Bruno Bettelheim - Behaviour in Extreme Situations: Coercion
Bettelheim comes to the same conclusion as Solzhenitsyn. People need convictions to survive. It is the last realm of freedom in a situation where everything else is taken away.
There is a certain point where life just isn’t worth living, and that is the point where life becomes more important than essential convictions. After a person crosses the line of conviction the will to live is lost and death comes quickly.
But how can a person determine their own line? I don’t think it can be determined until every small choice becomes a choice between life and death. The question is: am I willing to die for this conviction really and truly.
Jesus said “Those who love their life will lose it.” He also said “Man can not live on bread alone.” We need choice.
The camps weren’t about extermination, simply killing the body. The camps were about taking the life out of the body. Proving the hypothesis that Jews were a race, but they weren’t human. Choice and convictions makes us human and they tried to take that away.
I would like to think that I wouldn’t make it past the gates because of my convictions, but that is a pretty easy thing to say sitting here with my self-respect intact.
I guess when it comes down to it our self-respect is tied to our convictions, not our position.