Dr. Edith Eva Eger on 'The Choice'

Interview with Dr. Edith Eva Eger by Phil Bolsta
 


Watch Dr. Edith Eva Eger’s interview:


 

 
Hi, I'm Phil Bolsta, and I'm here today with Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a renowned clinical psychologist and speaker who specializes in treating patients with post-traumatic stress disorders. Her book, The Choice, is a powerful, moving memoir about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, as well as a practical guide to healing, in which she shares stories of how she helps patients escape the prisons of their own minds. Dr Edie, thank you so much for your time today. What a treat.

What a treat. You know, my late husband had no hair, and it's nice to know that I can bring his spirit to this wonderful interview.
 

Well, you just made my day, so thank you. Let me ask some questions about your work as a clinical psychologist and healing. For 35 years, after being liberated from Auschwitz, you didn't talk about your experience there. You wrote, "I had my secret, and my secret had me." You also wrote, "Secrets can become their own trauma, their own prison." Do you believe that most people are struggling with this issue in some way?

Yes, I think most of us have an image of us that we put out, you call it an ego, actually, which is our false self, that's the image of me. Today, you didn't see me with curlers on, and with my nightgown, getting up and being half asleep. It took me quite a bit to get ready for you. At 90, you know, it's all maintenance. I went to Nordstrom, and I had my face made up, and I put on this wonderful outfit. And so here I am, but I'm going to give you the real me, the true me, the one that I'd like to be remembered by. Not what I did, but who I am.
 

So, when you wrote that, "I had my secret, and my secret had me," how does that affect patients, generally speaking, in terms of everybody has secrets in their lives that they're repressing, and not being fully authentic?

Right. You know what we do? Many times, with anger especially, we either vent it, we suppress it... and I like to dissolve it, because anger is not a primary emotion. Most people have a lot of fear, they have a lot of frustration, and I did too, because I came to America penniless, and I didn't speak a word of English, and I just wanted to be you.

So if you ask me who I was, I would probably ask, "Who do you want me to be?" And I didn't even know how to pronounce Auschwitz, much less somehow letting you know that I was in Auschwitz. It was really very difficult for me, because I became the breadwinner. My late husband ended up in a TB hospital, and I had a little girl who was two years old. So, if I didn't work, I didn't eat. 1949 in America.
 

In the foreword to your book, your colleague Philip Zimbardo wrote, "Each of us is in some way, mentally imprisoned, and it is Edie's mission to help us realize that just as we can act as our own jailers, we can also be our own liberators." Can you share your thoughts about that?

Yes, you know, I wanted to write this book for years and years and years and years and I thought, Well, maybe I can help one person, and I'm getting letters today: "Thank you for allowing me to liberate myself.” I just want to cry. I survived, but not just survived, that now I can help others to be survivors, and never a victim. I refuse to be a victim. I was victimized. That was done to me, but that's not who I am.
 

I should say that Dr. Edie's book, The Choice, was published last year, 2017, and it not only is profound and powerful, but it is beautifully written. It's just breathtaking, so I can't recommend it enough. I bought it for six or seven friends immediately, as soon as I started reading it.

Oh, thank you. That's what people tell me, "I bought 20 books. Can I come over for you to sign it?" I said, "Sure, please, please." And Philip told me, "Just sign your name." And I said, “No, I will never sign my name. I have to write something personal.”
 

Yes. And hopefully not get writer's cramp from all the people who are requesting them.

No, not that. The news that I just got yesterday, that it was translated in German, and I thought, well, that's a good revenge to Hitler. See, I think we all have a story, but I'm not my story. I think what I do is today, is who I am, and who I am has a great deal to do with the time when nothing came from the outside and how I discovered my inner resources, because dependency can breed depression. The more I wait for you to make me happy. Self-love is self-care; it's not narcissistic.
 

You also wrote, "The opposite of depression is expression." Which I thought was brilliant.

I make up these kinds of things... that what comes out of your body doesn't make you ill; what stays in there does. And I had my secret, and I actually wanted to speak English without an accent. I spent three years at university trying to get rid of my Hungarian accent, and my professor said, "You know Edie, I'm beginning to speak Hungarian. Why don't you just get out of here. You're going to speak English with an accent." And I'm accepting that now. I can be just me, and that's fine.
 

  
Edie at 16, shortly before
she and her family were
taken to Auschwitz
in April, 1944.
 
