed the Yahrzeit
candles on the ground and
lit them according to the

customs of their fathers, and
sat on the bare soil in a
circle for the lamentations,
praying and weeping all the
night. We collected in a
group in front of their door,
and we experienced within
ourselves a grief that was
new for us, the ancient grief
of the people that has no
land, the grief without hope
of the exodus which is re-
newed every century."

The recollections. of Primo
Levi are vivid. The stories of
children, women and men who
perished are tragic. SS men
were there to torture, to jeer,
to ridicule and to baptize the
"Haeftlinge," tattoo the pris-
oners' numbers "on our left
arm until we die." "Only much
later, and slowly, a few of us
learnt something of the funereal
science of the numbers of
Auschwitz, which epitomize the
stages of destruction of Eur
pean Judaism." These numbe
told the period of entry in t
camp: "Everyone will tre
with respect the numbers fro
30,000 to 80,000: there are onl
a few hundred left and the
represent the few survivals
from the Polish ghettos. It is
well to watch out in commer-
cial feelings with a 116,000 or
117,000: they now number only
about 40 . . ." Levi's number
was 174517.
There was constant trading:
for example, a spoon for three
rations of bread. There were
the ferocious Kapos, the over-
seers who tormented the pris-
oners in order to. gain advan-
tages for themselves. There
were the horrible periods of
"the distribution of bread;' of
bread - Brot - Broid - chleb -
pein - lechem - kenyer, of the
holy grey slab which seems gi-
gantic in your neighbor's hand,
and in your own hand so small
as to make you cry."
Thus, they did not speak of
"essen" when they ate, but of
"fressen," of the animal way of
eating, which was "used cur-
rently among us."

Some sold their gold fill-
ings for bread: "A 'high num-
ber,' that is, a new arrival,
only recently but sufficiently
besotted by hunger and by
the extreme tension of life in
the camp, is noticed by a
`low number' for the number
of his gold teeth; the 'low'
offers the `high' three or four
rations of bread to be paid
in return for extraction. If
the high number accepts, the
low one pays, carries the gold
to Buna, and if in contact
with a civilian of trust, from

whom he fears neither de-
nunciation nor f r a u d ulent
dealing, he can make a gain
of 10 or even as much as 20
or more rations, which are
paid to him gradually . . ."

let your friends and neighbors, the battle against the inhuman-
people of all faiths and races, ity of man to man which our
read it—and the result will be generation experienced only 15
a new dedication to justice, in years ago.

Thus continues the tale of
horror—until the Russians came
and released them. "We lay in
a world of death and phan-
toms," is the comment made in
Levi's diary, Jan. 26, 1945—the
final entries in "If This Is a
Man" being in diary I k*
While Primo Levi
• e wrote
"the shameful
out Man: "in
with confide
driving necessity
the face
and ph cal disabilities man
social abits and instincts
to silence."
n is exonerate
st—as represent
of he
exposedi he
ragedy accou t
deeply movin st
a an," a
Read "If T is

Seek ye the Lord while He may be
Call ye upon Him while He is
the wicked forsake his way,
the man of iniquity his
d let him return unto the Lord,
nd He will have compassion
upon him,
And to our God, for He will
abundantly pardon.

a and
Last year
e un-
ports in Isra
dergone exte ve
• nd invest-
tion with Israe
record cargo
ents, hand
alone handled
ns of cargo, as com-
pared to less than 2,000,000 tons
the year before.

—Isaiah 50:6

r14 : 11 :11 ;11 1Z1t ri2C7 5

Mr. and Mrs. Abe Kasle and Family

Blessed Be The Builders of Israel —
And Blessed Be All Who Strengthen Their Hands

The Officers and Workers of the



Extend Sincerest Good Wis
to All Their Friends d
and Call for the C t
of-;Cultural, Ed

ar of Health and Happiness
chigan Community at Large
of Histadrut in Its Program
Aid to the People of Israel.


Morris L. Sc

.; Harry Schumer, Hon. Chair.; Morris Lieberman, Choir.;

Irving Pokempner, 1st Vice-Chair.; Philip D. Goldstein, Choir. Exec. Bd.; Norman Cottler,

Treas.; Bernard Lindermon, Fin. Sec'y.; Isadore L. Shrodeck, Seciy.; Harold S. Berke,

Exec. Dir.; M. Taich, L. Hoffmitz, Assoc. Dir.

Inman ttnivizri nnO

21, we heartily eet
On the New
May he
the entire J ish commun
prov an
traditional all of the S
the tire
effective summons f pe
nah m
world: May thi
fulfillment of
pe of lsrae nd all
od will,
wo for
the peoples o
without rancor or reats to e security
of natia s.

Our Best Wishes
the Entire . mmunity for a V Happy New Year


17616 Wyoming

es Agency

UNiversity 3-2900

William Hordes — Earl Hordes — Edward Wishnetsky

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