"Thanks to Lorenzo, I managed not to forget that I myself was a man"

Lorenzo Perrone (1904—1952) was one of a group of skilled Italian bricklayers working under contract who were transferred to Auschwitz to work on the camp's expansion plan. As such, he was a civilian worker, compensated for his work and not subjected to the abuses of camp inmates.

He met Primo Levi in the middle of 1944, whilst working on the construction of a wall at Monowitz. Levi overheard Perrone speak in his own dialect and a friendship between the two developed. Until December of that year, Perrone gave Levi daily additional food from his rations, saving his life. He enabled him to contact his family in Italy and gave him clothing to protect him from the cold.

Levi and Perrone remained in contact after the war, when Levi learnt that he had helped many others at Auschwitz. Suffering from depression, Perrone was never able to properly resume his life after his experiences around the camp. He died of tuberculosis in 1952; his death affected Levi profoundly, who always maintained that he had died of survivor's guilt.

The names of Levi's children were chosen in homage to Lorenzo: his daughter was Lisa Lorenza, and his son Renzo. Their friendship is detailed further in Levi's later work The Drowned and the Saved (1986).

In 1998, Perrone was included in the Righteous among the Nations by the Yad Vashem museum of Jerusalem.