Survival in Auschwitz Essay

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Survival in Auschwitz

One of the most tragic periods in world history was the period in the 1930s and 1940s when certain people decided to turn the world into a graveyard. When Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, he went about a plan to completely eradicate the Jewish people of Europe, a policy which likely would have become worldwide had he been able to win the war. In Primo Levi's autobiography Survival in Auschwitz, he describes what it was like for him trying to survive Nazi persecution of Jews in the middle of the Holocaust. Levi is an Italian man of the Jewish faith and his book was written in both the Italian and English languages, but many of the terms used throughout the text are German. Throughout, he uses the word Haftling in reference to himself and to other prisoners. There are many reasons why Levi made this choice as an author and the three that seem the most likely are that he subconsciously internalized some of the culture which dominated his life for such a long period, that he identifies himself with the other prisoners and therefore the term is unifying, or that he used the term in his book in defiance of the people who tried to kill him

When a person is captured, it is not uncommon for that person to absorb the perspective of their captors which may be why Levi uses the word Haftling.
Throughout his ordeal, Levi and his fellow Jews were made to feel less than human. In the book, Levi defines this word by stating, "I have learnt that I am Haftling. My number is 174517; we have been baptized, we will carry the tattoo on our left arm until we die" (Levi 27). Just as he wears the tattoo forever, he also carries the stigma of the term Haftling forever. By referring to the Jews as Haftling, it helped the Nazis retain the idea that Jews were subhuman and wrong. To refer to them constantly as prisoners underlines that they have done something illegal or immoral and that the Nazis were justified in the way the Jews were punished.

The Nazis made it clear through their actions that there were two very different groups, themselves and the Jews. The Jewish people were thrown together….....

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