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The Choice

Edith Eva Eger is one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors. She was born in 1927 in the town of Kosice, in what was then Hungary into a middle class family where her father was a respected tailor. She had two sisters, Magda and Klara. Edith was a good student, excelling in ballet and gymnastics. From her earliest beginnings, she was a passionate child who excelled in all school subjects and loved gymnastics and all forms of dancing, particularly ballet. At the age of sixteen she was chosen as a member of the team that was training for the Olympics but soon afterwards was cut from the team when it was revealed hat she was Jewish.

Shortly thereafter German soldiers, who had occupied Kosice came into her home and imprisoned her family and the other nearly 12,000 Jews of Kosice in a brick factory at the edge of town. She and her family were transported in a cattle car to the German death camp Auschwitz in Poland. There, Joseph Mengele, who is known as the Angel of Death, greeted them. Upon entering the camp, both her parents were immediately sent to the gas chambers and executed. Her mother’s parting words planted in Edith’s mind were  “Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.”

Later on that same evening Dr. Mengele came into to Edith’s barracks, looking for someone to entertain him. Aware of her talent as a dancer, several girls pushed Edith forward. The musicians began to play the Blue Danube Waltz and Mengele turned towards Edith and nodded for her to dance. Shocked and overwhelmed by the loss of her parents, Edith forced herself to dance to the music.

Because of the starvation (literally!) rations given to the prisoners in the camp, Edith lost nearly half of her body weight. Every day she lived with the uncertainty, of not knowing if she will live or die. Despite the loss of her physical health and strength, Edith’s spirit remained strong and vibrant. Her sister Magda stayed close to her, co-creating a mutual support system for survival. Towards the end of the war, the Germans emptied the prison of most of its inmates and put them on a forced march in the dead of winter  to Gunskirchen, another prison camp. Exhausted and weakened by disease and famine only one hundred of the two thousand prisoners who began the march survived it, Edith, who sustained a broken back on the march, and her sister Magda were among the survivors.

They arrived at a camp built to house about three hundred-slave laborers into which over eighteen thousand people were crowded. Most of the inmates were suffering with rampant disease, typhus, dysentery, lice and open sores. There was only one twenty-hole latrine for the eighteen thousand inmates. A few days after entering the camp, American armed forces liberated it. Barely alive, and weakened by starvation, Edith was left for dead and was lying amidst a pile of corpses. Miraculously, one of the GI’s who liberated the camp noticed a slight movement in one of Edith’s fingers. He pulled the dead bodies under which Edith was partially buried off of her and noticed that she was still breathing. She was then literally raised from the dead. At the time she weighed seventy pounds. He separated her from the dead. Had he not noticed that she was till breathing she would have died there among the dead.

Although one might assume that Edith’s liberation from the Nazi prison camps would mark the end of her suffering, this was not to be the case. The worst was over but many challenges and more hardships awaited Edith in the coming months and years. She goes on to describe and document her many challenges and incredible achievements that she has accomplished in her ninety-one years, all of which are offered with modesty and the implicit message that we are all capable of choosing whether to succumb to the paralysis of bitterness and despair or to choose life, to choose love, to even choose forgiveness in the face of indescribable brutality. And even though we can’t always make what we consider to be the “correct” choice, we can choose to forgive ourselves and accept our own compassion for doing our best. Edith also made the choice of using her life experiences to become a healer of hearts and souls that have been wounded and damaged in the course of living.

Her story is not simply one of survival in the face of unimaginable odds and indescribable physical and emotional suffering. It is much more than that. It is a testament to the strength and even the indestructibility of the human spirit and an inspiration to anyone who may have ever faced inner or outer obstacles that threaten their well-being or even their very existence. She was not broken by the torture, starvation and constant threat of death she endured as a teenager; but was emboldened and strengthened by those experiences.  She teaches of hope, recovery, possibilities, resilience, and compassion. To find out more about this extraordinary woman, read her inspiring memoir, The Choice: Embrace the Possible. She is a profoundly gifted healer as evidenced in her book and in the many presentations that she has done in her talks, interviews, and videos, many of which are available on U-tube and TED talks. To view a recent conversation that Edith had on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fauouBeIdGM

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The Choice


Bloomwork

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at: www.Bloomwork.com


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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). The Choice. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 23, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2019/08/the-choice/

 

Last updated: 8 Aug 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.