To be a Jewish citizen of Austria puts one in danger
of being impaled on one horn of a dilemma or the other.1
I was once more Edward Hyde.
A moment before I had been safe of all men's respect, wealthy, beloved - 2
Many observers of Austria have pointed to the Waldheim affair and the popularity of Jörg Haider as exemplifying a peculiar Austrian malaise. In this view, Waldheim, and Haider are representative of a national identity crisis. The historical roots of this crisis are traced to construction of `Austria' by the resolutions and compromises amongst the great powers.3 Thus, up until 1933, if not 1938, the majority of Austrians held a conviction about the unfeasibility of Austria as an independent nation. In the inter-war years most Austrian politicians, socialists included, clamored for an 'Anschluss' with Germany.4 But after the disastrous war, and the experience of Nazi 'oppression' for seven years, the cultural reference with Germany changed. Rather than a look of envy or sympathy, most Austrian's felt disdain, if not outright disgust and hate of Germany. Subsequently, after 1945 any philo-Germanism was perceived as neo-Nazi.
The foundation stone in the construction of Austrian national identity was the victim clause of the 1943 Moscow agreement. In this agreement, the three allied powers established that Austria was the first victim of Nazi Germany. The declaration also mentioned that Austria had to take responsibility for fighting the war at the side of Nazi Germany. But in the political climate of the cold war, both Austria and the allies had reasons to ignore the latter point.5 The 'myth' of Austrians as victims of the Nazis, was necessary for the constitution of a westward and liberal leaning Austria.6 In order to create a bulwark against the Soviets, Austria, western Europe and America all tacitly agreed to sustain the mendacious view that the Austria was a victim of the Nazis. But the truth that everyone knew, was that Hitler, along with many of the leading Nazis came from Austria, and there were over six-hundred thousand Austrian Nazi party members at the end of the war. In sum, 'Austria' was formed on rather tenuous foundations.7 Nevertheless Austria's post-war economic success, along with the 'invention of a tradition,' has led to the instilling of a national sentiment in the majority of the people. Thus, the 'myth' of Austrian victimization by the National Socialists has been widely accepted. But Austrians are uncomfortable in this skin, and the itchiness has been apparent for awhile.
Austria was the only european country once occupied by Soviet troops to attain full independence after 1945. Austrian sovereignty was achieved by glossing over internal differences between political parties, and therefore the post-war political culture of Austria was determined by a desire for stability. After experiencing the cultural trauma of civil war in the thirties, and 'abuse' by the Nazi 'occupation,' Austria established a system of social peace. With the state treaty in 1955, and subsequent withdrawal of the allied occupation forces, a more or less 'corporate system' was constructed. In this system parliament plays little or no role in decision making. Instead, political party leaders control a system of patronage and iron out differences between capital and the workers in back room meetings. Since 1955 this form of political power has been shared essentially between the People's Party (Christian Conservatives) and the Socialists.
The first crack in the stability of both the 'social peace,' and the tenuous Austrian national identity appeared with the Waldheim affair and the end of the cold war. With the revelation that presidential aspirant Kurt Waldheim had lied about his wartime activities, and his resume 'overlooked' his pre-war membership in National Socialist clubs, the myth began to crumble.8 Since the Waldheim affair, Austria has been in a process of self-questioning that has led to a slow recovery of a buried and forgotten past. But discovering the malaise and ambiguity that lay behind the comfortable post-war political and cultural synthesis - a synthesis built on a repression of the past - has had many ramifications. Even today, very few objective portrayals of Austria from 1934-1956 exist, and most Austrians remain uninterested in the past. Tony Judt has argued Austria's problem with public memory is pan-European - existing in almost every country annexed or occupied by Nazi Germany. In these countries, and Austria is an extreme case, there has been an "erection of an unnatural and unsustainable frontier between past and present" that has exonerated national histories from co-responsibility for Nazi crimes. Thus, National Socialism became a German problem. In the case of Austria, national identity became beholden to "a mendacious myth rooted in ambiguity."9
Given the repressed and ambiguous past, it is not surprising that the Freedom party (FPÖ) led by Jörg Haider has shown a renewed interest in trying to find a 'usable' tradition.10 Rather than denying the Nazi past, Haider has attempted to recast the Waffen SS as "decent men" of spiritually superior character. Along with these and numerous other outrages, Haider has described Nazi employment policies as "sound," and Nazi extermination camps as "punishment camps."
As a Jew, Holocaust survivor, and founder of the school of logotherapy, the internationally recognized Viktor Frankl had a peculiar role in post-war Austria. On the issue of the ambivalent past, Frankl chose the part of reconciler. This attitude of reconciliation eventually led to his success in a society placing a premium on 'social peace.' But to be honest, in post-war Austria Frankl had few other options. The deeply imbedded anti-semitism lingered on in Austrian culture even after the Holocaust Since 1945, there has been a tendency to deny or at least downplay the atrocities committed against the Jews. As a survivor of Auschwitz, Frankl spoke publically on the Holocaust and the Nazis with moral authority. And, in the post-war Austrian culture of denial and repression Frankl certainly was one of the few voices describing Auschwitz. For sure, Frankl's attitude of reconciliation was perhaps the only possibility in the post-war Austrian culture of denial - especially for a Jewish doctor who wanted to be someone of importance.11 Not surprisingly, in the 1950s and 1960s Frankl was essentially overlooked by his fellow Austrians. Nevertheless, Frankl's chosen role of reconciler, represented a unique example of how post-war Austria has failed to come to terms 'honestly' with the past. We are left wondering, why would the Auschwitz survivor choose to reconcile when his entire family had been killed in the concentration camps? And, why did Frankl accept, and even support the Austrian burial of the Nazi past? Finally, why did he publically appear with both Waldheim and Haider?
