"Primo Levi"

 Primo Levi (1919-1987) is considered to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century.  Born to a Jewish family in Turin, Italy, he originally trained as a chemist.  He spent eleven months in Auschwitz there until the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army in January 1945.  It took him a year to make his way back to Italy, where he immediately began to talk about what he had experienced as a prisoner.  His first book, and perhaps his most famous, was ‘If This Is a Man’, published in 1947.  He also rebuilt his career as a chemist with great success.  At various times he travelled to Germany on business and always wore a short sleeved shirt to ensure his prisoner’s tattoo from Auschwitz was clearly visible.  His further books included ‘The Truce’, ‘The Periodic Table’ and ‘Moments of Reprieve’, and he became an important literary figure.  He spoke in many schools and lectured abroad, and supported public events which commemorated the Holocaust.  Levi died at the age of 67 by falling down a flight of stairs in his apartment building. His death was officially recorded as suicide; he had long suffered from depression due to the traumas of his earlier experiences.  Others have questioned this assumption, not believing he was disposed to take his own life.