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Monday, December 12, 2011

Frontispiece for my PhD dissertation - "Trauma & Event"

E venne la notte, e fu una notte tale, che si conobbe che occhi umani non avrebbero dovuto assistervi e sopravivere. Tutti sentirono questo: nessuno dei guardiani, né italiani né tedeschi, ebbe animo di venire a vedere che cosa fanno gli uomini quando sanno di dover morire.

          Ognuno so congedò dalla vita nel modo che piú gli si addiceva. Alcuni pregarono, altri bevvero oltre misura, altri se inebriarono di nefanda ultima passione. Ma le madri vegliarono a preparare con dolce cura il cibo per il viaggio, e lavarono i bambini, e fecero i bagagli, e all’alba i fili spinati erano pieni di bianchieria infantile stesa al vento ad asciugare; e non dimenticarono le fasce, e i giocattoli, e i cuscini, e le cento piccole cose che esse ben sanno, e di cui i bambini hanno in ogni caso bisogno. Non fareste anche voi altrettanto? Se dovessero uccidervi domani col vostro bambino, voi non gli dareste oggi da mangiare?

—Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo

And night came, and it was such a night that one knew that human eyes would not witness it and survive. Everyone felt this: not one of the guards, neither Italian nor German, had the courage to come and see what men do when they know they have to die. 

All took leave of life in the manner which most suited them. Some praying, some deliberately drunk, others lustfully intoxicated for the last time. But the mothers stayed up to prepare the food for the journey with tender care, and washed their children and packed the luggage; and at dawn the barbed wire was full of children's washing hung out in the wind to dry. Nor did they forget the diapers, the toys, the cushions and the hundred other small things which moth­ers remember and which children always need. Would you not do the same? If you and your child were going to be killed tomorrow, would you not give him to eat today?

—Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz


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