Hitler's death camps caused the deaths of six million people, a widespread slaughter that is widely regarded as the worst atrocity in history. Those who survived the Holocaust
went on to try to pick up the pieces and live their lives as best they could. Many went on to make major contributions to the world, and Primo Levi is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and important of all the survivors of the Holocaust.
Levi was a chemist as well as a writer, and wrote several short stories and two novels as well as poems and essays. His book "The Periodic Table" is regarded as the best science book ever written according to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and is a collection of short stories that are all related to his experiences as a prisoner of Hitler's camps as well as his life working under the Fascist regime.
Levi was one of the many prisoners who were sent to Auschwitz, one of the most infamous concentration camps in the Third Reich. He spent eleven months in the camp, nearly dying from Scarlett Fever before the camp was liberated by Russia's Red Army. He had arrived with 650 Italian Jews, and when freed he was one of only 20 who had survived. Most records place the life expectancy of Auschwitz prisoners at around three months.
It took Primo Levi several years to fully recover from his ordeal. Malnutrition and the camp's conditions had caused him serious physical pain, and the psychological trauma was even harder for him to deal with. His book "If This Is A Man
" was published in 1947, though Levi also worked as a chemist for a paint company called SIVA.
Primo Levi continued to work and write throughout the years, and built up a strong name for himself thanks to his work. But the Holocaust was never far from his mind, and his friends report that he was often depressed due to his memories of his time in the camps. He visited a total of more than 130 schools to discuss what had happened to him, and was appalled by the Holocaust denial that he found in many of them. Eventually Levi became a symbolic leader for anti-fascism.
Primo Levi died by falling from the interior landing of his apartment in 1987. While it was initially reported as a suicide, many experts today believe it was an accidental fall caused by dizziness.