An example of Frankl's role as reconciler was his (small) part
in the Waldheim affair. On the September 9, 1988 a picture of Frankl with
Waldheim was printed in the Neue Kronen Zeitung. "Bundespräsident
Waldheim" handed Frankl, the "Grosse silberne Ehrenzeichen mit dem Stern."
"Waldheim würdigte vor allem, daß ein Mann wie Frankl, der so
viel mitgemacht hat, immer mit ganzem Herzen für die Versöhnung
eingetreten ist." Frankl, who "war nicht nur selbst KZ-Häftling,
sondern hat auch in dieser Hölle des Nationalsozialismus seine gesamte
Familie verloren," looked directly into the camera with an expression that
appeared slightly sheepish. Frankl's wife, standing in the background with
her eyes averted, appeared humble. Waldheim, smiling, towered over
Frankl and appeared polished, genteel and happy. And why shouldn't he?
Frankl was helping in the "domestic rehabilitation" of Waldheim. Frankl's
decision to accept a medal from Waldheim in these circumstances, (post-affaire
Waldheim) is very questionable.
But Frankl and Waldheim had a association of mutual convenience. Frankl satisfied a desire for recognition and fame. For the newly elected Waldheim, Frankl was useful for his 'rehabilitation' on a number of levels. First, because Frankl represented a survivor who apparently had no animosities toward 'good' Nazis like Waldheim. Therefore his appearance with Waldheim had the effect of a defacto reduction of Waldheim's culpability for Nazi crimes, and represented a moral and political legitimation. More broadly, Frankl's conciliatory actions can be viewed as soothing Austria's wounded identity. And, by appearing with the ex-Nazi, he was also serving to reaffirm Austria's victimization myth. For his part, Frankl appeared heroic and gracious - big enough - to be capable of forgiveness.
There was also another layer to their relationship. Some of Waldheim's defenders resorted to a covert anti-Semitism by claiming he was being slandered by the World Jewish Congress (WJC). One example of a crude right wing defense of Waldheim was Carl Hödl's attack on President Bronfman of the WJC. Hödl, the deputy mayor of Linz and member of the conservative, christian democratic Austrian People's Party, (ÖVP) compared the attacks on Waldheim with the crucifixion of Jesus - and framed the debate in terms of Christians versus Jews. He also attacked the placing of Waldheim on the "Watch list" and Bronfman's description of Waldheim as part of "the [Nazi] death machinery." Interestingly, Hödl cited Frankl's rejection of collective guilt to buttress his defense of Waldheim.12 Thus Frankl's role as the reconciling, reasonable, good Jew who had the correct attitude toward the Nazi past.13
Frankl remarked that it was rather ironic that a man in his position should come out in 1946 against recognizing a collective guilt, but as an Auschwitz survivor, Frankl clearly felt he had the authority to pardon the perpetrators.14 But his position is surprising, especially since Frankl didn't begin the exculpation by a process of introspection. He never addressed the issue of whether a crime, or something wrong had been done. He never differentiated between collective guilt and collective responsibility. He never demanded Austria engage in a process of self-examination to uncover their role in the catastrophe of National Socialism. For sure, such an attitude would certainly not have played well in post-war Austria. And, he was correct to claim there is no collective guilt. Only individuals, not nations, can be held guilty. National character is not universal. But there is individual guilt. And, as members of human communities there is a collective responsibility. But in 1946 Frankl began with the statement there is no collective guilt; never asking are we guilty?
In a speech given at the Vienna Rathausplatz on March 10, 1988, on the 50th anniversary of "the occupation of Austria by the troops of Hitler's Germany," Frankl repeated his argument against collective guilt. He claimed "there are only two races of men: those who are decent people, and those who are not." Frankl universalized this "distinction" as in "every nation, and within nations right through every political party..." He then extended this distinction to the "concentration camps" and the "more or less decent people who belonged to the SS. And in the same way there were also scoundrels amongst the prisoners."15
The insight that there are two races of men is so general (and vacuous) that it cannot help but be true on some level. Frankl used a strategy known as "comparative trivialization." That is, everyone, even the victims are guilty. Frankl's claims served to pacify guilt, and avert focus on the point that some people chose to accommodate the Nazis while others took paths of resistance. Many others, were indecent people, who decided to join the party and carry out its program fully aware it was an immoral, anti-democratic political agenda that worked by terrorizing certain people. Frankl knew these things, nevertheless, he didn't attach his rejection of collective guilt to a condemnation of the Austrian Nazis. Nor did he condemn the role the anti-democratic, christian, authoritarian state played in paving the way for Nazism. Instead, he affirmed the victim clause of the Moscow Agreement, and side-stepped Austrian responsibility, by claiming "Ladies and Gentlemen, it was National Socialism which inflicted the scourge of racial persecution on us."16 Frankl extended these apologetics, and again side-stepped the issue of Austrian responsibility by blaming the "regime or system which brings the scoundrels to the top....Therein lies the true peril." This distancing of responsibility excused everyone on the basis of the system. That is, everyone was just an insignificant cog, caught in the totalitarian system. This version served to deny responsibility and soothe the guilty conscience. Frankl also diffused responsibility for the Holocaust by claiming "in principle any country is capable of perpetuating the Holocaust."17
Taking a different tack, Karl Jaspers argued that all Germans shared a "political liability" for the Nazi period. Writing in 1947, Jaspers was challenging the Germans to found their political outlook and new state, by being honest about the crimes perpetuated in the name of Germans by the Nazi regime.18 Unlike Jaspers, Frankl was unable to confront Austrian responsibility for taking an anti-democratic turn that ultimately led to Nazism. Thus, Frankl held the vacuous "system," not the people, responsible for Nazism and the Holocaust.
