Primo Levi was an Italian-Jewish chemist, author, and survivor of the holocaust. Levi was born on July 31, 1919 in Turin, Italy. Growing up, he was a smart child and he was one of the last Jews to get a degree before they were banned from universities. Levi graduated with honours in chemistry in 1941 from the University of Turtin. After graduation however, he found it difficult to find a job because of the fact that he was a Jew. Levi went by a different identity and worked with a mining company for some time.
In 1942, his father died and Levi returned to Turin. In 1943 Levi and his family escaped to northern Italy to hide from the escalating persecution. There he joined an Italian resistance group in which he was arrested later that year and admitted to being a Jew. Levi was sent to a labour camp in Fossoli. The camp was under control by the Italian Social Republic, so he was treated quite well.
During an Interview by F. Camon, 1989 Levi stated:
“We were being held by the Fascists, who did not treat us badly. They let us write letters, let us receive packages, and swore to us on their ‘Fascist faith’ that they’d keep us there till the end of the war.”
Levi stayed at the camp for a few weeks until it was taken over by the Nazis and transferred to Auschwitz. He stayed there for 11 months doing everything he could to survive. At first, he was forced to do manual work with a team of bricklayers to build a wall.
There he met a man named Lorenzo Perrone. Perrone was able to smuggle in a bowl of soup each day for Levi which allowed him to stay relatively healthy. His knowledge in chemistry was definitely useful and allowed him to get a job making rubber. This allowed him to stay indoors when it was cold. Right when the Red Army was about to liberate the camp, Levi caught scarlet fever and was put in the camp hospital. The Nazis were evacuating the camp and forced everyone but the sick to go on a death march in which they killed almost every prisoner at the camp. Levi saved by a stroke of luck, lived in a Soviet transit camp working as a nurse for a few months. In June 1945, he left for his long adventure home with the company of other prisoners of war. This took him 9 months; when he arrived in Turin in October, he was close to unrecognizable by his family. Here he slowly begins his path to recovery.
During the following years life returned to normal for Levi but he was still plagued by his experiences of the holocaust. Feeling the need to tell the world about what happened, he went on to write one of his most famous works – If This is a Man. When he had completed the book, he looked for a publisher but every time he would be rejected. When he finally did find someone, the sales were disappointing. It was too soon for people to accept what had really happened since the war had just ended. In 1947 Levi married Lucia Morpurgo and a year later they had a daughter. In that time, Lorenzo Perrone, the bricklayer who saved Levi’s life had turned to alcohol because he could not deal with the trauma he received from the holocaust. Levi took many attempts to help him but Perrone ended up passing away in 1952.
In 1957 his son was born, Levi named him Renzo after Lorenzo, the man who saved his life. In 1958 If This is a Man was translated into English and was published in the UK and United States in 1959. It was also translated into German. This is when the book began to gain attention.
In the following years of his life, Levi continued writing books and gained more and more attention until the point where his works would be played on the radio. Some of the other books he wrote were The Truce, The Periodic Table, If Not Now, When? and Storie Naturali just to name a few. During his lifetime, Levi visited 130 schools to share his experience at Auschwitz.
Primo Levi died on April 11, 1987 after falling down the stairs of his house. His death was thought to be a suicide. This was concluded Levi suffered from depression from his traumatic experiences. Some of his friends however disagreed because he never left a suicide note and the death was too sudden. He may have fell accidently due to the dizziness he had days before which was confirmed by his physician. Levi was an important figure who influenced many people and will continue to do so after death.
What was the purpose of the Hitler Youth? What did they learn at the meetings? Describe how Karl’s opinion of the Hitler Youth changed overtime.The main aim of the Hitler Youth was to engrave Nazi ideas into the young, brainwashing essentially so they would not question Hitler’s authority when they grew up. It was a way to control people and prevent a possible uprising. Karl initially was all for the Hitler Youth but after listening to the secret radio, he found out Hitler’s true intention and what his forces were doing in Russia. After this he changed his mind.
Why was it important to the Nazis to control the information people received? By controlling what people know and what they do not know, the Nazis can manipulate the population into doing exactly what they want by feeding them lies and withholding the truth. They can brainwash people and turn the whole country into Hitler supporters.
Find details in the article that shows how and why Helmuth, Karl, and Rudith tried to resist the Nazis. Choose four to include in your answer.The first instance of resistance was shown Karl when he purposely skipped Hitler Youth meetings and stopped wearing his uniform so he would be expelled. He did this after finding out how the Nazis were treating Jews and their intentions of turning every Hitler Youth member into a soldier. The three boys in 1941 began to make pamphlets that opposed Hitler and distributed them in public places so people could know the truth. Helmuth after being caught stood his ground against the Nazis by keeping his promise of taking all the blame. He sacrificed his own life to save the lives of Karl and Rudith. Helmuth stood by his values to his very death. His final statement before he was sent to be executed influenced Rudith and Karl as they wrote books about him after the war had ended.
