Timeless Night: Viktor Frankl Meets Edith Stein

By Elizabeth Clark-Stern



Edith Stein, a woman of middle age (played by an actor age 40 on up)
Viktor Frankl, a man of middle age (played by an actor age 30 on up)

A storeroom in Auschwitz

A spring night late in the Second World War

Timeless Night is a work of creative imagination based on historical figures Viktor Frankl and Edith Stein, and real events in their lives



Lights fade up. A harsh white light illuminating the figure of Edith kneeling before a packing box, her head bowed in prayer. She wears a prison garment, her hair cropped, blood drying on her temple. There is one other packing box in the otherwise empty room.

Off stage, the SOUND of a door opening.  Slamming.

Edith breathes deeply. She does not open her eyes.

Viktor enters. He too wears prison garments.

Edith makes the sign of the cross; turns her body to face him.

Edith: You’ve come to murder me.

Viktor: No. I’m a prisoner too.

Edith: The Jews who do the dirty work for the SS, the so-called capos, they are prisoners.

Viktor: I am not a capo. I am a man.

Edith: So you are.

They look upon one another.

Edith: (continuing) The light, from the guard tower. So harsh.

Viktor: You prefer darkness?

Edith: It doesn’t matter.

Viktor: I prefer the light.


Viktor: (continuing) There is blood on your face.

Edith: The SS man was forceful. Odd, since I offered no resistance.

Viktor: I would tend your wound, but I have nothing on me that does not reek of the filth of Auschwitz.

Edith: You want to prevent infection?

Viktor: I am a doctor.

Edith: I won’t be here long enough for it to heal.

Viktor: How do you know? They are unsettled. Can’t you feel it.?

Edith: You believe the stories. The Americans are coming.

Viktor: All through the camp, whispers, shy ones, but with the mightiest hope.

Edith: Liberation…

Viktor: They are beginning to lose.

Edith: Say that again.

Viktor: The Germans, they are losing. We may survive this night.

Edith: You are an optimist.

Viktor: You see the world as it is.

Edith: A realist. I was, once.

Viktor: No longer?

Edith: Who knows what I am now? I was a philosopher, an atheist, searching for a truth that could be logically proven to all mankind.

Viktor: Weren’t you praying when I came in?

Edith: I was. I am. Even as I speak to you, another river in my mind whispers to God. It is quite rude. Forgive me.

Viktor: Be my guest. I am fascinated that your can forage so many rivers at the same time. I was--I am--a psychiatrist.

Edith: A doctor of the mind.

Viktor: Here I am only useful to them as a doctor of the body, in the typhus ward.  I will keep my distance.

Edith: You suffer from the disease?

Viktor: Not yet. I surely carry it.

Edith: You are not a leper, doctor, and I will die at dawn.

Viktor: They told you this?

Edith: No, but they don’t like troublemakers. My presence was so offensive to some in the women’s barracks, they spit on me, clawed at me, screaming, “Traitor!” A Nazi soldier seized me from the arms of my sister, my Rosa. For some reason, she offended no one…They let me keep my eyeglasses, toy with me, cat and mouse. I thought they would shoot me on the spot. The SS man who roughly held me in his arms muttered, “It will not be me pulls the trigger.” I suspect he was once a good Catholic boy. I blessed him. He smacked me with his rifle butt and threw me in here.

Viktor: You are Doctor Stein.

Edith: I was. I am now Sister Benedicta of the Cross.  My Order sent Rosa and me to a convent in Holland for protection. Shortly afterwards, the monks there issued a public letter, condemning The Nazi persecution of the Jews. The Gestapo retaliated by rounding up all Catholics of Jewish descent.

Viktor: I am so sorry.

Edith: (amazed, moved) You are sorry…Many believe I became a nun to escape from the fate of my people. I would have the world know differently. It doesn’t matter now.

Viktor: I think it does.

Edith: Why? Of what use is this body? Does my soul live here?

Viktor: You talk like you’re already dead.

Edith: Of what possible value, these few remaining minutes?

Viktor: They are our minutes.  I’ll take whatever I can get.

Edith turns away from him and returns to prayer.


Viktor examines the other box, sits on it, studying her.

Viktor: (continuing) What does God say about all this?

Edith: Are you really interested?

Viktor: Yes, Dr. Stein.

Edith: He tells me that the cross is being laid upon the Jewish people, and that most of them—

Viktor: “Them?”

Edith: Us. Most of us do not understand this, but those who do must take up this cross on behalf of all. I offered myself to God for this purpose. Do I offend you?

Viktor: You have three identities: atheist philosopher, Catholic nun, and Jew.

Edith: Which one is being executed?

Viktor: If that is indeed your fate.

Edith: Alright. “If”.

Viktor: Then, only you know the answer.


Edith Stein……………………………….Elizabeth Clark Stern
Viktor Frankl………………….………….Robert Bergman

Timeless Night premiered Feb. 1, 2014 at the Good Shepherd Chapel Theater in Seattle, Washington, a Shrink Wrap Theater Company production sponsored by the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study, the Seattle Jung Society, and the Jungian Psychotherapist Association

Some sources of research used by the playwright:

Man’s Search for Meaning, Recollections: An Autobiography, and The Will to Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Finite and Eternal Being, Life in a Jewish Family, and The Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities by Edith Stein, and Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite by Teresia Renaa Posselt