Since he was helping commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Nazi occupation - which coincided with the Waldheim affair - Frankl also argued against making people "feel guilty or even ashamed ... unless they were determined to drive the young people today into the arms of the old-style Nazis or neo-Nazis.19 Frankl's point is well taken; burdensome guilt upon preceding generations could possibly lead to a neo-fascist reaction.20 Even so, Jaspers pointed-out that there is a type of metaphysical guilt that every human community has - a responsibility for what was done in the name of ancestors. In this limited sense, every generation of Austrians, and more broadly, the community of the west, has a responsibility for the legacy of fascism and the Holocaust. Not a responsibility for, but a responsibility to remember in order to guard against the recurrence. But Frankl claimed the present generation shouldn't be held responsible for "something their parents or grandparents had to answer for." The contradiction, and problem for Austria, is that Frankl viewed everyone as victims in 1946 and never expected 'his' generation to answer for National Socialism.
THE FREEDOM PARTY
Given his opinions on the Austrian past it is not surprising that
Frankl had other uses for the political right in Vienna. His nomination
for "Ehrenbürgerschaft," came at the hand of Haider and the Freedom
Party (FPÖ). Frankl's ties to the FPÖ apparently began in 1981.
His philosophy of meaning, to be found in a "grosse Idee oder in einer
schenkenden Liebe für Menschen" was cited by the party theorist, Fritz
Wolfram.21 But Frankl's reconciling spirit and subtle downplaying of Nazi
atrocities were at the center of his appeal for the FPÖ. As mentioned,
the attempt to find a usable past is one of Haider's, who described himself
as a "good friend" of Frankl, main goals. Thus Frankl's claims that there
is "no collective guilt," "there were good Nazis and bad Nazis," "good
prisoners and bad prisoners," and most significantly, "good SS and bad
SS," fit nicely with the FPÖ agenda.22
The FPÖ did not have an easy time getting Frankl nominated. The Christian Conservatives thought the award should go to a Catholic university professor. The Socialist Party (SPÖ) was willing to go along with the nomination, although the leftist intellectuals were demanding a detailed resume from Frankl. For their part, the SPÖ tried to undermine the FPÖ's efforts by offering Frankl another, although less esteemed, citizenship award. Frankl declined, and at this point the FPÖ forced the issue by going public with the nomination and started a petition campaign. Backed against the wall the other parties ended up bequeathing the "Ehrenbürgerschaft" on Frankl.23 The vote was an unanimous 99-0. Interestingly, the famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was nominated for the award exactly at the same time as Frankl. But the FPÖ voted against the nomination because the Wiesenthal Center had hung Haider's photo next to the right-wing extremists, Jean Le Pen and David Duke at the museum of tolerance. For his part Wiesenthal viewed the FPÖ "no votes as a badge of honor, and said that his name and the prize would have no meaning if extremists voter (sic) for him."24
To his credit, Frankl eventually "distanced" himself from Haider, and had "little understanding" for Haider's speaking to the Waffen-SS.25 But Rüdiger Stix, a leading member of the FPÖ and supporter of Frankl's nomination, bitterly pointed-out that this remark by Frankl seemed disingenuous, because Frankl, like Haider, often claimed there were good SS.26 Frankl's daughter, Gabriele Vesely-Frankl also reiterated the claim of "distance" from Haider. She described the accidental grounds of Haider's and Frankl's "friendship" and defended her father with the claim he is "no politician."27 Nevertheless Frankl made his political positions public. For another example of his reconciling spirit, in January 1993 Frankl claimed there was a necessity "for a dialog with the right extremists."28
In sum, the internationally renowned Viktor Frankl came to be recognized as a 'leading citizen' of Vienna.29 But, Frankl, like Waldheim and Austria in general, was not exactly forthcoming and honest about the ambiguous past. As we shall see, there were skeletons in his closet, therefore the Auschwitz survivor is a prime example of Vergangenheitsbewältigung.
Most of what we know about Frankl's ambiguous past is culled from
his recent autobiography, "Was nicht in meinen Büchern steht".
