First essay in the series; Racism and the Holocaust

By Burr

Racism as I see it.

The Orange man has proven himself to be racist almost every time he has opened his mouth. What I don’t understand is the logic in saying “I want a racist to be my president but I am not racist”. That makes no sense to me. That’s like a person that is allergic to shell fish going into a restaurant and ordering raw oysters. As Spock would say, “that’s not logical”. If you don’t believe Trump is surrounded by white supremists all I can say is open your eyes and take a look around.

     When I tell a Trumpian that most of the school killings are perpetrated by white Americans who are not Muslims or immigrants or MS-13 members it falls on deaf ears since it goes against what the NRA wants their members to believe. The NRA along with the Trump Administration will say the opposite and the sheeple that support him believe what they say even though the truth is staring them in the face. They somehow can be convinced that the truth is “fake news”. They, the Trumpians, are told and believe that we, the other side, are reverse racists for not buying into their theory of white supremacy. Their idea that blacks hate white people just like the white supremists hate black people is inherently false.

     By modern definition race as a social construct, that is, a symbolic identity created to establish some cultural meaning. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality. It is similar to ethnicity. All of that is unnecessary to the white bigots known as the far right, the majority of Trump supporters, since they believe in only two categories; those being white and non white.

     Prejudice is the act of prejudging a person and disliking them while knowing nothing about them other than their outward appearance, using the narrow definition described above.

     I have never known a black person that was racist by the above definition. I have met black people that I disliked because they bore certain personality traits that were abhorrent to me. That is not racism. I did not prejudge. I do, however know white folks that would call any black that disliked certain whites a racist regardless of the reason for the disliking.

    For example I recently read opinions on Facebook singling out Spike Lee as being racist for producing and writing the screenplay for a movie named “Blackkklansman” which premiered in Cannes May 14, 2018 and is due for release in August of that year. Based on the book “Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth, it is a memoir from the early 70s of a black cop in Colorado Springs, Colorado who infiltrated the KKK.   Spike Lee made the movie from a book. It showed that racism existed 40 years ago the same as it does today. Denzel Washington should be proud of his kid who played a major roll. The main character showed prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race. I just want to point out that when a film maker turns a book into a movie it is ridiculous to think that the producer is racist just because a character in the fictional story shows signs of prejudice. If that were true then Steven Spielberg would be a Nazi for making Schindler’s List. 

     I have many friends that have been addicts, alcoholics and criminals of all kinds but they have come to their senses. It’s easy for me to say things that anger people when I am confronted with blatant bigotry. But, given time to step back and try to think rationally, I would rather convince that person that racism is wrong. Once in a great while I have been able to help someone to see that nobody is superior to any one else because of their ethnicity. Some of those people are now my friends as reformed racists. We don’t have to like everybody but I believe in getting to know people before forming opinions.

     I was reared in a community that was entirely white. The only opinion that my friends and I formed in relation to blacks came from movies where the only black actors were portrayed as being stupid. Stupid was funny back then. I remember the first time we saw a real live black person was when he rode by on a bicycle. People came out of their houses to see.

     My best friend for most of my adult life was a black man by the name of John Thomas. I met John where he worked, at the Rochester airport as a “sky cap” or luggage handler; an employee of American Airlines. John, even though unschooled, was well read and well traveled. John could tell stories and quote poetry that Harvard grads wouldn’t know. As an airline employee he had unlimited flight privileges worldwide and when I began to travel extensively for business John would often accompany me. Another sky cap “Seymour known as Hacky” who worked at Chicago O’Hare Airport often joined the party.   

     In summary: I don’t believe that people are born into bigotry. It must be learned. However people can be born into an environment where they are sure to learn to hate. It is possible for a racist bigot to be reformed although extremely difficult. There are very few black racists.   

     I have not mentioned so far the plight of the Native American. This is another group that I grew up with a learned wrong impression of. Just as with blacks I don’t recall learning anything about them in school. There were books that I could have read to learn the truth but I didn’t discover them until adulthood. My attitude about the American Indian came mainly from Cowboy stories and movies where the Indian was portrayed as a sub-human savage who attacked wagon trains of people doing nothing but moving west to steal their land.

     As an illustration I will include an essay that I have posted on Facebook under the title “A Story of a Mass Shooting”.

