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LEVI, Primo

Se questo è un uomo

A poco a poco prevale il silenzio, e allora, dalla mia cuccetta che è al terzo piano, si vede e si sente che il vecchio Kuhn prega, ad alta voce, col berretto in testa e dondolando il busto con violenza. Kuhn ringrazia Dio perché non è stato "scelto".

Kuhn è un insensato. Non vede, nella cuccetta accanto, Beppo il greco che ha vent'anni, e dopodomani andrà al gas, e lo sa, e se ne sta sdraiato e guarda fisso la lampadina senza dire niente e senza pensare più niente? Non sa Kuhn che la prossima volta sarà la sua volta? Non capisce Kuhn che è accaduto oggi un abominio che nessuna preghiera propiziatoria, nessun perdono, nessuna espiazione dei colpevoli, nulla insomma che sia in potere dell'uomo di fare, potrà risanare mai più?

Se io fossi Dio, sputerei a terra la preghiera di Kuhn.


If This Is A Man

Silence slowly prevails and then, from my bunk on the top row, I see and hear old Kuhn praying aloud, with his beret on his head, swaying backwards and forwards violently. Kuhn is thanking God because he has not been chosen.

Kuhn is out of his senses. Does he not see Beppo the Greek in the bunk next to him, Beppo who is twenty years old and is going to the gas chamber the day after tomorrow and knows it and lies there looking fixedly at the light without saying anything and without even thinking any more? Can Kuhn fail to realize that next time it will be his turn? Does Kuhn not understand that what has happened today is an abomination, which no propitiatory prayer, no pardon, no expiation by the guilty, which nothing at all in the power of man can ever clean again?

If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer.


The Truce

It is, therefore, necessary to be suspicious of those who seek to convince us with means other than reason, and of charismatic leaders: we must be cautious about delegating to others our judgement and our will. Since it is difficult to distinguish true prophets from false, it is as well to regard all prophets with suspicion. It is better to renounce revealed truths, even if they exalt us by their splendor of if we find them convenient because we can acquire them gratis. It is better to content oneself with other more modest and less exiting truths, those one acquires painfully, little by little and without shortcuts, with study, discussion, and reasoning, those that can we verified and demonstrated.