“The Ballerina of Auschwitz,” Dr. Edith Eva Eger, will be the guest speaker at the Feb. 12 Village Viewpoints event at the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe.
Eger was taken to Auschwitz when she was 16, one of three Hungarian Jewish daughters. Her father was a tailor and her mother a civil servant and they lived in a small town in what is modern day Slovakia. In March 1944, late in World War II, Hungarian Nazis came to her house and arrested her family. The Jews in Hungary were among the last of Europe’s Jewish communities to be targeted by the Nazis.
The family was taken to other internment centers before they were finally loaded into a train and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, occupied by Nazi Germany. Upon arriving at Auschwitz, Dr. Josef Mengele, a top medical officer “stood at the end of a line of prisoners deciding who would go to the gas chambers and who would head for the prison barracks.” Edith was pulled aside by Mengele and not allowed to follow her mother.
Her parents died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz along with more than a million other Jews.
This would not be her final encounter with the infamous SS doctor who later became known as the “Angel of Death.”
“Dr. Mengele came to the barracks and wanted to be entertained,” Eger says.
Fellow inmates “volunteered” Eger to perform for the man who had ordered her parents’ death.
The talented Edith entertained Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” with private ballet presentations and, in return, she got a piece of bread and more time to live. “I did what the victims of violence often do: I dissociated.”
American soldiers liberated her in Austria in 1945.
Now Eger helps others heal, saying, “I want to have a full life, not to be damaged goods,” she says.
In the 1970s, Eger began studying psychology. Decades later, she still works as a clinical psychologist, running a practice out of her home in La Jolla. Her specialty involves treating patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Throughout her career in psychology, Eger has done extensive consulting work with the U.S. military, treating American veterans of wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. She has also helped set up shelters for female victims of domestic abuse.
“Auschwitz gave me a tremendous gift in some ways, that I can guide people to have resilience and perseverance,” Eger says.
Please join Village Viewpoints on Sunday, Feb. 12 to see for yourselves that the “Ballerina of Auschwitz” is still alive and still kicking!
Eger will speak in the Fellowship Center of the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served beginning at 6 p.m., with Eger to begin speaking at 6:30 p.m. Time will be allowed for audience questions. Advance ticket purchase is recommended and is $25 for adults and $10 for students through Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. After this time, any remaining adult tickets will be $30. Tickets may be purchased at www.villageviewpoints.com or by calling 858-381-8070.