     Over the last couple decades there have been many horrible mass shootings in the U.S. The media overflows with stories of these terrible events, but I seldom hear mentions of the incident in which the largest number of Americans were killed. I have wanted to mention this massacre since its omission has racial overtones. Anyhow, the worst mass shooting, that I can find a record of, occurred on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Because the victims were Native Americans seems to make it less important than the shootings of white people. It is not; these people were Americans.

   They were not killed by gun crazed, NRA types but rather by the US military using various weaponry including rapid-fire Hotchkiss-designed M1875 mountain guns.

   The Oglala Lakota Sioux men were tricked into surrendering their weapons before the shooting started. The number killed was 150 men women and children by the army count but a more accurate count was later determined to be closer to 300. One of the survivors described seeing the killing of a woman while she was nursing her child. It must have been a horrible scene. At least twenty soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their handy work.

   As a point of interest, some more recent unrest in the area began on February 27, 1973 and culminated in the seizure of the town of Wounded Knee, by approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The town was occupied for 71 days. There was some violence but not a lot. The unrest was not retaliation for the 1890 event but rather because of ranchers not respecting Lakota land boundaries and gradually moving cattle therein. A trial followed and the Indians were eventually all acquitted of wrong doing.

   There is a marker near the mass grave site on which the following is inscribed:     

 “I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea. 

You may bury my body in Sussex grass, 

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy. 

I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass. 

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.”

…….. lines from a poem by Stephen V. Benet




John Thomas on keyboard

= john2

John partying in San Francisco
On the right is my friend Dave who died young having a relationship with alcohol and heroin 


Second in the “Make Germany Great Again” Series
What Hitler thought of the Jews (a look at Hitler’s anti-semitism.) 
Written by Burr to illustrate the similarities to D. Trump. 

Hitler's ideas about the Jews were at the center of his mental world. They determined the anti Jewish policies of the German dictatorship from 1933 to 1945. Few ideas in world history achieved such fatal potency.


     In his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler seems to want to hide the routes of his Anti-Semitism. He denies mention of it in his home and school days, but this appears not to be the case. He describes his first encounter with a Jew, in Vienna, as if it were a spiritual awakening: …"One day while walking in the inner city, I suddenly came upon a being clad in a long caftan, with black curls. Is this a Jew was my first thought. ... Is this a German? ... For the first time in my life I bought some Anti-Semitic pamphlets for a few pennies. ... They were not only not Germans but an entirely different race. ... Later the smell of these caftan wearers made me ill. ...Therefore, I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work."


     He makes it sound as if in this one instant he realized that all the evils of the world are caused by Jews including prostitution and white slave traffic. Noticing the success of some Jews in the arts seemed to anger him. His own artistic ambitions and failures may have played a role in that. 
    In spite of his assertions to the contrary it is believed that his father, Alois, was an Anti-Semite and many of his teachers as well. He was influenced also by Wagner, as well as Karl Lueger and  Schonerer. Reading Lanz in Ostara may have given him the idea of castration as part of the solution to the "Jewish problem".
     Hitler blamed the Jew for everything wrong with the world including communism, disease, pestilence, syphilis, the war was a Jewish plot and he was especially fearful of the "Jewish" press. He made it clear that his problem was not with the religion of the Jew, but, the race  
     Thus there was no way to reform a Jew. He believed that their filth and complete lack of morals was in the blood and the only way to solve the (perceived) problem was to kill him. It seems clear that he felt that it was his mission to rid the world of this creature for good. It appears that the final solution was in his mind from the start. In Mein Kampf he states that they are so different that humans should have no humane feelings toward them. "Does the fox have humane tendencies toward the geese?"  In a speech in 1920 he says "every means is justified in extirpating the evil, even if we must ally ourselves with the devil." 
     The fact that some Jews were allowed to emigrate during his early years in power does not mean that he deviated from his goal, but only that he intended to catch up with them in his conquests. He looked at emigration to Palestine as an attempt to build a center 
for world domination and a "university for budding crooks".



Third in the “Make Germany Great Again” Series
Life in the East European ghetto (a look at Hitler’s anti-semitism.) 
Written by Burr


Life in the East European ghetto

The region of Eastern Europe and Russia, prior to 1939, was home 
to over five million Jews, mostly living in metropolitan industrial 
centers such as Warsaw, Lodz, Cracow, Kiev, Vilna and Riga. The 
population of most urban centers increased shortly after the invasion 
of Poland as the Einsatzgruppen immediately went to work 
concentrating those that had not already fled the small towns for the 
cities. Many became homeless beggars and candidates for disease. 
After the brief war with Poland, the "good hearted" Germans, 
after receiving payment, set up soup kitchens to feed the hungry, 
but, the Jews were ejected from the lines, first by the Germans then 
later by the Poles as they got the idea. Jews were taken and used as 
hostages by the Nazis to extort money from them. The hostages however
were seldom released.