  

That’s beautiful. You also wrote, “When we don't allow ourselves to grieve our losses, wounds, and disappointments, we are doomed to keep reliving them." Do you consider yourself fully healed from your wounds and losses, or will there always be some measure of grief that never leaves you?

Exactly. I think all therapy has to do with loss, not what happened, but what didn't happen.And I also write about a time when my little granddaughter was born, and the pediatrician said, "She is very flexible. She might become a ballerina." And I said, "Well, now I can die. Now my blood is in her." And she did become a little ballerina, and she went to a wonderful school, the Bishop’s School in La Jolla. I was just there a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful school...

She asked me to buy her a dress, and I'm a big sucker. I buy her the best of the best. And I came home, and out of the blue, I am crying. And I'm thinking, What am I crying about? I just bought Lindsay a dress. It took me a while to acknowledge that we don't grieve over what happened, but what didn't happen. I didn't cry because Lindsay went to a dance, I cried because I never went to a dance.

That's the work I do: I give you my hand, and I like to call myself a guide. Some people call me "midwife" and that's okay with me, that you give birth to the real you that you were meant to be, to be free.
 

So, instead of a mid-life crisis, they come to you for a mid-wife crisis.

Midwife. God, that's beautiful. There is no crisis. There is a transition. There is no problem. There is a challenge. I'd like to clear up the English that people really acknowledge that the way they talk to themselves changes their body chemistry, and that is science.
 

  
  
Edie as a teenager.
 

And I should add too, that Dr. Edie was 16...

Yes, in Auschwitz.
 

... and you were not only a ballerina, but you were a gymnast who was preparing for the Olympics at one point.

Yes, I was very, very talented gymnast, and it came very handy when I stole some carrots for my sister, and I jumped. It came in handy also, when I danced for Dr. Mengele, and I did the split, and I think everything has a gift in it.
 

In your book, there are so many moments that are breathtaking, in that a split second either way, everything would have been different. And the time where you and your sister Magda were in separate lines, and speaking of gymnastics, you did cartwheels.

I did cartwheels to get [the guard’s] attention. Survivors have to be quick decision makers. There was no time to say, "Why me?" It's "What now?" “Why” is in the past.
 

Speaking of time and past, you wrote that, "Time doesn't heal, it's what you do with the time." Can you speak to that some more?

Yes, yes, because I think always, when you hear, "Oh, you'll feel better later." No, no, I don't want my patients to feel better. I want them to get better, and get out of here. I come in and out. I teach how to truly be your own good parent to you... self-love, self-love.

The Elefant Family in Czechoslovakia in 1928 (l-r: Helen, Edie, Ma, Klagdara, Ludwig).

 
It's beautiful. Now, you just said a moment ago that, "Survivors don't have time to ask, "Why me?" — the only relevant question is, "What now?" So you're saying that when someone is being victimized, they often operate with a survivor mentality, but when they're finally free, they often, like you did after the war, transition to a victim mentality, instead of the other way around. When they survive, they have the victim mentality, and when they're being victimized, they have the survivor mentality. Is that so?

Well, I'm no more and no less that a human being, and sometimes I'm mad, and sometimes I'm glad, and sometimes I'm sad, and sometimes I'm very scared. Still. I have yet to arrive. I am the happiest now, at 90. Why? Because I think about my thinking, and I give up a few things, such as how to look for your approval. It's fine if you like me, it's fine if you don't. That's okay.

  
Edie and her husband, Albert (aka Bella).
 
  

And I ask people to risk. Like, after my talk, I will come to you and say, "You know, Phil, I hope you would like to get to know me. I would like to get to know you." And you may say, "Well, you know, I'm a very polite man, but to tell you the truth, please, no." Now what did I do? I risked, and I didn't get what I wanted, and I'm still ahead of the game because now I know where I stand with you.

I was not rejected. Rejection doesn't exist for me. The only one who can reject me is me. You just told me why should I think that everybody will want what I want? So I ask people to risk, and let someone know... especially single women. don't wait. Don't be Cinderella, waiting in a kitchen for a guy with a foot fetish, you know? And so I say, that's kind of a... no. no, I think it's okay to tell someone I'd like to get to know you, and you're still better off, because now you know where you stand with that person.
 

It reminds me of the client you wrote about in your book who was the high school boy, and you told him to ask the 20 most popular girls out on dates.

You got it.
 

  
  
Edie and Bella after the war.
 

And he was terrified. That would have terrified me, and I never did that. I was too terrified in high school.

