By Jean Amery
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Additional resources for At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities
But if we exclusively stress the so-called moral resistance, then we would have to measure a weakly seventcen-ycar-old gymnasium pupil who fails to withstand torture by the same standards as an athletically built thirtyyear-old laborer who is accustomed to manual work and hardships. Thus we had better let the question rest, just as at that time I myself did not further analyze my power to resist, when, battered and with my hands still shackled, I lay in the cell and ruminated. For the person who has survived torture and whose pains are starting to subside (before they flare up again) experiences an ephemeral peace that is conducive to thinking.
Russia probably between 1919 and 1953. In Hungary in 1919 the W hites and the Reds tortured. There was torture in Spanish prisons by the Falangists as well as the Republicans. Torturers were at work in the semifascist Eastern European states of the period between the two W orld Wars, in Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia. Torture was no invenbon of National Socialism. But it was its apotheosis. The Hitler vassal did not yet achieve his full identity if he was merely as quick as a weasel, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel.
But this is an evasion of the question. W e have for it only the excuse of our own experience and must add in explanation that torture has an indelible character. Whoever was tortured, stays tor tured. Torture is ineradicably burned into him, even when no clinically objective traces can be detected. The permanence of torture gives the one who underwent it the right to speculative flights, which need not be lofty ones and still may claim a certain validity. I speak of the martyred. But it is time to say something about the tormentors also.