16 Jan 2021
January 16, 2021

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"Dr Edith Eva Eger, best-selling author was just 16 years old when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. Edith Eva Eger’s mind-blowing memoir of surviving Auschwitz doesn’t begin with the terrifying night when she is 16 years old and armed soldiers herd her Hungarian family into a wagon full of Jews. In 1969 she received her degree in Psychology from the University of Texas, El Paso. “At that time, all we asked was: ‘How can we be normal?’” says Eger, “and ‘normal’ meant getting married.” On her honeymoon, she became pregnant – against the advice of doctors who believed Eger too weak. Survivor’s guilt, buried memories and constant flashbacks held her hostage. In her first book, The Choice, which she wrote at age 90, Dr. Edith Eger recounted her life before the Holocaust, when she was training for the Olympics as a gymnast, and after the war, when she reared a family, went to college and earned a doctorate in clinical psychology. Then it was slowly, yet suddenly, all taken away, altering the course of my life forever. A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz. Specialising in post-traumatic stress (Eger objects to calling it a “disorder” as it’s a common and natural response to trauma), Eger began working with the American military. Eger never saw either parent again. Somehow she earned a loaf of bread. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. And I’m still not done.”, The Choice by Edith Eger is published by Rider Books, £8.99. "It helped me find a way to look for the gift in everything," she explains. “My patients are my teachers.” Life now is good. Download the Meet Dr. Edith Eger info sheet. On that day, I allowed myself to be human – not superhuman and not subhuman. “I couldn’t fight or flee, but I learned how to stay in a situation and make the best of what is. Yet survivor Dr Edith Eger says, although the death camp was "hell on earth", it was also her "best classroom". On May 4, 1945 a young American soldier noticed her hand moving slightly amongst a number of dead bodies. new google.translate.TranslateElement({pageLanguage: 'en', includedLanguages: 'af,bg,bs,ca,cs,cy,da,de,el,es,eu,fa,fi,fr,ga,gl,hr,hu,it,iw,ja,ka,ko,lb,lt,lv,mn,ne,nl,no,pa,pl,ps,pt,ro,ru,sk,sl,sr,sv,tr,uk,uz,vi,zh-CN,zh-TW', layout: google.translate.TranslateElement.InlineLayout.SIMPLE}, 'google_translate_element'); Eger’s story starts in Košice, Hungary (now Slovakia) with her parents and two older sisters. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family … “Until I returned, I was my own worst enemy,” she says. “I live in paradise with an ocean view from the front and a beautiful canyon view at the back,” she says. We lived a ‘normal life’, a happy life, uneventful in its quiet bliss. To purchase your copy of “The Choice”, click Purchase The Choice. Edie talked to and with 60 participants, gave 7 interviews, and celebrated over a wonderful dinner with all the coaches in the present program. We do things the way human beings do and we make mistakes. “I had a white coat and it said ‘Dr Eger’, but I felt like an imposter because I did not really deal with my past,” she says. Instead, the 16-year-old and her family were sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Dr. Edith Eger in Ireland Growing up in Hungary in a Jewish family, her dreams of being an Olympic gymnast were cut short during the Second World War when, at … I’m kind of celebrating every moment.”, Eger’s book, The Choice, is an international bestseller and took 10 years to write. Another, Magda, was the “jokester”, the one with the attitude. With every page I lost 2,000lb of emotional weight.”. For most of the journey, her mother hadn’t said much, hadn’t cried or complained, but had instead gone inside herself. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and emigrated with her husband and young daughter to America where she raised a family, earned a Ph.D., and practiced psychology. Harrowed by trauma and survivors guilt once released, she went on to train as a psychologist, a role she still nurtures to this day. One night in April 1944, soldiers pounded on their door and took Eger, Magda and her parents to a brick factory where they lived for a month with 12,000 other Jews. (He, too, had lost his family, but survived in the mountains, joining the partisan resistance.) Eger lost her parents, Helen and Liosha, in the camp, but her two sisters, Magda and Klara, survived with her. Edith Eger was 16 and in love when she was sent to Auschwitz, where both her parents were murdered. And at age 90, she writes about that choice. Her mother was more distant, prone to disappointment. She took an MA, a PhD, then earned her licence to practise. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.”. We’re so pleased that Edie’s stories are being embraced by so many! “We felt that the more securely we locked it away, the safer we were.” Magda, Eger and her new family all emigrated to the US. On her first night, while she was adjusting to the inconceivable, Mengele entered her barracks looking for “new talent”. Edith Eger was 16 years old when her family was uprooted from their home in Hungary and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Béla qualified as an accountant and in her late 30s Eger began studying psychology at the University of Texas. Edith Eger is a Holocaust survivor who went on to become an internationally-acclaimed psychologist. Why? I live in the present and I think young. