Choosing to embrace the possible
Several weeks ago I finished reading Dr. Edith Eva Eger’s riveting memoir, The Choice. Dr. Eger is in her 90s. She’s a psychotherapist and a survivor of the Holocaust. One of thousands, including her entire family, rounded up by Nazis and sent from Hungary to Auschwitz. This is a 5-star book, well worth reading.
When it appeared the Nazis might not win World War II, Dr. Eger, a young Hungarian Jew teenager, was evacuated from Auschwitz. Eventually she ended up in the Death March of young girls who walked to a prison facility at Gunskirchen in upper Austria. Many didn’t make it.
Dr. Eger begins and ends her memoir by describing her work with several types of clients suffering from PTSD. Each had a different version of PTSD; each had to unravel the tangled knots of past histories; each had to find within him or herself the courage to change.
After recounting her own story, Dr. Eger describes the way these cases challenged her to understand more about her own traumatic experiences as a young Hungarian Jew. Recovery from PTSD isn’t over until it’s over.
The map of Dr. Eger’s journey from Hungary to the USA is convoluted, filled with high personal drama and heartbreaking choices. Some would call it a page-turner. I could only take several pages or short sections at a time.
Here’s what grabbed me: The one thing Dr. Eger did not want to do was, in fact, the most important thing she had to do to be at peace with herself and those she most loved.
This got me thinking. If she still had unfinished work even after she was a well-known, sought-after psychotherapist, what might that mean for me? What have I missed seeing back there in my history?
Short answer: I missed seeing my lost self. Not my family history or my father’s abusive, unyielding treatment of me, but myself! Yet there I was. From the second month of my mother’s pregnancy until I was 10-months old, my father was not a daily presence. He was in a TB sanatorium somewhere, fighting for his life.
Those ten months are a small piece of ground that belong to me. They aren’t marked by his attempts to beat anger out of me and make me into a tame, submissive ‘good girl.’ It’s not too late to take care of that young infant in me. The one I overlooked for so many years.
I highly recommend Dr. Eger’s book, even if you’re only interested in a no-holds-barred, first-hand account of part of World War II. On the other hand, you might also find a bit of your lost self along the way.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 October 2018
Image found at mdmemories.blogspot.com
It’s amazing how some managed to survive, especially females, as a young teenager I assume she was treated as a sex object/slave. I believe it was in Lord Russell of Liverpool’s book The Scourge of the swastika; which he wrote shorty after the war that I first read about the ordeals these young women were put through. Lord Russell was and was a chief legal adviser at Nuremberg trials
Just as an aside people are not evacuated, places are, is what I was taught after boasting many many years ago about being a vacuee. 🙂
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Thanks for that note about ‘evacuation.’ Hungary itself (as a place) was ‘evacuated’ of all Jews. Still, thanks for that note. I’ll keep it in mind! 🙂
As for young Jewish women taken to German camps, you’re correct up to a point. Many (male as well as female) were also used for inhumane medical research–often aided by Jewish doctors who were offered the choice of cooperating with the German’s ‘research’ program, or dying.
On a related note, are you a fan of A Place to Call Home? We’ve been watching it for some time. It also includes the challenges and struggles of survivors (German and Japanese prisoners).
London as a place was evacuated of nearly all of it’s children, the vacuees as we were called;
Yes I was aware of the experiments Lord Russell covered that too, I once had a very extensive library on WWII; I won’t go into what happened to all my fine books. 😦
The WO watch’s that program, I never have; before it started its run here I saw some of the promo’s and there were many things that I knew to be wrong and knew that if I watched it I’d be yelling at the box; so I’ve never turned it on
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Your problem is that you know too much! 😊. I am, however sorry about whatever happened to your fine books 😟
The WO calls me a know it all; but always in a very derisive way, that I do believe she is trying to bait me.
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