The Cosmic Salon:
Survival in Auschwitz, pp.9-38
At the outset Primo tells us that he writes these memoirs for two basic reasons:
Paragraph: 26-27 Explain the double sense of the term “extermination camp”. What are the key ingredients to the Nazi psychological assault on the prisoners?
p. 13 How does Levi describe himself before his capture and deportation?
p. 13 What was the nature of his brief experience as a partisan?
p. 13 Why did he identify himself during his interrogation as a Jew and not as member of
the political resistance?
How many people were held at the camp?
p. 15 What made the day before departure from the detention camp surreal?
p. 16 What does Levi find absurd about the Germans' thinking and methods?
p. 17 Why does Levi argue that perfect unhappiness is unattainable?
p. 18 Describe the impact of the conditions of the boxcar on the character of the prisoners.
p. 18 How quickly are the prisoners dehumanized?
p. 19 What did Levi say to the woman who sat with him throughout the journey on the night before they arrived at Auschwitz?
p. 19 What made the selections on the platform ‘dreamlike’? How many of the Italian Jews survive their first night in Auschwitz?
p. 20 Describe the ‘Canada’ detachment of prisoners who welcomed the prisoners.
p. 23 List the orders given to the prisoners upon arrival at the disinfection center.
p. 24 Describe what happens in the shower room.
p. 24 What is the gist of the Prisoner Doctor’s speech?
p. 27 What does Levi find at ‘the bottom’? What psychological challenge will survival
require to be overcome?
26-27 Explain the double sense of the term “extermination camp”. What are the key
ingredients to the Nazi psychological assault on the prisoners?
p. 28 What is Levi’s number? Why are the prisoners numbered? How can the history of the camp be explained in numbers? Why are those with high numbers regarded with ridicule?
p. 29 When Primo reaches for an icicle, it is knocked from his hand by a kapo. When he asks, “Why?”, he is told, “There is no why here.” What does that mean?
YET p. 31 How does Primo describe Schlome's face, a face he never saw again?
p. 32 Describe the topography of the Auschwitz real estate market.
p. 33. Describe the hierarchy of Auschwitz’s class system.
p. 33 What is the basic rule about all possessions at Auschwitz? (food, paper, wire, buttons, shoes)
p. 34 What are the rules at Auschwitz designed to do?
p. 35 How do you find the right job at the Buna Works?
p. 36 How does the nature of Time change at Auschwitz?
p. 37 How does the body rapidly change in this environment?