The Holocaust and Normality
This paper uses a survivor’s experiences during the Holocaust to discuss what is `normal.`
The author uses Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi’s autobiography about his experiences in Auschwitz to debate the issue of “what is normal?” when discussing the Holocaust. The author gives a brief overview of the Holocaust, Auschwitz and some of the terminology used when referring to this death camp. Then, using Levi’s experiences, as an Italian Jew, the author begins to examine what normal behavior is when confronted with the conditions that the survivors faced in Auschwitz.
From the beginning, Primo Levi was faced with a situation in which he had to transgress morality in order to live. He experienced Auschwitz as another planet, from the perspective of a prisoner. The rules of his previous existence were both turned up side down or erased. He was forced steal in order to eat. He stole to obtain more soup or the rare, coveted carbohydrate in the form of a half a loaf of bread. The notion of stealing for survival became so ingrained in him that his first thoughts when he entered the camp’s infirmary was what wonderful thing could he steal from the premises. He immediately considered creating a secret pocket inside his coat just for the purpose of stealing. (140)