The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

Synopsis

An eloquent revelation that touches the foundations of what man is. Neither despairing nor conventionally hopeful,The Survivordescribes the most terrible events in human memory. But what emerges finally is an image of man stubbornly equal to the worst that can happen.

Excerpt

My subject is survival, the capacity of men and women to live beneath the pressure of protracted crisis, to sustain terrible damage in mind and body and yet be there, sane, alive, still human. I am not directly concerned with the concentration camps, but with the people who suffered those places, who endured that evil and returned to bear witness. Even so, an experience such as theirs cannot be understood apart from its context, and in the following pages there is much description, amounting almost to a comprehensive view, of camp conditions. Unavoidably, a spectacle of death and mutilation opens upon us, an endless silent scream rising to a sky forever heedless of men's anguish. But what mattered most for survivors -- and what matters now for us -- is a different aspect of the camp ordeal. Their testimony reveals a world ruled by death, but also a world of actual living conditions, of ways of life which are the basis and achievement of life in extremity. It turns out that survival is an experience with a definite structure, neither random nor regressive nor amoral. The aim of this book has been to make that structure visible.

And how does one handle this subject? One doesn't; not well, not finally. No degree of scope or care can equal the enormity of . . .

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