Eddie Jaku, a Holocaust survivor who led with kindness and tolerance, dies at 101 Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, died in Sydney, Australia. He is remembered as a beacon of light who taught tolerance and led with kindness. He was 101 years old.

Eddie Jaku, a Holocaust survivor who led with kindness and tolerance, dies at 101

Eddie Jaku, a Holocaust survivor who led with kindness and tolerance, dies at 101

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1045380628/1045380629" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, died in Sydney, Australia. He is remembered as a beacon of light who taught tolerance and led with kindness. He was 101 years old.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

They sound like trite sayings off of some self-help calendar.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EDDIE JAKU: Happiness does not fall from the sky. It's in your hands. For me, when I wake up, I'm happy because it is another day to enjoy.

CHANG: But these are the words of Eddie Jaku, a Holocaust survivor who died yesterday in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 101.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Perhaps his most surprising statement, shared during a TED talk, was that despite enduring the horrors of four concentration camps and multiple death marches...

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

JAKU: Hate is a disease which may destroy your enemy but will also destroy you in the process.

MCCAMMON: Jaku was born in Germany. He was kicked out of school as a young teen because he was Jewish. Using an alias to try to conceal his identity, he enrolled in another city, where he studied engineering and graduated as a tool maker. Those skills allowed Jaku to work as a slave laborer and be spared from the gas chamber.

CHANG: Jaku eventually escaped the Nazis' grasp during a death march. He hid in a cave and was eventually rescued by U.S. troops. A few years after the war, Jaku met his wife. They eventually moved to Australia, where they started a family and a new life.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

JAKU: I aim to help people who are dying. I was at the bottom of the pit, so if I can make one miserable person smile, I am happy.

MCCAMMON: Choosing kindness and tolerance over hate was the premise of Jaku's book "The Happiest Man On Earth," which he published when he was 100 years old. He once said, where there is life, there is hope, and that became the bedrock of his philosophy.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

JAKU: I am doing everything I can to make this world a better place for everyone. And I implore you, all of you, to do your best, too.

CHANG: Jaku is survived by his wife of 75 years, two sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

(SOUNDBITE OF COOPER SAMS' "WHITE WAVES")

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.