Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow David Scheffer; Interview with Axios Politics and Foreign Policy Reporter Barak Ravid; Interview with Holocaust Survivor and "The Choice" Author Dr. Edith Eger; Interview with Clinical Psychologist Marianne Engle; Interview with "Carmen" Director Carrie Cracknell. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 26, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

The International Court of Justice imposes provisional measures on Israel over its war in Gaza. We discuss what this ruling means with a reporter at

The Hague and with David Scheffer, who served as America's first ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues.

Then, as the bloodshed continues, what new efforts are being made to protect Palestinian civilians and three Israeli hostages? Axios reporter

Barak Ravid joins us.

Also --


DR. EDITH EGER: I was frightened to death. I was so anxious to please so I would not be sent to the gas chamber.


GOLODRYGA: -- ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Walter Isaacson speaks with Dr. Edith Eger, who survived its horrors and her daughter, Marianne, about

the impact of intergenerational trauma.

And finally --




GOLODRYGA: -- pulling Carmen into 21st century America. Carrie Cracknell talks to Christiane about bringing the masterpiece back to the Met.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

The United Nations top court says Israel must take measures to prevent acts of genocide against the Palestinian people. The International Court of

Justice ruling on an interim basis after South Africa brought a case against Israel at the end of last year.

Now, it's important to note that the court has not yet ruled on whether Israel has committed genocide. That is a decision which could take years to

reach. But take a listen to some of what the court had to say.


JUDGE JOAN DONOGHUE: Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all

measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article 2 of the Convention, in particular, A, killing groups,

members of the group, B, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.


GOLODRYGA: Now, the ICJ did not call for an immediate ceasefire as part of its ruling, and both the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are hailing the interim results as a victory.

So, let's get straight to the details with Melissa Bell, who joins us from outside the court in The Hague.

Melissa, obviously the Israelis would have liked for this case to have been dismissed. Still, I guess that they are taking a sigh of relief and not

hearing a ceasefire ruling from this court right now. But you're there at The Hague. Tell us what you're hearing and what you saw in terms of the

reaction to the ruling.

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, outside this court today, Bianna, it was fascinating to watch just in front of us, the

pro-Palestinian supporters had gathered, further down the street, the pro- Israel supporters had gathered, a giant screen had been erected.

And that's Judge Donoghue that you heard a moment ago read out the rulings, the series of six measures it was announcing as part of its ruling today,

cheers came up from the pro-Palestinian crowd. And as she said herself, the judge who's the president of the ICJ, this creates legal obligations for

Israel when it comes to its actions in Gaza. And that is, of course, significant.

And you're quite right to point out that the ceasefire that South Africa had been calling for was not part of those measures ordered by the court

today. And yet, as we heard the South African foreign minister explained a short while after the ruling, essentially what it did rule would amount to

Israel having to suspend its hostilities to abide by, for instance, avoiding, preventing any further killing of Palestinians. They're harming

in a bodily sense or mental harm. Measures also aimed at getting aid into Gaza.

And I think one of the most interesting things about the decision today was the unanimity with which so many of the measures that the court decided on

was reached. In fact, this is a court made up, Bianna, of 15 international judges, plus one from South Africa, plus from Israel.


The Israeli judge actually voted in favor of two of the six resolutions. So, it was a fairly unanimous decision that they arrived at, and certainly

one that went much further than many people had expected that it would, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Melissa Bell, thank you so much.

I want to get more on this from David Scheffer, the former U.S. ambassador- at-large for War Crimes Issues. David, welcome to the program.

Wanted to get your reaction to this preliminary, the ruling that we heard today, obviously on the issue of genocide. That will take years to decide.

But from what we heard today from the ICJ, any surprises from you?


think the most interesting aspect of the ruling is actually in the individual declarations by certain judges, where they do emphasize points

that are not really highlighted in the judgment itself.

One of them is the extremely high bar that is set for proving genocidal intent. The German judge in particular said, I do not think that South

Africa has met the test of plausibility on genocidal intent by Israel, but I do join the majority because of my belief, the German judge saying this,

that these insightful statements are allegedly insightful statements by Israeli officials do need to be brought under control and they do pose a

serious risk that could be associated with intent to the Palestinian people.

But at the same time, he cautioned that, look, we're in a situation of war here. And that doesn't point to necessarily a cease fire ruling but rather

a pairing of the acts of genocide, killing, et cetera, that are alleged with a genocidal intent, and that's extremely difficult to prove in front

of the world court and prior cases have demonstrated how difficult that has been to prove.

