genocide / Holocaust / World War II

“More dangerous are the common men…”

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
― ― Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

Excerpt: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/09/28/the-art-of-witness

Primo Levi was born in Turin, in 1919, into a liberal family, and into an assimilated, educated Jewish-Italian world. He would write, in “If This Is a Man,” that when he first learned the name of his fateful destination, “Auschwitz” meant nothing to him. He only vaguely knew about the existence of Yiddish, “on the basis of a few quotes or jokes that my father, who worked for a few years in Hungary, had picked up.” There were around fifty* thousand Italian Jews, and most of them were supporters of the Fascist government (at least until the race legislation of 1938, which announced a newly aggressive anti-Semitism); a cousin of Levi’s, Eucardio Momigliano, had been one of the founders of the Fascist Party, in 1919. Levi’s father was a member, though more out of convenience than commitment.

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