Could people be reincarnated from the Holocaust era?

Whether or not you believe that there are people alive today who are incarnations from the Holocaust era, the book is a intriguing look at the possibility that it is so.

 A person points at the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial bearing the names of 64,000 Austrian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust ahead of its opening in Vienna, Austria November 9, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)
A person points at the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial bearing the names of 64,000 Austrian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust ahead of its opening in Vienna, Austria November 9, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)

Sara Yocheved Rigler, author of six previous books and countless articles, knows how to tell a story. Her latest book, I’ve Been Here Before: When Souls of the Holocaust Return, was born from Rigler’s passionate childhood hatred of Germany, a hatred that persisted despite the fact that she did not come from a family of Holocaust victims or survivors.

In ninth grade, Rigler chose German as her foreign language elective and, after one week of instruction, had an unsettling dream in which she and the other people were speaking fluent German. As a young adult, while roaming the streets of Vienna on a layover, she experienced a nightmarish vision of being chased by “a gang of blond-haired, blue-eyed youths laughing raucously.”

These personal experiences led her to research what she calls “The Secret Society” – a group she estimates numbers hundreds of thousands of individuals who are alive today and who have experienced “a childhood obsession with the Holocaust.” Like Rigler, these “Secret Society” members are unrelated to Holocaust victims or survivors and were often completely unaware of the Holocaust as a historical event before they experienced Holocaust-related “dreams, flashbacks or phobias.”

Research for this book began with a conversation Rigler had while sitting with a friend in her Jerusalem living room. “For the first time in my life, I felt safe to share my secret. I told her I was convinced that I am a soul who perished in the Holocaust.” Her friend, Hanna Sara Zeller, responded “So am I!” and the two compared stories.

After that conversation, Rigler began sharing her secret with others and found that it resonated with many of her friends. It took 20 years before Rigler was ready to write about it. Initially, she published two articles about Holocaust reincarnations and then created a questionnaire to research the phenomenon further. Several dozen responses led to hundreds of emails from other people, all born after the end of World War II, who had been hiding their own Holocaust-era “memories” and who were now ready to speak about them.

 I've Been Here Before: When Souls of the Holocaust Return (credit: SARA YOCHEVED RIGLER) I've Been Here Before: When Souls of the Holocaust Return (credit: SARA YOCHEVED RIGLER)

Rather than a catalog of testimonies, I’ve Been Here Before is structured into 11 thematic chapters, each of which includes fragments of some of the 36 in-depth interviews she conducted or messages Rigler received as part of her research. She covers experiences such as dreams, flashbacks and panic attacks, fears and phobias in separate chapters.

Arguably the most intriguing theme is explored in Chapter 8: “Emergency Landings: Jewish Souls in Christian Bodies” in which Rigler profiles people who were born after the Holocaust to Christian parents. Many of these individuals reported that they not only had Holocaust dreams as young children before they knew anything about the tragic history, but they also commonly expressed feelings of “not fitting into their Christian family, and feeling intuitively that they are Jewish.”

Although she asserts that “most Jewish souls are born to Jewish mothers,” this comment that Rigler heard from one of her interviewees was especially captivating:

“The Holocaust, however, created an emergency situation. According to the revered Klausenberger Rebbe, Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam, who himself was a Holocaust survivor and lost his wife and 11 children, after the Holocaust, millions of souls had to come back, but there weren’t enough Jewish mothers to receive them. So they went to non-Jewish mothers.”

I’ve Been Here Before: When Souls of the Holocaust Return presents a fascinating look into the lives of individuals who are alive today and who carry emotional and psychological scars of a historical period that occurred before they were born.

In one of the book’s approbations, Rabbi Zev Leff of Moshav Matityahu writes, “The book is interesting, inspiring and literally mind-boggling – reminding one of how little we really know about the world and of God’s plan for it.”

Whether or not you believe that there are people alive today who are incarnations from the Holocaust era, the book is a intriguing look at the possibility that it is so. Highly recommended. 

I’ve Been Here BeforeWhen Souls of the Holocaust ReturnBy Sara Yocheved Rigler260 pages; $14.99