But he did, because he trusted me, and exactly, we make up our minds about anything, and then we put a label on it. I really encourage people not to put labels, and not to have negative self-fulfilling prophecies: “No matter what I do, I'm just going to fail, no matter what.” No, no. And some people get messages like that at home too.

I had a man who never cried, because when he was eight years old, his dog died, and the father didn't allow him to cry. He told him, "A man never cries." So he went and bought another puppy for the son. He didn't want another puppy. So we see in a sense, we grieve over... the question I would ask, "When did your childhood end?" And I worked with people who have been molested. And their childhood ended right there and then. And the perpetrator shamed them: "You enjoyed it, didn't you?"

So I do really hopefully beg people to liberate themselves from the biggest concentration camp, which is in your own mind, and I'll show you the key is in your pocket. And if I could do it... but that doesn't mean I forget it. It doesn't mean I overcome it. I don't. I'm reminded every day, when I walk on a street, and I see barbed wires, right away. But I don't stay there.

  
Edie, Bella, and daughter Marianne.
 
  

When I saw Schindler's List, I felt like I was in the Grand Canyon looking down, and it looked so dangerous, but I was up here looking at it with my grandchildren and my daughter holding my hand. So I don't run out so quickly. I stay there, and I'm even more grateful that I'm here, because I can only touch you now. And that's another thing. I like to live in the present.
 

That's the only place we can live.

That's the only thing I am in charge of.
 

Yes. Well, how can someone move from a victim mentality, to a healthier outlook on life? And does that shift typically take years, or can it take place in an instant through an epiphany of some kind?

I can only speak for myself, I live in the present. I always look for the gift that helps me to survive and make it, because I was very suicidal after I was liberated, because I had typhoid fever, I could hardly breathe, and I had pleurisy, and so forth. And a broken back. And the realization that my parents are not coming back... The reality hits you, because in a camp, I would say, "If I survive today, then tomorrow, I'll be free. I'm going to see my boyfriend." There was no boyfriend; I was told he was shot the day before liberation. No parents. So I did get up and say, "What." I said, "What for?" I had no purpose, and I became very suicidal.

And I think that voice in me that said, "If you die now, you're going to be a coward, but if you live, you're going to speak up." And that's when I think I began to really... not have a new beginning but a kind of rebirth, that I had to really watch and see, that maybe God had a purpose... and I am part of the healing, God's profession.

You see, I'm going to speak in a couple weeks as the keynote speaker to doctors, to oncologists, on the difference between healing and curing, and how we can work together that you may do the curing, but the healing is an inside job.
 

So the curing is what's wrong with you, and the healing is what's right with you?

Yes. I think I cannot do your work, but I can facilitate your healing. I'm not the healer. People are saying you're a healer. No, no, no, I facilitate your healing. I'm a good listener.
 

In your work as a clinical psychologist, why is the question, "Why now?" your secret weapon?

What now?
 

Okay. "Why now?" or "What now?"

Well, when you ask, “why,” the way I look at the English language, I think "why" is a past-oriented word. You're looking for reasons. And "why" requires a because. So the mother asks the son, "Why did you hit your brother?" And the son thinks, Oh, Mommy needs a reason, so he makes up a reason, "Because he hit me first." Or whatever it was. Then the mother says, "Don't lie to me." And then I say to the mother, "If you don't want your child to lie, don't ask, ‘Why.’" Because there are many reasons why we are the why, and many of the reasons are not even in our conscious awareness. Like being touched inappropriately.

Edie, Bella, and Marianne.

 
In the context, though, of when somebody is ready to come to you, then you wrote, "Why now? is the question that is your secret weapon... that is the question that asks everything, isn't it?"

Yes, well "Why now?" is very important, because unless you're willing and ready to go through the grief, because you cannot heal what you don't feel. So it's hard work, and actually, when you go through the anger stage and the blame stage, you're going to feel worse, because now, no more blame, only self-responsibility.

Now, do I want to be baby or a big girl? Because children want to do something... Why? Because I want to do it. Why? Because I want to. That's the end of it. But as an adult I have to think about it, because even if I feel like it, I'm not going to do it, unless it is really going to empower me in my life. So that's why I very much teach my patient how to be a good parent to themselves.
 

You've seen the darkest side of evil as well as the indomitable strength of the human spirit in the face of evil. Why is it that you think the worst in us can bring out the best in us?

