Primo Levi, Salonika and “other great Greek matters”

Stefania Zezza


In each of his writings Primo Levi is a bright and keen interpreter of humanity, for which he nurtures an almost physiological interest and investigates both in its individual and collective expressions. His approach is also due to the curiosity of his spirit, incredibly emphasized during the time he spent in Auschwitz, about which the writer has provided a conscious and analytical description in several of his works. At that time he found himself inside an upside-down world which for the writer became like a big microscope slide where, macroscopically, the laws of nature appeared distorted and as elements to be analyzed, in their deformity. What Primo Levi writes in several of his books is even more surprising since for years Salonika and the fate of its Community have not been studied much, maybe because the enormity of what had happened elsewhere to much larger communities shadowed this particular event geographically distant and smaller in numerical terms. Primo Levi's great merit is to be the first to understand, describe and witness those features, while supplying information about the Salonikan Jews' fate after they entered the Auschwitz camp. Now Primo Levi's writings can be studied together with other Greek witnesses' accounts, whose authors made the decision to interrupt their silence only recently. This aspect of Primo Levi's production is gaining great importance inside the renewed interest for the Sephardic Communities, hit as severely as the Ashkenazi ones by the Nazi annihilation policy.


Holocaust; Primo Levi; Salonika; Shoah

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