By Chance Alone, A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz by Max Eisen$21.00 CAD
Wiiner of CBC Canada Reads
Finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize
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, and 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 is donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding.
Paperback, 276 pages
MAX EISEN is an author, public speaker and Holocaust educator. He travels throughout Canada giving talks about his experiences as a Hungarian Jew who was deported to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. He shares his experience of surviving a concentration camp, with students, teachers, universities, law enforcement personnel, and the community at large. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Ivy.