The Drowned and the Saved

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The Drowned and The Saved
Drowned and saved.jpg
First edition
AuthorPrimo Levi
Original titleI sommersi e i salvati
TranslatorRaymond Rosenthal
PublisherEinaudi (Italian)
Summit Books (English)
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardcover) and (Paperback)

The Drowned and the Saved (Italian: I sommersi e i salvati) is a book of essays on life in the Nazi extermination camps by Italian-Jewish author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, drawing on his personal experience as a survivor of Auschwitz (Monowitz). The author's last work, written in 1986, a year before his death, The Drowned and the Saved is an attempt at an analytical approach, whereas If This Is a Man (1947) and The Truce (1963) were autobiographical.


  • The problem of the fallibility of memory
  • The techniques used by the Nazis to break the will of prisoners
  • The use of language and the (im-)possibility of communication in the camps
  • The nature of violence and whether there are different kinds of violence
  • The "zona grigia" (gray zone) made of the prisoners that worked for the Nazis in order to save themselves, controlling their fellow prisoners
  • Jean Améry and the intellectuals in Auschwitz
  • Letters from Germans and Levi's replies


The title of one essay (The Grey Zone) was used as title for the film The Grey Zone (2001), which is based on a book by Miklós Nyiszli.

See also[edit]