Between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, Primo Levi, the great Italian survivor and writer, visited classrooms across Italy to talk with students about the Holocaust. During these visits, students openly challenged Levi’s testimony or failed to understand what he had to say. How Levi responded to these challenges is the subject of this essay, which considers how and why Levi, in what would become his last work, turns to the gray zone and the duplicitous figure of Chaim Rumkowski in an effort to encourage his young readers to reckon with the very thing they most wanted to forget: the sense of vulnerability that leads people, in ways conscious and unconscious, to collude with power and seek privileges. In the process, the essay brings into focus the image of Levi as a gifted teacher, deeply interested in and responsive to his young readers and students.

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