For example, after brief attachments with both Freud and Adler in the 1920s,30
Frankl began working under Otto Pötzl at the University clinic. Pötzl
was a very dubious figure politically because he claimed to have paid Nazi
party dues from 1930-33 without receiving his card, and he eventually joined
the Nazi party in December of 1943. But then, for unknown reasons, he had
his application reconsidered and redated to January 1941.31 In 1938, Pötzl
accepted the sterilization of the mentally ill on the grounds "it is indispensable
for the future of the people."32 In 1945 Pötzl lost his position as
the head of the university clinic in the de-nazification proceedings. Frankl's
relationship to Pötzl dated from 1928 when he designated Pötzl
as "Honorary President" of his burgeoning youth counseling movement.33
In 1996, Frankl claimed "Von Freud und Adler abgesehen war Pötzl für
mich 'das' Genie."34 Thus, throughout his life Frankl held Pötzl in
high regard. This affinity for Pötzl made sense, since when Frankl
worked and studied under him in the late 1920s and early 1930s he was beginning
to formalize logotherapy.
Perhaps Frankl's feelings for Pötzl, and attitude of reconciliation can be accounted for by an analysis of his activities in the 1930s. Therefore, the absence of moral judgement upon, and condemnation of the Nazi past is partially attributable to Frankl's personal involvement with the Nazi psychotherapy movement - something he never publically acknowledged. But we must be careful and consider the peculiar nature of the Nazi Psychotherapy movement and difficult circumstances Frankl faced in Vienna during the 1930s. Frankl's ambiguous relationship to Nazi psychology movement must be understood on a variety of levels. There were cultural, professional, personal, and intellectual reasons that served to dictate and limit his actions. For example, Frankl was clearly politically allied with the socialists in "Red Vienna" during the mid-1920s, but his rejection by Adler in 1926 and the beginnings of the slow demise of socialism after 1927, left Frankl, like many Jews in Austria, politically adrift. In 1928, while still pursuing his medical studies, Frankl attached to Pötzl and continued to develop counseling centers for the unemployed and suicidal youth. Frankl sustained this work after receiving his medical degree in 1930, and practiced as a doctor, first under Pötzl, and then under Dr. Joseph Gerstmann at the Maria Thersien-Schlössel. Then, from 1933 until 1937 Frankl worked in the female suicide ward at the state hospital Am Steinhof.35 In 1936-37 he participated as a commentator (Jews were not allowed to present papers but until 1938 could be commentators)36 in all four seminars conducted by the Austrian "Landesgruppe."37 This Landesgruppe was the Austrian branch of the Nazi-affiliated German psychotherapy movement run by Matthias Heinrich Göring. In 1937 Frankl also wrote an article on the "spiritual problem in psychotherapy" for the Göring Institute's journal, the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie.38 Then, in January of 1938, two months before the Anschluss with Germany, Frankl publically promoted the leading thinkers of the Göring Institute in "Der christliche Ständestaat".39 Despite the cryptic statements about the leading Nazi psychotherapists, it is important to note that the orientation of "Der christliche Ständestaat" was anti-Nazi and a steadfast supporter of the Catholic authoritarian state. Not surprisingly these actions have never been fully addressed by Frankl nor his followers.40
After the Anschluss Frankl lost his Göring Institute connection and was also unable to practice as a doctor. Eventually he took a job as "Judenbehandler" and then became a "Jüdischer Fachbehandler" at the Rothschild hospital. Frankl was the Leitung der Neurologischen Station, and his colleagues playfully (and inexplicably) nicknamed him "Nerven-göbbels."41 Frankl's curriculum vitae from the university archive in Vienna listed his employment at Rothschild from 1939-42. Other sources listed his employment as 1940-42.42 After the Anschluss the Rothschild hospital functioned as the communal center for Jews. The hospital was also one of the few places Jews could work, and therefore Frankl must have felt lucky to have employment. He probably replaced one of the doctors who had managed to emigrate.43 The literature on the Rothschild is extremely thin,44 but we do know that the hospital was "raided" intermittingly by the SS,45 and was supposedly taken over by the Nazi authorities in April of 1939.46 At the Nazi controlled Rothschild, in these years of extremity, we can only guess the types of pressure Frankl was under.
While at the Rothschild Frankl conducted a series of controversial experiments on suicidal patients. Frankl made no mention of his research in his original biographical statement in 1973.47 Although he did mention the experiments in a 1981 taped interview, the first public statement came in 1996. Never one to express much self-doubt Frankl confidently recounted his research efforts. Frankl proudly narrated that although he had no training in brain surgery, and "Professor Schönbauer erlaubte mir nicht in seiner Klinik auch nur zuzuzuschauen, wenn er oder sein Stab hirnchirurgische Eingriffe unternahmen." Frankl also remarked that the "Primarius Reich, der Chirurg am Rothschildspital, hatte es abgelehnt, welche zu unternehmen."48 Therefore Frankl decided to perform the brain surgery techniques after reading about them. That these experiments were important for Frankl is undeniable. He published an article documenting the experiments in September of 1942 (ironically just as he was deported to Theresienstadt). Despite Frankl's heroic rendition of his efforts his late life 'admittance,' suggests there were, and remain, troubling issues surrounding the research.
Under normal circumstances, experimental efforts to revive suicidal patients would fulfill the Hippocratic Oath to preserve life. But under the circumstances of Nazi occupation, and in a Jewish hospital under Nazi control, these experimental operations conducted on people who had chosen suicide to counteract their plight, appear morally questionable on a number of levels. Frankl claimed that there were up to 10 Jewish suicides a day in the early 1940s, and thus he was justified in trying experimental and risky measures to rescue them. We know, that approximately twelve hundred Viennese Jews killed themselves during the Nazi era,49 and suicide, or the 'Masada solution,' was very popular, especially amongst assimilated, upper-middle class Austrian Jews faced with deportation.