How did growing up in Nazi Germany affect Helmuth, Karl, and Rudith? Use text evidence to support your answer. Growing up in Nazi Germany, the three boys were raised to believe in Nazi ideals and like every young boy, forced to be part of the Jungvolk and Hitler Youth which taught them how to fight in battle and brainwash them into serving Hitler with all their being. Karl has stated that he once was all for Nazis because he enjoyed their parades and grand speeches. The three boys also saw the results of this brainwashing as mentioned by Karl, he knew kids who reported their parents to the Gestapo. They also witnessed the unfair treatment of Jews by the Nazis, Karl mentioned that he saw an officer spit on a group of German Jews.
In 300 – 500 words, writing from the perspective of one of the three boys in the article, compose either a diary entry or a letter to a friend in another country. In your response, explain what the Hitler Youth was, what activities they participated in, what ideas they learnt about society. Dear John, At the time of writing this letter, Helmuth, Rudith and I are working on 2 new pamphlets that tells about what Adolf Hitler’s true intentions are. He is not what he makes himself out to be. Germany will be destroyed if we let him do what he wants. I cannot stop him alone, so I need to get as many people on my side as I can. Hopefully, some of the people who read these pamphlets I have been distributing over the past 8 months will wake up and realize what is happening around them. Recently we increased the production of these flyers, have around 40 different pamphlets and it’s been all that anyone talks about! It seems to be working pretty well. I can hardly believe we have not been caught yet, we just recently started taking precautions to stay away from each other so in the case that someone does get caught, we won’t all be dragged down. That’s the worst that can happen though and I pray that we will never get to that point.
Yesterday found out some of the boys from the Hitler Youth class I used to be part of reported their own parents to the Gestapo. I am so glad I got expelled from the Hitler Youth and its scary to think that I could have turned out like some of the extreme believers. Most of the things you learned in the program were things that glorified Hitler and his ideals, things to do with fighting in war, they even made us use real guns. One of the jobs we were assigned was to patrol and find people who opposed Hitler and report them to the Gestapo so they could be dealt with. Who knows what happed to them after they were arrested. I soon realised the Hitler Youth was a tool used brainwash the young who knew no better, to shape them into the ideal soldier that would fight loyally for Hitler. Anyway, today I am going take a big risk and put the flyers on a bulletin board so everyone can see it. It’s a large gamble but even more people can see it if I am able to pull it off. From Karl
This propaganda shows Adolf Hitler with the flag of Nazi Germany leading a massive army very valiantly. The caption reads “Long Live Germany” the light in the sky above his head, making it look like the heavens are following him. It also makes it look like he has a halo. The bird is similar to an angel which adds to the effect. Hitler is in the center of the poster, vectors from the light draw the viewer’s attention straight to his face. Hitler’s stance is one of a leader’s. This shows his authority. The purpose of this poster is to glorify Hitler, making out to be a sort of god. The message is that he has absolute power and is the saviour of Germany.
This propaganda depicts communism as a large skeleton dressed as a soldier on top of the globe. The caption reads “Bolshevism Unmasked”. Skulls and bones represent death and evil meaning communism is evil and will result in death. The skeleton, which is stepping on top of the globe, means communism is a threat to the world and is already taking over it. The caption Bolshevism Unmasked is telling the view that this is what the Soviet Union really looks like on the inside and at the core of their communistic beliefs is evil, death, and destruction. The Star of David that is in the middle of the globe and underneath the hammer and sickle represent the Jews, combining the two is saying that Jews are responsible for communism. The purpose of this poster is to inform the viewer how much of threat communism and to blame the Jews for it. This type of propaganda was one of the methods Hitler used to teach the masses to hate Jews and Soviets.
This propaganda shows a German soldier raising the Nazi flag in the same pose as Hitler from the first poster. The caption reads “Victory at Any Cost!”. The purpose of this poster is to boost the morale of soldiers and unite the German population by ensuring them that Germany will win the war no matter what. It is also a way to get more people to join the military as it encourages patriotism, people feel the duty to serve their country after seeing another proud soldier. The bright colors of red and dark green uniform contrast the white background draws all the viewer’s attention to the center. Like the first poster, the soldier’s stance is of one that leads. It represents Nazi Germany’s absolute power over their enemies. There is not much on this poster, therefore no distractions from the main subject. Simple, but effective.
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