Winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award and 2018 Christopher AwardThe Choice is a powerful, moving memoir--and a practical guide to healing--written by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, an eminent psychologist whose own experiences as a Holocaust survivor help her treat patients and allow them to escape the prisons of their own minds. Edith Eger was sixteen years old when the Nazis came to her hometown in Hungary and took her Jewish family to an interment center and then to Auschwitz. Her parents were sent to the gas chamber by Joseph Mengele soon after they arrived at the camp. Hours later Mengele demanded that Edie dance a waltz to "The Blue Danube" and rewarded her with a loaf of bread that she shared with her fellow prisoners. These women later helped save Edie's life. Edie and her sister survived Auschwitz, were transferred to the Mauthausen and Gunskirchen camps in Austria, and managed to live until the American troops liberated the camps in 1945 and found Edie in a pile of dying bodies. One of the few living Holocaust survivors to remember the horrors of the camps, Edie has chosen to forgive her captors and find joy in her life every day. Years after she was liberated from the concentration camps Edie went back to college to study psychology. She combines her clinical knowledge and her own experiences with trauma to help others who have experienced painful events large and small. Today, at 90 years old, Edie is a renowed psychologist and speaker who specializes in treating patients with traumatic stress disorders. Edie's life, her work, and this book are an inspiration. "The Choice is a gift to humanity" (Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate).
- ISBN-13: 9781501130786
- ISBN-10: 1501130781
- Publisher: American Book Company
- Publish Date: January 2019
Resilience and hope
The Choice is more than an eloquent memoir by Holocaust survivor and psychologist Edith Eva Eger. It is an exploration of the healing potential of choice. When someone chooses to harm us, our sense of self can later be overwhelmed by the memory of that pain. But Eger, who has helped countless trauma patients, believes that we can regain our autonomy by choosing to confront the past—a lesson she learned from her own experience.
When Eger was 16, Josef Mengele, the abhorrent Auschwitz physician, made horrific choices for her. He chose for Eger to live and sent her parents to die. That same day, he chose Eger to dance “The Blue Danube” for his entertainment. Although a prisoner, Eger infused that dance with all the joy that dancing always brought her. Mengele gave her a loaf of bread as a reward for her bravura performance. Eger shared the loaf with the other prisoners, and later, a girl who had eaten that bread chose to help Eger, saving her life as a result. The ability to choose, even though those choices were circumscribed by an electrified fence, gave Eger the strength to survive.
After the war, she repressed these memories to spare others the pain of her experience. Wracked with guilt for having survived when so many perished, Eger watched her marriage crumble. Another choice confronted her: Stay mired in the past, or face it and learn to live in the present. Her journey took her back to Auschwitz, where she unlocked the last and darkest memory of that first day, and forgave not only her tormentors but also, and most importantly, herself.
Eger is not suggesting that she is unscarred by her experience, but that she lives a life filled with grace. The Choice is not a how-to book; it is, however, an invitation to choose to live life fully.