"There are always miracles in the world, even when all seems hopeless. And when there are no miracles, you can make them happen. With a simple act of kindness, you can save another person from despair, and that might just save their life. And this is the greatest miracle of all."
~Eddie Jaku, Auschwitz survivor
I read a truly remarkable book this week, "The Happiest Man On Earth" by Eddie Jaku. Eddie turned a hundred years old in 2020, and considers himself the happiest man on Earth . . . he is also a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
I've read a lot about that period of history over the years being a student of history, and I've read a lot about the Nazi genocide. A few years ago, my friend Greg Knott and I spent an afternoon at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. It is without a doubt an experience I will never forget--it was a place where the history I'd read in books and the history of reality collided in a startling way. Neither of us had anything to say for a very long time after we left that place, as we absorbed all that we had seen there. I don't know how anybody survived that experience.
I don't even know how the survivors survived that experience and lived with it even when it was well behind them. As Eddie writes, some survivors never recovered.
But Eddie Jaku's book was very different from books I've read from other survivors. He went into some of the details of his experience during World War II, but his perspective is so much different. He writes this story as much about what he lost during those years, as he writes about what he gained. He gained a very different perspective about life, about people, and about friendship.
It's not a book about God. Or about faith. It's a story about survival. It's a story about perseverance. It's a story about gratitude. As difficult a read as it was in places, it left me with a feeling of hope in the end.
It's an excellent book. Very short, and very readable. I highly recommend it. I found it on the best seller rack at my local Barnes & Noble. You can find it at online booksellers everywhere. Pick up a copy--you won't soon forget it, or the amazing man that wrote it.
~Todd E. Creason