By Chance Alone
A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at AuschwitzBook - 2017
WINNER of CBC Canada Reads
Finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize
In the tradition of Elie Wiesel's Night and Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz comes a bestselling 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 of 1944--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.
From Library Staff
BPLpicks Mar 11, 2019
An incredible story of survival. This is one of the contenders for the 2019 Canada Reads debates starting March 25th. Place your hold now to avoid a long wait list.
From the critics
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Tibor "Max" Eisen and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Berkenau in the spring of 1944 during the Holocaust's final phase which targeted approximately eight hundred thousand Jews living within the wartime borders of Hungary. When Max stepped onto the unloading ramp [at Auschwitz] at the age of fifteen, he was [just at] the minimum age for slave labour - a possibility for survival not [available] to his younger brothers and baby sister. Today, Auschwitz is the most iconic symbol of the Holocaust, in part because it had the largest number of victims (1.1 million, mostly Jews) , and in part because a relatively large number of survivors were left to tell their stories of suffering there. While Max joins a chorus of Auschwitz survivors ... his account of daily life in the hospital of Barrack 21 offers a wholly unique perspective where we come to know one of the heroic prison doctors: Dr. Tadeusz Orzeszko, the Polish political prisoner who mysteriously saved Max from certain death. ... Max's memoir also provides a unique perspective on "liberation" as both an acute moment of freedom and a long, arduous process of recovery marred by illness, overwhelming grief, and years of displacement and uncertainty. (From the "Afterword" by co-author Amanda Grzyb)
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