     Soon reports started to surface in the Ghettos about mass 
executions taking place. Many chose not to believe and even those 
that did couldn't do anything about it. It was too late for flight as 
the Ghettos became enclosed prisons and those (Jews) found outside 
without permission, if lucky were beaten severely, but more likely 
they would be shot. The only reason they were allowed to venture 
outside was for forced labor which became the law of the land for the 
ghetto residents.

     By November 1939 Jews were made to wear a star for 
identification. They were being identified and concentrated. In each 
Ghetto a Judenrat was formed through which the Germans passed
orders to the ghetto. Even though the Judenrat cooperated with the
Nazis, they were not bad people. The will to live is strong and none
of us can judge them unless we have been in their situation. There were 
also those who chose to follow the leadership of the underground 
movements, the resistance, even though it was extremely dangerous 
to do so. At first some movement was allowed in the smaller ghettos 
but in Warsaw and Lodz, the biggest of the ghettos, the walls became 
the boundaries of existence. As time went on even the smaller ghettos
became closed with the same penalties for violations of the decrees. 
Telephones, newspapers and radios were among the things to become
illegal in the ghettos. The Germans even confiscated parcels of food 
sent to inhabitants from outside.

     The ghettos were located in the most run down sections and 
became so overcrowded that normal conventions of privacy had to be 
put aside and a total breakdown of sanitation soon crept in. Fuel was 
scarce and just keeping warm was a struggle. Children froze in the 
streets, some barefooted. Food rations were small and often the food 
was spoiled or stolen. It was illegal for outsiders to bring food to 
the ghettos, but, was it not for smuggled goods all inhabitants 
would have starved. There were some who profited greatly on the 
misery of others.

     In the face of all this there were some who partied it up 
drinking and dancing and even the moralists among them said "every 
dance is a protest". Street markets where people sold their household 
goods became popular with most of the buyers coming from outside. 
This could only be a temporary relief, however.

    Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were common complaints due to 
hunger. Also, disobeying German decrees, a necessity of life, brought 
about severe punishment if not death. Families that had been 
separated for long periods were suddenly reunited in the ghettos 
because they preferred to be crowded together with kin, as the option 
was to live with strangers. Families divided the chores outside of 
traditional roles. Divorce ceased and marriages increased.

     When the deportations started and news started arriving about the
destinations some chose not to believe since there was little 
chance of escape. The Germans were quick to reassure them
that each deportation would be the last. It was easy to believe
since many of the Jews were skilled workers in the war industries
and it made no sense for them to be deported. The Nazis, however,
were not logical in their dealings with the Jews. The sadism
of the SS struck terror in the heart of the ghetto as the Nazis amused
themselves, by tormenting the helpless, for example setting beards on fire.
     Corruption was rampant in the ghettos with the police being out 
in front leading the pack. There were also many heroic acts, both 
spontaneous, in the most unlikely situations, and by planned actions 
of the underground.

     Fear of death is, I'm sure, the greatest fear, and none of us 
can look at this kind of situation from the outside and know how we 
would react. I certainly don't. 


Essay 4 in “Make Germany Great Again” series.

This is by far the saddest thing I have ever read.

Are the people who did this diferent from us? Are they diferent from the Trump supporters
who blindly follow and do what he asks of them unquestioning and who will tear gas
young children and will hate whom they are told?  --Burr

Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Salmen Lewenthal's manuscript 
Archive/File: camps/auschwitz auschwitz.05

