b “Ka-Be is the Lager without its physical discomforts. So that, whoever still has some seeds of conscience, feel his conscience re-awaken; and in the long empty days, one speaks of other things than hunger and work and one begins to consider what they have made us become, how much they have taken away from us, what this life is… We learnt that our personality is fragile, that it is much more in danger than our life... When one works, one suffers and there is no time to think: our homes are less than a memory. But there the time is ours: despite the prohibition, we exchange visits and we talk and we talk. The wooden hut, crammed with suffering humanity, is full of words, memories and of another pain.. longing for one’s home. We know where we come from, the memories of the world outside crowd out sleeping and our waking hours, we become aware, with amazement, that we have forgotten nothing, every memory evoked rises in front of us painfully clear.” ● This quote expresses how life in the camp made them forget about their memories, life back home. They have forgotten how much were taken from them and how it is like to be a human. Instead they were consumed by hunger and every day they were too busy working and keeping themselves alive by avoiding all the death traps. They did not have time to think, they were not allowed to talk about it. When Levi said their personality is
fragile and it is much more in danger than their life, I think he was talking about how they became some living things who only work and eat as ordered and are no longer themselves. Deep down, they know life is not treating them fairly but they did not have time to even be resentful. a “In this place it is practically pointless to wash every day in the turbid water of the filthy washbasins for purposes of cleanliness and health; but it is most important as a symptom of remaining vitality, and necessary as an instrument tof moral survival… the instinct for cleanliness disappeared in me… precisely because the Lager was a great machine to reduce us to beasts, we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are salves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but still we possess one power…- the power to refuse out consent… for dignity and propriety.” ● I was particularly impressed by this passage. It adequately shows how people transformed in the camp. While washing up and cleaning ourselves is a thing we, people in the free world, do even without extensive physical work, Levi points out that it was quite pointless to try to keep themselves clean even after daily extensive work. Being a reader who can never understand nor related to those who suffered from the Holocaust, I completely agree with Levi. What is the point? You are going to die eventually anyways. This is why it amazed me when I read what Steublauf believed in. Cleaning themselves as if they were free is an act of dignity and self-respect. It is an act of refusing to be a
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- Summer '07
- The Holocaust