And frankly, there are several cases where it was never proved, that pairing of genocidal intent with the destructiveness and killing of


GOLODRYGA: Israel had asked from the beginning for this case to be dismissed. Obviously, that that's not how this court ruled. Was that the

right decision?

SCHEFFER: I think it was the right decision that there be no ceasefire called for by the court because this is a wartime situation. It's very

different from example on the Ukraine-Russia case before the court where Russia was an outright aggressor. There was no self-defense involved for

the court to say, that should cease. That military conduct should cease completely.

Whereas in this case, there is a claim of self-defense by Israel, which the court acknowledges, if not -- if only indirectly, that yes, there is a

basis for combat, and during combat, it is international humanitarian law and the law of war, which controls. You can sometimes attach genocide to

that, but you have to prove that genocidal intent in order to associate the killing and destruction with the war itself and with genocide.

So, I think that that was the correct finding by the court not to go to the extent of calling for a ceasefire.

GOLODRYGA: Overall, this decision has been hailed as a victory by South Africa. And yet, here's what its foreign minister said about the decision

to stop short of calling for a ceasefire.


NALEDI PANDOR, SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe that in exercising the order, there would have to be a ceasefire. Without it the

order doesn't actually work. I would have wanted a ceasefire.


GOLODRYGA: So, without that, instead, the court has ordered Israel to do more to prevent the killing and harm of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and

actually to report back on that order, on that measure within a month's time.

How do you expect Israel to respond? Because on the one hand, they have constantly denied these allegations of genocide, but at the same time,

they've been saying, even as recently as today, that they do abide by international law.

SCHEFFER: Yes, and I would expect in a month's time Israel to, in fact, deliver that report and demonstrate that all of the military activities

it's taking in Gaza is in compliance with international humanitarian law and is not being prosecuted with any genocidal intent. They're going to

have to demonstrate that more than simple statements. They're going to have to put in writing in a convincing way their position so that so much of the

world is persuaded to their point of view.

I would say this, that of the comments that I've seen uttered today, Prime Minister Netanyahu's comment was reasonable, but his defense minister and

his national security adviser immediately came out with statements saying that the court is antisemitic and that this is the -- no one wants to

listen to these judges in their leather chairs. Those are extremely unfortunate and unnecessary statements for Israeli officials to be making.


Rather, they're -- before the court, they should be very respectful of the court and also not immediately jump to some assumption that the judges are

acting with antisemitic sentiments.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, especially since they've chosen to participate and obviously take this case very seriously. It's a slight -- I guess you could

describe it as an own goal to have officials within the government not take this court seriously and do so publicly.

The office of the prime minister ordered ministers not to comment on the ruling. And as you noted, the National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir,

wrote on Twitter, Hague Shmague.

Is this something, though, that the court takes a look at? I mean, obviously, it's probably not the most professional thing for them to be

doing or to help their case, but what impact does this have on the court as they continue this investigation?

SCHEFFER: Well, it strengthens South Africa's claim that there is a basis for incitement to genocide within the Israeli government through these


Remember, in their application of December 29th, they listed something like 50 statements by Israeli officials that could call into question what is

the intent here. Israel needs to be extremely careful, one, to reject all of those statements, as the court has requested them essentially to do, and

to prove in this report that comes out in 30 months -- 30 days that there have been no further expressions that could be possibly inferred as

incitement to genocide.

Rather, the government is trying to demonstrate that it's in a war, it's conducting its operations in accordance with the law of war and

international humanitarian law, and that there is no genocidal intent whatsoever. That's what the government of Israel should be doing.

GOLODRYGA: Israel and the IDF have been saying now for weeks that they are entering a new phase of the war, and not necessarily winding down, but a

lower intensity in Gaza. And as we know, both privately and publicly, there has been pressure from Israel's allies, most notably the United States, to

do more to protect civilians, and do more to bring this war to an end as soon as possible.

And publicly, the U.S., in response to this case, called it meritless. But behind closed doors, as you know and officials that you still speak with,

how do you expect the U.S. to respond to what we heard today?

SCHEFFER: Well, we may hear that response imminently here in Washington, either from the State Department or the White House. But I would caution

the U.S. government not to repeat those remarks that it made when the case was applied, rather that this ruling has now come out that, frankly, Israel

has won on certain points, South Africa has won on certain points, and these are reasonable provisional measures that the court has ruled on.

And also, just to note that several of the judges in their declarations are cautioning deeply how far the court should go, that this should be a very

narrow ruling under the genocide convention. And that so far, a lot has not been proven by South Africa with respect to these charges.

So, the court is acting very responsibly, rather conservatively and also stressing, which is the reality that this is a war and that outside of the

Geneva Convention, the parties, including Hamas, need to recognize that international humanitarian law must be complied with.

