A Spirit That Couldn’t Be Restrained

Eddie Jaku is a Holocaust survivor.  He survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and seventy five years on since the liberation he says that he will never be able to “forgive or forget” the horrors he suffered while a prisoner at Auschwitz.  

Eddie was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920.  On the 9th November 1938, the night known as Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, was a program against Jews carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians throughout Nazi Germany.  Eddie returned home from boarding school to an empty house.  At dawn Nazi soldiers invaded and broke down the door of his house.  Jaku says ‘what they did to me I’m ashamed to tell you’.  He continues to describe what happen next.  Eddie was made to witness the demolishment of his families 200 year old house and murdering of his beloved dog who tried to protect himHe continues in saying ‘in front of my eyes I lost my dignity, my freedom and faith in humanity, I lost everything I lived for, I was reduced from a man to being nothing’.  He was beaten and transported to his first concentration camp to Buchenwald, and kept for about 5 months. 

On the 2nd May 1939 Eddie was later released and managed to escape to Belgium then France with his father.  He was again recaptured and arrested he say’s as a German not a Jew, sent to camps and thereafter finally transported to what Eddie says became his ‘Hell on Earth’, Auschwitz the largest concentration and death camp.   “When you arrive in Auschwitz, they shave you and take everything from you” he recalls.  Eddie never saw his parents again, they were murdered here. He never got to say goodbye to his beloved mother and has missed her ever since. 

Eddie’s courage, tenacious self preservation and determination are beyond what most of us today could even imagine.  In 1945, he was sent on a ‘death march’, and against all odds fought for his life and made a powerful choice escaping again.  He lived in the forest surviving on slugs, snails and berries before he was found by the American army. 

Despite everything Eddie Jaku has experienced and seen, he said that he promised when he came out of the darkest hours of his life, that he would be happy for the rest of his life and smile.  Because if you smile the rest of the world will smile with you.  Eddie also says friendship is also the most important thing, “you need friendship, but if you don’t give you don’t get”.  

Eddie has been asked in order to be happy did you have to forgive?  He says he cannot forgive and forget.  Eddie teaches not to hate, hate is a disease he says. Every time he speaks to audiences he says “please promise me that from today you met Eddie Jaku, no more hate, you say I don’t like those people, but don’t hate.  Hate will kill your enemy, but after it will kill you”. Having survived the horrors of the Holocaust he built a life in Sydney, Australia and self declared as ‘the happiest man on earth”.

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