All those which forget their past are condemned to revive it|Primo Levi
Primo Levi , born the July 31st 1919 with Turin and dead the April 11th 1987 with Turin, is one of most famous the surviving of Shoah.
Jewish Italy N of birth, chemist of profession and vocation, he became writer in order to testify, transmit and explain its experiment concentrationnaire in the camp of Auschwitz, where he was imprisoned with the '' Buna '' during the year 1944. Its most famous book, If it is a man ( Questo E Uomo , published in the United States under the title of Survival in Auschwitz ) were described like “one of the most important works of the twentieth century. ” recognized
Autor from now on, it diversified his literary production, writing short stories, poems and novels.
YouthsFirstly Michele Levi is born in the district from Crocetta with Turin the July 31st 1919, 78 Corso Re Umberto in a family Juive of middle class. Of its Jewish origins, it retains especially the figures of its ancestors of which attitudes and words became proverbial, and their judéo-Piedmontese dialect, that it describes as hybrid language, strongly comparable with the Yiddish. Preserving the traditions, like the Jewish holidays, it arrives to them, rather frequently, of enfreindre with more or less of remorse the laws of the Cacheroute.
Son Cesare father, autodidact and avid reader, work for the firm Ganz, and spend much time in Hungary where the firm was based. His/her mother, Ester " Rina" Luzzati made its studies with the Instituto Maria Letizia, is it also fond of delicacies books, usually speaks the French and plays of the piano. Their marriage had been arranged by the father of Rina. It spends its summers with his mother in the valleys to the south-west of Turin, where Rina rented a farm. His/her father, testing little taste for the country life, lives Turin, where it can be devoted freely to his inaccuracies.
In September 1930, it enters to the Royal Gymnasium Massimo d' Azeglio with one year in advance on the necessary age. Being young person, smallest and most intelligent of its class, in addition to being the only Jew, he is frequently persecuted by his comrades. He also follows, less by conviction that by respect of the traditions, formation a two years to the Talmud Torah of Turin to sing with the Synagog at the time of his Bar Mitzva, which takes place in August 1932.
En 1933, it is registered, like many young Italians, in the movement of the Avanguardisti of fascistic youths . He manages to avoid the exercises of handling of rifle by joining the division of Ski, which enables him to spend each Saturday of the season of winter on the slopes above Turin. Teenager, Primo Levi is prone to lung infections with repetition, which do not prevent it from expressing taste for the physical-activities, and to take part in competitions of athletics clandestinely carried out with friends in a stage of abandoned sport.
In July 1934, to the 14 years age, it presents the examination of admission to the liceo classico Massimo d' Azeglio and is received there as a free candidate. This college was known to have professors affirmed antifascists, among whom Norberto Bobbio and, during a few months, Cesare Pavese, which will become later one of the most known novelists of Italy. Although not being more the only Jew of her promotion, Primo Levi remains the pet peeve of her school-fellows. It is by reading Concerning the Nature off Things of Sir William Bragg that he is discovered a vocation of chemist, wishing by the means of this science to discover the secrecies of the world. Levi is graduate school in 1937, but blamed to have been unaware of a convocation of the Royal Marine Italian the week preceding her examinations, and perhaps for reasons of order anti-semite, it will have to pass by again his diploma, at the end of the summer 1938.
In October of the same year, it is registered with the Université of Turin, to study chemistry. The eighty candidates had to pass an oral examination, which reduced their number to twenty. In February, Primo Levi is graduate after having followed the course of chemistry full-time.
Although Italy is a fascistic country and that this mode promulgates laws anti-semites, there are not true discriminations towards the Jews in the years 1930. Indeed, the Italian Jewish community is historically one of most comparable by its host country, and the Italians not-Jews, without savagely appreciating them nor particularly to hate them, are unaware of or circumvent any racial law, by spirit of opposition to the Germans whom they return, rightly, persons in charge of these laws. However, in 1938, the fascistic government declares that the Jews are an impurity within the Italian people, and promulgates in July of this year of the racial laws, of which one causes to restrict before completely prohibiting to the Jewish citizens to fit in the public schools. However, the Jews having already started their studies are authorized to continue them, which is the case of Primo Levi.
In 1939, Primo Levi starts to actively practice the excursion in mountain, which his/her friend Sandro Delmastro teaches him. Both pass from many weekends on the mountains to the top of Turin. The physical exercise, the risk, the fight against the elements provide him a depressurization valve compared to all frustrations which it meets in the life. To those the bombardments of Turin are added soon, which begin a few days after Italy declared the war in Great Britain and France, and the Cancer of the colon which is declared in his/her father and nails it with the bed.