"Among the most remarkable documents to have survived the war is the
manuscript written in Birkenau by one of the members of the Sonderkommando,
Salmen Lewental. This particular manuscript was discovered in 1962 in a
jar buried in the ground near Crematorium III, where Lewental worked. The
gaps in it are words destroyed by dampness which seeped into the jar.
Lewental, who did not survive his gruesome work, recalled in his note book
the same episode witnessed in its opening stages by Madame Vaillant
Couturier and Rudolf Vrba.
Lewental's account is headed '3,000 naked people'. It reads:
This was at the beginning of 1944. A cold, dry lashing wind was
blowing. The soil was quite frozen. The first lorry, loaded brimful
with naked women and girls, drove in front of Crematorium III. They
were not standing close to one another, as usual, no; they did not
stand on their feet at all, they were exhausted, they lay inertly one
upon another in a state of utter exhaustion. They were sighing and
The lorry stopped, the tarpaulin was raised and they began to dump
down the human mass in the way in which gravel is unloaded on to the
road. Those that had lain at the edge, fell upon the hard ground,
breaking their heads upon [...] so that they weakened completely and
had no strength left to move. The remaining [women] fell upon them,
pressing them down with their weight. One heard [...] groans.
Those that were dumped down later, began to extricate themselves from
the pile of bodies, stood [...] on their feet and tried to walk [...]
the ground, they trembled and jerked horribly with cold, they slowly
dragged themselves to the bunker, which was called Auskleidungsraum,
'undressing room' and to which steps led down, like to a cellar.
The remainder [of the women] were taken down by men from the Kommando
who swiftly ran upstairs, raised the fainted victims, left without
help, extricated them carefully, crushed and barely breathing, from
the heap [of bodies] and led them quickly downstairs. They were a
long time in the camp and knew that the bunker (the gas-chamber) was
the last step [leading] to death.
But still they were very grateful, with their eyes begging for mercy
and with [the movements] of their trembling heads they expressed
their thanks, at the same time giving signs with their hands that
they were unable to speak. They found solace in seeing tears of
compassion and [an expression] of depression [...] in the faces of
 those who were leading them downstairs. They were shaking with cold
and [...].
The women were taken downstairs, were permitted to sit down, the rest
of them were led into this [con]fined, cold room, they jerked
horribly and trembled with cold, [so] a coke stove was brought. Only
some of them drew near enough to be able to feel the warmth emanating
from the small stove. The rest sat, plunged in pain and sadness. It
was cold but they were so resigned and embittered with their lives
that they thought with abhorrence of physical sensations of any
kind... They were sitting far in the background and were silent.
Lewenthal then set down the story of a girl from the ghetto of Bedzin, who
had been brought to Birkenau 'towards the end of the summer', and who now
talked as she lay 'helpless':
She was left the only one of a numerous family. All the time she had
been working hard, was undernourished, suffered the cold. Still, she
was in good health and was well. She thought she would survive.
Eight days ago no Jewish child was allowed to go to work. The order
came. 'Juden, antreten!' 'Jews, leave the ranks!' Then the blocks
were filled with Jewish girls. During the selection nobody paid
attention whether they looked well or not, whether they were sick or
They were lined outside the block and later they were led to Block
25, there they were ordered to strip naked; [allegedly] they were to
be examined as to their health. When they had stripped, all were
driven to three blocks; one thousand persons in a block and there
they were shut for three days and three nights, without getting a
drop of water or a crumb of bread, even.
So they had lived for three awful days and it was only the third
night that bread was brought; one loaf of bread weighing 1.40
kilogramme for sixteen persons, afterwards [...]
'If they had shot us then, gassed us, it would have been better.
Many [women] lost consciousness and others were only semi-conscious.
They lay crowded on bunks, motionless, helpless. Death would not
have impressed us at all then.
'The fourth day we were lead from the block, the weakest were led to
the Krankenstube (infirmary), and the rest were again given the
normal camp ration of food and were left [...] were taken [...] to
'On the eighth day, that is five days later, we were again ordered to
strip naked, Blocksperre (permission for prisoners to leave the
blocks) was ordained. Our clothes were at once loaded and we, after
many hours of waiting in the frost, were loaded into lorries and here
we were dumped down on the ground. Such is the sad end of our
mistaken illusions. We have been, evidently, cursed even in our
mothers' wombs, since such a sad end fell to our lot.'
The girl from Bedzin had finished her story. As Lewental noted:
She could no more pronounce the last words because her voice became
stifled with flowing [tears] [...] from [...] some women still tried
to wrench themselves away, they looked at our faces, seeking
compassion in them.
One of us, standing aside and looking at the immensity of unhappiness
of those defenceless, tormented souls, could not master his feelings
and wept.
One young girl then cried, 'Look, what I have lived yet to see before
my death: a look of compassion and tears shed because of our dreadful
fate. Here, in the murderers' camp, where they torture and beat and
where they torment, where one sees murders and falling victims, here
where men have lost the consciousness of the greatest disasters,
here, where a brother or sister falls down in your sight, you cannot
even vouchsafe them a [farewell] sigh, a man is still found who took
to heart our horrible disaster and who expressed his sympathy with
tears. Ah, this is wonderful, not natural. The tears and sighs of a
living [man] will accompany us to our death, there is still somebody
who will weep for us. And I thought we shall pass away like deserted
orphans. The young man has given me some solace.  Amidst only
bandits and murderers I have seen, before my death, a man who still
She turned to the wall, propped her head against it and sobbed
quietly, pathetically. She was deeply moved. Many girls stood and
sat around, their heads bowed, and preserved a stubborn silence,
looked with deep revulsion at this base world and particularly at us.
One of them spoke, 'I am still so young, I have really not
experienced anything in my life, why should death of this kind fall
to my lot? Why?' She spoke very slowly in a faltering voice. She
sighed heavily and proceeded, 'And one should like so much to live a
little bit longer.'
Having finished, she fell into a state of melancholy reverie and
fixed her gaze on some distant point; fear of death emanated from her
wildly shining eyes. Her companion regarded her with a sarcastic
smile, she said, 'This happy hour of which I dreamed so much has come
at last. When the heart is full of pain and suffering, when it is
oppressed by the criminal world, full of baseness and low corruption,
[full of] limitless evil, then life becomes so troublesome, so hard
and unbearable that one looks to death for rescue, for release. The
nightmare, oppressing me, will vanish forever. My tormented thoughts
will experience eternal rest. How dear, how sweet is the death of
which one dreamed in the course of so many wakeful nights.'
She spoke with fervour, with pathos and with dignity. 'I am only
sorry to sit here so naked, but to render death more sweet one must
pass through that indignity, too.' A young emaciated girl lay aloof
and was moaning softly, 'I am ..., I ... am' [;] a
film was covering her eyes which turned this way and that [...], they
begged to live [...].
A mother was sitting with her daughter, they both spoke in Polish.
She sat helplessly, spoke so softly that she could harldy be heard.
She was clasping the head of her daughter with her hands and hugging
her tightly. [She spoke] 'In an hour we both shall die. What
tragedy. My dearest, my last hope will die with you.' She sat [...]
immersed in thought, with wide open, dimmed eyes [...] threw [...]
around her so [...].
After some minutes she came to and continued to speak, 'On account of
you my pain is so great that I am dying when I think of it.' She let
down her stiff arms and her daughter's head sank down upon her
mother's knees.
A shiver passed through the body of the young girl, she called
desperately, 'Mamma!' And she spoke no more, those were her last
The order was then given, as Lewental noted, to conduct the women 'into the
road leading to the crematorium'. [3]"
[3] Salmen Lewental notebook: Bezwinska and Czech, AMIDST A NIGHTMARE OF
1973, pages 142-5.

