Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku who described himself as “the happiest man on Earth” has sadly passed away aged 101.
Born in 1920 and growing up in Germany during World War 2, he was imprisoned and escaped from several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz where both his parents were murdered.
After his final escape from a suspected death march, he hid in a forest where he was later rescued by US troops in 1945.
The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies paid tribute to Jaku on their Instagram on Tuesday with the caption, “Eddie Jaku was a beacon of light and hope for not only our community, but the world,”
“He will always be remembered for the joy that followed him, and his constant resilience in the face of adversity.
“The world is a little less bright without him in it, and we will always treasure the memories and stories we were privileged to have heard.
“We wish the entire Jaku family a long life, may his memory be a blessing.”
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The Sydney Jewish Museum where Jaku volunteered said his passing, “has left a huge void in the hearts of the Sydney Jewish Museum ‘family'” in a statement on Twitter.
“This is my message, as long as I live, I’ll teach not to hate.” The passing of Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku OAM has left a huge void in the hearts of the Sydney Jewish Museum ‘family’. Eddie’s impact, as the ‘happiest man on earth’ will be felt for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/dwHN0nX1gY
— Sydney Jewish Museum (@SydJewishMuseum) October 12, 2021
Australian leaders also paid tribute to Jaku through social media including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who said, “Australia has lost a giant with the passing of Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku, 101.” in a statement on his Twitter page.
Australia has lost a giant with the passing of Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku, 101.
He dedicated his life to educating others about the dangers of intolerance & the importance of hope. Scarred by the past, he only looked forward.
May his story be told for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/s3HPXBoqaH
— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) October 12, 2021
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on his Facebook account, “Eddie chose to make his life a testimony of how hope and love can triumph over despair and hate.”
“He will be sadly missed, especially by our Jewish community. He was an inspiration and a joy.
“Shalom Eddie and thank you for your great gift to us all and our sincere condolences to all your loving family and friends.”
He celebrated his 100th birthday last year alongside the release of his memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth which detailed his extraordinary tale of survival.
He is survived by his wife of 75 years, his two sons, four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.