So, I would hope that the U.S. government does not fall into the trap of just repeating what was said before by senior officials.

GOLODRYGA: If I could ask you, because of your expertise, you're the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, these cases are quite rare.

But when they have been brought in the past, because we know the ultimate issue of genocide won't be decided for years, the idea of provisional

measures as an interim decision, just weeks after we heard the case laid out by the prosecutor -- by the prosecution and the defense, is that


SCHEFFER: Oh, yes, extremely common. In fact, it's normal to have provisional measures, whether it be the genocide cases from Bosnia and

Croatia against Serbia or the genocide case by the Gambia against Myanmar for the route of the Rohingya onto Bangladesh territory under a genocide

charge. These had provisional measures. So, there is absolutely nothing unusual about this. This is the normal procedure.


And I think in this case, this came out pretty fairly for both parties. In other words, everyone got something here. And now, the point is just

proceed and make sure that the humanitarian issues are resolved. And that the combat against Hamas is resolved in a way that ends the war.

By the way, I should point out the Ugandan judge, Sebutinde, dissented on the entire one. And the reason she did so is, she said, look, this is not a

legal dispute, this is a political dispute. And the parties must sit down and negotiate now, which would be sort of a common U.S. position to take

too. But the point is, she recognized that there's something to really talk about and resolve here and the parties need to get down to that business.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that was -- I noticed that as well, as well as the ICJ saying that all parties are bound by international law and thus calling for

the immediate release of all of the remaining hostages.


GOLODRYGA: David Scheffer, thank you so much for joining us, really appreciate it.

SCHEFFER: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, as The Hague makes its preliminary judgment and the war continues, hostage families urge the world not to forget about their loved


Axios journalist Barak Ravid reports that in the coming days, intelligence chiefs from the CIA, Mossad, and Egypt will meet with Qatar's prime

minister to try and secure the release of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th.

Well, now Doha's efforts to mediate have not been universally popular. Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly labeled Qatar as problematic in leaked


So, what happens next? Well, Barak Ravid joins us to discuss from Chevy Chase, Maryland. Barak, it is really good to see you.

I want to pick up on the ICJ ruling in just a moment, but just to stick with this issue of the hostages because it is so important and it is worth

noting that this is an issue that these families would like to see front and center every single day as this conflict continues.

How much closer from your reporting are you hearing that a deal could be?


doesn't mean that the deal is imminent or it's going to happen in the next week or so. There are still a lot of (INAUDIBLE) that we need to pass.

Just a few minutes ago, President Biden spoke to the emir of Qatar exactly about this issue ahead of the summit that will take place on Sunday in

Europe between the director of CIA, the head of Mossad and the Qatari prime minister to basically try and see how, on all the sticking points, maybe

there could be some creative solutions that can take us from the deadlock that we are now and get into a more of a negotiation that could lead to a

deal, because that's not the case at the moment.

GOLODRYGA: And how much of an impact of it at all do these alleged comments from Prime Minister Netanyahu that were leaked really criticizing

Qatar play in all of this?

I interviewed Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday, and he said that that was a great mistake for Netanyahu, if in fact that was him on that

recording. Significant in your view or not?

RAVID: Yes. First, you know, the recording was of Netanyahu. The prime minister's office did not deny it. It wasn't some deepfake, some robocall.

It was Netanyahu speaking to families of hostages and criticizing Qatar. There are even a lot of people in Israel that suspect that Netanyahu is the

one who leaked it. Although the prime minister's office is denying this.

And obviously, this does not help. Because until now, the Qataris never attacked Netanyahu since the beginning of the war. And even if there were

tensions, they were under the table and they have not come out into the open. So, this daylight right now obviously does not help. On the other

hand, you see that this meeting in Europe is going to take place on Sunday, regardless of all of that.

Another interesting thing, by the way. The prime minister of Qatar, a day after he's meeting the director of CIA and the head of Mossad in Europe, is

coming here to Washington. And it will be very interesting to see what is the readout he's going to give members of Congress and Secretary of State

Blinken of that meeting in Europe.

GOLODRYGA: Speaking of Washington, you published a piece, you've been breaking news day in and day out, about this war in these two countries and

the growing tension, again, between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Biden reportedly telling Netanyahu that he does not want

this war for another year, for obvious reasons on a humanitarian scale standpoint. Obviously, you want this war to come to an end.

But politically, there are huge ramifications for the president. What more are you hearing about the growing tension between these two?


