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At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities

Because Auschwitz was among the most brutal of the concentration camps, ruled by capricious, pure force and not by any discernable political or social structure, the intellectual there "was alone with his intellect ... and there was no social reality that could support and confirm it." In other words, there was no place for the intellect to act, outside of the confines of a person's own skull. Jean Amery's At The Mind's Limits is a focused meditation on the position of the intellectual placed in "a borderline situation, where he has to confirm the reality and effectiveness of his intellect, or to declare its impotence: in Auschwitz." In the camp, Amery writes, "The intellect very abruptly lost its basic quality: its transcendence." Considering this loss, Amery describes his own experience of torture, his reactions of resentment, anger and bitterness, his loss of any vital sense of metaphysical questions and his search for some way to maintain moral character and Jewish identity in the absence of such consciousness. --Michael Joseph Gross

Important places

Auschwitz (105)
Buchenwald (9)
Bergen (14)

Regions

Lesser Poland (155)
Thüringen (43)
Niedersachsen (99)

Countries

Germany (3,818)
Poland (895)