Saturday, October 10, 2015


My wife introduced me to Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, which she is discussing in the book club that we run at our church.  In the book Frankl describes his experience in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War.  He describes but does not dwell on the cold, hunger, brutality, humiliation and extermination. Instead, he focuses on the feeling, the meaning and the freedom that he discovered under extreme suffering.

I have not yet finished the book.  Yet I cannot help but be reminded of scenes I saw at Auschwitz.

Even more so, I was struck by the analogy to what we are experiencing in Hong Kong.   Of course, the inequity that currently exist in Hong Kong is incomparably light when placed side by side with what happened in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.  Still, there is a striking parallel.

Frankl describes the Capos, “prisoners who acted as trustees, having special privileges”.  They carried out the orders of the jailers. They beat the other prisoners.  They felt they have higher status than other prisoners.  They identified with the jailers rather than with the prisoners.  Yet they could lose their status as Capos at any time, and be sent to the “oven” - death chambers just like the other prisoners.  

We have the equivalence of the Capos in Hong Kong.  Some of the pro-establishment types who feel they have a higher status than the rest of us, who are so eager to carry out the wishes of their masters in persecuting the rest of us.  They probably do not believe it, yet they can also lose the favour of their masters and be discarded very quickly.  

On the other hand, even the prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps can retain their consciousness, their sanity, and choose to live with meaning and dignity, even in the face of extreme brutality.  If they can, so can we.  


YTSL said...

Hi StephenC --

Interesting post and I definitely "get" your take on what we're experiencing in Hong Kong. BTW, have you read the following piece?

There's another analogy there made about Hong Kong that I do find disturbingly resonant.

StephenC said...

I just read it. Thanks for the link. Yes, it is disturbing. Hong kong is valuable precisely because it is different from the rest of China. If it is just another Chinese city, it is not much use to anyone.