WINNER of CBC Canada Reads
In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz comes a bestselling new memoir by Canadian survivor
Finalist for the 2017 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, 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Survivors of unimaginable tragedy notoriously struggle to make sense of why some people’s lives were spared while others perished. Max Eisen, a Czechoslovakia-born Jew who was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 with his family, explores this central question as he takes us on a journey from his relatively idyllic childhood through the mounting atrocities of war and the horrors of the concentration camps; he lands on the story of his unlikely survival and the adjustment to life after liberation. For Eisen, being alive means keeping history alive. His unflinching account is harrowing, but his commitment to honouring the memories of those he lost is truly inspiring.
Amazing, inspiring, heart wrenching and education...
By Chance Alone is by far one of my favourite books. This book really helps you look at the holocaust from a different point of view. Morbid and sad, some happiness too, this book is very educational and inspiring. Not only does it teach us to be thankful for what we have, but it will also maybe help some people realize this should never happen again. I would definitely recommend this book to those who are not opposed to crying while reading!!
Speechless. Captivating and touching.
What a brave man, both at the time and in Recounting his story. Thank you for writing this.