In ‘Initiation’ Levi shows us much of daily life in the Lager. Outline these ideas.

10 Nov


Distribution of Bread: “Some, bestially, urinate while they run to save time, because within 5 minutes begins the distribution of bread, of bread-Brot-Broid-chlebpain-lechem-keyner , of the holy grey slab which seems gigantic in your neighbour’s hand, and in your own hand so small as to make you cry. It is a daily hallucination to which in the end one becomes accustomed: but at the beginning it is so irresistible that many of us, after long discussions on our own open and constant misfortune and the shameless luck of others, finally exchange our ration at which the illusion is renewed inverted, leaving everyone discontented and frustrated” (45). In this paragraph shows how a small piece of grey bread plays such an important role in a healthy mans life. This is the only part of the day that the prisoners look forward to. This shows how a mans dignity is affected because he has to do such things as urinate and run at the same time.


Enforcement of hygiene: “The walls are covered by curious didactic frescoes: for example, there is the good Haftling, portrayed stripped to the waist, about to diligently soap his sheared and rosy cranium, and the bad Haftling, with a strong Semitic nose and a greenish colour, bundled up in his ostentatiously stained clothes with a beret on his head, who cautiously dips a finger into the water of the wash basin.” (45) Levi sees the irony of having posters that urge prisoners to maintain personal hygiene when the Nazis themselves are actively trying to exterminate them. It seems ironic that the Nazis attempt to keep their prisoners healthy, while simultaneously attempting to kill them. This describes the ultimate contrasts and confusion that concentration camps represent and create.


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