after all, 'they' spared him the act of ....[antecedent?]

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Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
The below paragraph is from a famous book, MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING.

I'm not sure about what "they" represents in the paragraph. It seems to mean "the gas chamers" in one way, or "their horrors" in another.

Could you help me?

There was little point in committing suicide, since, for the average inmate, life expectation, calculating objectively and counting all likely chances, was very poor. He could not with any assurance expect to be among the small percentage of men who survived all the selections. The prisoner of Auschwitz, in the first phase of shock, did not fear death. Even the gas chambers lost their horrors for him after the first few days—after all, they spared him the act of committing suicide.
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    "They" refers to the gas chambers. A gas chamber can kill you, thus sparing you the effort of suicide. Horror, in general, cannot kill you.
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