Jean Améry was born in 1912 in Vienna as Hans Mayer. After he finished school, he completed an apprenticeship as a bookseller and then worked as a lecturer at the Vienna Adult Education Centre. Because of his Jewish background, he emigrated to Belgium in 1938, where he joined the resistance. From 1943 to 1945 he was a prisoner in the mass extermination camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. After the war, Jean Améry lived and worked in Brussels. In 1978, he committed suicide in Salzburg. Jean Amery is one of the most important European intellectuals of the Sixties and Seventies. In 1970 he was awarded the German Critics Award and in 1977 the City of Vienna Prize for Journalism. In his memory, his widow founded the Jean-Améry-Award for Essay Writing in 1982.