Fun Facts Friday: Primo Levi

July 31, 2015

Primo Levi (31 July, 1919 – 11 April, 1987) was an Italian chemist and writer of novels, short stories and several books who was also Jewish. He is best known for his book about the time he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz.

Fun Facts Friday Primo Levi

  • Levi was born to a liberal Jewish family and lived almost his entire life in the apartment he was born in.
  • He joined the Avanguardisit movement, an organization for young Fascists, as expected of all boys his age (13-14).
  • Primo Levi jumped ahead in school, he was always the smartest, cleverest, and smallest which is a recipe to get bullied – being Jewish didn’t help either.
  • Because of the race laws prevalent in Fascism, Mr. Levi had a hard time find a supervisor for his graduation thesis.
  • Levi and his family tried to escape German occupied Italy after the fall of Mousalini, but they were captured the resistance movement. Ironically, after Mr. Levi confessed to being Jewish instead of an Italian Partisan they got a fair and descent treatment.
  • In February 1944 Mr. Levi and 630 other Jews were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp. As a chemist Mr. Levi secured a job at a laboratory trying to make synthetic rubber.
  • Levi spent 11 months in Auschwitz before being liberated by the Russians (the average live expectancy was 3 months). He was one of 20 from the group of 650 who survived.
  • In a Jewish New Year party in 1946 a young lady named Lucia Morpurgo offered to teach Mr. Levi to dance. They were married in 1947.
  • Working at a chemical factory he started the draft of a book about his experiences in Auschwitz (If this is a Man a.ka. Survival in Auschwitz). Since the factory was far from home he stayed there during the week and worked on his book undisturbed.
  • Levi’s book The Periodic Table (published in 1975), which links qualities of the elements, was named the best science book ever written by the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

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