Yes, yes, yes. Because I experienced the death march from Mauthausen to Gunskirchen, where I was liberated… and I did revisit that place... When you stopped you were shot right away. And I began to really slow down, really slow down, and when the girls who I shared the bread with that Dr. Mengele gave me after my dance, came and they formed a human chair, and they carried me so I wouldn’t die. That's how you see that the worst can bring out the best in us. And if you were just for the me, me, me, you didn't make it. All we had was each other then, and all we have is each other now.
 

  
  
Bella and Marianne in Maryland in 1960.
 

That is very beautiful, and as you mentioned, when you danced for Dr. Mengele, he essentially rewarded you with a loaf of bread, but you willingly shared it with the other girls.

Exactly. I was on the top [bunk]. As I talk to young people, picturing myself there, as I was so happy, and also when I took the carrots in April.

I was interviewed by Larry King, and he mentioned that most people were very unkind, and I told him that in April 1945, we were slave laborers. They took us from one place to another, and we were in a German village in a kind of a community hall, and we were told if we dared to leave the premises, we're going to be shot right away, but my sister Magda told me, if I don't get some food, she'll die.

So I didn't pay any attention to the, you know, what I am going to perhaps pay for this. I went outside, and I saw some carrots in the next garden, and I still, being a gymnast, I jumped like a cat, and I put the carrots wherever I could. I climbed up that wall, and there was a guard with a gun, and I never heard a gun in my life, but I heard the clicking, and I began to pray for him, so he won't shoot me. I heard the clicking about three times; he picked it up, put it down, and then he turned the gun around and pushed me inside. I had the carrots.

So the following morning, he comes in: "Who dared to break the rules?" And I got so scared, I crawled to him. This is April 1945, when the German people are starving too, and he gave me a little loaf of bread, and said, "You must have been hungry to do what you did."
 

That was a heart-stopping moment.

I told Larry, I said, "Yeah, I met one. I met one diamond. I wish I could see him now."
 

That was an incredible moment in the book.

Yes, there were beautiful people among the guards, and I was very blessed to meet one.
 

Speaking of that, what role does forgiveness play in healing, and how do you respond to those who are deeply offended by the thought of forgiving perpetrators of the Holocaust?

I think that people think that forgiveness possibly means forgetting or condoning. The way I put it is that I was blessed to be given a second chance, and I want to have the joy and passion that I was born with. And it's not up to me. I don't have any godly powers. I'm not forgiving the Nazis for what they did to me.

  
Edie in Texas in 1956.
 
  

This is what I do when I worked with the woman whose husband had an affair, and I asked her to say, "I forgive myself for putting judgment on my husband." And she wants to kill me! Then I bring down Jesus. What did Jesus say to the woman that committed adultery? So in terms of love, my definition of love is the ability to let go. I let go of the part in me that perhaps the Nazi is taking residence in my body, that keeps me from being free. So I want to give myself a gift, okay? And the Nazis, God will deal with the Nazis, so I chose to be in a healing arts profession. I think revenge gives you satisfaction, and forgiveness to me, to me was a gift of freedom.
 

Yes, freedom and release.

So I’m not doing it for them at all. I'm not such a good person that... no, no, I just don't want a Nazi to live in my body anymore.
 

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself.

A gift to myself. It's a gift. I cannot do it for you, but forgiveness is not happening without rage.
 

Yes, that's a very good point.

That is really important. Don't forgive so fast to anybody, for anything. You've got to go through that rage, but don't get stuck in it. I go through the valley of the shadow of death, but I don't...
 

Take up residence there.

… I don't take up residence. I don't like in Auschwitz. It's my cherished wound. It's there, and I think it actually makes me more appreciative of everything. I have a hard time throwing out a piece of bread. If you take me out to lunch, chances are, I'll eat up your leftovers. Or take it home.
 

I’ll look forward to that. Why do you say, "We are all heroes in training"?

I think because God doesn't make junk. We're all here, one of a kind, special, unique, authentic. No one can replace me when I leave this room, and that's what I do in schools. I call young people ambassadors. I have faith in them that they'll do everything in their power to see to it that their children and grandchildren will never, ever experience what I did.

Prevention, prevention... And I do that in Germany too, when I met up with the children of the Nazis, and I got them together with the children of the survivors, that how we can empower each other with our differences... that you can be you, and I can be I. I'm not better than you. I'm not less than you. I am Edie.
 

That’s wonderful. Dr. Edie, tell us about your family today.

