About Viktor Frankl

Early Life
  • Viktor E. Frankl was born in Vienna, Austria on March 26, 1905 as the second of three children.
  • His mother was from Prague and his father came from Suedmaehre. 
  • Frankl grew up in Vienna. He was a brilliant student. As a young man, Frankl was involved in Socialist youth organizations and became interested in psychiatry. 
  • Age 16 he began writing to Freud, and on one occasion sent him a short paper, which was published three years later. 
  • In 1930, Frankl earned a medical degree from the University of Vienna. 
  • Upon graduation, he was hired to oversee a Vienna hospital ward for the treatment of women who had attempted suicide. 
Life during World War II and the Holocaust
  • When Germany seized control of Austria in 1938, the Nazis made Frankl head of the Rothschild Hospital.
  • 1942 Frankl married his first wife, Tilly Grosser. 
  • Nine months after his marriage, Frankl, his wife and his parents were deported to the Theresienstadt camp near Prague. 
  • Later in 1942, Frankl was imprisoned in Auschwitz in Poland. Here the camp doctor Josef Mengele, supervised the division of the incoming prisoners into two lines. Line on the left were sent to the gas chambers; those on the right were to be spared. Frankl was directed to join the line moving left but managed to save his life by slipping into the other line without being noticed.
  • In total, Frankl was in four concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Dachau, and Turkheim.   
  • Frankl’s wife, his parents, and other members of his family died in the concentration camps.
Post-War Life
  • Frankl returned to Vienna after Germany’s defeat in 1945. 
  • Frankl had secretly kept records of his observations in the camps on scraps of paper and published a book in German entitled Arztliche Seelsorge, presenting his ideas on Logotherapy. This book was translated into English in 1959, and in a revised and enlarged edition appeared as The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy in 1963. 
  • In 1946, Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, describing his experiences in the concentration camps. By the time of his death, Man’s Search for Meaning had been translated into 24 languages and reprinted 73 times and had long been used as a standard text in high school and university courses in psychology, philosophy, and theology. 
  • In 1946 Frankl became executive director of the Viennese Neurological Health Center and kept this position until 1971. 
  • Frankl’s postwar career was spent as a professor of neurology and psychiatry in Vienna, where he taught until he was 85. 
  • He was also chief of neurology at the Vienna Polyclinic Hospital for 25 years.

  • 1947 Frankl married his second wife, Eleonore Schwindt, who survived him, as did a daughter, Dr. Gabrielle Frankl-Vesely. 
  • Hobbies included mountain climbing, and at 67 he obtained his pilot’s license. Frankl holds the Solo Flight Certificate and the Mountain Guide badge of the Alpine Club “Donauland”. Three difficult climbing trails (on the Rax and Peilstein Mountains) were named after him. His less serious interest was his love for ties; he would admire them through a shop window.
  • Viktor Frankl died in 1997 in Vienna, Austria, of heart failure. 
  • Viktor Frankl’s life serves as a reminder to all, no matter how difficult the path may be, choosing to give up, before it has had the chance to fly, only holds the human spirit back.


  • Received 29 honorary doctorates from universities in all parts of the world. 
  • Wrote over 30 books and became the first non-American to be awarded the American Psychiatric Association’s prestigious Oskar Pfister Prize.
  • Was a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford and other universities in Pittsburgh, San Diego and Dallas. 
  • Lectured at 209 universities on five continents. 
  • U. S. International University in California installed a special chair for Logotherapy.
  • The American Medical Society, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have officially recognized Dr. Frankl’s Logotherapy as one of the scientifically based schools of psychotherapy.