To comprehend the unfaltering love of Victor Frankl, we must
understand his circumstances. There is no way we can step into his shoes to
experience his tragedies, but his vivid descriptions help us vicariously relive
his tribulation. He opens a window into his world, and we can actually see the
scenes he paints for us. “The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and
driving us with the butts of their rifles,” he says (348). It is difficult to put
ourselves in his position of despair. Being forced to do things, in abominable
conditions, against our will when our lives depend on it is not something we,
as modern Americans, know much about. It may be more difficult to
understand how he keeps his hope alive.
Frankl clings to the one thing even the Nazis could not take away from
him. The love for his wife was a bond even death could not erase. “There
was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my
thoughts, and the image of my beloved,” Frankl writes (349). I think it is
wonderful how he can recall his wife’s face amidst the chaos around him. He
exhibits great discipline in a place of desolation. He has an optimistic
approach to the hardships of the day. When the others are moping about,
he still thinks about her. In addition, his thoughts take him away from any
physical pain he may be experiencing. Even though he is lovelorn, he has the
ability to drift to another world though his love (349).
What words can describe a love like Frankl’s? John Alan Lee writes a
typology on different kinds of love. Looking at a few types, we can see
qualities that characterize Frankl’s love. A touch of eros is apparent,
because Frankl can remember what his wife looks like. He describes her
smile and look. “Her look was then more luminous than the sun which was
beginning to rise” (Frankl 348). Maybe when they first saw each other,
there was a physical attraction. It was probably not an infatuation with
looks, because he imagines a conversation with her. They had a very strong
relationship, so it is dissimilar to eros in that respect. Furthermore, it
would definitely not have ludic qualities that are more fleeting (Lee
Storge love would most likely be the closet type to their love. Lee
describes falling into storgic love, “with the passage of time and the
enjoyment of shared activities” (305). He also mentions how some people
based their love on friendship and companionship. I believe this is the love
Frankl and his wife felt when they were together. “A man who has nothing
left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the
contemplation of his beloved” (Frankl 348-349). Even when they were
separated from each other, it was a sweet love that Frankl had to get him
through that incorrigible time.
Also characterized by storgic love, is the incredible strength of the
bond. Even when the lovers are apart from each other, it does not stress
the relationship as much as other types. Lee gives us the example of
Ulysses and Penelope (305). Even though Ulysses had not seen his wife in
ten years and had been told she was dead, he still used all his strength to
get back home. I am of the opinion that Frankl’s love for his wife was this
strong. It did not matter whether his wife was dead or not. “Had I known
then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself,
undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image...” (Frankl
349). The love was truly admirable that they had for each other. At the
same time, I do not think their love was a mania. He did not experience
despair from her absence; instead, it gave him hope.
However, if we throw in a bit of agape love, I think this well describes
different aspects of Frankl’s great love for his wife. Lee defines agape as,
“a generous, unselfish, giving of oneself” (309). The affection Frankl and
his wife had for each other was probably like this. I can imagine him doing
little things around the house for her that showed how much he cared. It
was certainly a love they shared equally.
Finally, it would seem to me Frankl’s noble love was scarce. Working in
the cold ditches everyday must have psychologically then physically killed
many men. Those who