Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, who last year published his best-selling memoir, “The Happiest Man on Earth,” died in Sydney, said a leader of the Jewish community. He was 101 years old.
“Eddie Jaku was a beacon of light and hope not only for our community, but for the world,” said New South Wales State Board of Jewish Deputies Executive Director Darren Bark in a statement.
“He will always be remembered for the joy that followed him and his constant resilience in the face of adversity,” added Bark.
Jaku died on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to Jaku’s decision to “make his life a testament to how hope and love can triumph over despair and hatred.”
“We will sadly miss him, especially for our Jewish community. It was an inspiration and a joy, ”added Morrison.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, whose Hungarian-Jewish mother also survived the Holocaust and came to Australia in 1950 as a stateless child, said “Australia has lost a giant.”
“He dedicated his life to educating others about the dangers of intolerance and the importance of hope,” Frydenberg said in a statement.
“Marked by the past, he just looked forward. Let their story be told for generations to come, ”added Frydenberg.
Jaku said in a speech in Sydney in 2019: “I don’t hate anyone. Hate is a disease that can destroy your enemy, but it will also destroy you. “
“Happiness does not fall from the sky. It’s in your hands. I’m doing everything I can to make this world a better place for everyone, ”he said.
Jaku was born Abraham “Adi” Jakubowiez in April 1920 in the German city of Leipzig. His parents and many members of his family did not survive the war.
He was expelled from school in 1933 at the age of 13 because he was Jewish, but managed to finish his secondary education in another city under an alias in 1938 with a degree in precision engineering.
Jaku said his qualification saved him gas chambers in subsequent years because he worked as a slave.
He was sent to and escaped from concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Auschwitz, where his parents were gassed upon arrival.
He escaped from what he suspected was a death march as an Auschwitz prisoner as the Allies approached. He spent months in hiding before US troops found him nearly starving and ill with cholera and typhoid fever.
In 1946, he married his Jewish wife Flore in Belgium, who had spent a relatively quiet war in Paris pretending to be Christian, and they emigrated to Australia in 1950.
The husband worked in a garage in Sydney and his wife worked as a dressmaker before they started working together in real estate.
Always marked with an Auschwitz prisoner number tattooed on his left arm, he also became a volunteer at the Sydney Jewish Museum, sharing his life experiences and philosophies with visitors.
“When someone left Eddie having talked to him, it really felt like his whole perspective on life had changed,” museum executive director Norman Seligman told Nine Network television.
Jaku said with the birth of his first son Andre: “I realized that I was the luckiest man on Earth.”
He is survived by his wife of 75 years, sons Andre and Michael, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism