Holocaust survivor and peace advocate Eddie Jaku, who described himself as “the happiest man on earth,” died in Sydney on Oct. 12 at the age of 101 years.
Born as Abraham Jakubowicz in Leipzig, Germany in 1920, Jaku was imprisoned in four concentration camps during World War II. He later led a daring escape on a train and after being recaptured, he broke free from a death march and survived by hiding in a cave in a forest. He was then rescued by American soldiers.
Jaku published his memoir titled “The Happiest Man on Earth last year to celebrate his 100th birthday. It chronicles his story of survival and made him one of the oldest published authors in the world.
“I have seen the very worst in mankind, the horrors of the death camps, the Nazi efforts to exterminate my life, and the lives of all people. But I now consider myself the happiest man on earth,” Jaku wrote.
“Life can be beautiful, if you make it beautiful,” Jaku also wrote.
The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies paid tribute to Jaku, describing him as “a beacon of light and hope for not only our community, but the world.”
“He will always be remembered for the joy that followed him, and his constant resilience in the face of adversity,” the board added.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also paid tribute, saying, “Having survived the Holocaust, Eddie chose to make his life a testimony of how hope and love can triumph over despair and hate.”
Jaku is survived by his wife, their sons, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He moved to Australia with his wife in 1950.
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