'Australia has lost a giant': Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku dies aged 101

Tributes are flowing for Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku OAM, a stalwart of Sydney's Jewish community and self-described "happiest man on Earth".

Eddie Jaku, 101, survived Nazi concentration camps.

Eddie Jaku, 101, survived Nazi death camps. Source: SBS News

Australian Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku has died overnight at the age of 101, members of the Jewish community confirmed on Tuesday.
Many have paid tribute to The Happiest Man on Earth author, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg posting a photo of himself with Mr Jaku on social media and calling for his "story to be told for generations to come".
"Australia has lost a giant," Mr Frydenberg wrote.
"He dedicated his life to educating others about the dangers of intolerance, and the importance of hope. Scarred by the past, he only looked forward."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Mr Jaku as "an inspiration and a joy".
"Having survived the Holocaust, Eddie chose to make his life a testimony of how hope and love can triumph over despair and hate," Mr Morrison wrote in a Facebook post. 
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies also posted a tribute to Mr Jaku on social media.
"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."
Mr Jaku had volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception in 1992.
Self-proclaimed as "the happiest man on Earth", he made a vow to smile every day after surviving the horrors of the Holocaust.

Mr Jaku was born in Germany and was sent to the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II. Both his parents were murdered in the gas chamber.

But he survived and moved to Australia in the 1950s.

"Auschwitz is a death camp. I'm very lucky. I think I'm a miracle because I survived," he told SBS News in 2020 at a gathering in Sydney to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

"I will never understand how people the quality of Germans, who produced people like Mozart and Beethoven, had become murderers."

Despite living with the traumatic memories, Mr Jaku said he didn't let them stop him from enjoying his life.

"Happiness does not fall from the sky, it's in your hands. I am here to make you happy," he said.

"Meet the happiest man on Earth, me.”

Mr Jaku published his popular book in 2020, becoming one of Australia’s oldest authors.

He is survived by his wife Flore, their two sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Published 12 October 2021 at 3:36pm, updated 12 October 2021 at 4:57pm
By Cassandra Bain
Source: SBS News