I am currently in the middle of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Twice thus far, he mentioned a manuscript that he brought with him to Auschwitz, and lost there.

When he first arrives in camp, and the prisoners' belongings are confiscated:

No one could yet grasp the fact that everything would be taken away.

I tried to take one of the old prisoners into my confidence. Approaching him furtively, I pointed to the roll of paper in the inner pocket of my coat and said, "Look, this is the manuscript of a scientific book. I know what you will say; that I should be grateful to escape with my life, that that should be all I can expect of fate. But I cannot help myself. I must keep this manuscript at all costs; it contains my life's work. Do you understand that?"

Viktor E. Frankl. Man's Search for Meaning. 1959. Translated by Ilse Lasch, Beacon House, 2006. Part I, p 14

Frankl was not able to keep his manuscript. Later, he attempted to reconstruct it from memory while still in the camps:

To avoid these attacks of delirium, I tried, as did many of the others, to keep awake for most of the night. For hours I composed speeches in my mind. Eventually I began to reconstruct the manuscript which I had lost in the disinfection chamber of Auschwitz, and scribbled the key words in shorthand on tiny scraps of paper.

p 35

Did Viktor Frankl ever publish this manuscript? Where can I find it?


After writing the question, I Googled around a bit more, and found that the pieces of the manuscript were used to write Man's Search for Meaning.

On his first day, Dr. Frankl was separated from his family; later he and a friend marched in line, and he was directed to the right and his friend was directed to the left -- to a crematory.

He took an older prisoner into his confidence and told him about the hidden manuscript: ''Look, this is a scientific book. I must keep it at all costs.''

He said the prisoner cursed him for his naivete. They were stripped and sent to showers, and then a work detail. Their own clothes were replaced with prison clothes, and the manuscript was never returned.

But late at night in his barracks, he began recreating it in on bits of paper stolen for him by a companion. These notes were later used for ''Man's Search for Meaning.'' In it, he wrote that once the prisoners were entrenched in camp routine, they would descend from a denial of their situation into a stage of apathy and the beginning of a kind of emotional death.

"Dr. Viktor E. Frankl of Vienna, Psychiatrist of the Search for Meaning, Dies at 92," New York Times Sept. 4, 1997

I originally assumed the manuscript had a different thesis, because I thought that Frankl developed logotherapy after his experiences in the camps. It appears that Frankl was working on logotherapy before he entered the camps. His inclusion of his experiences in the camps was an emphasis of, rather than a history of, his theories.

  • Now I feel kinda stupid for missing that but hey, at least I figured it out eventually ...now the question should be here for the greater internets in case anyone else misses it (which is kinda the point of SE, right?) :) – Shokhet Mar 14 '17 at 5:09
  • I was going to suggest that but you beat me to it. Still, great book. It's time I re-read it. – Mick Mar 14 '17 at 7:18

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