A Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, who published “The Happiest man on Earth”, his best-selling memoir last year, has died in Sydney, according to a leader of the Jewish community. He was 101.
“Eddie Jaku was a beacon of hope and light for not just our community but the entire world,” Darren Bark, chief executive officer of New South Wales state Jewish Board of Deputies, stated in a statement.
Bark said, “He will be remembered for his joy and his resilience in the face adversity.”
Jaku passed away Tuesday.
Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Canada, paid tribute to Jaku for his decision to “make it a testimony to how hope and love may triumph over despair or hate.”
“He will be greatly missed, especially by the Jewish community. Morrison said that he was an inspiration and joy.
Josh Frydenberg (Treasurer), whose Jewish-Hungarian mom also survived the Holocaust, arrived in Australia as a stateless child in 1950 and declared that “Australia has lost an enormous.”
Frydenberg stated in a statement that Frydenberg “dedicated his life to teaching others about the dangers and importance of intolerance”
“He was scarred by the past and only looked forward. Frydenberg said, “May his story be told for generations,”
In a Sydney speech in 2019, Jaku stated that he does not hate anyone. Hate is a disease that can destroy your enemy but also will destroy you.
Happiness does not fall from heaven. It is in your control. It’s in your hands.
Jaku was born Abraham Jakubowiez (German: Leipzig) in April 1920. Many of his extended family members and parents were killed in the conflict.
At 13 years old, he was expelled from school. However, he managed to complete his high school education in another town under a different name in 1938 and earn a degree in precision engineering.
Jaku claimed that his qualification saved him from the gas chambers over the years because he was a slave laborer.
He was sent to Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps, and escaped. His parents were gassed upon his arrival.
As the Allies approached, he escaped what he believed was a death march and Auschwitz prisoner. Before U.S. troops discovered him, he had spent many months hiding. He was near starvation and suffering from cholera.
He married Flore in Belgium in 1946. Flore had been a Jewish woman who had lived in Paris for a relatively uneventful war. They emigrated to Australia in 1950.
Before they got married, the husband worked in a Sydney garage while his wife was a dressmaker.
He was forever marked by an Auschwitz prisoner number tattooed to his left arm. Later, he became a volunteer at Sydney Jewish Museum sharing his life experiences and philosophy with visitors.
Norman Seligman, chief executive of the museum, stated that “when anybody left Eddie having spoken with him, they really just felt like their entire outlook on life had changed.”
Jaku stated that he realized he was the luckiest man in the world when he had his first son, Andre.
His wife of 75 year, his sons Andre, Michael, and four grandchildren, as well as five great-grandchildren, are his surviving.