Let's talk about the difference between a victim and a survivor. I was victimized. I know about the story of my life. I accept it. I went through the valley of tears, but I never intended to set up camp there.
On our way to Auschwitz my mother said something I never forgot, she said: 'We don't know where we're going. We don't know what's going to happen. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you put here in your own mind.' My mother had the biggest impact on me.
Arriving at the camp Dr. Joseph Mengele 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. He pointed to my mom to go to the left, and I followed my mom and Dr. Mengele grabbed me and he said, 'You're going to see you mother soon, she's just going to take a shower.'
One day Dr. Mengele came to the barracks and wanted to be entertained. I danced to the music of the Blue Danube Waltz. I closed my eyes, and I pretended that the music was Tchaikovsky, and I was dancing 'Romeo and Juliet' in the Budapest opera house.
What kept me going in the concentration camp was my curiosity. I always wanted to know what's next. I always told myself: if I survive today, I will be free tomorrow! One strength I developed in the camp was to let go of things I have no control of. There is no crisis, just transitions. There are no problems, just challenges. You are not what has been done to you.
I don't know what I would have been without Auschwitz. But it was the best place of education. Keep in mind -- there is a big difference between IQ and EQ. I went back to Auschwitz. And it was a very positive thing for me to do. I am a grandmother three times -- that's my best revenge to Hitler!
Practice every day and say to yourself: I am powerful. Don't react, but think. Never shoot from the hip. Don't allow people to get to you. You don't have to invite people for dinner, but see the humanity in them. There is a little Hitler in all of us. ...and so is love, power and hope.
In the 1970s I began to study psychology. Today, I still work as a clinical psychologist, running a practice out of my home in La Jolla. My specialty involves treating patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I always say, Self-love is self-care. The biggest concentration camp is in our mind. There is a big difference between curing and healing. Healing is an inside job. I suggest you to ask yourself two questions: What is the genuine you and would you like to be married to yourself?"
This speech was given by Edith Eger, an Auschwitz survivor, at the annual Healing Summit 2015.
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