Life in a Concentration Camp; Auschwitz

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Life in a concentration camp tore open the human soul and exposed it’s depths. Is it surprising that in those depths we again found only human qualities which in their varying nature were a mixture of good and evil? The rift dividing good from evil, which goes through all human beings, reaches into the lowest depths and becomes apparent even on the bottom of the abyss which is laid open by the concentration camps.

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This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she told me. “In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.” Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, “This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.” Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. “I often talk to this tree,” she said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. “Yes.” What did it say to her?

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 She answered, “It said to me, ‘I am here—I am here—I am life, eternal life.’ “

All words from Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, author, psychiatrist, Auschwitz survivor.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, 2015