Apparently, whenever patients had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and then been given up for dead by other doctors, Frankl said he felt "justified in trying something." First, "some injections intravenously ... and if this didn't work I gave them injections into the brain ... into the Cisterna Magna. And if that did not work I made a trepanation, opened the skull ... inserted drugs into the ventricle and made a drainage so drug went into the Aquaeductus Sylvii....People whose breathing had stopped suddenly started breathing again." But he "could only keep them alive for 24 hours no longer."50 Frankl's drugs of choice were Pervitin and Tetrophan.
It is important to note, that these aggressive medical efforts by Frankl fit the time-honored Viennese medical tradition in experimental and inventive research. Both Frankl's and Pötzl's medical work in the latter 1930s and early 1940s exhibited this experimental character. For example, Pötzl is credited with co-inventing and testing on a large scale insulin shock therapy.51 For his part, Frankl described treating the schizophrenic and melancholic patients he rescued from euthanasia with "Cardiazolschocks."52 Both Frankl and Pötzl performed lobotomies, shock therapy, and Frankl claimed to have initiated drug therapy for psychosis on the continent.53 In sum, Frankl's actions at Rothschild, although experimental and aggressive, fit the medical practice of the inter-war viennese doctors.54
The work that Frankl cited as having read on brain surgery was "Dandy."55 Walter E. Dandy and his mentor, Harvey Cushing were probably the two most influential figures in the field of modern brain surgery.56 Dandy's great contribution was ventriculography, which was a technique for allowing the brain to be clearly x-rayed, and thus facilitated the detection and removal of brain tumors. Dandy made this discovery at a young age and then became a renowned surgeon. But what exactly is the relationship between Dandy's work, and Frankl's experimental procedures?
Since Dandy never mentioned inserting amphetamines directly into the brain cavity we can surmise this was Frankl's idea. Indeed, in the article on the research, Frankl began by addressing this point, and the "Möglichkeiten gibt, eine medikamentöse Substanz immer rascher und immer näher an den Ort der Wirkung zu bringen."57 The medication that Frankl was administering was the amphetamine pervitin, which, although relatively novel, was in wide use in German military and civilian hospitals at the time. The usual transmission of the drug would occur from the blood to the cerebral spinal fluid. Normally one would inject Pervitin intravenously and Frankl's initial research did just that.58 But Frankl thought he could by-pass the blood stream and apply the drug directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. Dandy's work on ventriculography suggested there were two ways of achieving this. One was into the spine or "lumbar puncture," and the other was through a trepanation of the skull and insertion into the cisterna magna or ventricles. For injecting air, Dandy rejected the use of lumbar puncture "as superfluous ... because a ventricular puncture gives the same and much additional information and entails much less risk."59 Frankl used both lumbar punction and trepanation to administer the drug. But as he remarked, and the article revealed, the results of his research were inconclusive. Nevertheless he decided to publish it.60
Apparently, in the extreme situation, Frankl felt justified in trying something." But, as Frankl admitted, he had no training, and only limited knowledge that was based in spotty reading rather than clinical experience. Frankl was therefore testing the limits of proper medical practice and ethics. Preferably, these researches should have been first tried on animals for an extended time period. There also should have been a strong basis in clinical observation and experience. But neither criterion was the case. It is certainly possible that Frankl was simply committed to rescuing suicidal patients whatever the circumstances. But he used questionable medical practices to achieve that end, and it is likely he did these experiments in an attempt to ensure his own survival.61 Clearly, the use of extraordinary measures to save Jews who had freely chosen suicide to take their own lives was not applauded by Frankl's own colleagues at the hospital. Thus, Frankl described how:
"meine Assistentin Frau Dr. Rappaport protestierte dagegen, daß ich Leute, die einen Selbstmordversuch unternommen hatten, zu retten versuchte. Dann kam der Tag, an dem Frau Dr. Rappaport selbst den Befehl erhielt, sich zur Deportation einzufinden. Sie unternahm daraufhin einen Selbstmordversuch, wurde auf meine Abteliung eingeliefert und von mir ins Leben zurückgeführt - und später deportiert."62
Nevertheless, Frankl was apparently aware of the moral and ethical dilemmas posed by these experiments because at the end of his article documenting the experiments he stated:
"Im übrigen mag erwähnenswert sein, daß wir bei der Behandlung von Suizidanten uns auf den Standpunkt stellten, dass alles, was therapeutisch möglich ist, auch getan werden soll. Denn wir teilen nicht die Meinung, dem "Schicksal" seinen Lauf zu lassen und ihm nicht "in die Hände zu fallen". Vielmehr sind wir der Ansicht, daß wir zu retten haben, wen wir können, wenn das Schicksal oder die Vorsehung einen Kranken nun einmal uns in die Hände gespielt hat, verzichten wir darauf, Schicksal zu spielen und halten es nicht für Aufgabe des Arztes, über Sein oder Nicht-Sein eines Menschen entscheiden zu wollen."63
This concluding statement reveals Frankl's defensive posture concerning his efforts. Also, his justification that the doctor doesn't have the right to play god, puts him a difficult if not slightly contradictory position when defending his radical measures.
