Survival in Auschwitz (If this is a man) Chapter 1
By Primo Levi
It's December 1943. Primo Levi has been captured by the Fascist Militia of Italy. He had previously been dodging the authorities by hiding out in the mountains.
His small group was trying to join a larger Resistance movement called Justice and Liberty.
Unfortunately, young Primo and his associates aren't very good at this whole Resistance thing: they don't know much about getting weapons and money, and the group is pretty much made up of outcasts who are looking for help.
A month after Primo is caught and transferred to a detention camp because he's Jewish. This puts him in one of the groups that is Not Approved by the Fascist Republic of Italy and also includes Americans and English prisoners-of-war.
Over the next few weeks, almost 600 Italian Jews end up in this detention camp with Primo.
About a month later, the SS shows up and announces the Jews will be leaving. All of them—including the ill, the old, and women and children.
Where are they going? No one knows.
Even more terrifying, the SS announces that for every person missing the next morning at departure, ten others would be randomly shot.
Many people in the camp, including Primo, know what this journey means: death. Many of the prisoners mourn the night before departure.
The next day, the Jewish prisoners are crowded into a freight train like animals.
On the train, the prisoners learn they're going to Auschwitz.
The people on the train are cold, hungry, and above all, thirsty.
After many days, the train comes to a stop, and the prisoners are ordered out by German officers.
Some prisoners are told to go one way, and some another—selected on the basis of age, gender and health.
Very quickly, all of the healthy, able men are rounded up. The women, children and old men disappear.
A group of strange people start going through the prisoners' discarded luggage.
Along with many other men, Primo is loaded into a truck and hauled off to who knows where.
Their only guard on this bizarre ride is a German soldier, who (politely?!) asks them if he can have their money and watches, since they really won't be needing them anymore.