The Reawakening, by Primo Levi, is a sequel to his first novel, Survival in Auschwitz. It is a deeply powerful memoir of his liberation from the most brutal concentration camps of them all, Auschwitz.
Published in 1946, the story of Primo Levi’s pursuit for freedom has inspired many people around the world. Levi’s quest back home to Italy was a grueling mission, from ruthless acts of the Nazi regime, the traumatic effects of imprisonment in Auschwitz and the near death experience of hunger and illness.The Holocaust brought a cloud of darkness filled with pain and despair. Very few victims of the Holocaust survived and those who did found it extremely hard to cope with the traumatic memories that the Holocaust instilled in them. Those who were liberated from Nazi persecution did not feel the freedom they longed for but instead felt that their quest for freedom was like a dream; a nightmare that they would never wake up from. It is fair to say that Primo Levi’s journey back home was his own “reawakening” from the nightmare of Auschwitz.Primo Levi’s encounters, tenacity and determination kept his moral spirit alive enabling him to survive one of the most grueling times in history.
The liberation of Nazi concentration camps by allied forces was a great accomplishment during the World War II. After many long years, the victims of the concentration camps were finally granted freedom. However, the chance of survival for the recently liberated prisoners was just as dim as if they were in the camps. Many Jews wanted to immigrate to the “promise land” located in Israel but because of the lack of resources and strict immigration laws many were unable to do so.Primo Levi, a survivor from Auschwitz, encounters many challenges through his ten month quest back to his home in Italy. Levi’s determination to return to his “promise land” forced him fight against the great darkness of death, illness and hunger. Levi’s long and grueling journey made him realize that liberty did not bring the survivors to the “promised land.
” They were left to fend for themselves, suffering each day like they did in the camps. Those who were lucky enough to survive the aftermath of the war struggled to establish a new “free” life.Primo Levi’s Reawakening displays the many hardships that the survivors of the Holocaust had to face trying to get to their “promise land. ” Levi’s liberation and quest back home took him through many countries in Europe, from Hungry to Russia and finally Romania before reaching Italy. Throughout this journey, Levi had the opportunity to see all walks of life. The vision of Auschwitz was traumatizing but through his travels he was able to see beautiful country sides and villages, burned homes, and places of death and destruction.The darkness of poverty and the illuminating light of flourishing markets made Levi’s journey a very strange and awkward quest.
Primo Levi was able to see the beauty in freedom but he was still haunted by the memories of death and despair that the Holocaust left on its victims in Europe. The memory of Auschwitz will never subside in Levi’s thoughts. Throughout the novel, Levi recalls the brutal experiences that he and his fellow Jewish people encountered in the concentration camps.The haunting of the Holocaust took a huge toll on Primo Levi’s emotional and physical well being, leaving him with many unanswered questions. If the war was over why was there still hungry mouths to feed, sick souls to nourish and damaged lives to fix? The end of the war did not promise freedom for Jews but instead made them walk a path of fear and hatred. The establishment of new life was hard for the survivors of the concentration camps, for they had been so dehumanized that is was impossible for them to come to grips with reality.The survivors were so used to living and sleeping with corpses that they too felt that their own soul was no longer with them.
It was very difficult for Jews to recuperate from the racial purification attempts of the Holocaust, but those who showed hope and perseverance through theses grueling times were able to regain their life and self worth. Throughout Levi’s reawakening, he met very extraordinary people, many of whom are survivors of the Holocaust just like him. These people can be seen as a symbol in Levi’s reawakening helping him establish new life after liberation.Jews are deeply hated amongst the European nation and Levi encounters three authority figures they guide him with rules that he must abide in order to escape detestation. During a walk along the churches of Cracow, Levi came across the first authority figure, a priest. They carried the most “extravagant and chaotic conversation in Latin. ” (Levi, 50) At the end of their encounter the priest advises Levi not to speak German in public.
The second authority figure that Levi encountered was a lawyer traveling through Treblinka. He was a Polish man but he could speak German as well.Like the priest, he also advised Levi not to speak German in public. A police officer, the third figure of authority in Levi’s reawakening, showed compassion towards Levi and offered him “a night in warmth, in jail. ” (Levi, 56) This kind Italian officer warned Levi not to speak in German as well. German is the language of the Nazis, who are greatly feared and hated because of their malicious actions towards Jews. These figures in Levi’s reawakening gave Levi comfort with their advice and shown him that in order to establish new life he must abide by the rules.
Another very important figure in Levi’s reawakening was Mordo Nahum, the “Greek. ” The Greek was the vision of life, showing Levi the qualities of hard work, perseverance and friendship. Qualities such as these were vital in they key to survival during the aftermath of the War. Like Levi, Greek was also a Jew but he was not like anyone Levi had ever met. He was a strong, logical and cold man that believed “his life has been one of war. ” (Levi, 52) Many survivors believed that the world owed them for their sufferings during the Holocaust but liberty never took place.Immigration laws and conferences such as the Bermuda Conference and the Evian Conference did not do much for the Jewish refugees.
The Greek realized the ignorance and selfishness that the world shared and made it clear to Levi that he must learn how to fend for himself because no one will do it for him. This may sound insensitive of the Greek but there is always war and one must learn how to fight against darkness. The Reawakening, by Primo Levi, is a remarkable account of the brutal hardships and hope that the survivors of the Holocaust had to endure.Levi’s memory and experience of the Holocaust have made him a very humble and non-judgmental person. Levi does not tell his story with a biased approach, but instead writes like a journalist that gives every detail about the events that has happened in his life. I feel that Levi’s ability to face the darkness of Holocaust without hatred and animosity is a great testament to his strength and character. He gives the facts about Jewish liberation and shows the reader his account and “reawakening” from the Holocaust.
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