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After The Holocaust – Primo Levy And The Nexus Of Science, Responsibility and Humanism

Last night at the United Nations Headquarters in NY I attended the program organized by The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in partnership with the Primo Levy Center of New York, in honor of Yom Hashoa. Having celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme remains steadfast in its mission: to help prevent future acts of genocide by reminding the world of the lessons of the Holocaust.


The program last night focused on the writing of Primo Levy, and included selected readings from his writings, including sections from “If This Is A Man” and several segments from “The Drowned and The Saved”, which is considered to represent Primo Levy’s philosophical and ethical testament.

The program focused on the importance, to Primo Levy, of documenting the precise, specific and exact facts of what he had observed in Auschwitz so that it will not be possible to deny or forget the horrifying reality of what actually took place and what cruelty Man was capable of inflicting upon others in this particular universe of the Holocaust. At the same time, the lessons from Primo Levy’s writing emphasize the need to see the Holocaust not as a singularly gruesome event perpetrated by uniquely monstrous individuals, but to view it as an example of what can be perpetrated by averagely intelligent, averagely malicious people, given certain circumstances. This dual view, the importance of documenting and education the world about the specifics of the historical events that took place in order to encourage personal and social responsibility to prevent evil circumstances from recurring was the focal message of the evening.

Irit Felsen

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