De makes increasing rise of Fascism, and laws anti-semites, Primo Levi tests strong difficulties of finding a supervisor for his thesis of end of studies, which relates to the Inversion of Walden, a study on the asymmetry of the atom of Carbone. Finally chaperonné by Doctor Nicolo Dallaporta, it obtains its diploma in summer 1941 with the highest mention, moreover having subjected studies on the X-radiation and electrostatic energy. However, its diploma mentions that Doctor Primo Levi is “ Of Jewish race ,” and the racial laws do not enable him to find an employment suitable.
In December 1941, its former porter, Caselli, obtains to him under cover of clandestinity, a station in an asbestos mine of San Vittore. The project of which it with the load is to analyze the content of Nickel residues of the mine and to optimize the extraction of it, a challenge which it accepts with pleasure, although it suspects that in the event of success, it will contribute to the German effort of war, which needs nickel for the industry of the armament. Primo Levi must work under a false name, with false paper. It is during its stay with the mine that it writes its first two short stories, which will be reinstated many years later in the periodic Système .
In March 1942, while he works with the mine, his/her father Cesare Levi dies.
In June 1942, the situation not being able to evolve/move more in Turin, Primo Levi leaves the mine and tries its chance with Milan. Recruited by the Swiss firm of A. Wander on a project of extraction of a compound anti-diabetic of vegetable extracts, thanks to a former comrade of the university of Turin, Primo Levi is committed there, the racial laws not applying to the Swiss companies. It however quickly becomes obvious that the project, being based on the wild imaginings deprived of base of a scientist of IIIe Reich, is not likely any to succeed, but which it is not in the interest of any employee that is known.
One year later, Primo Levi, always in Turin, frequently meets with a circle of Jewish friends inhabitant of Turin, writing poem on poem in its idleness. The situation develops brutally in September 1943 when Mussolini is dislocated of its functions and that its substitute, the marshal Pietro Badoglio, sign the armistice with the Allies. The deposed leader, Benito Mussolini, is quickly released by the Germans and installed with the head of the République of Salò, a state marionette but of an extreme violence established in Italy of North occupied by Germany. The opponents with Fascism exhort the Italians with the revolt active.
Primo Levi returns to Turin to discover that his/her mother and her sister took refuge in their country house Saccarello in the hills out of Turin. They embark all for Saint-Vincent in the Vallée of Aoste where they can hide but, continued by the authorities, they take refuge in Amay in the Colle di Joux. Amay is on the road of Switzerland, and is borrowed by the Allies and the refugees who flee the Germans. The movements of Italian Resistance become increasingly active in the occupied zone. Primo Levi and some comrades take the way of the Alps and join in October the movement in favor Giustizia E Libertà .
Inexpérimenté, profiting from a publicity which it does not deserve, the group is infiltrated by an agent of the Forces of the Axis. This one takes the head of a raid of the fascistic militia the December 13rd 1943 with Brusson, in the Val of Aoste. This agent also manages during testing interrogations to make acknowledge in Primo Levi who it is Jewish. This one is thus transferred in the camp from internment from the Jews from Fossoli, close to Modena, where it remains two months, after which period it is off-set in February 1944 with Auschwitz.
AuschwitzThe deportation of Primo Levi in the Death camp of Auschwitz is the central event of its existence, becoming the main theme of its work, but also the ell compared to which it measures the former events of its life.
The February 11th 1944, the 650 “parts” of the camp of Fossoli are transported to Auschwitz in twelve overloaded livestock wagons. The life expectancy of a prisoner having escaped to the Selektion which indicates from the start the people intended for crematory is three months. Of these 650 Italian Jews, only twenties will re-examine Italy.
Levi allots its survival to a “concatenation of circumstances,” whose least is not to be off-set at one period when it had been decided to lengthen the life of the prisoners somewhat and to stop the arbitrary executions. Having some concepts of German from its scientific formation, it arrives using an Italian prisoner more experienced (than it pays in rations bread) to develop them and to be directed in the life of the camp without drawing too much the attention of the Proeminente , the privileged prisoners of the system; its professional training enables him to obtain as from November 1944 a relatively privileged station of assistant in the laboratory of the factory of production of rubber of the Buna; especially, it receives from Lorenzo Perrone, an Italian civilian, mason of his state, a ration of soup enabling him to survive until the evacuation of the camp in front of the projection of the Soviet face. At the time of this one, Primo Levi, reached Scarlet fever, is abandoned with her fate in the infirmary of the camp instead of leaving in a walk dead the, where die the majority of his/her companions. He manages to survive thanks to two comrades of barrack room. The January 27th, whereas they leave to bury the first dead of their room, they are released by the Red Army .
