Like all Holocaust stories, Survival in Auschwitz sparked many emotions within. At times it was shock, others despair, and never really was there a lot of happiness. Many of us are very familiar with the events of the Holocaust, the tragedies and unthinkable cruelties often times being used for film plots. However, when I hear or read written accounts from those who actually were in these prison camps, it really makes you realize that these events aren’t just something that happened in the past. For instance, one of our close family friends told us that if you go to Dachau, one of the concentration camps, you’ll find his name etched into one of the bunks. Hearing this, along with reading Primo Levi’s work kind of take the theatrics out of it. I feel as if we often view events such as the Holocaust as something in the past, distant and far away. However, it really wasn’t that long ago, and many individuals are still dealing with the aftermath.
In terms of the actual work, I looked it up online shortly after reading it and found that it was originally called, If This is a Man. I think it more accurately describes the nature of not only those imprisoned, but those who imprisoned them as well. This work really portrays Hobbes’ state of nature. Theses people were placed in this state of pure survival, and thus, individuals became focused on staying alive. There was no government, it was simply a matter of living. Many of these poor interned individuals lost their civility as they simply attempted to preserve themselves. They did what they had to do essentially. Could we argue that they became monsters, losing their touch with humanity? In truth, I don’t believe so, because I feel that we all have this animal instinct of self-preservation lurking inside. We all fear death, and thus we do whatever necessary to survive. It only takes the right conditions for this nature to emmerge.
The real monsters were the Nazis. This endless tormenting and unnecessary cruelty show the disgusting nature of humanity. How can anyone look at a fellow human and regard him as anything less than a man, simply based on religious and ethnic origins? The fact that these humans were treated as laboratory mice, slaves, and regardewd in a manner far less than even the lowliest of creatures deserve is horrifiying. How can someone sew two people together without anesthesia, force men into hours of slave labour, only allowing them to eat scraps, and even turn humans into soap? What causes this complete lack of compassion in humanity?
All in all, Survival in Auschwitz made me feel the same way I felt when I went to the Holocaust Memorial in DC. No wonder these people became so focused on survival. I just cannot comprehend how no one realizes, or speaks up against, the atrocities being committed against a fellow man.