SUICIDE IN THE FACE OF NAZIS
Suicide in response to Nazi oppression usually had a political
element. But, the political side was often obscured because the majority
of those who chose suicide, in the face of forced collaboration or deportation,
did so silently and stoically.64 But there was the "'violent protest'...
of one Jew who rushed into a Vienna coffee-house screaming 'Heil Hitler'
then cut his throat before the eyes of the customers."65 Konrad Kwiet,
in an exceptional manner, thought through the issue of suicide under these
circumstances. According to Kwiet, if we view resistance in the "broader
"a 'deviation from the prescribed model'....Suicide was the ultimate and most radical attempt to elude Nazi terror. And there can be no doubt: Jewish suicides did interfere with the smooth technical-bureaucratic process of exclusion and extermination. This transgression - which can be described as resistance - was not tolerated. The Nazis sought to prevent Jewish suicides. Wherever Jews tried to kill themselves - in their homes, in hospitals, on the deportation trains, in the concentration camps - the Nazi authorities would invariably intervene in order to save the Jews' lives, wait for them to recover, and then send them to their prescribed deaths."66
Thus suicide in these circumstances was political, and also a form of resistance - in the broader sense - because the Nazis did everything they could to prevent and foil Jewish suicides. To deny the political side of suicide in these circumstances, insults the memory, humanity and character of those who made such a difficult choice.
Frankl's decisions and medical research, starkly contrasted other Jewish doctors who faced similar choices. For physicians in Berlin the debate over Jewish suicide turned on the issue of whether or not to provide 'the patient' with the means (usually sleeping pills) to facilitate their own suicide. This was more than just a moral dilemma for the doctors, because the Gestapo "wanted to find out where the individuals concerned had procured the means for their attempted suicide."67 Most significantly, when doctors in Berlin discussed the suicide wave, "no voice was raised against the proposal that the last will of those who had attempted to take their own lives should be respected by allowing them to die."68 In the circumstances of Nazi oppression this resignation, as difficult and tragic as it was, seemed the most 'reasonable' response. Therefore, despite the burdensome circumstances, Frankl's presentation of his research as a heroic medical effort that subverted the impact of the Nazis, won't wash. At the heart of these ethical and moral considerations is the continuing problem of how far Frankl went in his accommodation of the Nazis. Frankl's radical measures to prevent Jewish suicide was consistent with the Nazi policy to subvert Jewish suicide; but Frankl apparently felt it was his obligation as medical doctor to invent new methods in saving lives. In the final analysis Frankl's researches allowed him to play both sides. He could appear to be on the side of the victim, working as a Jew in a Nazi controlled hospital doing all he could to save Jewish lives. This was his story of the research, heroic Frankl, long concerned with the problem of suicide now began to take the most radical measures conceivable to subvert them.
How then did a "Juden Fachbehandler" manage to get this article published in 1942? There are number of versions. At times he suggested that because of the Nazis he could only publish the article in Switzerland. In his last autobiographical statement he claimed the article was "gebilligt vom Judenreferenten der nationalsozialistischen Ärztekammmer."69 For sure, the Nazis would have found nothing to disagree with in the article. Interestingly, on February 20, 1972 at the United States International University he made these remarks to his students:
I was put in the concentration camps before I could finish the research. This by the way was published, and the National Socialists hoped that this could be tried and used in war, in combat, in the case of their soldiers. That is why they even encouraged me to publish it in Switzerland, so that they may read it in a journal. Only for this, I thank this possibility to publish it.70
These conflicting reflections reveal a number of things. First, given the uncensored honesty of his description before his students, it is clear that this suicide intervention was supported by the Nazis. Secondly, Frankl was apparently interacting with the Nazi establishment and was willing to work for them. Thus an honest appraisal has to recognize that the research allowed him to appear 'useful' in the Nazi war effort, and he apparently was grateful the Nazis recognized his efforts. In the final analysis, Frankl was willing to cooperate with the Nazi regime, and in his accommodation he apparently never engaged in active resistance.71 Frankl defended his actions from criticism by asserting "das ist genauso problematisch wie die Behauptung, jemand hätte lieber ins Konzentrationslager gehen sollen, als sich den Nazis zu beugen."72 Such a judgement is certainly not the point of this article, and we do not have the space here to fully unpack the relationship between the origins of logotherapy, Frankl's multi-layered guilt and his post-war intellectual and political commitments. But this insight into Frankl's 'hidden past' helps explain why he chose the role of reconciliation, and why his recognition as Ehrenbürgerschaft so exemplifies the Austrian malaise.
In sum, although Frankl's final autobiographical reflection wasn't completely forthcoming, his thirty-first book certainly did begin to reveal "was nicht in seinen Büchern steht." In the Austrian culture of denial, Frankl's concluding 'confessional' statement deeply reflected the malaise of a country not at home with its past. By 1995 Frankl felt 'comfortable' enough to render his questionable medical activities - that had broke solidarity with other Jewish doctors, and denied the last wishes of his patients - as heroic efforts to save lives. But the truth is, Frankl's medical research was an obsequious accommodation, that contained a certain professional opportunism, and amounted to a desperate attempt to avoid deportation. With this insight into Frankl's pre-war compromises, we are on our way to understanding his affinity for both Waldheim and Haider. Like Waldheim, it was in Frankl's interest to reconcile and keep the past buried. But when finally recovering the past, Frankl was like Haider, and was thus interested only in a cryptic and sanitized version of the past. Thus, it is somewhat surprising that Frankl even decided to publish this updated version of his memoir.73 That he did, leads us to remain hopeful that Frankl's final reconciliation will 'somehow' help continue the recovery of the buried past and lead to Austria to becoming a 'Heimlich' country.