Essay 5 in the “Make Germany Great Again” series –by Burr

Literature and Philosophic Thought (The Holocaust)

A book Recommended  
“Survival in Auschwitz” -by Primo Levi 
The author states in his preface that the book adds nothing to 
the many accounts that already exist of the atrocities, perpetrated 
by the Nazis, or of the death camps themselves, but, is meant to 
provide a quiet study of certain aspects of the human mind. In the 
author’s very compelling poem, that opens the story, the line 
which reads "consider if this is a man" seems to be the question 
being posed throughout the book.

The Poem

If This Is a Man

You who live safe

In your warm houses,

You who find, returning in the evening,

Hot food and friendly faces:


Consider if this is a man

Who works in the mud,

Who does not know peace,

Who fights for a scrap of bread,

Who dies because of a yes or a no.


Consider if this is a woman

Without hair and without name,

With no more strength to remember,

Her eyes empty and her womb cold

Like a frog in winter.


Meditate that this came about:

I commend these words to you.

Carve them in your hearts

At home, in the street,

Going to bed, rising;

Repeat them to your children.


Or may your house fall apart,

May illness impede you,

May your children turn their faces from you.


Mr. Levi was a member of the resistance, in Italy, when he was 
captured in December 1943 and incarcerated along with several hundred 
Jews and partisans. On February 21, 1944 the news came of 
deportation. Most of them knew what that meant although many 
continued to hope. That night children were given no homework as 
preparations were made for the trip. The Italian guards stayed away 
throughout the night not caring to look into the eyes of the 

The trip, by train, was similar to that of millions of others, 
although less cramped than some; Twelve freight cars for six hundred 
and fifty "pieces". I saw one of the wagons, used for this purpose, 
at the Holocaust Museum. It was small for fifty people, but, 
sometimes carried two hundred, all standing as there was not room to 
sit. As usual, the Nazis understated the estimated duration of the 
trip, causing the prisoners to not take along enough food and water.

