2: Text excerpt from Primo Levi's memoir "Survival in Auschwitz," 1947.

2: Text excerpt from Primo Levi's memoir "Survival in Auschwitz," 1947.

This passage from Primo Levi’s memoir Survival in Auschwitz, published, like Night, in the immediate postwar era, reflects the anxieties that survivors sometimes have about how audiences will receive their testimony. In Levi’s excerpt, he recounts a dream in which he returns home to Italy and is eager to tell his story, but his family refuses to listen. 

Suggested Activity: Project the excerpt on the screen or hand out copies and read aloud with students. Have students compare the Levi excerpt to the excerpt on page seven of Night (Hill & Wang, 2006), in which Wiesel remembers that no one from his hometown of Sighet in Romania would listen to Moishe the Beadle’s warnings.  Ask students to describe each scene and consider: What is the main concern being expressed in each passage? How are they similar and how are they different? What tropes, metaphors, or other literary techniques do these memoirists use? What do these literary strategies convey to their readers? Can you think of some reasons why Wiesel and Levi would articulate these concerns?

Sources: Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, trans. Giulio Einaudi (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 60.