We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.— Primo Levi
The most bashful Primo Levi quotes that will transform you to a better person
Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous.
More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.
The aims of life are the best defense against death.
There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.
The bond between a man and his profession is similar to that which ties him to his country; it is just as complex, often ambivalent, and in general it is understood completely only when it is broken: by exile or emigration in the case of one's country, by retirement in the case of a trade or profession.
I am constantly amazed by man's inhumanity to man.
Everybody is somebody's Jew.
A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.
Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.
Conquering matter is to understand it, and understanding matter is necessary to understanding the universe and ourselves: and that therefore Mendeleev's Periodic Table, which just during those weeks we were learning to unravel, was poetry.
Darwin was not afraid to look deeply into the void.
His bold view can be seen as either noble and pessimistic or noble and admirable. For people of science, he is a hero. Denying man a privileged place in creation, .. he reaffirms with his own intellectual courage the dignity of man.
Man is a centaur, a tangle of flesh and mind, divine inspiration and dust.
I live in my house as I live inside my skin: I know more beautiful, more ample, more sturdy and more picturesque skins: but it would seem to me unnatural to exchange them for mine.
Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument.
The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.
It is the duty of righteous men to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end.
Anyone who has obeyed nature by transmitting a piece of gossip experiences the explosive relief that accompanies the satisfying of a primary need.
There are few men who know how to go to their deaths with dignity, and often they are not those whom one would expect.
Nothing can be said: nothing sure, nothing probable, nothing honest.
Better to err through omission than through commission: better to refrain from steering the fate of others, since it is already so difficult to navigate one's own.
I'm a libertine, but it's not my specialty.
This is the most immediate fruit of exile, of uprooting: the prevalence of the unreal over the real. Everyone dreamed past and future dreams, of slavery and redemption, of improbable paradises, of equally mythical and improbable enemies; cosmic enemies, perverse and subtle, who pervade everything like the air.
Is anything sadder than a trainThat leaves when it's supposed to,That has only one voice,Only one route?There's nothing sadder.Except perhaps a cart horse,Shut between two shaftsAnd unable even to look sideways.
To destroy a man is difficult, almost as difficult as to create one: it has not been easy, nor quick, but you Germans have succeeded. Here we are, docile under your gaze; from our side you have nothing more to fear; no acts of violence, no words of defiance, not even a look of judgment.
To accuse another of having weak kidneys, lungs, or heart, is not a crime;
on the contrary, saying he has a weak brain is a crime.
We collected in a group in front of their door, and we experienced within ourselves a grief that was new for us, the ancient grief of the people that has no land, the grief without hope of the exodus which is renewed in every century.
At that time I had not yet been taught the doctrine I was later to learn so hurriedly in the Lager: that man is bound to pursue his own ends by all possible means, while he who errs but once pays dearly
We will not return No one must leave here and so carry to the world, together with the sign impressed on his skin, the evil tidings of what man's presumption made of man in Auschwitz
My number is 174517; we have been baptized, we will carry the tattoo on our left arm until we die.
The butterfly's attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry: deeper motives contribute to it. We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung, or above all if they did not enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis: the latter assumes in our eyes the value of a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign.
For me chemistry represented an indefinite cloud of future potentialities which enveloped my life to come in black volutes torn by fiery flashes, like those which had hidden Mount Sinai. Like Moses, from that cloud I expected my law, the principle of order in me, around me, and in the world. I would watch the buds swell in spring, the mica glint in the granite, my own hands, and I would say to myself: I will understand this, too, I will understand everything.
I have many times been praised for my lack of animosity towards the Germans.
It's not a philosophical virtue. It's a habit of having my second reactions before the first.
They sensed that what had happened around them and in their presence, and in them, was irrevocable. Never again could it be cleansed; it would prove that man, the human species - we, in short - had the potential to construct an enormity of pain, and that pain is the only force created from nothing, without cost and without effort. It is enough not to see, not to listen, not to act.
If it is true that there is no greater sorrow than to remember a happy time in a state of misery, it is just as true that calling up a moment of anguish in a tranquil mood, seated quietly at one's desk, is a source of profound satisfaction.
The sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong.
The living are more demanding; the dead can wait.
To give a name to a thing is as gratifying as giving a name to an island, but it is also dangerous: the danger consists in one's becoming convinced that all is taken care of and that once named, the phenomenon has also been explained.
Imagine now a man who is deprived of everyone he loves, and at the same time of his house, his habits, his clothes, in short, of everything he possesses: he will be a hollow man, reduced to suffering and needs, forgetful of dignity and restraint, for he who loses all often loses himself.
He could hardly read or write but his heart spoke the language of the good
A man who would mutilate himself is well damned, isn't he?
If a writer is convinced that he is honest, then it is very difficult for him to be a bad writer.
Perhaps Kafka laughed when he told stories [. . . ] because one isn't always equal to oneself.
It is this refrain that we hear repeated by everyone: you are not at home, this is not a sanatorium, the only exit is by way of the Chimney. (What did it mean? Soon we were all to learn what it meant.)
Each of us bears the imprint of a friend met along the way; In each the trace of each.
The future of humanity is uncertain, even in the most prosperous countries, and the quality of life deteriorates; and yet I believe that what is being discovered about the infinitely large and infinitely small is sufficient to absolve this end of the century and millennium. What a very few are acquiring in knowledge of the physical world will perhaps cause this period not to be judged as a pure return of barbarism.
Today I think that if for no other reason than that an Auschwitz existed, no one in our age should speak of Providence.
Dawn came on us like a betrayer; it seemed as though the new sun rose as an ally of our enemies to assist in our destruction.
We who survived the Camps are not true witnesses.
We are those who, through prevarication, skill or luck, never touched bottom. Those who have, and who have seen the face of the Gorgon, did not return, or returned wordless.
Perfection belongs to narrated events, not to those we live.
I too entered the Lager as a nonbeliever, and as a nonbeliever I was liberated and have lived to this day.
I am not even alive enough to know how to kill myself
In history and in life one sometimes seems to glimpse a ferocious law which states: to he that has, will be given; from he that has not, will be taken away.