Eddie Jaku was a Jew born in Germany in 1920. He lived to 101 years old and died in Sydney. He survived the Holocaust. His story is remarkable and in the first two-thirds of the book, he describes his experiences during World War 2. He nearly died on many occasions, either directly at the hands of the Nazis or during his numerous attempts to escape.
He wasn’t a devout Jew, even though his mother liked to keep Jewish traditions, their family wasn’t religious. So to be singled out for such harsh treatment, particularly from people who he had regarded as friends and a country that he called home, was hard to take. His war experiences were difficult to read but made me marvel at the resilience of the human mind and body.
After the war, he was given refugee status in Belgium but he didn’t feel welcome. He applied to come to Australia. He had married a Jewish girl and they had a son. They had another son after arriving in Australia. Eddie wrote that his first year of his marriage was difficult because he felt bitter about what had happened to him. He missed his parents and most of his extended family who died in concentration camps. However, following the birth of his son, he decided to let go of his anger and appreciate that he was now a father. Something that had seemed impossible a few years earlier. He went on to become a grandfather and a great-grandfather.
After Eddie had been in Australia for some years, he began speaking publicly about his experiences and was instrumental in setting up Sydney’s Jewish Museum. He shared his experiences to give people hope, that no matter what they had been through they could still have a happy life.
Overall, an inspiring read.
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