RAVID: So, I think that, as you said, there are two issues here. First on substance, you know, Biden wants to see an end to the, you know, civilian

casualties in Gaza, to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to the hostage issue in Gaza, but there's a bigger thing here right now. And, you know, we

can't shy away from this.

When Biden told Netanyahu last Friday that he's not in it for a year of war in Gaza, it is clear what he was pointing at, because if the war started in

October of 2023 and the elections are in November of 2024, it's clear what he was hinting at.

And senior Biden officials as senior Biden aides told me several times in the last few days that they see every day the amount of political damage

they get among young voters in America, and they say that they just want this war to stop dominating the news, because every day that this is front

and center in -- on TV in the U.S. and newspapers and online. This is causing them huge political damage.

GOLODRYGA: And that raises the question of just how much longer Netanyahu has in terms of a political career. We know how unpopular he is at home and

his approval ratings. It is very difficult though to call for a new election and a lot of things have to come into place for that to happen.

Having said that, I'd like to play this sound from my interview with Ehud Barak, who has urgently called for new elections as soon as possible.


EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I call upon Gantz and Eisenkot, the two generals, former heads of the IDF, who are now politicians, which

have joined, probably rightly so, the war cabinet, to stand up and tell Netanyahu, we demand to set an election date at most early June. And we are

calling upon other leaders of the opposition, other members, and the whole public to stand up and demand it.


GOLODRYGA: He's calling it an existential threat the longer that Prime Minister Netanyahu stays in office. What's the likelihood of what he called

for taking effect?

RAVID: So, first, I think that Gantz and Eisenkot, the two generals that are in the war cabinet right now, I think they see things pretty much like

Ehud Barak does, even though they don't say it publicly. And they're looking for an off ramp from this coalition, because they now have around

40 seats in all the polls, and they don't want to leave the coalition in a way that will basically make a lot of people, you know, stop supporting

them and maybe even going back to supporting Netanyahu. So, they're looking for the right time.

And for them -- from what I hear from their people, that the right time is after there's some sort of a deal on the release of hostages. Once this

happens, they can say, this is why we went into the government. We managed to get one deal on the hostages. Now, a second deal on the hostages. Now,

we can lead the coalition and call for an election.

And a lot of people, big parts of the Israeli public who supports both of them don't go to the streets because they say they are still in the

government. So, once they leave the government, this will be a sort of a call sign and a trigger for a lot of people to say, OK, now, we're going

back to the streets and calling for an election and calling for Netanyahu's resignation.

GOLODRYGA: The big cynics obviously then questioning what is Netanyahu prioritizing. His career, knowing that as soon as these hostages come home,

there probably would be calls for an election or, you know, keeping this going for as long as possible.

Barak Ravid --

RAVID: By the way, Bianna --


RAVID: Bianna, if you look at the -- all the polls in Israel in the last two weeks, the Israeli public is very clear on that question. More than 50

percent in every poll think that Netanyahu is, first and foremost, concerned about his political survival and not about anything else.

GOLODRYGA: That is disconcerting. Barak Ravid, thank you so much for joining us.

RAVID: Thank you, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now, as the world seeks to understand the definition of genocide and how to prevent it, while also reflecting on Israel's history,

we look ahead to International Holocaust Remembrance Day this Saturday. And its message is perhaps more important than ever, with acts of antisemitism

rising globally.

Edith Eger was just 16 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. But what she saw remained a secret for many years.

Well, now an internationally renowned psychologist, she devotes her life to helping people heal from their trauma.

Edith and her daughter, Marianne Engle, joined Walter Isaacson to discuss the power of forgiveness, her bestselling book, "The Choice," and why

telling her story set her free.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Bianna. And Dr. Edith Eger, and Dr. Marianne Engel, welcome to the show.

MARIANNE ENGEL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Thank you so much. We're delighted to be here.

ISAACSON: Saturday is Holocaust Remembrance Day. A lot of people now, especially younger people, think of the Holocaust as way back, way back in

history. They don't remember anything about it. But Dr. Edie, as you call yourself, you were there.



ISAACSON: I want you to tell us about the story so we never forget. Tell us about Auschwitz and tell us about, maybe start with the cattle car going

to Auschwitz.

EGER: The cattle car was very crowded. And my mother was sitting in a bench. My father was sitting on the floor with the girlies. I begged my

father to shave so he would look younger. But he didn't listen to me at all.

And when we arrived, I was met with a sign, arbeit macht frei, work makes you free. And my father was very encouraging that we're just going to work

a little while and then we go home. And of course, that did not happen.

But my mom told me, and I like to quote her today, that everything can be taken away from a human being, except what they put in their mind, and that

really kept me going, that this is temporary, and I'm going to make it no matter what. And so, I did a lot of praying, and I think that was useful

for me to look at life from inside out.

