By Chance Alone by Max Eisen
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (April 19, 2016)
Synopsis: In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz comes a new memoir by Canadian survivor
More than 70 years after the Nazi camps were liberated by the Allies, a new Canadian Holocaust memoir details the rural Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau, back-breaking slave labour in Auschwitz I, the infamous “death march” in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, a journey of physical and psychological healing.
Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. He had an extended family of sixty members, and he lived in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. In the spring of1944–five and a half years after his region had been annexed to Hungary and the morning after the family’s yearly Passover Seder–gendarmes forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They were brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. At fifteen years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and he was inducted into the camp as a slave labourer.
One day, Eisen received a terrible blow from an SS guard. Severely injured, he was dumped at the hospital where a Polish political prisoner and physician, Tadeusz Orzeszko, operated on him. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last twenty-two years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world.
The author will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding.
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Every survivor’s tale is unique and equally inspiring. Max Eisen’s is no different. Eisen tells his story so bluntly and clearly that it hits right down to your bones. He takes the reader on a journey of his life in Hungary prior to the Holocaust, to his life in Auschwitz, where his entire family was ripped away from him, to eventually finding his way to Canada where he is now a prolific speaker about the Holocaust.
This book is real – Eisen doesn’t sugar coat or leave out the “details”. He is raw and honestly, just like every survivors’ story should be. While I found at times that I had to put the book down and step away for a little while, his brutal honestly was what made this book a true survivors story.
It is important to mention who Max Eisen is today – currently Eisen is very active in the Holocaust Remembrance community throughout all of Canada where he travels to different schools and communities to educate them about the Holocaust. This book is an amazing companion and sidekick to his educational goals. His story is forever written in print to be shared with thousands – even millions – more.
This is an absolutely moving tale about survival in one of modern histories darkest times and perseverance to educate people about it to ensure it never happens again. Max Eisen is a true survivor and his story is one you will never forget.
*I received this book for free from Harper Collins Canada for an honest review*