236: Eva Haller Podcast
In today’s episode of the ‘Finding your Summit’ podcast, host Mark Pattison, former NFL Player, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Mountaineer who has climbed the Seven Summits, talks with guest Eva Haller (A German Writer and Social Scientist who was able to survive the Holocaust). Eva talks about her life journey and how she survived the Holocaust. She also discusses the charity work she has been doing towards multiple social causes through her organization “Sunny Centre”.
- 02:30 – Mark says he was so fascinated to bring to the show someone who was able to survive something like the Holocaust.
- 04:25 – Eva always expected to succeed because she had her older brother, whom she adored. She felt that they had a big adventure together.
- 06:30 – The countryside Jews were all killed, but the Budapest Jews were protected because they were useful.
- 08:40 – Eva always looked at it like how fortunate they were as the Jews of Budapest.
- 10:10 – Unfortunately, Eva’s brother John was killed, and they didn’t know that until after the war, as he didn’t come home.
- 12:25 – Eva’s parents found a young poor couple in a working-class area to take them in with false documents.
- 14:25 – Eva’s mother entrusted her with the responsibility of taking care of a 10-year-old boy whose mother was in hiding. She grabbed him, and then they ran.
- 16:55 – “I think that if I could ever figure out who I am, which I have tried, but not with much success—it’s the survival instinct”, states Eva.
- 18:50 – Maria, Eva’s mother’s friend, gave them a sandwich and told them the address of where her parents were hiding.
- 21:10 – When you think of what’s happening in Afghanistan, and all the countries where survival is threatened every day due to any issue, it is so amazing to look back and see other marvelous opportunities, given not only to survive, but to flourish, says Eva.
- 23:25 – Mark mentions that it’s a remarkable testament to Eva’s survival, her instincts, her gumption, for staying alive. Her ability to help out others like that little 10-year-old boy, walking through the snow, that’s lingered.
- 25:20 – Life was very hard under the Soviet occupation because the Red Army—they were very cruel—they took whatever we still had left, reveals Eva.
- 28:00 – When Eva graduated from school, her mother said she had to leave. Eva got a Visa, and at the age of 18 with $20, she went off to Paris.
- 30:50 – It was rough for Eva as an 18-year-old; it was not where she started. But she learned Spanish, which was good.
- 32:30 – When Eva arrived in New York, although she spoke English, her English was not that good—it wasn’t exactly a New York thing.
- 34:20 – Mark talks about Eva’s survival instinct, stating that for her, it was not the best circumstances. She had no money, there was no parental guidance, yet she figured it out.
- 36:40 – There’s another person that Mark had a big fascination about for a long time—”Dr. Jane Goodall”. She has dedicated her life to understanding animals in the wild and there have been documentaries around her regarding her ability to go and sit with different amazing creatures.
- 38:20 – Eva states that serving with Jane’s board was work, involvement, caring, and getting to know her. She’s remarkable, and in her late 80s, she is no different from when she was 16.
- 40:00 – Through her organization, Sunny Centre, Eva is excited about the possibility to work with young people, because kids nowadays are so involved in social media.
- 42:30 – Eva doesn’t serve any longer as a Chair, she doesn’t even serve on the board, but she does get invitations to every board meeting. However, whenever possible she continues supporting the organization.
Three Key Points
- Eva became very active in charities because she could go to those countries where she gave her support—where she worked and lived with people who survived because they never knew anything different than what they lived in, and with a little insight and reasonable encouragement, they could rise above where they were, and felt encouraged surviving with more dignity and pleasure.
- In October of 1952, Eva arrived in New York and it was incredible. She became a cleaning woman and cleaned houses there. She figured out how to go to night school and went to City College. One day, she discovered the New School for Social Research and finally graduated from there. America had always been Eva’s dream and she is grateful beyond gratefulness that this has been her home for the last 70 years.
- The organization that Eva is devoted to is called “Sunny Centre”, where people who have been exonerated after 25 to 30 years in death row for crimes they haven’t committed—they try to help them, but they don’t get them out. They offer them an opportunity to meditate, to do yoga, to get a job, to learn to talk to each other, etc.
“I felt like a brave freedom fighter. In a way, it felt more like an adventure than death.” – Eva Haller
“What we did know is that our home in Budapest became a Way Station.” – Eva Haller
“The next thing was that we all had to leave our homes and move into the ghetto that was established for Jews.” – Eva Haller
“The four friends came back and told us the story of how my brother was killed.” – Eva Haller
“My parents took me there in September for safekeeping.” – Eva Haller
“I can’t imagine that was part of the adventure like, that’s where it separates this is super real.” – Mark Pattison
“I think I have a very strong survival instinct.” – Eva Haller
“I didn’t know, I just ran. I felt that the only place I knew where to go to was our old home.” – Eva Haller
“I still have a frozen knee from the day of working, trying to find my parents.” – Eva Haller
“Wars do some strange things to people, it dehumanizes you.” – Eva Haller
“How do you start a brand new life with limited resources and everything else—how does that work?” – Mark Pattison
“I was a student at the Music Academy; I pursued to be a musician.” – Eva Haller
“It took six weeks to get from Italy to Ecuador because they stopped in so many different places.” – Eva Haller
“I can’t imagine being 18 and being sent off with 20 bucks in your pocket, with a piece of bread to Paris.” – Mark Pattison
“You had a meeting with Mother Teresa—what a blessing that would be because she was the most humble person who always put herself last to help others.” – Mark Pattison
“They made the biggest pineapples—bigger than their heads—that the kids are doing.” – Eva Haller
“I’m at a point in my life where I’ve had a little bit of a success in being able to turn around and shine that light on others….” – Mark Pattison
“This was one of the best interviews of my life.” – Eva Haller