Dr Edith Eger I REMEMBER…
Reader's Digest UK|May 2021
Dr Edith Eger rose from the ashes of Auschwitz to become a renowned psychologist and author. Throughout everything she has faced, the 93-year-old has held on to hope and remained resilient, calling each challenge and circumstance a gift. Now, with two New York Times bestsellers and the legacy of a multi-generational family, Dr Eger reflects on her journey toward happiness and acceptance
Valentina Valentini

…MY MOTHER TELLING ME, VERY SERIOUSLY, I’M GLAD THAT YOU HAVE BRAINS BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO LOOKS. I had two beautiful sisters, Magda and Klara, both older, and I took what my mother said to heart, and I was not angry with her. I wanted to prove how smart I was, so I did really well in school. Just because someone tells you that you’re not pretty, or you’re not smart doesn’t mean you have to give up, because the only one you have for your lifetime is you.

MY FIRST BOYFRIEND, ERIC. He told me that I had beautiful eyes and beautiful hands when we were separated at the transport to Auschwitz. We met in Kosice when I was 14 and we were together for two years before being taken to Auschwitz. He was on a different transport on the same day. Years later, I was told by his family that he had been shot the day before my liberation on May 4, 1945.

…I WOULD ASK MY FATHER FOR MONEY. I knew to do it when he was playing billiards with his cronies because he would want to save face in front of them. He would always be more generous then and so I would make sure to ask him for things during those moments. Timing is everything.

BALLET AND GYMNASTICS WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN MY EARLY LIFE. They had so much meaning for me, and I think they also helped to save me. In Auschwitz, I could not change what was outside of me; they could throw me in a gas chamber at any minute. But at night, I could escape into my head and be dancing. I could be with my boyfriend and imagine when I would see him again.

…DANCING FOR DR JOSEF MENGELE. He was also known as the “Angel of Death.” He came to the barracks and wanted to be entertained. The girls I shared my bunk with pushed me in front of him because they knew I was a dancer. He told me to dance for him while he selected others to go to the gas chamber. I was dancing for my life; in my mind the music was Tchaikovsky and I was dancing Romeo and Juliet at the Budapest Opera House.

Afterwards, he gave me a piece of bread. I could have gobbled it up, but I climbed up to the top bunk, to my friends and shared it with them.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM READER'S DIGEST UKView All

‘CONTROL FREAK'

‘Control Freak’ is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.co.uk, paperback available from Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Foyles.co.uk, Brownsbfs.co.uk or directly from Pegasuspublishers.com from £8.99.

1 min read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Where The World Is Your Oyster

Prince Edward Island serves up rural charm and a seafood feast that doesn’t end

10 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Sigourney Weaver - “It's One Of The Greatest Times To Be In The World”

Sigourney Weaver - “It’s One Of The Greatest Times To Be In The World”

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

My Britain: Glasgow

“Glasgow is a wonderful city — warm and funny and full of kindness” - Author Gail Honeyman

5 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Falling In Love, By The Book

Where do bibliophiles exchange sweet nothings?

5 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Character Studies

In lockdown, Mum and I were able to move past our clashing personalities and connect

6 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

SEXUAL BEREAVEMENT: THE GRIEF WE DON'T TALK ABOUT

We’re getting better at acknowledging that sex in later life is important, but grieving physical intimacy when a partner dies is rarely discussed

6 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

BEATING BLADDER CANCER

The key is early detection— and that’s up to you

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Mid-Life-What?

As he approaches middle age, Olly Mann ponders the randomness of life, ageing and sports cars

4 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021

Anoushka Shankar I REMEMBER…

Anoushka Shankar (39) is a seven-time Grammy Award-nominated British-Indian sitarist, composer and producer who has worked with everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Herbie Hancock. She is the daughter of the legendary sitar virtuoso, Ravi Shankar

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
June 2021