There is disagreement among survivors about whether love remains possible in the shadow of the Holocaust.

Not surprisingly, I am attracted to voices that propose that love remains a vital and living force even in light of the unspeakable horror and tragedy in Europe between 1939-1945.

Viktor Frankl survived Auschwitz. Except for one sister, all his immediate family, including his wife died in the Holocaust. Despite the horrors he experienced Frankl remained resolute in his belief in the restoring power of love.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. (Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search For Meaning. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1984. (1st pub. Austria, 1946), 57

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010 Elie Wiesel who survived Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps expressed his experience of the enduring power of love.

Oprah: Did you come out of the horror of the Holocaust with your ability to love intact?

Elie: After my liberation, I fell in love with every girl—consecutively. But I would never dare tell a girl that I loved her, because I was timid—and afraid of rejection. I missed so many opportunities because I was afraid to say what I felt. I needed to love more than I needed to be loved. I needed to know that I could love—that after all I had seen, there was love in my heart.

Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, July 26, 2010  © 2010 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jacques Lusseyran, the blind French resistance worker who survived Buchenwald concentration camp, found the meaning of life in the inner workings of love.

And then there were the poets, those unbelievable people so different from other men, who told anyone who would listen that a wish is more important than a fortune, and that a dream can weigh more than iron or steel. What nerve they had, those poets, but how right they were! Everything, they said, comes from inside us, passes through things outside and then goes back in. And that to them is the meaning of life, feeling, understanding, love. (Lusseyran, Jacques. And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran Blind Hero of the French Resistance. trans. Elizabeth R. Cameron. NY: Parabola Books, 1963. 71)

Advertisements