Edith Eva Eger was born to a family of Hungarian Jews living in Košice, Czechoslovakia (present-day Slovakia). Her parents were Lajos and Ilona Elefánt; her father was a tailor and her mother a civil servant. Her two older sisters, Clara and Magda, were talented musicians. Edith attended gymnasium (high school) and took ballet lessons. In 1942, Hungary, which had annexed the region, enacted anti-Jewish laws, and their whole world changed. In March 1944, when Edith was 17, the family was forced with other Jews into the Košice ghetto; Clara was hidden by her music teacher. In May of that year, they were deported to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers immediately, but Edith and Magda were selected to work.
Later, the girls were sent to other camps, including Mauthausen in Austria. In 1945, as the Red Army approached, the sisters were sent on a death march to the Gunskirchen subcamp. Edith nearly collapsed from disease and starvation along the way but other girls helped to carry her. When the U.S. military liberated the camp in May 1945, according to Edith, she was left for dead among a number of bodies. A soldier is said to have rescued her after seeing her hand move.
After World War II ended, Edith recovered in her native city; there she met and married Béla (Albert) Éger, a fellow survivor, with whom she would have three children. In 1949, they emigrated to the USA. She received her PhD degree in clinical psychology from the University of Texas, El Paso
in 1978 and opened a practice in La Jolla, California. She holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. She is a frequently-invited speaker throughout the USA and abroad, and has appeared on many television programs. The documentary film I Danced for the Angel of Death: The Dr. Edith Eva Eger Story aired on public television in 2015. Her memoir The Choice: Embrace the Possible was published in 2017. Her second book The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life appeared in 2020.