Primo Levi will however not regain Turin before the October 19th of this year, after having spent a certain time in a Soviet camp for former prisoners of the camps, and at the end of a long tour in company of Italian former prisoners of war captured on the Russian face. It crosses by train Poland, Russia, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Germany.
1946-1960Returned in Corso Re Umberto, where nobody awaited it, Levi is unrecognizable. Vêtu of an old uniform of the Red Army, malnutrition has bouffi its face, eaten by a beard hirsute. If the following months enable him to be reconstituted physically, to contact survivors and to seek work in Milan, it is traumatisé by its experiment concentrationnaire, during which perished many his/her friends and a expensive person in her heart. He tells stories of Auschwitz to the passengers whom he meets in the train and writing of the poems, of which that which will give its title to its first book. At the time of the festival of the Jewish New year in 1946, it meets Lucia Morpurgo which proposes to him to learn how to him to dance. Primo Levi in tomb in love.
The January 21st 1946, it starts to work with the DUCO, a company of paintings and varnish located apart from Turin. The railway communications are so poor that it spends the week in the dormitory of the factory, writing its memories without slackening. It is there that he writes the first jet of If it is a man , without intending however to make a book of it. Initially tragic, its writing on Lager becomes under the influence of its feelings for Lucia that of a scientist, forsaking testimony with the first nobody for the analysis and the attempt at description with clearness and detachment. He writes on all the bits of paper which fall to him under the hand, including the tickets of train. At the end of February, it has ten pages over the ten days separating the German departure from the release of the camp by the Red Army. He writes what will be its book during the ten months which follows.
December 22nd, 1946, the manuscript is supplemented. Lucia, which returned its feelings meanwhile to him, assistance to publish it in a more fluid form. In January 1947, Primo Levi proposes the manuscript with the editors, but the wounds are not healed yet, and it does not have literary past guaranteeing to him a reputation of auteur.
Un friendly of his sister enables him to be published at Franco Antonicelli, editor amateur but burning antifascist.
In June 1947, Primo Levi resigns abruptly of DUCO and joins an old friend, Alberto Salmoni, to direct an office of consultation in chemistry, whose buildings are located on the last floor of the house of the parents of Salmoni. Its track records of this time will give matter to later works. It earns its living by manufacturing and providing tin chloride for manufacturers of mirrors, delivering the unstable compound in the bicycle to the other end of the city. In the same way, the attempts to manufacture lipsticks starting from excreta reptiliens and of enamel coloured to coat the teeth with them will be told in short stories. The accidents in the laboratory fill up the Salmoni house of unpleasant odors and corrosive emanations.
In September 1947, Primo Levi marries Lucia Morpurgo. One month later, on October 11th, If it is a man is drawn with 2500 specimens. In April 1948, whereas it awaits its first child, Primo Levi decides to stop her career of independent chemist and postulates in the family company of paintings and varnish of Federico Accatti, whose products are marketed under the name of SIVA. In October 1948 is born LISA Levi.
Although its life unquestionably improved, the past often remains and remembers, particularly when one of his/her friends of Auschwitz has troubles or dies. Among those, Lorenzo Perrone, the benefactor of Primo Levi to Lager; incompetent to overcome the past, it sinks in misery and alcoholism, and dies following his negligence of itself in 1952, in spite of the many efforts of Levi to draw it from this life of debauchery. Another subject of distress, Auschwitz, instead of returning in the history, seems to be inserted in a lapse of memory wanted by those which perpetrated it as those which underwent it, and its dimension escapes the world.
In 1950, having been the proof of its talent at Accatti, it is promoted chief technical officer of SIVA. In its capacity as principal chemist of SIVA, and its function to solve the technical difficulties, it carries out many voyages in Germany and meets German counterparts of the professional world and scientist. It takes care to wear shirts to short sleeves, letting appear its number of Auschwitz tattooed on its front armlever; it often brings them on the ground of the depravity of the Nazis and the lack of repentance and search for redemption expressed by the majority of the Germans, including many agents of the exploitation of labor slave of the camps.
It militates also actively not to let the memory of the camps die out, visit Buchenwald in 1954 at the time of the ninth birthday of the release of the Nazi camps, as well as the following years, repeating inlassablement the account of lived sound.
