chapter  7
34 Pages

Beyond “Only one can live”

Witnessing, acknowledgment and the moral Third


Strangely enough, this same thought (“even if we were to tell it, we would not be believed”) arose in the form of nocturnal dreams produced by the prisoners’ despair. Almost all the survivors, orally or in their written memoirs, remember a dream which frequently recurred during the nights of imprisonment, varied in its detail but uniform in its substance: they had returned home and with passion and relief were describing their past sufferings, addressing themselves to a loved one, and were not believed, indeed were not even listened to. In the most typical (and cruelest) form, the interlocutor turned and left in silence.

Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved