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Both One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and If This is a Man by Primo Levi are books written about one of the most horrific features of the twentieth century - forced labour camps Although the authors describe different types of camps with different regimes their stories are very similar in one aspect Both of them write about the degradation of the human soul as a result of the harsh conditions in the camp However despite cold hunger humiliating treatment and omnipresent fear of death some prisoners in both narratives in particular the heroes of each managed to maintain their humanity largely through the formation of either genuine friendships or pragmatic alliances Still Hftlinge in the Nazi concentration camp are more devastated by the system than zeks in the Gulag camp because although all had to endure forced labour in both camps the Gulag was established with the purpose of obtaining a free labour force while the German concentration camps were death camps from which there was meant to be no escape or return Knowledge of this fact led Hftlinge to give up on life and hope and this often made them heartless towards others Therefore judging from Levis and Solzhenitsyns accounts friendship in Auschwitz was a rarity while in the Gulag amity was usual The human souls inseparability from physical sufferings of the body can lead to the destruction of an individuals humanity In both the Gulag camp described in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the Nazi Lager portrayed in If This is a Man detainees undergo systematically cruel and brutal treatment They suffer from hunger lack of sleep exposure exhaustion and above all deprivation of human rights Nevertheless in the worst sufferings there could often be a supporting word or action from a friend This becomes most evident in the description of working a day in both books Although during the working day there
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