Eddie Jaco, a Holocaust survivor who published his best-selling memoir, “The World’s Happiest Man,” last year, has died in Sydney, a Jewish community leader said. He was 101 years old.
Darren Bark, chief executive officer of the New South Wales State Jewish Board of Deputies, said in a statement:
“He will always be remembered for the joy that was behind him, and for his constant resilience in the face of adversity,” Barak added.
Jako passed away on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to Jako’s decision, saying “his life will testify to how hope and love can overcome despair and hatred.”
“He will be missed unfortunately, especially our Jewish community. It was an encouragement and a joy,” Morrison added.
Treasurer Josh Friedenberg, whose Jewish Hungarian mother also survived the Holocaust and arrived in Australia in 1950 as a stateless child, said “Australia has lost a giant.”
“He has dedicated his life to educating others about the dangers of intolerance and the importance of hope,” Friedenberg said in a statement.
“Afraid of the past, he just looked ahead. Friedenberg added that his story should be told to future generations.
“I don’t hate anyone. Hatred is a disease that can destroy your enemy and even destroy you,” Jako said in a 2019 speech in Sydney.
“Happiness does not fall from the sky. It is in your hands. I am doing my best to make this world a better place for everyone.”
Jacques Abraham “Adi” Jacobs was born in April 1920 in Leipzig, Germany. Her parents and her extended family did not survive the war.
He was expelled from school in 1933 at the age of 13 because he was Jewish, but in 1938 he managed to complete his high school education in another city with the exact same engineering qualification.
Jako said his skills saved him from gas chambers for years to come as he worked as a slave laborer.
He was sent to concentration camps, including Bokenwald and Auschwitz, and escaped, where his parents were given gas.
He escaped what he suspected was a death march as a prisoner of Auschwitz when the Allies approached. He went into hiding for months before US troops found him hungry and sick with cholera and typhoid.
In 1946, he married his Jewish wife, Flore, in Belgium, who had fought a relatively unequal battle in Paris, pretending to be a Christian, and emigrated to Australia in 1950.
The husband worked in a Sydney garage and his wife worked as a dressmaker before moving into real estate.
Marked forever with an Auschwitz prisoner number on his left, he also volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum, sharing his experiences and philosophy of life with visitors.
Norman Slagman, the museum’s chief executive, told Nine Network Television, “When anyone left Eddie talking to him, he really felt like his whole outlook on life had changed. ”
“I felt I was the luckiest man on earth,” Jacques said with the birth of his first son, Andre.
He is survived by his wife of 75 years, his sons Andre and Michael, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.