En July 1957 is born his/her Renzo son, probably named according to its saver, Lorenzo Perrone.
In spite of criticisms positive, whose that of Italo Calvino in Unità , only 1500 copies of If it is a man run out and Primo Levi is already catalogued as author unius libris . He will have to await 1958 so that Einaudi publishes it in a re-examined edition. In 1958 also, John Stuart Woolf translated, in close cooperation with Levi, If it is a man in English. In 1959, Heinz Riedt in fact of the same in German, under the tight monitoring of the author. This translation is accompanied by a foreword; one of the goals of Levi by writing its book having been to make become aware with the German nation of the width of the acts made on its behalf, and to accept the responsibility at least on a purely partial basis for it, it revêt for him an particular importance. Forty German readers will write to him and be, except for Herr H.T. which tries a tinted justification of Révisionnisme, accommodated with sympathy. It is also this version which Doctor Müller will read, one of the civilians that Levi had generally met with the Buna.
1961-1974Levi started to write Trève , the history of its return animated in Italy, in 1961 and in 1963 published it, almost sixteen years after its first book. Success was with go, the author being seen decreeing the same year the first Prix Campiello. The reputation of Levi, author of If it is a man but also of many articles with Stampa , the newspaper of Turin, was growing. It is as at that time as it started to vary its literary subjects, in particular evoking Italy of pre-war period, resistance to the Fascism and its trade of chemist.
He knew in 1963 its first major depressive episode. Father of two children, person in charge of an important work, appears public accomplishing many voyages, it remained tormented by his past. Moreover, one was unaware of at the time the bond between stress, anxiety and depression. The treatments prescribed during the years were of variable effectiveness, and not deprived of side effects.
In 1964, he collaborates in a radio broadcast of the SPOKE based on If it is a man . In 1966, the book is adapted to the théâtre.
Il publishes two volumes of short accounts of science fiction, Storie naturali (Natural histories, 1966) and Vizio di formed (Legal flaw, 1971), under the name of feather of Damiano Malabaila, where it explores ethical questions and philosophical, imagining the impact on the company of inventions that many would have considered to be beneficial, but in which sees him serious implications.
In 1974, it takes a semi-retirement of the SIVA in order to be devoted to the writing and to release itself from the responsibility for the factory.
1975-1987In 1975 appears a collection of the poems of Levi under the title of the osteria di Brema . He also writes two others memories extremely well accommodated, the periodic Système , referring with an irony specific to the author to the periodic Tableau, where each element conceals one moment of the life of the Jewish chemist inhabitant of Turin, and, in 1978, Lilith , where he reconsiders characters and moments of Auschwitz which he did not evoke in his preceding books. The periodic Système was greeted by Royal Institute of London on October 19th, 2006 as “the best book of science ever written. ”
In 1978, he also writes its first novel, the chiave has stella ( the adjustable Open-end wrench ). Located in a Russian city where a factory FIAT is based, the book takes the form of a dialog between an engineer on of which all depend and a chemist, clearly inspired of the author. The philosophy of this book is that the pride of work well fact is necessary to an opened out life. Primo Levi had to face criticisms close to the left, because he had not written anything on the work conditions of the employees of assembly line of the FIAT. However, the book was worth to him the Prix Strega in 1979, and a success near the readers with the endorsement.
In 1984, it writes its other novel, not will be ora, quando? ( Maintenant or never ), taking as a starting point a meeting, briefly mentioned in Trève with a group of Sioniste S which had hung their coach with the train of the Italian repatriates. Now or Never reports the tribulations of a group of Partisans Jews evolving/moving behind the German lines lasting the Second world war, seeking to fight against the occupant and to survive. When the idea to gain the Palestine and to take part in the construction of the Jewish national hearth becomes clearly their objective, equipped Poland then Germany gains, before the survivors of the group are not officially received in a territory with the hands of Alliés as a Displaced persons. They manage to join Italy, penultimate stage on the way of Palestine. The novel is rewarded by the prices Campiello and Viareggio.
Primo Levi is then with the ridge of her celebrity in Italy. Trève is included in the Italian school program. If it is a man is also followed of a notebook resulting from the discussions with the students. It is read also abroad. In 1985, it goes to America for a cycle of 20 days conferences, which tests it fortement.
On the other hand, the Soviet Union is sulky its books, where the Russian soldiers are introduced too human compared to the heroic gun of Soviètes.