All right. I was in a TB hospital, and I met a man who was a partisan, and he was very impressed because I knew the Greek goddesses, and he was very impressed about being so erudite. And by the way, my mom told me, "I'm glad that you have brains, because you have no looks." So I think it's very important in therapy [to look at] the kind of messages that we carry with us, and not to allow, as I tell young people, anybody, anybody to tell you any labels, and you be the best you, and so on.

So I was taken away from that hospital, because I didn't have TB. He did. And we were corresponding, and people ask me today, "Did you love your husband?" Again, we grieve over not what happened, but what didn't happen. I never had a date, or you know... went to the... and then I dumped him, and then I go to another guy, and I dump him. I didn't have that experience. I was 17. So people ask me, "Did you love your husband?" I say, "Love? He brought me Hungarian salami and Swiss cheese."
 

If that's not love, what is?

I didn't know who I married. I didn't know who I married. So I got pregnant, and I go to the doctor who delivered my husband, who was a dirty old man too. Yeah, I didn't know anything about those kinds of things. And he came over to the house and said, “I will not allow you to have a child. You're too weak.”

See, I'm a survivor. I don't say, "Yes sir." I said, "Sir, I want to give life. Goodnight." My late husband came from the Eger family that was one of the wealthiest, and I didn't know that. I didn't know any of it, but he followed the doctor, apologizing that his wife doesn't know how to talk with respect to the doctor.

My little girl was born a 10-pounder. I could have had a horse doctor. So today, I tell people, “Have a second opinion.” And the communists came, they confiscated the business. They threw my husband in jail, and I knew I had to do something. Not, "Why me?", but "What now?" Okay? I took my big diamond ring. I put this in my little girl's diaper, and I went to the jail, and I smuggled my husband out, and we came to America penniless.
 

That incident, I was holding my breath when I read about it in the book, and I thought, that is the definition of chutzpah.

It is the chutzpah. It is the chutzpah. So my little girl was two years old when we came to America. She was in a daycare center. She told me to buy a Thanksgiving turkey, and I didn't know what a turkey meant, or Thanksgiving, but I couldn't afford a turkey. I never told my daughter that I can't afford it. And there was in Baltimore a grocery store called Schreiber's across from the factory where I did piecework, and I bought the smallest chicken, and I did my choreography, and I came home… and I tell the teachers; II just spoke the wonderful school in New York… you have to be fired up. So I was all fired up. I did the high kick, and I said, "Guess what Marianne? We're going to have a baby turkey!" So what you do as a good survivor, you find some ways of presenting something that you're not going to be a victim of anything, at any time.

So when Marianne was six years old, she would say, "Everybody has a sister. I don't have a sister. Everybody has a sister." We decided that [we could afford another child] if both of us make $60 a week, then I'm going to work, and that's what I did. I drove myself to the hospital to have my little girl in 1954 — my precious Audrey, who just came to New York where I received an award for my book.

And then I became pregnant again, and I told my doctor, "You have to check my blood, because I'm hottish, and I got fever." He said, "No. You're fine, you're fine." Buy my son was not fine. He was born jaundiced, and it was 3:00 in the morning, and he didn't do anything, unfortunately. So, I could see that my son is not developing like my girls did. He didn't sit up, or walk and so on. So I was told that boys start slow, you know? But the mother knows there is something going on. So I ask, “Where do I get a second opinion?” Because the doctor said, "You may have to prepare to send your son to a school for the ‘retarded.’” He used that term in 1960. “Where do I get a second opinion?"

I go up to Johns Hopkins, a beautiful neurologist, Dr. Clark. I don't know where he is now; I really would like to know if he is alive. I took my son, and a week later he said to me, "Your son is not retarded. He looks retarded. He's drooling and so on, but he is going to be what you make of him." And I just totally shook up. He says, "He's going to need occupational therapy, speech therapy, and so on." And, "How much do I owe you?" "Ten dollars." Sent me home. And that's what I did. And my son John graduated as a top dance student from the University of Texas. So that's the chutzpah we talk about. Okay? Don't tell me no... I'm going to tell you that if I can't get in the front door, I'm going to look for the side window.
 

  
Edie with Katie Couric.
 
  

It's the same when you wanted to visit Auschwitz years later, and they said the relations between the U.S. and Poland were so bad that they weren't allowing anybody in. And you said in your book, "No barriers are going to stop me."

