Seven quotations from Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl

The Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl survived for three years in several concentration camps – Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau.

His brilliant memoir Man’s Search for Meaning contains moving reflections on how noble the human spirit can be even amidst filth, cruelty and horror.

Here are seven inspiring quotes from this famous book:

1. Here is his first day at Auschwitz, a scene that you have probably read many times. Frankl’s experience just was as brutal as everyone else’s.

We who were saved, the minority of our transport, found out the truth in the evening. I inquired from prisoners who had been there for some time where my colleague and friend P had been sent.

“Was he sent to the left side?” “Yes,” I replied. “Then you can see him there,” I was told. “Where?” A hand pointed to the chimney a few hundred yards off, which was sending a column of flame up into the grey sky of Poland. It dissolved into a sinister cloud of smoke.

“That’s where your friend is, floating up to Heaven,” was the answer.

2. The struggle for survival in the camp could lead to great spiritual richness:

And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. Continue reading


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