On this day (July 31), 1919, Primo Levi, an Italian chemist and writer who survived the Holocaust, was born in Turin, Italy.
In 1925 he entered the elementary school Felice Rignon in Turin. A thin and delicate boy, he was shy and considered himself ugly; he excelled academically
In September 1930, Levi entered the Royal Gymnasium Massimo d'Azeglio a year before the requirements normal income. In class he was the youngest, shortest and smartest, as well as being the only Jew
n July 1934 at the age of 14, he sat the exams for the Liceo Classico D'Azeglio and was admitted that year. Reading On the Nature of Things by Sir William Bragg, Levi decided that he wanted to be a chemist.
In October 1938 he enrolled at the University of Turin to study chemistry. As one of 80 candidates, he spent three months taking lectures, and in February, after passing his colloquium (oral exam), he was selected as one of 20 to move on to the full-time chemistry curriculum. complete.
Due to the new racial laws and the increasing intensity of prevailing fascism, Levi had difficulty finding a supervisor for his graduation thesis, which dealt with the topic from the Walden inversion, a study of the asymmetry of the carbon atom.
Finally taken over by Dr. Nicolò Dallaporta, he graduated in mid-1941 with maximum marks and merit, having presented additional theses on X-rays and electrostatic energy .
His degree certificate bore the comment, "of Jewish race". Racial laws prevented Levi from finding a suitable permanent job after graduation.
In December 1941 Levi received an informal job offer from an Italian officer to work as a chemist, under an identity clandestine, in an asbestos mine in San Vittore.
After the war and spending time at Auswitch, Primo Levi went back to work as a chemist, first at DUCO, a paint factory for the Du Pont company on the outskirts of Turin and later for Accatti in the family paint business listed under the name SIVA.
While he was working as a chemist he began to write several books (about 14 without counting those on interviews) among which two stand out;
- If This Is a Man, it's a memory (first published 1947) writing about his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during World War II, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp (Monowitz) from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945
- The Periodic Table (1975) is a collection of short pieces, based on episodes from his life, but including two stories he wrote while working in 1941 in the asbestos mine at San Vittore. Each story was related in some way to one of the chemical elements.
As a curiosity, comment that at the Royal Institution of London on October 19, 2006, The Periodic Table was chosen as a shortlist for the best scientific book ever written
- Hello Cousin!
- yes, you
- but what kind of cousin?
- what do you mean?
- well you call me cousin for being your relative
- well you call me cousin because I'm stupid
- well I don't think you call me prime because I'm a prime number
- well I don't know why you call me cousin
- but isn't your name Primo?
- oh no, are you looking for Primo Levi?
-well, he's that man over there
- ok, thanks....