That's right, and it's in my TED Talk, when I took care of two paraplegics, and one of them was in a fetal position: "Why me?" And the other one said, "You know, Doc, I am sitting in a wheelchair, and I'm thanking God for being in a wheelchair because I can see my children's eyes." And I could see it's not what happens, it's what you do with it. One had the victim's mentality, and the other is grateful. And that's when I decided to go back to Auschwitz.

And that's the work I do. I take your precious hand, and we go, and go through the ages and the stages of your development. And again, we grieve over not what happened. A man by the name of Pierre Janet talks about the ages and the stages of development. So, I see myself going from here to there. And today at 90, I go dancing on Sunday. I do the kind of dancing that you probably call supermarket music, no?
 

That works for me.

The big band?
 

Yeah, I love big band.

I was liberated by the GIs, 71st infantry, and a couple years back, I got a call from Fort Carson, Colorado City, to come and lecture on PTSD, and guess what? I discovered that it's the home of the 71st infantry. And I told them that without that uniform, I wouldn’t be here today.
 

And you didn't realize that until you saw the “71” all over?

Until I saw “71” everywhere. I said, "Could it be?" [A banner read] "Welcome, Dr. Edith Eva Eger." And I'm picturing the 16-year old that... by the time I was liberated I was 17. So again, it's not what happens, it's what you do with it, and Auschwitz to me was an opportunity not to recover but to discover.
 

Now, when you went back to Auschwitz, you asked Magda, your sister, you said, "I wouldn't have survived without you, and I'm not going to survive this without you." But she didn't want to go back.

No, she told me I'm an idiot. Absolutely, she told me I'm a masochist. You see, we went through the same experience, two entirely different responses. I just saw my sister in Baltimore, and she celebrated her 96th birthday. She is a brilliant bridge master. Yes. you know Omar Sharif was a very good bridge player as well. But Magda is Magda, and I wanted to go back to that lion's den, and reclaim my innocence. That's why I'm saying that there is no forgiveness without rage.
 

And that was a tremendous healing experience?

To me, the best I've ever done, for me. For me, I needed to... I'm very visual. I couldn't do that in the therapist's office.
 

I did want to ask you too, when you talked about being liberated by the 71st Infantry, you were basically in a pile of human beings and you were probably the only one left alive. How did you wind up like that?

Well, I am told that my hand was moving and I looked up and I saw... I'm going to cry... I saw big lips, and I've never seen a person of color in my life and then I saw eyes full of tears and then I saw M&Ms in the hand.
 

You thought were beads.

And I didn't even know what... So when I speak at schools, they bring me M&Ms. I wish I could meet that guy who picked me up.
 

Where was Magda then? Did she direct people over to you?

We didn't know who was alive until we were among each other and you never knew who was alive or not. And that was May 4, 1945, and I want you to go and see The Sound of Music because that's where it was and that's when cannibalism broke out. And I looked up at God and I said, “I cannot touch human flesh.” And God said, "Just look down." And I had grass to eat. So "I can't” is not... I mean, I go to school, I put right away, "I can't" on the board. "I can't" means I'm helpless. No, you're not helpless. You can if you want to. And I remember choosing one blade of grass over against the other. I still had that choice then and that's why the book is called The Choice, because the more choices you have, the less you feel like it.
 

Dr. Edie, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us today. You are truly a hero, one of my heroes, and an inspiration. And I'm so glad you told your story in your book, which has already touched the lives of so many people.

Thank you.

 

A Personal Note From Phil Bolsta: As soon as I started reading Dr. Edie’s book, The Choice, I knew it would be one of the most important books I had ever read. Its depth of understanding of the human condition, combined with heart-stopping descriptions of death-defying courage and razor-thin close calls at Auschwitz and beyond, makes it a must-read for anyone interested in bettering themselves and the world at large. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
 

The Choice is a gift to humanity.
— Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

 


An eminent psychologist and one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors old enough to remember life in the camps, Dr. Edith Eger has worked with veterans, military personnel, and victims of physical and mental trauma. She has appeared on numerous television programs, including Oprah Winfrey’s, and was the primary subject of a holocaust documentary that appeared on Dutch National Television. She is frequently invited to make speaking engagements throughout the United States and abroad.

Dr. Edie has been featured in numerous articles and TV shows, from CNN to the UK’s Daily Mail. She has also told her story in a 2-hour video for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and in her TEDx Talk.

Her book, The Choice: Embrace the Possible, was the winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award and the 2018 Christopher Award in literature.
 

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This article appears in: 2018 Catalyst, Issue 7: Peace

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