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. But her true breakthrough came when she was 53 years old. “Its reception has been the biggest miracle of my life.” But transporting herself out of her “paradise” and back to hell was not easy. When she had arrived at Auschwitz and awaited selection, Mengele had looked at her mother’s unlined face, then turned to Eger and asked if this was her “mother” or her “sister”. There she suffered from her war trauma and survivor guilt, a… She married Béla (Albert) Eger, whom she met in the hospital. Her mother’s words have formed her life’s work. For the next year, Eger’s inner life – cherished memories, favourite recipes, future fantasies – sustained her, even saved her. Healing her body took time – but in a year she was married to Béla, whom she met in hospital. Edith Eger. Now 90, smiling and immaculate in vivid turquoise, she talks to me from her light-filled home office in La Jolla, California. Learn more about Dr. Eger from reading Testimonials to her work. I still had choices. She and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. A siren, a shouting man, a piece of barbed wire could hurl her back to 1944. Her mother was more distant, prone to disappointment. With the Nazi grip came curfews, yellow stars and evictions. Their parents and Edith's fiancée Eric had not survived Auschwitz. Dr. Edith Eger is a Holocaust survivor, clinical psychologist, and author of the book, “The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life.” In this powerful interview, Dr. Edith discusses why she felt like her Nazi guards were more imprisoned than she was, what forgiveness truly means, how to free your mind from the shackles of the past, and so much more. She fell cowering to the ground, crying and shaking. Her parents were executed. “I not only had survivor’s guilt, I had survivor’s shame. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Next was Auschwitz. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. For speaking engagements or press queries, please use the Contact Form. Dr. Edith Eger was 16 when her Hungarian-Jewish family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1949 they moved to the United States. Denial was their shield. It was during this return to Auschwitz that Eger confronted a devastating truth, a memory she’d hidden even from herself. She’s originally from Hungary, but she was a teenager, she was sent with her family to Auschwitz. When Dr. Edith Eva Eger was a teenager in Hungary, she had taken dance lessons since she was little and had hopes of making her country’s Olympic team in gymnastics. “I had my own book club and was reading Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. “I go dancing once a week. About Dr. Edith Eva Eger. For that, I had to go back to the lion’s den and look at the place where my mother was murdered, where I was so close to death every day.”. Watch Dr. Edie at the HPL Program. Slowly, cautiously, she started to talk about the Holocaust and examine her experience, intent on learning how we survive trauma and what transforms a “victim” into a “survivor”. After liberation, though, it turned against her. function googleTranslateElementInit() { As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. }. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. I was able to put it out there and cry and cry. Settling in El Paso, Béla and Eger built a comfortable life. Her mother was moved to the other line – the line that led straight to the gas chamber. Dr. Eger is a prolific author and a member of several professional associations. We don’t know where we’re going. After the war Edith moved to Czechoslovakia where she met the man she would marry. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. Dr Edith Eva Eger is an eminent psychologist whose own experiences as a Holocaust survivor helps her treat patients and allows them to escape the prisons of their own minds. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. He quickly summoned medical help and brought her back from the brink of death. Since my childhood days in Hungary, friends and family have called me Edie. She wrote her first book at age 90 and just published The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life , which should be … Edith Eger was just sixteen when the Nazis came to her hometown of Hungry and took the Jewish family to an interment centre and then to Auschwitz. I see my work as my calling. Her father, a tailor, was a lover of life. “That night,” says Eger, “she turned to me and said: ‘Listen. “I studied it and I lived it,” she says. Life tightened for Jewish families. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. It was there that she faced a choice. “It was very difficult, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she says, “because, you see, the opposite of depression is expression. Her survival in Auschwitz is partly testament to the power of her mind. For most of the journey, her mother hadn’t said much, hadn’t cried or complained, but had instead gone inside herself. Neither Eger nor Magda talked about what had happened – not to each other or anyone else. A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. I am Dr. Edith Eva Eger. She began it after the birth of her first great-grandson, for her family to read. “I could not be a good guide to my patients or take them any further than I’d gone myself. Dr. Edith Eva Eger was born in Košice (Kassa in Hungarian) in 1927, where she lived a ‘normal life’, ‘happy life’ with his parents and two sisters – Magda and Klara, in Hungary at that time. He ordered Eger, a trained ballerina, to dance. I never noticed when you had all that hair.’ Every day, we could choose to pay attention to what we’d lost or what we still had.”. Her father, a tailor, was a lover of life. I didn’t need a Hitler out there, I had a Hitler in me telling me I was unworthy, that I didn’t deserve to survive. She has appeared on numerous television programs including CNN and the Oprah Winfrey Show; and was the primary subject of a holocaust documentary that appeared on Dutch National Television. Ultimately, Eger’s mission to understand her mind and utilise its power led her to become an acclaimed psychologist specialising in trauma. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a remarkable woman, who despite surviving the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, tells Oprah that being a victim is a choice. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.”