A German Grocery Store Owner writes a letter of warning to Adolf Hitler before the start of start of World War II
If This Is A Man and The Truce. This book by Primo Levi, is his memoir as a prisoner in a German concentration camp in Poland, his time as a refugee when the war ended, and his journey back home to Italy.
This book is beautifully written. It’s an absolute MUST READ, a necessary and profound read.
A story in this book worth sharing (among many), is a small sliver of history, that would have disappeared and drifted away like a twig in the infinite and eternal river of time.
We are so fortunate to have this small, yet sublime scrap of history preserved for us through Primo’s book…
When Germany surrendered, Primo was living in a temporary Russian refugee camp in a small town in Poland waiting for a transport to take him back to Italy.
In that small town, he met an elderly German lady who owned a grocery store. She previously owned one in Berlin, Germany. When she learned that Primo was an Italian, Jewish man who spent an horrific year in the German camps, she invited him to the back of the store for a drink, and shared her story.
She and her husband didn’t like Hitler and what he was up to in the mid 1930’s. Unfortunately, they were too incautious with their opinion and word spread in her neighborhood of Berlin. The Gestapo took her husband away in 1935. She never heard from him again.
Then in 1938, when Hitler gave his infamous speech inciting war, she wrote him. She advised Hitler not to wage war because too many people would be killed and Germany wouldn’t win a war against the entire world.
She sent the letter with her full name and address (not the smartest idea). Five days later she was detained by German soldiers. They raided her grocery store and shut it down.
They threatened to hang her, then decided against it, thinking she was just a senile, old woman. But they did exile her from Berlin and revoked her trade license.
This woman, in her late 70’s, kicked out of her home city and her husband murdered, moved to Poland with nothing. Yet, she persevered and opened another grocery store. She lived to tell the tale to Primo Levi seven years later in 1945.