How a Holocaust Survivor Can Help Prostitution Survivors

11 Feb
The amazing Primo Levi

My Hero

Primo Levi is amazing.  Many trafficking/prostitution survivors I know read him again and again.  We need him and somehow we find our way to him.

Primo (he will always be ‘first’ to me) has been necessary for my intellectual survival.  I’m not drawing any direct parallels between the concentration camp and what I experienced in prostitution (though in many ways it was an underground Gulag), but Primo defines the denial of evil and how evil molds and changes the people it preys upon better than anyone I’ve ever read.

I’m so thankful to him, for his amazing clarity, honesty and courage, for having the guts to write the truth, when it wasn’t what people wanted to hear.  For going beyond his outrage, pain, despair, to examine like the scientist he was what happens to people  when they’re subjected to unfathomable violence, fear, loss and pain.

From the Drowned and the Saved:

“The well-known euphemisms (‘final solution,’ ‘special treatment,’ the very term Einsatzkommando literally ‘prompt-employment unit, disguised a frightful reality) were used not only to deceive the victims and prevent a defensive reaction on their part, they were also meant, within the limits of the possible, to prevent public opinion, and those sections of the army not directly involved, from finding out what was happening in all the territories occupied by the Third Reich.” “The entire history of the brief “millennial Reich” can be read as a war against memory, an Orwellian falsification of memory, falsification of reality, negation of reality.

All Hitler’s biographers … agree on the flight from reality which marked his last years, especially beginning with the first Russian winter. He had forbidden and denied his subjects any access to the truth, contaminating their morality and their memory; but, to a degree which gradually increased, attaining complete paranoia in the Bunker, he barred the path of truth to himself as well. Like all gamblers, he erected around himself a stage set of superstitious lies and in which he ended up believing with the same fanatical faith that he demanded from every German. His collapse was not only a salvation for mankind but also a demonstration of the price to be paid when one dismembers the truth.”

The falsification Levi describes above reminds me a lot of the many lies and euphemisms society and the sex industry use to hide the degradation and violence of prostitution.  These untruths dehumanize the prostituted class.

6 Responses to “How a Holocaust Survivor Can Help Prostitution Survivors”

  1. Lala March 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    What an extraordinary blog you have; I can only imagine what your life must have been like, but the truth is I probably can’t . You have a lot to tell and we need to hear it. I’m very interested to know that Primo Levi experience of the Holocaust is a touchstone for you, aside from the tremendous power and clarity of his writing. Scientist-philosopher. I wonder if he could have been able to write the way he does without the searing experience of the concentration camp – maybe, maybe not. Trying to make sense of the horror lends itself to creative output, but I am not recommending it as part of a creative writing course look forward to reading more from you.

    • mysheroes April 3, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      This is such a wonderful post about the power of literature and the use of our minds to help us understand extraordinary situations- both good and bad. Thank you for sharing!

  2. wordcoaster April 19, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    You have such a unique voice and so many good things to say, though many of them painful. Thank you for sharing! I will be following your blog :)

  3. Julie Hansen Intuitive April 24, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you for this post.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Survivors Connect Network - March 15, 2012

    [...] How a Holocaust Survivor Can Help Prostitution Survivors (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. Pimps and Madams Run Groups for “Sex Worker Rights” | Aliens in This World - June 6, 2012

    [...] survivors apparently get a lot of good stuff out of Primo Levi’s thoughts about truth. To have the truth taken out of your vocabulary is slavery. Giving things their right names is the [...]

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