ISAACSON: On the very first day you were at the death camp of Auschwitz, your parents are killed. And there's something very poignant that happened,

which is they come to you. And you're with your sister, and they point to your mother and say, is that your mother or your sister? Tell me what

happened then.

ENGEL: Mom, you were in line. And then, and you and your sister were together with your mother in between you.

EGER: Yes.

ENGEL: And you saw this man in the white suit.

EGER: Yes. The man in the white suit was Dr. Mengele. And he pointed with that, they call it the finger game today, that you go either to the left or

you go to the right. And unfortunately, I said, it's my mother.

And so, pointed to the left and my sister and I to the right. And I followed my mom and he grabbed me. I never forget those eyes, and said,

you're going to see your mother very soon. She's just going to take a shower.

ISAACSON: And they were doing that because they were killing the older people. And by having referred to the woman as your mother, they realized

she was older. Did that make you feel guilt over the years or survival remorse?

EGER: Tremendous guilt. What I could do, what I should do. But of course, you cannot change the past. It did happen. And I remember my sister yelling

at me when I asked the guard, when will I see my mother, and the guard said, she's burning there, pointing at the chimney. And so, that's how I

entered Auschwitz. And it was the middle of May, 1944.

ISAACSON: In your beautiful book, "The Choice," you talk about dancing for Dr. Josef Mengele. Tell me about what happens when he comes in and when you

see him. Tell me the story about dancing for Dr. Josef Mengele.

EGER: He welcomed us very warmly and wanted to know who is talented because he would like to be entertained.

And so, the friends that I knew, because I danced for the community where I live. And so, just threw me in front of him and very friendly, he said,

dance for me, dance for me. And I began to really say to myself, you better be good.


And I did a split right away that minute. I did a very good a very good one. And I can throw my feet up from the front and from the back as well. I

was -- I wish I could have a picture for you, maybe somewhere they were filming this.

ISAACSON: You danced to Tchaikovsky. And then he gave you bits of bread. Tell me about that.

EGER: I was frightened to death. I was so anxious to please, so I would not be sent to the gas chamber. It was a very challenging and difficult

unprepared event.

ISAACSON: What did you do in the camp, you and your sister, to keep yourself alive, to keep going?

EGER: We had to undress the people who were lying dead or not. And we were asked to cut the teeth of everyone. It was very scary because we didn't

know what's going to happen in the next minute. We did not know whether we're going to end up in a gas chamber ourselves.

But staying alive was the goal, what to do? We had a lot of humor, kind of sarcasm that we used cynicism or that just to be sure that this is

temporary and we are going to make it. Hope. Hope was never, ever given up.

And I tell you, today I have three children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandsons. And that's my revenge to Hitler.

ISAACSON: In May of 1945, the Allies come in to liberate the people of the camp. I think it was an African American soldier who helped save you, and

you were underneath a pile of corpses.

EGER: Well, I felt someone's hand. And I looked up, and I saw tears in his eyes. And yes, I looked up. It was a man of color. I wish I could see him

now. He must be in his late 90s for sure.

ISAACSON: Marianne, you discovered on your own --


ISAACSON: -- about your mother's history in the death camps. Tell me how you discovered it, what you felt, and then what you said to her.

ENGEL: So, when I was about 12, at that point I was reading, you know, grown up books. I started to look behind some of the books, in the book --

in one of the bookcases. And I found this big book. And I took it out, curious, and it had the most disgusting, horrible pictures I'd ever seen.

And they were so frightening.

And I didn't know anything about my mother having been to Auschwitz, but I knew that my mother had a sad -- a deep sadness in her. And there was

something in her eyes that was always just a little sad. She was the warmest. All my friends loved her. She was a warm, wonderful mother, but I

could just see that.

And when I saw these pictures, I mean, it was horrific. I went straight to my father and said, Daddy, what is this book? And was mom there? And he sat

me down, and he said, this was Auschwitz, and yes, your mother was there.

And I, of course, was amazed, in a way, kind of not as surprised as you might think, but also shocked. And then my mother found out that my father

had told me, and she was furious.


ISAACSON: Wait, wait, wait. Why were you furious, Dr. Edie?

EGER: Because I kept it a secret, because I wanted to assimilate, and I didn't want anybody to label me a certain way or feel sorry for me that I

was in Auschwitz. I don't know. I've been lying and pretended an image of me that really wasn't my true self.

ISAACSON: For many years after you came to the United States, you didn't talk to your children about it. You kept it a secret. And you became a

psychologist and you were helping Vietnam veterans deal with post-traumatic stress. Tell me how you then decided to deal with your own PTSD.

