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Eddie Jaku: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

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The 101-year-old author and peace campaigner Eddie Jaku passed from this Earth in October 2021. He and his life are remembered through his memoirs in his much-acclaimed book, “The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor,” published in 2020.

Eddie was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Leipzig, Germany, on April 14, 1920. “I found out when I was about 14, 15 that everything my father is doing is for me. See, because he is tough with me. It’s a tough environment to live as a Jew in Germany. I am far away. I live under a false name.” After several unsuccessful attempts at traveling to Britain, Eddie and his family remained in hiding in the Belgian countryside. They managed to elude the occupying authorities until 1943, when they were finally detained and deported to Auschwitz. With her love, over time, he learned to let go of the almost overwhelming negativity resulting from the traumatic experiences he had endured for so many years. He said: “I do not hate anyone. Hate is a disease which may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you.”

Eddie Jaku was a founding member of the Sydney Jewish Museum, and for almost three decades from the age of 72, he spent many hours a week there volunteering as a tour guide at the Holocaust Exhibition. The message that Eddie Jaku wished to convey moved visitors beyond the tragedy to a place of hope and peace. In his own words: “Your efforts today will affect people you will never know. It is your choice whether that effect is positive or negative. You can choose every day, every minute, to act in a way that may uplift a stranger, or else drag them down. The choice is easy. And it is yours to make.”

In 2013, Eddie Jaku was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his work as a promoter of peace. In 2021, his autobiography was recognized by the Australian Publishers Association with the Australian Book Industry Award. After his passing, Eddie was honored with a state memorial service in New South Wales.

“I want to make this world a better place for everyone. I want everyone to take a step back and say, ‘We are here for all of us.’”
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