"I have often tried to recall how it felt to be ten minutes away from certain death, but can only remember that it was beyond one's range of feelings."
John EndrEnyi's memoirs, dealing with the periods before, during, and after the Second World War in Hungary, describe several such moments of extreme danger. During the Nazi period, these moments were multiplied and exacerbated for John's family because of their Jewish origins. During the Socialist period after the war, everybody was, at times, emotionally stressed to such an extent that many would cave in and become erratic, losing much of their ability to think rationally.
There have been many memoirs written involving these periods of history. Most were by prominent people whose personality and temperament made them more aggressive and assertive than ordinary people would have been under similar circumstances. It is less often that one can read the stories of ordinary people whose attitude was, at times of stress and danger, generally passive, at times of stress and danger. We were ordinary people exposed to extraordinary events that we could not deal with, not to mention, control. If some of us survived the Nazi times, it was most often due to sheer luck.
Dark periods are easier to survive with a sense of humor--this is illustrated in a number of situations.