This one’s for you if you’re interested in a beautifully written autobiographical book about an Italian Jew before, during and after the Second World War. His detailed account of his time at Auschwitz is harrowing, inspiring and incredibly moving in equal measure.
The sign outside Auschwitz had it’s motto written on it- “Arbeicht macht freit” which means work gives one freedom. p28
“He who loses all often easily loses himself” p30
Talking of ‘life’ within Auschwitz- “the only things alive are machines and slaves- the former are more alive than the latter” p78
“the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak from being too weak or a powerful one too powerful” p94. I thought this was a very interesting measure of society.
“When one waits time moves smoothly without need to intervene…when one works, every minute moves painfully and has to be laboriously driven away.” p110
Talking of the constant proximity of death in the camp “until one day there will be no more sense in saying tomorrow” p139
And reflecting on the subject again at the end of the War- “there are no longer any strong men among us”, “they will only find us, the slaves, the worn-out, worthy of the unarmed death which awaits us”, “to destroy a man is difficult but you Germans have succeeded.” All p156
“I had completely forgotten the hunger and the cold…so true is it that the need for human contact is to be numbered among the primordial needs” p223
One’s moral universe “represents an abridged form of his biography” p224
Describing the passing of time at Auschwitz: “empty days, without encounters, without events to anchor the memory” p299
“there is no rationality in the Nazi hatred: it is a hatred that is not in us, it is outside man…but we can and must understand from where it springs” p396
On why he thinks he managed to survive: “determination…to always recognise in my companions and myself, men, not things and then to avoid that total humiliation and demoralisation which led so many to spiritual shipwreck.” p398
Just to explain the two titles for this- you can buy the two books in combination which is what I did, effectively reading them both as one.