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101-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Is 'The Happiest Man on Earth'

At 101-years-old, Eddie Jaku has over a century of wisdom and life experience to draw from—and he's trying to use it to help others see the world in a more positive light. The self-described "happiest man in the world" has given a TED Talk and written a book about his philosophy.

Jaku is also a Holocaust survivor. He was born in Germany and said that “I thought I lived in the most civilized, most cultured and certainly the most educated country in Europe. And I was German first, and German second, and Jewish at home.”

On November 9, 1938, after Nazi forces burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish homes, stores and other property, Jaku returned home from boarding school to an empty home. In the morning, he was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. Over the course of years, Jaku and his family reunited, escaped and lived in hiding. But in 1943, they were arrested again and sent to Auschwitz.

Jaku said, "I was finally transported to my hell on Earth, Auschwitz. My parents and my sister were also transported to Auschwitz, and I was never to see my parents again." More than 6six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust. In 1945, Jaku was sent on a "death march" but escaped into the wilderness. He was rescued in June of that year.

Jaku said that after the war, he was miserable—until he met his wife, Flore, and started a family. He said, “Eighty years ago, I didn't think I (would) have a wife and children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This is a blessing."

Jaku said that despite his experiences, he does not hate anyone. "Hate is a disease that may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you in the process. Where there is life is hope. If there's no more hope, you're finished.”

He added, “Family and friends are key to that hope. Friendship is priceless. Shared sorrow is half sorrow, but shared pleasure is double.” He said that he hopes his story inspires others to make positive choices every day. “I want to make this world a better place for everyone. I want everyone to take a step back and say ‘We are here for all of us.’”

You can watch his TED talk here.

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