1 Grosz, 1995, p.264.
2 Stevenson, 1991, p.91.
3 In 1918, with the treaty of St. Germain, and in 1943, with the Moscow Agreement, (the latter claimed Austria was the first victim of Nazism) the 'state' of Austria was determined by diplomatic resolutions amongst the victorious powers.
4 In May 1933, after Hitler's seizure of power in Germany, the socialists removed the clause for a union with Germany from their platform. But as the archive footage reveals, there was little or no resistance to the 1938 "Anschluss" by the Austrian people. For an excellent discussion of these issues see, Mitten, 1992, pp.12-17.
5 For an excellent discussion of these issues see Fellner, 1988, pp. 264-289.
6 On why Stalin failed to gain control of Austria, and the political motivations behind America's accepting the 'myth' of Austria's victimization, and the subsequent abandoning of the de-Nazification of Austria, see, Piotrowski, 1988, pp. 246-277.
7 The longstanding political conservatism in Austria is exemplified by Dolfuss' subduing of the workers in February 1934, and the defeat of the Nazi coup by the Austrian state after Dolfuss' assassination in July of 1934. In both events the forces for an 'Austrian order' defeated the political aspirations of both the left and right. In sum, the absence of a positive democratic tradition makes the political foundations of the second republic very shaky.
8 For an excellent discussion of these issues see, Mitten, 1992, pp.246-261.
9 Judt,T. 1992-94, pp.83-118.
10 The FPÖ was originally the League of Independents formed in 1949. The League was made up of ex-Nazis, Monarchists, and other right leaning figures. Most commentators considered Haider a political opportunist and not a neo-Nazi. But there is a political philosophy that is anti-democratic, anti-capitalist and authoritarian behind his opportunism. Thus, his disdain for "foreigners," his hatred of "corrupt" government, his proclaimed desire to remain isolated from the European union, his call for a third republic, and most importantly, the fact that he polls nearly 25 percent of the vote, should be taken seriously. Given the situation and his outlook, whether he is neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, or both, obscures the reality of a novel danger.
11 In "Was nicht in meinen Büchern steht" Frankl recalled that when he returned to Vienna after the camps he told his friend Paul Polak that "Ich habe das Gefühl, ich kann es nicht anders sagen, als ob etwas auf mich warten würde, als ob etwas von mir verlangt würde, als ob ich für etwas bestimmt wäre." p.82.
12 See, Hödl, 1990, pp.141-47.
13 On the WJC and Waldheim, see, Mitten, 1992, pp.119-137.
14 Frankl,V. 1995, pp.80-81, also Frankl,V. 1951, pp.24-31.
15 Frankl, 1988, p.5.
16 Frankl, 1988, p.5.
17 Frankl, 1988, p.5.
18 See, Jaspers, 1986, pp. 396-408.
19 Frankl, 1988, p.5.
20 This claim for an unburdened past is similar to Hannah Arendt's notion of "natality" where each generation has the opportunity to start anew.
21 Wolfram, 1981, p.29.
22 Frankl made this last claim on a nationally broadcast television interview in 1993, (housed at the archive of the FPÖ). Dr. Rüdiger Stix, FPÖ member and in the Defense Ministry claimed they nominated Frankl based on the 1993 interview. Significantly, in 1993 the more liberal 'leftist' members of the FPÖ left the party to form the Liberal Forum. Thus Frankl seemed to be useful in the attempt to legitimize and rehabilitate a rightist group.
23 The information on the politics behind Frankl's nomination comes from my interview with Dr. Rüdiger Stix of the FPÖ, July, 1996.
24 See Simon Wiesenthal Center News Release, June 29, 1995, (Internet).
25 See "Viktor Frankl distanziert sich von F-Chef Haider" Der Standard Jan 13, 1996, and "Frankl und Haider: Verägerung über den 'Freund,'" News 3/96.
26 On this point see the revised and updated Frankl, 1963, ftn. p.136.
27 Vesely-Frankl, 1996, pp.70-71.
28 See, "Viktor Frankl für echten Dialog mit den Rechtsextremisten" in Politik no.6 Januay 26, 1993.
29 Frankl's world-wide renown was exemplified by the fact he gave the keynote address to the first World Congress of Psychotherapy held in Vienna July, 1996.
30 The secretary of the psychoanalytical society Paul Federn rejected Frankl when he interviewed for training analysis in 1924, and Adler removed Frankl from his inner circle in 1926.
31 See Pötzl's Nazi Party file available at the Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes.
32 See, Hubenstorf, 1989, ftn. no.92, p. 275.
33 See Frankl, 1929, p.1675.
34 Frankl, 1995, p.48.
35 See, Index of Psychiatric Krankenhaus Baumgartnerhöhe 1934-1938, Landes Stadt Archiv.
36 See Cocks, p.116.
37 See Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie, vol. 10, 1937. pp.7-8.
38 Frankl, 1937, pp.33-45. We do not have the space to conduct a detailed analysis of this article now, but essentially Frankl argued that although a world-view could provide a therapy, psychotherapy could never represent a world-view.
