I stumbled upon a video by Eddie Jaku, titled “The happiest man on earth” at TEDxSydney 2019, and it moved me deeply. Eddie shared his story of love, survival, and happiness. His holocaust survival story spanned 12 years, from Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 until liberation in 1945. Despite experiencing unimaginable horrors and facing death every day, Eddie is a truly happy person, and his story changed my concept of happiness.
Eddie Jaku was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. His family considered themselves German, with Jewish heritage coming second. However, on the night of November 9, 1938, known as Kristallnacht, Eddie returned home from boarding school to find an empty house. Nazi soldiers burst in, beat him, and took him to Buchenwald. Eddie was released and escaped to Belgium with his father, but was soon captured and sent to a camp, and then to Auschwitz.
On his way to Auschwitz, Eddie managed to escape back to Belgium and lived in hiding with his parents and sister. However, in October 1943, the family was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where Eddie’s parents were both murdered. Eddie was sent on a “death march” in 1945, but he managed to escape and hid in a forest, surviving on slugs and snails until he was finally rescued in June 1945.
After the war, Eddie Jaku moved to Australia and started a new life. He married his wife, Flore. However, Eddie’s past experiences continued to haunt him, and he struggled to find happiness in his new life.
It wasn’t until his first son, Michael was born that Eddie began to feel truly happy again. He was overcome with joy and gratitude for his son’s arrival, and it reminded him of the importance of love and family.
In his book, “The happiest man on earth,” Eddie writes, “With Michael’s birth, I began to feel happy again. I realized that I had a responsibility to be a loving and caring father to him, and that gave me purpose and meaning in life.”
Michael became a source of immense pride and joy for Eddie, and he dedicated himself to being the best father he could be. He taught Michael about the importance of resilience, compassion, and kindness, and instilled in him a deep appreciation for life and family.
Eddie’s love for his sons and his commitment to being a positive force in the world is a testament to his resilience and strength of character. His story is a powerful reminder that no matter what challenges we face, we can always find happiness and meaning in life through love and connection with others.
Another remarkable aspect of Eddie Jaku’s story is his attitude towards hate and forgiveness. Despite all the suffering and loss he endured during the Holocaust, Eddie refuses to hold on to hate or anger towards anyone.
In fact, Eddie has spoken publicly about his belief that hate is a disease that only causes more pain and suffering. He believes that hate can lead to violence, discrimination, and even genocide, as he experienced firsthand during the Holocaust. Eddie has made it his life’s mission to spread the message of love, compassion, and forgiveness. He believes that the only way to overcome hate is with love, and that the best way to combat discrimination and prejudice is through education and empathy.
Eddie Jaku’s story is truly inspiring. His message of love, happiness, and resilience is a testament to the power of the human spirit. Eddie’s story reminds us that no matter what challenges we face, we can always find happiness within ourselves. His warm and wise words become my daily prayer to my family, friends and all people on earth: May you always have lots of love to share, lots of good health to spare, and lots of good friends that care.
The inspiring story of Eddie Jaku – The happiest man on earth
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