The Choice by Edith Eger gives a clear description of the horrors of the Holocaust. This book is an unforgettable story of the author through the Nazi concentration camps and near-death situations. She takes us through her life, starting from her childhood with her two sisters, parents and grandparents.
Edith, along with her one sister and parents, were forced out of their house in Kosice and taken to Auschwitz in 1944 when she was only 16 years old. On the first day in Auschwitz, Edith loses her father, who, unaware of the death awaiting him, had earlier consoled her that everything will be alright soon. Not long after unknowingly bidding the final goodbye to her father, her mother is taken away from both the sisters only to find out shortly that her mother also has met the same fate as her father. Having lost both the parents to the cruelty of the Nazis, the sisters are left at their mercy with only either of them for both.
Left only with her sister from whom she gained strength and reciprocating the same, she underwent the worst inhuman and ghostly treatments ever imaginable. She witnessed some of the inmates getting killed or submitting to death, which gave a feeling of being near death. They were made to work in the most unimaginable conditions with scarce food, water and rest. Having survived the ordeal in Auschwitz, the sisters and some other survivors get shifted to Mauthausen and then to Gunskirchen, which will prove to be her final destination in the concentration camp episodes.
At Gunskirchen, she lives among Typhus, Dysentry, and White lice and survives amidst the constant fear of death. Left to die in Gunskirchen, she, along with her sister, gets rescued by American soldiers searching for survivors among the dead. By the time they were saved, both the sisters were so close to death that it took them some days to eat properly and get back to their feet. The incidents and treacherous treatments endure by both have been described in the book in detail. It will be difficult for the reader to pass through these parts without pausing for a moment in memory of those lives lost in the Nazi camps.
Free from the scary ordeals and gaining strength, both the sisters make it to Kosice, where they are united with the eldest sibling, who was kept away safe at another place by their mother well before the invasion of Nazis in their home. The re-unity gives them more strength to get through the loss of their parents and to start afresh. However, the situation is not favourable enough for the siblings to get through smoothly.
Though she had been physically free from her ghostly past, she remained imprisoned by the harsh and draining memories of the camps. Getting married and mothering her children, she didn’t want them to know about her past and tried to keep away her children.
Her interaction with Viktor Frankl fueled her to get rid of the ghost of her past life and free herself from the mental prison she was in. Finally, she was able to overcome her trauma and able to move on with her family and her career. Her travel toward the new life was not smooth and was filled with occasional hiccups, which she overcame. Finally, she got her academic qualifications and became a well known and accepted Psychiatrist. He came to the rescue of people like her and those who were on the verge of admitting failure in life. She brought them back to a happy life while letting go of the chains of her past trauma.
This book is a must-have in all libraries and should be read by all those who have encountered obstacles in life. Her experiences open us to the fact that the demons we face today are nothing hen compared to those face by Edith in the early years of her life. The mental strength she demonstrated to survive through those unimaginable experiences should be more than enough for us to have a different perspective toward life.