Dr. Edith Eger, Ph.D
Turning Broken Bones into Dancing – A Journey through Life
Dr. Edith Eva Eger (Dr. Edie) is a sought-after clinical psychologist and lecturer, helping individuals discard their limitations, discover their powers of self-renewal, and achieve things they previous thought unattainable.
|Using her past in the heinous Auschwitz death camp as a powerful analogy, she inspires people to tap their full potential and shape their very best destinies. It’s a message of healing and personal growth. A message of freedom from self-imposed limitations. A message that helps people build character, deal effectively with life’s events, and enrich the lives of others.Edie’s Available Programs include:
Edie’s story began in Kassa, Hungary where she grew up with her parents and older sisters, Magda and Klara. In May of 1944 at the age of 16 her life changed forever. Edie was sent by the Germans to Auschwitz concentration camp along with her parents and sister Magda. (Her sister Klara was smuggled out of the country by her music teacher and was the only one in her family to escape Auschwitz.)
When Edie and her family arrived in Auschwitz, her father was immediately separated from the rest of them and sent to the men’s camp. They never saw him again. While Edie, her mother, and sister Magda stood in line to await their fate, Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death” approached them. He directed her mother to the left and Edie and her sister to the right. Edie tried to go to the left with her mother, but Dr. Mengele told her she had to go to the right and that she would see her mother later after her mother’s shower. Edie waited for her mother, but later learned from another inmate that her mother had been sent to the gas chamber.
Later that same day the guards found out from other inmates that Edie had been a ballerina in Hungry. They told Dr. Mengele, who liked to be entertained by the inmates. He sent for Edie to dance for him. As Edie was onstage dancing for Dr. Mengele, she saw the black smoke from the gas chamber, which likely contained the ashes of her mother, drift upward toward heaven. Edie remembered her mother’s words while on the train to Auschwitz, “No one can take from you what you put in your mind.”
Edie said as she continued to dance, “Dr. Mengele discussed with the guards who should die next. I prayed. Not for myself, but for Dr. Mengele, so he would not have to kill me. It was then that I began to pity the Nazis; they were more imprisoned than I. Somehow I would survive, but they would always have to live with what they had done.”
Edie and her sister Magda were close to death many times. Whenever they showered, they never knew if they would receive water or gas. They had to carry ammunitions for the Nazis on the infamous “death march.” They were used as human shields on top of a train full of ammunitions. The Nazis thought that the allies would not drop bombs on a train carrying prisoners, but they were wrong. The bombs killed others around them, but Edie and her sister survived.
From June 1944 to May 1945 Edie and Magda were moved from camp to camp, eventually ending up in Gunskirchen Larger camp. They were becoming exhausted and emaciated with hunger. Edie became so weak that she went in and out of consciousness. Even her sister’s vigilance as a caretaker couldn’t revive Edie. She was unconscious when guards thought she was dead and they tossed her in a mass grave in the woods behind the camp.
Then in May of 1945 Edie’s miracle came. Almost a year to the day from when she arrived in Auschwitz, she was pulled from the pile of corpses in the woods by an American GI who was there with the 71st Infantry to liberate the Gunskirchen Larger camp. He saw her hand move. She weighed 60 pounds and had a broken back, but she was alive!
After her recovery, Edie married a Czech freedom-fighter and eventually moved to the United States where she raised three children. She believes she was saved for a reason. It is her life’s work is to spread the message that it is possible to love and forgive, even in the midst of life’s greatest adversities. Edie says, “Contrary to popular belief, there are no victims in this world – only willing participants. Each of us have the opportunity to transform our lives. You may not control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. Everyone has the power to change at any time.”
Edie is an amazing person beyond her story! Being in the presence of someone with this level of love and compassion is life changing.
See What my mama told me: Edith Eva Eger at TEDxLaJolla (12:04 min)