Primo Levi was perhaps the most insightful memorist of the Holocaust. In his first book, translated into English as "Survival in Auschwitz" he describes two catagories of prisoners: the drowned, who have lost the will to live, and the saved, those who fight to survive and have some privilege or advantage that keeps them going despite the grinding brutality of the camp.
This volume shows Mr. Levi at his most analytic. Perhaps, he had an advantage in understanding the camp experience because both poet and chemist, he had a grounding in the world of feelings and the world of abstraction and observation.
Some of the topics he addressed in this book are:
On Memory--For the victims trauma blots out the memory of the injury. The Nazis tried to destroy the historical record. They sanitized even the language of the Holocaust.
The Grey Zone--Some Jews collaborated with the Germans in an attempt to manipulate the system to their own advantage. This creates a grey zone in the moral universe.
Communication--To survive one had to know or learn quickly some German. The language of the camp was German. Those who did not jump to orders were met with quick blows.