International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, in 1945, the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, was freed. Among those set free was Primo Levi, the Italian-Jewish chemist and writer. The 1997 movie, ‘Truce’, is based on Levi’s memoir about the ~9-month journey back home. It was beautifully-made and John Turturro rendered him with a nuanced sensitivity and without the usual Hollywood overwrought sensationalism. It’s among the finest in Italian neorealism cinema — Pasolinian “cinema of poetry”. Here’s a review I wrote in 2013.


On October 19th, 1945, Primo Levi, an Italian Jew and chemist, finally returned to his home in Turin, Italy after having spent 11 months at Auschwitz and another harrowing ~9 months on a circuitous, long journey via Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The Truce is a movie about that journey, during which time, he also began his writing career.

Given the odds of survival at Auschwitz and the difficult route he had to take to get home, it was something of a miracle that he made it alive. The traumas of both the camp and the journey left permanent scars that never healed over the rest of his life, as they had done for countless others. When he died in 1987, Elie Wiesel, a fellow Holocaust survivor, remarked that “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz forty years earlier.”

And, yet, during those forty years after his release and return home, Levi…

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