Geoffrey Brahmer will discuss the life and writings of Holocaust survivor Primo Levi and the extent of the Holocaust in Italy in a presentation on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m., in the Bethlehem Public Library.
“Through the lens of Levi’s own Holocaust experiences and reflections, one may learn some of the lessons of the Holocaust for our own times,” noted information provide by Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation, which is sponsoring the event. Members of the community will read a few of Levi’s poems.
Primo Levi was born on July 31, 1919. His Jewish ancestors, going back several centuries, came to Italy from Spain and Southern France and settled in the Turin area of Northern Italy. Levi was raised in an assimilated Jewish home, and until he was deported to Auschwitz, considered himself an Italian, not a Jew. As Levi notes, “I became a Jew in Auschwitz.”
In Auschwitz, Levi’s work as a writer began. His 1946 work “If This Is A Man,” published in 1947, became one of the first Holocaust survivor memoirs. This was followed by multiple works, including poems, essays, short stories, memoirs, and a novel. Over the next 40 years, many of Levi’s works were written when he was working as a chemist and manager in a paint factory.
Levi was once asked why he and other survivors spoke out, and he replied, “It happened, therefore it can happen again. This is the core of what we have to say.”
Levi died by suicide on April 11, 1987.
“This presentation was motivated by the mass murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as other synagogues, churches, mosques and schools, in the United States and around the world. I dedicate it to the victims of these massacres and to all the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. May we learn from them in our own times,” said Brahmer.