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By Chance Alone by Max Eisen
Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. But 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 15 years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and 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 22 years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world.
Eisen will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding. (Publisher)
By Chance Alone was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize and for the 2017 Non-Fiction Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature.
Max Eisen bracingly honest in his Holocaust memoir (CJN: The Canadian Jewish News)
Review: By Chance Alone (Quill and Quire)
Auschwitz survivor Max Eisen revisits horrors for memoir (The Globe and Mail)
RBC Taylor Prize: Spotlight on Max Eisen (Macleans)