Victor Frankl Man's Search for Meaning

The Viktor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 7 'In those ghastly minutes, I found a little bit of comfort; a small piece of bread.'

Today’s pages (p41-45) are largely concerned with food, notable for its paucity in concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

Viktor Frankl recounts the daily menu:

[T]he daily ration consisted of very watery soup given out once daily, and the usual small bread ration.

In addition to that, there was the so-called “extra allowance,” consisting of three-fourths of an ounce of margarine, or of a slice of poor quality sausage, or of a little piece of cheese, or a bit of synthetic honey, or a spoonful of watery jam, varying daily.

The result was that the inmates quickly ‘looked like skeletons disguised with skin and rags’, as their bodies started to devour themselves.

As you can imagine, the topic of food was always on the brain and the way the inmates disposed of their daily allowance, such as it was, became a matter of hot debate.

Frankl decided to divide his ration up into even smaller portions. Although such measly morsels would never satisfy him, it meant he could save something for the most ghastly part of the day: the awakening.

[A]t a still nocturnal hour, the three shrill blows of a whistle tore us pitilessly from our exhausted sleep and from the longings in our dreams. …

One morning I heard someone, whom I knew to be brave and dignified, cry like a child because he finally had to go to the snowy marching grounds in his bare feet, as his shoes were too shrunken for him to wear.

In those ghastly minutes, I found a little bit of comfort; a small piece of bread which I drew out of my pocket and munched with absorbed delight.

All the Days

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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