Book Report I
At The Mind’s Limit:
Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities
By Jean Amery
“At The Mind’s Limit” is a series of essays written by Jean Amery, a German born Jew who survived the holocaust, who gives the reader a very interesting perspective into the mind of a persecuted Jew from 1935 forward. Amery does not consider himself a religious Jew or one who follows any Jewish traditions. In fact, he did not know that Yiddish was a language until he was 18. So Amery describes the events leading up to and following the holocaust through the eyes of an “intellectual” and tries to find out whether being an “intellectual” helped or hindered his mental and spiritual capacity as he experienced unimaginable terrors.
The first section entitled At The Mind’s Limit, examines the effects of these unthinkable events on the minds of what he refers to as intellectual and non-intellectual people. Amery claims that intellectual people are people who know poetry, art, philosophy, music, and literature; basically a man who emerged from the Renaissance with a sense of reason. The initial shock of what was happening hit the Jews at different times. While all of the non-intellectuals began trying to hold onto anything that still made sense (God, possessions, family), the intellectual, plagued by reason, steps back from the event occurring and try to apply reason. Through reason they could see that they were totally helpless. Being rounded up to be slaughtered with no help in sight. This made the initial “sting” of the events leading up to the holocaust become worst for the intellectuals. Also, because the world around the intellectual used to hold so much meaning and beauty that is expressed for example in poetry, the fact the world that he now finds himself in holds no hope or beauty but instead only confidence in death burns deeper into the intellectual rather than the non-intellectual.
The next section, entitled Torture,... [continues]
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