. Her friends and family just called her Edie. (“She’s just going to take a shower,” Mengele told Eger when she tried to follow her.) If I had known better, I would have done better – I would have, believe me. And there was the napoleon! Thousands of miles separated Eger from her past, but the memories and trauma came with her. I help people realise that the biggest prison is in their mind – and to be free of the past means not to run from it or forget it, but to face it. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. “That night,” says Eger, “she turned to me and said: ‘Listen. Eger didn’t think about which word would protect her – she simply told him the truth. But mental recovery took far longer. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. Today Dr. Eger … That’s what I use most. “There is a difference between all the knowledge you get from books and all the clinical experience – both of which I have – and the ‘life experience’. When GIs finally lifted them from a pile of bodies in an Austrian forest, Eger had typhoid fever, pneumonia, pleurisy and a broken back. – Dr. Edith Eger My guest today is committed to bringing peace to the world, and she has used her story of suffering to impact people’s lives for the better. The driver yelled, “Pay or get off!” He got up and walked towards her. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. “I was a very erudite teenager,” she says. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Edith and Béla Eger with their daughter Marianne in 1947 For a few years I’ve been dating Gene, a gentle man and a gentleman (Béla died more than 25 years ago), and we go swing-dancing every Sunday. Toward the end of the war Edith and other prisoners had been moved to Austria. Eger’s story starts in Košice, Hungary (now Slovakia) with her parents and two older sisters. There, she lost her parents and fought for her life, just barely surviving and withstanding unspeakable tragedy. We don’t know where we’re going. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. Edith Eger was 16 when she was sent to Auschwitz with her parents and sister. Because my mother told me, ‘I’m glad you have brains because you have no looks!’” So an ordinary family, as imperfect as any other. She asked her mother what it was and Eger had to run from the room and vomit in the bathroom. He was also a Jewish survivor; he had joined the partisans during the war. Though Eger refused to speak of her past to her three children, her 10-year-old daughter Marianne found a history book with pictures of the skeletal corpses piled in a heap. Edith Eva Eger survived the Holocaust, became an eminent psychologist and PTSD expert, and might be my favorite MarieTV guest of all time. To purchase your copy of “The Gift”, click Purchase The Gift. She then pursued her doctoral internship at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. Her daughter, Marianne, was a healthy 10lb baby. dith Eger was 16 years old, crammed into a cattle truck, human cargo from Hungary headed for Auschwitz, when her mother gave her the advice that shaped her life. Order a copy for £7.64 at guardianbookshop.com. So when we were stripped and shorn of our hair, Magda asked me, ‘How do I look?’ She looked like a mangy dog, but I told her: ‘Your eyes are so beautiful. After six months, as Americans and Russians advanced, the Nazis began to evacuate the camp, and the sisters were forced to join the “death march” across Europe. Dr Edith Eger. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. But unless we acknowledge that we cannot change the past, we cannot really heal and live life.”, Every part of her experience has informed her work. We don’t know what’s going to happen. She is frequently invited to speaking engagements throughout the United States and abroad. ‘No one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind’: Edith Eger’s mum’s advice. Join us for a live virtual conversation with Dr. Edith Eger Moderated by Talli Dippold. One sister, Klara, a violin prodigy, studied in Budapest, where she managed to hide throughout the war. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. In The Choice, Eger describes her flashbacks – her racing heart and narrowing vision – in visceral detail. Once, in Baltimore, taking the bus to her factory job, Eger boarded the European way, taking her seat and awaiting a ticket collector. On arrival, Eger’s father was herded away with the men and her mother was also separated when the infamous “Angel of Death”, Dr Josef Mengele ordered anyone under 14 or over 40 to a different line. Somehow, she closed her eyes and transformed the barracks into the Budapest Opera House. Edith and Magda recovered in American field hospitals and returned to Kassa where they found their sister Clara. Her parents lost their lives there. In 1949, after threats from the communists, they fled together with their daughter to the United States. Dr. Edith Eger A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just 16 years old in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. She has a clinical practice in La Jolla, California and holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. “In Auschwitz, we never knew from one moment to another what was going to happen,” says Eger. Eger was the “invisible one”. “I was hoping it would be in their living rooms, and they’d see me as a good role model,” she says. “I do not believe in retirement,” she says in heavily accented English. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. Edith today, left, and aged 19, right, and today, left. Dr. Edith Eger is the keynote speaker at George Kohlrieser’s High Performance Leadership Program at IMD Business School. Her mother’s wisdom helped Edith Eger create a happy inner life in Auschwitz – but true healing meant going back there, Last modified on Sun 2 Sep 2018 08.44 BST, Edith Eger was 16 years old, crammed into a cattle truck, human cargo from Hungary headed for Auschwitz, when her mother gave her the advice that shaped her life. Her next patient is due in an hour. A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. 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