Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries Tagged as 'Genocide'

Churchill’s Judgement of Hitler – “Arguably: Selected Essays” – Christopher Hitchens

July 5th, 2012 · Comments Off on Churchill’s Judgement of Hitler – “Arguably: Selected Essays” – Christopher Hitchens · Genocide, History, Leadership, Politics, WW2

It’s important to remember that many people, before the war, could look at Hitler and see a man with whom business could be done. Winston Churchill, in a 1935 essay from his book Great Contemporaries, had this to say: “It is not possible to form a just judgment of a public figure who has attained […]

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“If This Is a Man” – Primo Levi

May 18th, 2012 · Comments Off on “If This Is a Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, Humanism, Poetry, WW2

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 […]

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Tragi-comic diversions – “Goodbye to Berlin”, Christopher Isherwood

May 17th, 2012 · Comments Off on Tragi-comic diversions – “Goodbye to Berlin”, Christopher Isherwood · Genocide, WW2

“My existence, in comparison with yours, is sadly hum-drum, I fear… Nevertheless, there are certain tragi-comic diversions.” “What sort of diversions?” “This for example –“ Bernhard went over to his writing-desk picked up a sheet of paper and handed it to me: “It arrived by post this morning.” I read the typed words: Berhard Landauer, […]

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The Writer as Witness, Not Judge – “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr 

May 7th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Writer as Witness, Not Judge – “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr  · Criticism, Culture, Elitism, Genocide, Writing, WW2

But Levi is mostly witness rather than judge: ‘I have deliberately assumed the calm, sober language of the witness, neither the lamenting tones of the victim nor the irate voice of someone who seeks revenge.’ He wrote in an afterword added in the 1980s. ‘I thought that my account would be all the more credible […]

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The Literature of Testimony – “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr

May 6th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Literature of Testimony – “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr · Culture, Genocide, History, Writing, WW2

The most important book of the twentieth century: Primo Levi’s If this is a Man. Because it is the best of all the books in the literature of testimony. Because it is a monument to all who were killed in the last century by totalitarian dictatorships. Because it tells us what humans are capable of.

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Survival and Luck – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi

April 16th, 2012 · Comments Off on Survival and Luck – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, Human Rights, Humanism, WW2

As for survival, this is a question that I put to myself many times and that many have put to me. I insist there was no general rule, except entering the camp in good health and knowing German. Barring this, luck dominated. I have seen the survival of shrewd people and silly people, the brave […]

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The Hanging – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi

April 16th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Hanging – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, Humanism, Morality, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology

Today it is different. Last month one of the crematoriums at Birkenau had been blown up. None of us knows (and perhaps no one will ever know) exactly how the exploit was carried out: there was talk of the Sonderkommando, the Special Kommando attached to the gas chambers and the ovens, which is itself periodically […]

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If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi

April 16th, 2012 · Comments Off on If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, History, Human Rights, Humanism, Morality, Religion, WW2

Silence slowly prevails and then, from my bunk on the top row, I see and hear old Kuhn praying aloud, with his beret on his head, swaying backwards and forwards violently. Kuhn is thanking God because he has not been chosen. Kuhn is out of his senses. Does he not see Beppo the Greek in […]

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The Two Ways – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi

April 15th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Two Ways – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, Humanism, Philosophy

We do not believe in the most obvious and facile deduction: that man is fundamentally brutal, egoistic and stupid in his conduct once every civilized institution is taken away, and that the Häftling is consequently nothing but a man without inhibitions. We believe, rather, that the only conclusion to be drawn is that in the […]

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Where Are the Others? – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi

April 14th, 2012 · Comments Off on Where Are the Others? – “If This Is A Man” – Primo Levi · Genocide, WW2

‘Show me your number: you are 174517. This numbering began eighteen months ago and applies to Auschwitz and the dependent camps. There are now ten thousand of us here at Buna-Monowitz; perhaps thirty thousand between Auschwitz and Birkenau. ‘Wo sind die Andere? Where are the others?’ ‘Perhaps transferred to other camps?’ I suggest.

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