The Way Forward

Winter in Vienna with the overcast skies, frequent snow and bitter cold reflected Sal’s emotional state.. The saving grace for him was the daily opportunity to listen to Dr.Frankl. Although the classes were in German he had enough language ability to follow. Frequently in the middle of his class Dr.Frankl would personally direct remarks toward him in English. He had a marvelous emotional antenna ,and knew that Sal was struggling emotionally.

One late afternoon Sal went to his office ,and for two solid hours unloaded his grief and confusion. He had temporarily forgotten all that Frankl had lost during the Second World War. His parents,wife,relatives, occupation ,country and he was incarcerated in four concentration camps. He had been beaten starved, experienced frostbite and typhus. Despite this tragic personal history listened to every word intently, and never interrupted Sal’s emotional catharsis. When Sal had finally become silent he said ‘You are in great pain because your dear friend is dead and you loved him. There is no recipe to make that pain evaporate, but I also know that at some point you will have to make a decision. You will decide to emotionally get in the grave with your friend, or despite the grief go on with your life.If you bury yourself with him I don’t think you really knew who he was.”

Those words literally changed Sal’s life and Viktor challenged him to incorporate Jack’s caring for others into a leadership role. He also began to introduce Sal to Holocaust survivors,and at one point told him.” Now that you know what happened you must be a witness.” Being with him every day was like drawing from an endless well of wisdom, learning and kindness. His capacity to forgive was beyond Sal’s comprehension. He once asked him “How do you not hate the Nazis?” He took off his glasses and reflected for a moment. “Salvatore, they took everything that I loved and prized. If I hated them what would I have left?.Love is more powerful than hate, and that is why though I cannot forget, I can forgive.”

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