39 Frankl, 1938, p.8.
40 This reticence is apparently changing. For instance in June of 1996 at the opening address of the World Congress of Psychotherapy, Frankl was interviewed by Professor Giselherr Guttmann of the University of Vienna. Guttmann, who is also a member of Frankl's institute cited Frankl's 1938 article in his concluding statement when trying to explain why Frankl and his logotherapy had not received the recognition he deserved. (See tape recording of the Opening Address World Congress of Psychotherapy, June 1996.)
41 Frankl, 1995, p.55.
42 See Frankl,V. in Kürschners, Deabohe Gelehrtenkalender.
43 On the emigration of the Rothschild doctors see Stern, 1974, pp.7-8.
44 The sole work, Die letzten 12 Jahre Rothschild-Spital Wien: 1931-1943, was written in 1974 by Dr. Erich Stern. Stern, who was a doctor at Rothschild, covered the entire period in a mere twenty pages. There was no mention of Frankl, nor the hospital's director, Emil Tuchman, who at his post-war trial was disparagingly labeled the "Jewish Hitler."
45 See Stern, 1974, p.14
46 See Bentwich, 1978, pp.475-476. Bentwich's article is based on personal remembrance so this date may not be exact.
47 Frankl, 1973, pp.177-204.
48 Frankl, 1995, p.57.
49 See Berkeley, 1988, p.265.
50 For a verbal description of these experiments see Corrigan interview at the Viktor Frankl Library. Also Frankl, 1995, p.57, and Frankl, 1942, pp.58-60.
51 See, Sakel, 1949, pp. 404-409.
52 Frankl, 1995, p.60.
53 See Frankl, 1939, pp.26-31.
54 But these attitudes were also quite pervasive throughout the German medical establishment. For instance, Robert Lifton connected the general absence of empathy amongst German psychiatrists, to their critique of psychoanalysis and to their development of violent techniques. Thus, the psychiatrist's "doctrine of an absence of empathy....contributed to the development of violent somatic treatment procedures ... such as insulin and metrazol shock therapy, electroshock therapy, and lobotomy." Lifton, 1986, p.113.
55 See Frankl, 1995, pp.57-58.
56 Dandy was a famous American brain surgeon noted for his work on ventriculography and brain tumors. Ventriculography is the term: "for a diagnostic procedure utilizing the injection of air or some other gas as a contrast medium into the ventricles of the brain, in order to make the brain tissue visible in contrast to the less opaque gas. In the absence of air or gas, the chambers cannot be seen on an x-ray plate because they are filled with cerebrospinal fluid having the same x-ray capacity as the surrounding brain tissue." Fox, 1984, p.44.
57 Frankl, 1942, p.58.
58 Frankl, 1942, p.58.
59 Dandy, 1945, p.73. This is an outake from Dandy's 1936 Brain Surgery, which was translated and published in German.
60 Frankl would not have been surprised that his patients never came out of a coma if he had read Dandy's original article on the discovery of ventriculography. In 1918 Dandy wrote: "The various solutions ... thorium, potassium, iodide, collargol, argyrol, bismuth subnitrate and subcarbonate ... were injected into the ventricles of dogs, but always with fatal results owing to the injurious effects on the brain....The severe reactions that are sometimes encountered after the intraspinous injection of the most therapeutic remedies indicate the dangers even from carefully prepared solutions. A slight acidity or alkalinity may result even in death. It seems unlikely that any solution ... will be found which is sufficiently harmless to justify its injection into the central nervous system. Dandy, 1918, p.39.
61 A secondary issue here is whether Frankl was retaining a traditional medical view, (as mentioned, viennese medical standards were highly questionable) or beginning to slide toward the Nazi medical attitude of experimentation and subsequent dehumanization of Jews.
62 Frankl, 1995, p.58.
63 Frankl, 1942, p.60.
64 See Rosenkranz, 1978, p.41.
65 Kwiet, 1993, p.149.
66 Kwiet, 1993, p.138.
67 Kwiet, 1993, p.160. Kwiet also described how different doctors were in Hamburg. When the Gestapo was expected to arrive, patients would be given large doses of "Dolantin" in order to simulate suicide attempts. "However, such measures effected nothing more than a postponement, for those patients had to reckon with all the greater certainty to be included in the next transport." Interestingly, Kwiet criticized Frankl for downplaying the magnitude of suicide in the concentration camps.
68 Kwiet, 1993, pp. 159-160.
69 Frankl, 1995, p.57.
70 Lecture at San Diego International University (1972).
71 Since the hospital was often raided by the SS but there was also some resistance to the Nazis. Stern described how some patients were diagnosed with ailments that didn't exist to avoid deportation. Stern, 1974, p. 13. This was confirmed by Ernest Seinfeld, who had his appendix removed at Rothschild to avoid deportation in 1940. (Author's Interview 7/96).
72 Frankl, 1995, p.59.
73 In the preface to "Was nicht in meinen Büchern steht" Martina Gast-Gampe remarked the book "Ursprünglich nicht für eine Veröffentlichung bestimmt."
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