En Israel, where the Israeli company fully takes conscience of the width of Shoah only with the lawsuit of Eichmann to Jerusalem and is a long time ambivalent vis-a-vis these Jews which one says that they were let lead to the slaughter-house without resistance, his books will be translated only after his death.
In 1985 a collection of articles previously published in Stampa is published, under the title the altrui mestiere (included in French in asymmetry and the life ). Are there fictions short, reflections on curious natural phenomena, or reviews of book. Among these last appears its analysis of the autobiography of Rudolf Höß, inserted in introduction to the publication of the Italian edition. It denounces the attempt made by Höß there to be rebuilt a past of executant servile, entered with the NSDAP by enthusiasm, arrived at Auschwitz by ignorance and trying to obey the orders with conscience.
In 1986, it publishes I sommersi E I salvati ( shipwrecked men and the survivors ). Writing “forty years after Auschwitz,” the book reconsiders its experiment concentrationnaire, from an analytical point of view rather than biographical, wondering about the fidelity of the memory, trying to include/understand the “grey area,” in which was the prisoners of the camps collaborating in the mode, of the place of the intellectual with Auschwitz. As in its other books, it does not put forth a judgment, presents the facts and raises the questions.
Également in 1986, it publishes another collection, Racconti E saggi (also included in asymmetry and the life ).
In April 1987, he works on another selection of tests called the Double Bond , which take the form of an epistolary correspondence with “Signorina. ” These tests relate to very personal subjects. Five or six chapters of the manuscript exist. Carole Angier, which devoted a biography to Primo Levi, wrote to have read some of them, but the majority, distributed by Levi to close friends, was not revealed with the public, and some could be even destroyed.
DeathPrimo Levi dies the April 11th 1987. It is found died with the foot of the staircases of the family home, where it places on the third floor, which leads to the speculation that it committed suicide. Elie Wiesel says at that time that “Primo Levi had died in Auschwitz forty years earlier. ”
The majority of its biographers (Angier, Thomson) abound in the direction of the legist, who concludes that Levi made a Suicide. Itself had stated to suffer from depression; risk factors could have been its responsibility towards his/her mother and her mother-in-law, the fact of sharing same housing, its past and of the genetic predispositions.
However, a sociologist of Oxford, Diego Gambetta, established twelve years later a detailed file calling into question what he regards as place-common being supported neither by facts nor by indirect evidences. Levi did not leave a letter of suicide, and forever announced black thoughts; documents and testimonys on the other hand seem to indicate that it had projects at the time of its death. Gambetta thus leans for an accidental death.
The question of died of Primo Levi is important, her work being commonly interpreted like a powerful assertion of the life face of the violent and warlike powers organized: the fact that he died voluntarily or by accident thus constitutes a comment final on the validity of its own message, lucid, positive and humanistic. The interpretation of Elie Wiesel, which defends the thesis of the suicide, was accepted so far, without it being still known if it is based on facts or a personal intuition.
Topics of its work
Character of AuschwitzPrimo Levi wrote If it is a man because to survive and testify are for him inextricably dependant. Reading many testimonys, assistant with many meetings of former deportees, going in more than 130 schools, it becomes a figure symbolic system not only of the Jewish victim of Italian Fascism but more especially fight against Fascism.
According to Levi, the agents of the Shoah have, in addition to their attempt at total annihilation of people independently by a race known as higher, knowingly calculated that this one would fall into the refusal or the lapse of memory once the finished war, whereas it acted, and Primo Levi repeats it on several occasions experimental ground for a highly organized and mechanized company, which pushed the recovery of the by-products until the use of the ashes produced by the cremation of the bodies to build roads. The camp of Auschwitz was not an isolated act but a prototype which would have been applied to whole Europe if Hitler had gained the war. He thus fights savagely near the public, and of youth especially, against any attempt of vulgarizing or revisionism of the camps, décriant the Négationnisme of Robert Faurisson, and disallowing any proposal for an equivalence between Soviet Gulag and Lager Nazi after the publication of the Gulag Archipelago and other works of Alexandre Soljenitsyne at the end of the years 1960. Although they are indeed “two types of hell,” that one is subjected there to inhuman work conditions, in total inadequacy with a pitance ridiculous, Levi considers that their nature is different, anybody not being supposed to leave Lager, whereas it was not the case of Gulag, and that mortality in Gulag amounted to 30% at worst compared with 90-98% in the Nazi camps. Moreover, the “crime” to be Juif could not be unobtrusive, being regarded as business of “race,” i.e. of birth, rather than of religion and, “single case among all the atrocities of the history of humanity,” touched even the children who were massacred per thousands
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