EGER: Because I was honest with myself that I created a persona, a history that was not the true self. And I began to just use my past, actually, to

let people know so they can remember and revisit the places where they've been and relive that experience and then revise your life.

ISAACSON: And so, you had to go back to Auschwitz. You went, as an adult, back to Auschwitz. Is that why?

EGER: Yes. To me it was important to go to a place and touch that place that I was sure that this is temporary and I'm going to die here, and I

walked out of Auschwitz.

So, today, I do recommend definitely to everyone to revisit where you've been, relive that experience, but don't set up household there.

ISAACSON: Marianne, you became a psychologist, got your doctorate. And then your mother also did that afterwards.

ENGEL: Go ahead.

ISAACSON: Tell me how you processed and watched her change after the visit to Auschwitz.

ENGEL: She went back to the area where she had been living there, and she saw a man in a uniform and she started to panic. The old fear came back and

she started to get very panicky. And then she suddenly remembered that she had a purse, and in the purse was an American passport. And that she could

leave Auschwitz, but this man worked there and he couldn't.

And my father, who was with her when she walked out, said that she hopped, skipped, jumped, did cartwheels. And what happened afterwards is that her

face changed. Her eyes didn't have that fear in them anymore, and it was profound, really.

And then her ability to help people. You know, she got her PhD in her 50s. So, anybody who's watching this, whatever dream you have, look at my

mother, what she's accomplished, you can, and she did, and she has. And so, you know, I'm so proud of her and she's had a phenomenal change because she

let herself accept it.

ISAACSON: Dr. Edie, why did you want to write a book so badly?

EGER: I was very heavily relying on the story being told how good people do such terrible, very, very bad things. I think that was my duty to my

parents so they didn't want to die in vain.

ISAACSON: Why do you call them good people?

EGER: Because I don't think we're born with sin, and I think we're born, and we learn to hate, we learn the Auschwitz mentality.

ISAACSON: How did your lessons of surviving Auschwitz, surviving the death of your mother, surviving all this, give you lessons that we can learn



EGER: It's your attitude is the key word. It's the way you look at everything as an opportunity. And Auschwitz was a classroom and an

opportunity for an opportunity for me to develop the skills that I can now use to guide other people.

I like the idea of guide. I like that much more than being a therapist. It's not an illness. It's a feeling that helps you to recognize that no

matter what, you're not a victim. It's not your identity.

ISAACSON: Marianne, how has your mother's story impacted your family, your kids? And why is it important to them after so many years?

EGER: My goodness, I'm making me teary just asking that question. For me, I think that my mother being so honest about herself and her own history

and talking to the children about it, and the fact that she was able to write these books and to tell and all the great grandchildren can ask her

whatever they want as well as our children too, of course, I think has made the hugest difference in their lives and their understanding of the way the

world can be such a horrible place to people, but also such a loving place, because she is so loving.

So, she has had this openness with them always. I think it's critical to how they see the world. And for all of the people who are watching this, I

know that many of you have parents or maybe you are parents who won't tell your children your story. Please do it. The difference it's made in our

family is great.

ISAACSON: Dr. Edith Eger, Dr. Marianne Engel, thank you both so much for joining us.

EGER: Thank you.

ENGEL: Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: Wow. What an incredible interview. What an amazing woman. Just her strength. All of these years later to carry so much love in her heart

and saying that staying alive was the goal. And her daughter's absolutely right. It's so important to tell these stories.

Some 80 years nearly after the Holocaust and World War II, there are only about 245,000 survivors left. We should never forget their stories.

And finally, a fresh take on a familiar tale. The classic opera "Carmen" is getting a bold makeover at the Metropolitan Opera.

Acclaimed director Carrie Cracknell is seeking to modernize the fiery love affair gone wrong, focusing on important issues from domestic abuse to

breaking societal norms. Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I sing. I dance. I'm convinced, God help me, that I love him. Then the bugle sounds and off he goes.

Here are your thing. Get out, soldier boy. Go back to your barracks.


GOLODRYGA: Carrie Cracknell spoke with Christiane earlier this week about her provocative and daring production.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Carrie Cracknell, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, "Carmen" is well known. Everybody who loves opera loves it for its tradition, for the -- you know, the operas and the tunes that they

really know. But you have completely moved it basically from 19th century, I guess, Spain, to modern day America. You've moved the settings, cigarette

factory to an arms factory.

Why, first and foremost?

