Gaining perspective on suffering and concentration camps

There is tremendous suffering in the World these days. Just around the corner from my home, the streets of San Francisco are packed with homeless people and totally “normal” people who have shelter but forced to wait in line a few blocks to receive free food. Forty million people were reported with Covid 19 and 1.1 million died according to the NY Times today.

Everyone is scared regardless of what they have or don’t have.

We are reminded daily that life matters more than our everyday concerns and tasks with a silent, natural “being”, a virus, that challenges everything we know. We can’t really blame anyone for it. It could have come from anywhere. It reminds us how fragile we are despite all our progress and technology.

I have been wondering a lot recently about suffering, death and our “mission” in life if there is any and shared some thoughts on this newsletter.

To gain some perspective, I asked myself what would be the absolute worse state of mind a person could be in.

I immediately thought concentration camps. No hope, sub-human conditions of “life” often torture, no contact with family or friends and the only path ahead is… death.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like so I asked my friends on social networks to recommend books about survivors and concentration camps. The least I could do is to gather that list here. I apologize for typos if any.

I am grateful for your recommendations and friendship.

In case you wonder, I am doing well. I am just studying. Learning about the deepest darkness humanity can manifest seems necessary to me when nature turns the World upside down.

I will start reading the two most recommended ones.

Feel free to recommend more or comment on this topic in the comments below.

Man’s search for meaning - Viktor Frankel
Night - Elie Wiesel
Fatelessness - Imre Kertesz
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen - Tadeusz Borowski
The Painted Bird - Primo Levi
The Choice - Edith Eger
Journey into the Whirlwind - Eugenia Semyonovna Ginsberg
Do not raise your hand against the boy - Rabbi Israel Meir Lau
The Auschwitz Volunteer - Witold Pilecki
Quatre petits bouts de pain - Magda Hollander-Lafon
Le long voyage L’ecriture ou la Vie - Jorge Semprun
Of blood and hope - Samuel Pisar
The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Au nom de tous les miens - Martin Gray
Out of the Depths - Israel Meir Lau
Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi
The girl who survived - Carol Bierman
Survivors - Allan Zullo
The Pianist - Wladyslaw Szpilman
Sala’s gift - Ann Kirschner
The Origins of Totalitarianism - Hannah Arendt
The banality of evil - Eichmann in Jerusalem
One long night a global history of concentration camps - Andrea Pritzker
Sophie’s choice - William Styron
Maus I and II - Art Siegelman (Comics book)
Si c’est un homme - Primo Levi
Le temps des prodiges - Aharon Appelfeld
The Choice, Embrace the Possible - Dr Edith Eger
Nous sommes les voix des morts
Une vie bouleversée - Etty Hillesum
Shoah - Claude Lanzmann (10 hours French documentary about the Holocaust)