Jean Amery

Jean Amery

Austrian writer, journalist, film critic, thinker and essayist.
Date of Birth: 31.10.1912
Country: Australia

Biography of Jean Améry

Jean Améry was an Austrian writer, journalist, film critic, and essayist. He was born in the town of Hohenems, located in the Forarlberg region of the Austrian Alps. His family had been living in Hohenems since the 17th century. Améry studied philosophy and literature in Vienna and was associated with the Vienna Circle of philosophers. His works were published in the literary journal "Die Brücke" in 1934.

During the Nazi era, Améry discovered that he was Jewish after reading the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. Following the Anschluss in March 1938, he emigrated to France and then Belgium in 1941. He joined the Resistance and was arrested by the Gestapo in July 1943 for anti-Nazi propaganda. He endured torture in the Belgian detention camp of Breendonk. Subsequently, he became a prisoner in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Bergen-Belsen, and was liberated in April 1945.

After the war, Améry returned to Brussels and took on a pseudonym, adapting his name in the French style. For a long time, he refused to write in German, speak about his experiences in the camps, or set foot on German soil. He authored several essay books, including "Teenage Stars: Idols of Our Time" (1960), "Enchanted by Jazz" (1961), and "Gerhart Hauptmann: The Eternal German" (1963).

In 1964, upon the request of German writer Helmut Heißenbüttel, who was working for Radio South Germany, Améry gave a talk about the fate of intellectuals in concentration camps. This marked the beginning of his work on the book "At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities," which was published in 1966 and remains one of the most important books about the Holocaust and the fate of Jews in the catastrophe. Figures of camp inmates and doomed Jewish prisoners became starting points for Améry's development of a philosophy of a new, radical (or integral) humanism.

Another one of Améry's well-known books is "Suicide" (1976), which he wrote two years before taking his own life in a hotel in Salzburg, Austria, ingesting a lethal dose of barbiturates. He was buried in Vienna. Améry received several awards, including the German Critics' Prize (1970), the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Prize (1972), the Vienna Prize for Journalism (1976), and the Lessing Prize of the City of Hamburg (1977). His books have been translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian.