I wasn’t planning to sit this afternoon and read, but I’m glad I did. I found this thin volume on my table, purchased months ago, and read it cover to cover in a single sitting.
Primo Levi and Leonardo de Benedetti were Italian doctors (Levi was a chemist) picked up and transported to Auschwitz in February 1944. They survived, by luck or a miracle, and together wrote a report for the Soviet authorities about the conditions they experienced at the concentration camp. That report was first published in a medical journal and later republished as this book. Levi returned to Auschwitz as a “tourist” in 1982.
This first hand account of life at Auschwitz is chilling.
It appears that in February 1943 a new crematorium oven and gas chamber were inaugurated at Birkenau, more functional than those which had been in operation up to that month. These consisted of three areas: the waiting room, the ‘shower room’, and the ovens. At the centre of the ovens rose a tall chimney, around which were nine ovens with four openings each, all of them allowing the passage of three corpses at a time. The capacity of each oven was two thousand corpses a day.
I certainly understand how Jews in 2012, wherever they may be in the world, would have the Holocaust imprinted on their psyches. What I don’t understand is why Palestinians are being punished for this atrocity for which they bear absolutely no responsibility. Will there ever be peace between Israel and Palestine with this psychological trauma ever present?