The Choice by Edith Eger (Rider Books) ISBN: 978-1846045110
Dr Edith Eger is a clinical psychologist of Jewish Hungarian descent who survived Auschwitz during World War II. In 2017 she is a woman well into her nineties with grandchildren and great grandchildren and is internationally renowned for her work with survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders.
Eger divides this book, and by inference her life, into four distinct categories: prison, escape, freedom and healing. She offers a clear and unfettered account of her experiences in concentration camps as a teenager. While the book discloses palpably horrific details, Eger’s command of English as a late learnt language gives the quality of her writing an unmatched beauty. The book starts as a story and evolves into a generous self-help guide to combatting suffering, which, as Eger repeatedly points out, is part of the fabric of every human life.
As a part-Jew I have read numerous accounts of holocaust survivors. As a South African I have read numerous accounts of the survivors of a similarly destructive and evil socio-political system called Apartheid. This book is different. Not only did I enjoy it, I found it a solace for my own struggles, no matter their size or scope.
The Choice by Edith Eger (Rider Books) ISBN: 9781846045110
It’s easy to say we all have choices in life – we can choose to be happy or sad, to be successful or lack ambition. However, when the choice involves life or death, and we have no control over that, what other choices can we make to live as long as possible?
This is what the book is about – a woman who managed to survive the holocaust because of her fundamental choices. The situation was horrific and even now in her eighties, she still has flashbacks and nightmares about the year and a half in the grips of the will of the most evil humans imaginable. Is she capable of being happy despite these traumatic and devastating experiences? Yes.
This remarkable woman tells her story with such honesty and openness. It is not an easy read due to the subject matter, but that is only the first section of the book. From there Edith goes on to describe how she fared after being liberated. Not many holocaust books go into the details about how the survivors pieced their lives back together. It was by no means easy – no family, no money, no possessions. It is a matter of attitude and perseverance.
Edith works hard to become a psychologist and to be a wonderful mother to her three children, but she still needs to process the past in order to live fully in the present.
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