The Holocaust Survivor
Eddie Jaku was born in Germany in 1920 and was Jewish. Yet, in his own words, Jaku considered himself German first and then Jewish. His memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth, depicts a life story of gratitude and how he could choose to be happy.
The War and the Hardships
During World War 2, in order to continue his studies Jaku was forced to create a fake identity to hide the fact that he was a Jew. He had to spend a considerable time away from his loving family while continuing his studies.
Beaten and Humiliated
When he came back to surprise them after 5 long years, he saw the house vacant and his family nowhere to be seen. At dawn while he was sleeping in his house, the Nazi soldiers came and invaded his family’s 200 year old home, destroyed it to ruins in front of his own eyes. They beat him and humiliated him. At that moment he lost everything he had lived for, being reduced from a man to nothing.
The Attempt to Escape and The Recapture
After that he was sent to a concentration camp but somehow managed to escape with his parents. They were eventually recaptured and sent to Auschwitz gas chambers where his parents were sent to the gas chambers and murdered. In the prime of his life, he was sent to many concentration camps and suffered unimaginable horrors yet he survived. He saw the worst in humanity, the atrocities in concentration camps and could have lived his life in resentment and hatred. Instead he chose kindness, forgiveness and happiness.
Jaku choose to be happy
After surviving Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Jaku got married and emigrated to Australia with his wife and his first child. He made a vow after the birth of his child to smile everyday, to be polite and count all the blessings and never take anything or anyone for granted. The vow he took was very resolute. With all the dark clouds of adversities looming over his past, he could still choose to be happy. He lived for 101 years with his memoir published at the age of 100 years. He had endured the worst that humanity can inflict but he overcame the adversity with kindness and gratitude.
The Lesson : Choose to be happy in the middle of adversities
Through his trials and tribulations, Jaku learned to embrace every moment and choose happiness. His memoir is a testament to his resilience and determination to find joy in life, no matter the circumstances.
Even in the darkest hours of life filled with hurt and sorrow, just remember that it is temporary. It is moulding you into a better person. Keep moving on in life with a little bit of gratitude, a little bit of kindness each day and most importantly choose to be happy. Endure all hardships, however painful it may be, with patience. The Bible says, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. Let us build our character with perseverance and be brave to face any adversity with a smiling, courageous face.