Many survivors of the Holocaust spent years rebuilding their lives before focusing themselves on the greater good. While some went into film or art, others became doctors or humanitarians. Viktor Frankl
was one of the most influential psychiatrists and neurologists that ever lived, and founded logotherapy as well as making strides in other areas of study.
Frankl had already completed his medical training and had established a private practice when the Nazis took over Austria. In 1940 he began working in the only Vienna hospital that treated Jewish patients, the Rothschild Hospital
. While here he managed to save several different Jewish patients from euthanasia. However, in 2942 he and his family were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto where he provided medical care for several years.
It was in 1944 that Frankl was sent to Auschwitz, then to Kaufering, then to Turkheim. During this period of time he was forced into slave labor or at providing medical care. His wife, mother, and brother were all killed in concentration camps around Europe and only he and his sister survived the atrocities.
After his liberation in 1945, having spent three years in concentration camp, Frankl decided to return to Vienna. There he wrote "Man's Search for Meaning
", a bestselling book that discussed life in the concentration camp as viewed by a psychiatrist. The book presented the argument that even the worst suffering still has meaning, and the book and its themes were shaped by his experiences.
His experiences also helped to form his therapeutic approach to the process of healing, and he helped to found the logotherapy process while working in the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology. A large part of his work focused on the lack of meaning that some people feel, and is responsible for the term "Sunday Neurosis" which involves a feeling of emptiness and anxiety when their work week has ended.
For years, Frankl pushed for a 'Statue of Responsibility' to be built on the West Coast of the USA to help complement the Statue of Liberty. Plans are actually under consideration to build a statue, though it remains to be seen if it will occur or not.
Throughout his life, Viktor Frankl won numerous awards including the Honorary Ring of Vienna, The Cardinal Innitzer Prize, and the Hans Prinzhorn Medal. His work in the field of psychiatry and neurology has influenced countless doctors, and he remains one of the most influential and respected Holocaust survivors in history.