"The Sunk and the Rescued" is published for the first time in Bulgaria this year, translated by Neva Micheva, thanks to ed. Janet 45. The author is Primo Levi, who lived in the concentration camp Carpi-Fosoli (Fossoli camp - near Modena) and in Auschwitz, who survived and was released in 1945. Chemist by profession, for the rest of his life became one of the most translated Italian authors . His first-person narratives, about the darkest period in our entire history, are a difficult but necessary legacy for humanity to preserve the memory, not to be forgotten and never to repeat such a tragedy.


I admit that with a little skepticism I reached for the book from the shelves of a bookstore. On the one hand, this topic is too painful, even for my generation, which has no contact with those times, on the other hand, because this type of first-person stories are often too full of hatred, resentment and accusation (not without reason, of course). se). From the very first pages, however, the way in which the author in his 8 works, of which the book is composed, manages to make a flawless and at the same time bright, but also (as far as possible) impartial and complete social dissection of camp life, of the perpetrators, but also of the victims, of the individual microworld and of the whole system of National Socialism.


Despite the shocking stories, Levy's speech is not that of hatred, but of justice. Despite the accusation against the perpetrators, in his words there is a desire to understand these people. Not to justify them, but to get to the root of their actions and to seek an answer to the insanity in which Germany fell during this period. This is important because, as mentioned in the chapter of the book on memory, "Human memory is a delightful but uncertain tool". There are thousands of factors that affect its accuracy: time itself fades, memories and stories fade and are slowly lost. The human psyche also plays a role - for a myriad of reasons, the mind uses many "tricks" such as repression, projections, repression, denial, and even oblivion.

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To preserve the story as Primo Levy personally experiences it, he pays detailed attention to the brutal violence in the camps - a whole chapter examines "Unnecessary Violence" in detail: "The abuser remains the same as the victim: their places cannot be exchanged - the former should be punished and despised (but if possible understood), the latter should be sympathized with and helped." However, he is also trying to understand the violence that the victims use against each other. For example, the hostility of the old campers to the "newcomer" (the so-called Zugang), their pursuit of prestige, attempts to seek protection and cooperation with the oppressors, ready to compromise.


Unfortunately, and at the same time it is natural and understandable that the above are actually the survivors - certainly not the best. They, the idealists, die first. In this regard is the title of the book. Who are actually the sunken and who are the saved ?! Are the sunken saved, and is the literal salvation doomed to sink afterwards? The sunken, according to Levy, die "Not in spite of their merits, but because of them." They are saved "The selfish, the aggressive, the insensitive, the helpers of the authorities, the informers", "the worst, that is, the most adapted, the best died to one."

Primo Levy

The survivors (each reader decides for themselves - whether they are saved or sunk), in turn, live forever with the trauma of the experience. Therefore, shame is a topic on which a proper analysis is also given in the book. However, this is not about the shame of the German people, this is about the shame that the survivors feel. In the following quote from another book by Levy, he explains it this way: "It was our well-known shame - the same one that choked us after the selections and every time we had to see or endure some bullying; the shame the Germans never knew; the one that the just man feels before the injustice committed by another, together with the remorse that it exists at all, that it has been irreversibly introduced into the world of all that exists, that his own will has proved null or void to protect. “

Other topics that the author touches on are the glaring need for communication and the lack of it, the rejection of the reality that has ruined Europe so insanely over the years. It turns out that there were also private camps. In the period 1939-1945, the company "JA Topf and Sons" actively assisted the SS (assault detachments - "SS"), selling them cremation equipment, sent on site specialists in the installation and maintenance of gas chambers. In 1942, he applied for a patent for a "continuously operating mass cremation furnace" and countless other absurdities that I do not consider necessary to mention.


It is extremely interesting that the book also contains many letters from Germans, which Primo Levy received after the book was translated into German for the first time in 1947 and then again in 1957. A very short time has passed since the existence of the camps. Those who would now be readers are either the perpetrators themselves or the indifferent, those who have chosen not to hear and see. What is their reaction is a curious amalgam of denial, justification, guilt and sympathy, and perhaps a little courage - to turn personally against the victim of you and the regime created by your homeland.


Apart from a biographical work, The Sunken and the Rescued is a brilliant socio-psychological analysis of the whole system and ideology of National Socialism, of its participants and victims, of the individual, to the whole country. Any book that testifies to this period (see, for example, Victor Frankl's The Man in Search of Meaning, also a survivor of the death camps) is for me both a bearer of pain but also of hope that some good still exists in the world, however, not all have "sunk" that there is someone who has survived at too high a price to bring this hope to humanity. And hope is always needed so that we do not sink.

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