CRACKNELL: The piece is loved partly because of the muscularity of the music, the kind of scale of the story, the emotional landscape I think, and

of course, people have quite a traditional and emotional kind of picture in their mind of "Carmen."

But one of the things I love to do in my work is to try and make pieces from another time feel as though they were written now, and to connect with

a contemporary audience. And so, you know, with the design team, we were looking for ways to sort of draw an audience in in a different way, and

also to ask them to respond to the material in a slightly fresh way.


AMANPOUR: So, for those who've never heard of "Carmen," just what is it about the story that is so compelling that you know, her, Don Jose, the

whole female and the -- you know, all of that kind of stuff?

CRACKNELL: It's that provocative, sexual, dark story about a kind of very misguided relationship between a man and a woman who want to be together

but can't really find a kind of good connection, and she then leaves him and has an affair with somebody else.


CRACKNELL: And sort of destroyed by this jealousy, he then ends up killing Carmen at the end of the opera. And so, there's a sort of mythic quality, I

think, to the piece. And of course, it's connected to this music, which is so famous and so powerful. And so, the combination of those two things, I

think, has been very compelling for audiences.

AMANPOUR: I want to play a clip from one of the best-known tunes, if I could put it that way, and then we'll talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): love is a gypsy child who never, never follow the rules. If you don't love me, I still may love you.

But if I'm in love with you, don't ever try to spurn me. And if I love you, watch out.


AMANPOUR: So, it's very rousing and very familiar, particularly that one. But it also, as you said, attracts the -- as you've said, the regular

storyline of woman, man, woman gets killed, woman dies. This happens a lot through literature of the ages, opera and all the rest of it. What is your

take on that?

CRACKNELL: I think that the central idea of a man killing a woman on some level because she deserves it, or to punish her, or historically, I guess

we would use the phrase crime of passion, which is exactly what this story is, is really deep in the DNA of our storytelling culture. And it's --

AMANPOUR: But you don't mean because she deserves it on any level?

CRACKNELL: No. But that's the mythic idea. Somehow that because she deviates from the norm, she's provocative, she's brazen. I mean, in the

time it was completely shocking.

AMANPOUR: She's a liberated woman.

CRACKNELL: She's liberated. And she does what she wants. She's obsessed with freedom. And in the piece, that provokes the men around her. And

ultimately, you know, leads him to destroy her. And I think that that's a really kind of complex and quite problematic central idea.

And so, one of the things I was interested at looking at in the production is why do we keep telling that story and how does that action become bigger

than just one man and one woman? How do we look at that as a part of, kind of, broader gendered violence? And how men and women interact with each


AMANPOUR: So, this debuted at the Met on New Year's Eve. And it's with a Russian soprano, 27-year-old soprano, Akhmetshina, is her last name. She's

got a really robust voice. I mean, it's amazing.

How did you cast her, recruit her? How did you know about her? What made her perfect for this role?

CRACKNELL: She's a rising star. I think people feel that she's, you know, the real deal. She's an extraordinary singer. But apart from that, she's

also this incredible actor. She's very visceral. She takes bigger risks in the rehearsal room than many people ever will.

You know, she stands on top of a gas station in this production. She sort of throws herself around the space. And somewhere in her is a very deep

connection to the character of Carmen. And so, she's really brought a lot of herself to the role.

AMANPOUR: Just a sideline, as you know better than I do, Russian creatives were shunned and cancelled quite a lot after the illegal invasion of

Ukraine. Is that gone now? Are Russian's welcome? What made you choose her? Was it at all controversial?

CRACKNELL: I think it's really complex. And when I talk to Aigul about it, she talks about, you know, the destruction of her community, how much her

village on the border are really suffering, how many young men they've lost in the war. So, it's quite a kind of complex thing, isn't it? And she was

casted by the Met. But I feel very supportive of her and her journey. She's been living in London for the last 10 years and feel very much that that's

her home.

And I feel like it's been a very powerful thing for her to bring a lot of her history, backstory, trauma and suffering from her own childhood and her

life into this incredible role.

AMANPOUR: There are certain, you know, aficionados who reject any kind of modernization of beloved classics. Have you had that? Has there been that

backlash against this? Because I know you do it because, as you said, you want to make these classics accessible to people who may not read, you

know, "Carmen" or listen to the original.

CRACKNELL: I think opera, like any form, needs to move forward and it needs to find new audiences. And there are many, many beautiful, impeccable

period productions of this opera, like most operas. And I think that younger audiences and different audiences are looking for other ways of

accessing this material.


And of course, it ruffles feathers, and of course not everybody loves this take. But I think if the form wants to continue being relevant, then it

needs to, you know, seek out those new conversations.