At the loading platform, the Germans, knowing that any further 
escapes were not plausible and that furthering the lies about being 
nice guys resettling the Jews for their own good was no longer 
required, began to issue random blows. Of the forty five in Primo's 
wagon, only four returned. Cold and thirst became the enemy. As the 
author stated so well, "perfect happiness is unattainable, but, so is 
perfect unhappiness". Things discussed on the trip are seldom said 
among the living.

The door of the car finally opened to what Mr. Levi later 
realized was his first "selection" and that from this convoy, more 
than five hundred were not among the living two days later. It can

not be known which group was better off, although, since the Germans 
were experiencing labor shortages, those entering the camp, were 
better off than their predecessors Primo was quick to notice that 
while delivering crushing blows to keep things moving the oppressors 
were oblivious to their needs. Cries of hunger and thirst were as if 
unheard. The German Guards seemed amused by the sight. Questions, by 
newcomers seemed stupid to the veterans and usually went unanswered. 
When someone first mentioned that you may only leave by way of the 
chimney, number 174517 did not yet understand. It was soon obvious 
that he was among the lowest of the low, a Jew, slave to all other

groups in the camp.

In order to survive one had to learn many lessons very quickly, 
one of the most difficult was to master some of the many languages 
spoken in the Lager; also keeping life’s necessities from being stolen 
was as important to survival as was learning to steal. The rules of 
the camp were as voluminous as the statutes of any state and had to 
be mastered to avoid beatings or worse. The story about learning how 
to avoid having to empty the bucket of urine in the night was both 
amusing and tragic. Finding a compatible work partner was also 
essential as was knowing when and for what reasons one might visit 
the infirmary (Ka-Be).

One thing that used to puzzle me, when reading of the camps, was 
that the reason prisoners wanted to see escapes was so the world 
would find out what was happening and thus bomb or in some way 
destroy the machinery of death. How could they, the prisoners, know 
that the word was out, that the world was aware and still did nothing 
to help. In his dreams Primo would find himself telling his family 
about the camp and they seemed not to listen.

Primo's association with Alberto, another Italian, who was 
popular in the block even though uncorrupted, was a plus for both 
men. It was a friendship that lasted until the evacuation of the 
camp. I don't recall if it lasted beyond the camp, perhaps he said 
something about it and I missed it. Together they learned the rules 
of commerce in the Lager. This was important as the normal 
distribution of goods was insufficient to avoid becoming a 
"mussulman". There was no help for such a being, instead they would 
be knocked down or pushed aside if between someone and food. They, 
the mussulmen, were considered already dead; they were also in the 
majority. They were those who did not learn quickly the ways of the 
Lager. Not a trace of thought could be seen on their face which they 
tried to keep hidden. "To he that has will be given and to he that 
has not will be taken away" as the author stated so well the rule of 
the Lager. Unless a saint, one must be corrupted to survive. This is 
pointed out in the stories of Schepschel, Alfred L., Elias Lindzin, 
Henri and countless others.

Assignment to the Chemical Kommando was probably one of the 
important twists of fate that helped the author to survive. However 
surviving the selections, unless a total mussulman, was primarily 
chance. When Primo found Kuhn praying, after being overlooked at 
selection, he said "does Kuhn not understand that what took place is 
an abomination that no prayer or pardon can ever clean again. If I 
were God, I would spit on Kuhn's prayer".

The final story, that of the last ten days in Ka-Be was 
amazing, although ill and weak, the participants seemed to come 
together, becoming human again, helping each other and those unable 
to get up, to survive that last ordeal. With the help of the 
Frenchmen, Charles and Arthur, and the potatoes turnips and rotten 
cabbages he fought to keep their little group alive and 174517 again 
became Primo Levi, little by little. This friendship with the 
Frenchman was to become a lasting one.

After reading this book, for a second time, (I read it before as 
part of a larger book called "If This Be a Man") my final thought was 
that we can only read the accounts of the survivors. We don't see the 
stories of the six million who did not survive. What kind of tales 
would they tell? I suspect that most would be too horrible to be 
told and if told, too horrible to be believed.