‘The Happiest Man on Earth’ by Eddie Jaku: Book Review
Updated: Sep 16
Original Article was published in my Medium Page
Photo Credit: Amazon Kindle Book (Photo of the book taken from Kindle Books
It took me almost a week to read the book, ‘The Happiest Man on Earth’. It’s just not a book to read, it’s a collection of a story of an individual, his struggle to live in this world and his love for all human beings. As I write, I do not have any words to express my emotions, my feelings, my thoughts after I completed the book. I learnt a lot and the necessity to live a happy and joyful life. Our lives are magnificent, if we only think that it’s wonderful. The story of Eddie and his horrible experiences during World War II and the way he survived is sure to bring all humans emotions from the deep fathom of one’s heart.
Eddie was born in 1920 in a city called Leipzig, in the eastern part of Germany and his name was Abraham Salomon Jakubowicz. Eddie was closely connected to his mother, Lina and his father Isidore. Eddie’s father was a German Citizen and could be an immigrant from Poland as mentioned by him in this book. From Eddie’s book, I came to know that Eddie had a very happy family and virtuous father. However World War II changed everything in their life. Hate and Evil took over humans and friends became enemies. Smiling neighbours took vouch to destroy other neighbourhoods. The Jews were the targets. Eddie; a Jew did not escape the wrath and what happened with him was something which words will fail to describe in words.
Evil started torturing Eddie and he mentioned about the worst nature of humankind, the horrors of the death camps and struggle each moment to save from the atrocities of human worst emotions — HATE.
It was on 9 November, 1938 when Eddie made his mistake to visit his hometown. It was here he was beaten, dragged to the street and witnessed destruction of his 200 year old family house, where generations of his family have grown-up. It was that moment he lost his dignity, his freedom and his lack of faith in humanity. All these, done by those who harboured hate. This feeling destroyed the human consciousness and the fact that we all are human beings, under the same sky. Eddie mentions in his book about the tremendous hate Nazis had on the Jews and it just poured on Eddie and million other Jews.
In the words of Eddie, that night atrocities were committed by civilised people powered with hate at Leipzig and all over the country. Eddie recollects in his memory that nearly every Jewish home and business in the city was vandalized. Before taking Eddie to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, he was beaten up badly. He was bruised and bloodied and he had to be taken to the nearest hospital. Eddie mentions in his book about the Buchenwald, which was the largest concentration camp within the German borders during World War II and that it was named after the beech forests that stood nearby, which was also known as the Singing forests for the screams which rang out from the tortured prisoners. The life at the concentration camp was very horrible. The torture was pathetic and many prisoners quickly saw death as an alternative to life.
The story continued and Eddie was taken to different places as he was a tool maker and though similar painful experiences happened with him over the years, he says that the only reason he survived because they found him to be Economically Indispensable Jew. His experience in mechanical and precision engineering saved him in almost all cases.
In Eddie’s words,
‘On three separate occasions, I was taken to the Gas Chambers and maybe 20 meters before going in, the guard saw my name, number and profession and shouted, ‘Take out 172338! Three times!
Eddie’s experience through writings states that these situations and happenings that he had undergone was filled with tremendous pain, tribulations and things which even a human soul could not dream in one’s nightmare. The promoters of ‘Hate’ was successful but Eddie’s ‘hope’ to survive made him to tell his experiences to the world through this book at the age of hundred!
I personally feel that we all are humans but when our spirits takes on the negative side of life, we start ‘hating’ each other. To me this is one of the worst kind of low level human feeling, which need to be altered with the feeling of ‘love’ and ‘hope’. In the words of Eddie,
“Hate is the beginning of a disease, like cancer. It may kill your enemy, but it will destroy you in the process too. Don’t blame others for your misfortunes. No one has ever said that life is easy, but it is easier if you love it. If you hate your life, it becomes impossible to live. This is why I try to be kind. Even though I have suffered, I want to prove to the Nazis that they were wrong. I want to show the people who hate that they are wrong.”
After reading the book and after understanding through Eddie’s words the experiences he had undergone and his thoughts of a happening which occurred almost 75 years ago, this brought tears to my eyes. But Eddie is a happy man and this happiness came with a lot of struggle, overcoming so many near death situations that I feel that Eddie needs a ‘standing applause’ from all of us.
Eddie is survived by a beautiful family with his wife Flore, his two Children Michael and Andre and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I still remember the words in the book, which Eddie mentions,
“So, after you put this book down, please, remember to take time to appreciate every moment of your life — the good, the bad. Sometimes there will be tears. Sometimes there will be laughter. And if you are lucky, there will be friends to share it all with ……”
This is just not a book for me, but it’s a book which says why we need to be happy each day. This life is beautiful, when we feel the same with ‘love’ and do things for the betterment of humanity at large.
Eddie is no more in this world, but his thoughts and his words on ‘happiness’ and ‘hope’ will always be remembered. The news of his passing for heavenly abode may be read here:
If I have to rate the book on 10 stars and 10 being the highest, I will give the book 9.5 stars.
You may hear Eddie’s talk at YouTube. The web-link is:
(Please Note: The above are my own personal thoughts after going through the book. Your views and opinions after reading the book may differ)
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