AMANPOUR: I spoke to Renee Fleming. She starred in "The Hours." And she said that older operas often reflect the times they were made in. And your

production, in this case, explores themes like male unemployment, dispossession, gendered harassment, violence towards women, as you've

discussed. But let's just play what Renee Fleming told me about this.


RENEE FLEMING, OPERA SINGER: Historically, women were property. They were certainly marginalized. They were the subjects of stories, but not

necessarily active participants with agency. And -- or unless they were crazy or were sorceresses, those are really good roles. Yes. But yes, a lot

of mad scenes have ended operas in history.

So, to do something that's relevant that tells the complex history of women a true, more realistic picture, and a relevant picture of women's lives is

something I really tried to create in the repertoire and the music that I choose.


AMANPOUR: We talked a little bit about that. But expand.

CRACKNELL: I mean, I think what's really interesting as a female director is trying to approach work that comes from another time, but see it through

a kind of female lens or a feminist lens in this case.

And of course, you know, we understand women as property. In this case, Carmen isn't. She's sort of trying to break out of that structure, and

that's where she gets into difficulty. And I think that lots of the themes in the piece are completely relevant now. You know, it's about people who

are dispossessed on the fringes. It's particularly about a woman who doesn't have economic power. And so, she uses her sexuality to try and find

her way and to try and have agency. And of course, that still happens all over the world.

So, so many of the themes of the piece are completely current and that's what's quite exciting --

AMANPOUR: And I think I read -- I think it was a quote by you, you know, the idea that feminism -- you just said a feminist production -- is such a

difficult word, such a difficult thought. I think you said it's not about women suddenly being in control, it's about learning to share and equalize

control and power.

CRACKNELL: I think the idea that feminism is in some way a combat on or aims to diminish masculinity is the thing that we need to reject. Because

the principle of feminism is that we want women to be treated fairly, equally, safely, to be paid the same as men for the work that they do, to

not be harassed, to not be killed by their intimate partners. And we're still far from that reality.

And so, I think, you know, for me, it's interesting within culture to sort of try and provoke that conversation and to not try and belittle or

diminish masculinity or men in any way, but to say, how can we look at the stories that we're telling, the myths that we tell and understand how those

impacts on our culture, because they're very deep in how we see the world and how we kind of interact with each other.

AMANPOUR: Is this for you the lane you've chosen because you can make a difference or because you really want, through art, to really make people

understand this issue of politics, but it's equality, really?

CRACKNELL: To some extent. I think, ultimately, I make theater because I love the practice of it and the work is being inside it and it's completely

all-consuming. But of course, every director brings themselves to the project. Everything that you see on stage is through the lens of your

experience, and it's impossible to sort of change that. So, maybe it's less of a kind of political mission, but it feels that I try to bring my full


AMANPOUR: One of the things that they say, one of the art forms that's the least accessible to everybody because it's so expensive in such a -- it's a

bit of a niche, is opera. Do you think it is possible to increase the accessibility and make it more of, you know, an everyday kind of

experience, like film is or television?

CRACKNELL: I think the fact that more and more productions are being filmed and beamed into cinemas is incredible, because people who would

never dream of getting to the Met in New York can go to their local cinema and can watch all of these really high-quality productions with incredible

sets and really wonderful singers. So, that has certainly been, I think, a big part of that journey to try and bring new audiences in.

AMANPOUR: You just told me before we went on, and I didn't know this, that in opera, at least in the United States at the Met, your actual daily job

of being the director and the creator of this ends on the opening night.

So, I wonder how many people know that. Because you're sitting here and it's still going on there.

CRACKNELL: It's not well known. And I think people often imagine that the director sort of sat in a cupboard somewhere or watching every single

night. And of course, you know, when you're in the same country as the production, you go back and you watch and you help it grow with the actors

and the singers.

But no. I mean, it's important then for the performers to have some freedom and to kind of own the structure that you've made together and to make

their own investigations in a way within the piece. And there's always a team of directors in every venue supporting them.


AMANPOUR: So, they're watching. They've got an eye out.

CRACKNELL: Yes, exactly.

AMANPOUR: In case Akhmetshina wants to go and do something completely different.

CRACKNELL: Yes. And of course, we have a running joke that when I turn up in the cinema, they'll all be doing completely different movements.

AMANPOUR: Right. Exactly. Carrie Cracknell, thank you very much indeed.

CRACKNELL: Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: And you can catch the live broadcast of Carrie Cracknell's "Carmen" online tomorrow at 12:55 p.m. Eastern, 6:55 Central European Time,

or in selected theaters around the world.

Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can

always catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media.

Thanks so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.