‘The Happiest Man on Earth’ by Eddie Jaku is filled with peaks and valleys, moments of stomach-turning uncertainty, and inexplicable brutality. Despite that, the overarching theme is one of inspiration and positivity. To sum up the book’s theme, I would say it shows the incredible power of optimism and what possessing it can overcome.
Who Is Eddie Jaku?
That Happiest Man on Earth is Eddie Jaku’s personal life story growing up Jewish in Germany, both pre and during World War 2. A self-described proud German (he writes in the book that he was German first, Jewish second), Jaku explains how quickly he saw his neighbors and friends turn on him as Hitler rose to power.
After returning home from boarding school to an empty house and not knowing where his family had gone, to escaping Auschwitz and surviving by eating insects, only to be captured again, Jaku’s story of perseverance and hope is mind-boggling.
Before being separated permanently, Jaku describes the sacred moments his family shared during these violent times, along with the tragedies that ended up befalling them.
Jaku was barely a teenager when Jews were forced into work camps in Germany, and that really struck me as I was reading the book. Imagine yourself, barely out of elementary school, and witnessing your whole world tragically crumble. How can a child even process that his neighbor of several years was hunting people like him down for a reason he didn’t understand? How can a child cope with that, let alone an adult?
Hunted like dogs, Jaku’s family fled Germany and left everything behind. I’ve read several books about the Holocaust and Germany’s culture during the Hitler reign of terror, but this personal story visualized it perhaps better than any other.
Jaku explains the reverence he had for his father, his parents’ sacrifices to save his life, and so much more. The desperation and powerlessness his parents felt while outwardly showing strength to Eddie was stirring. In the end, both his mother and father were murdered during the Holocaust, but Eddie was spared. So, why did he make it out of hell?
Your Technical Skills Will Serve YOU & Open Doors
There are many lessons in The Happiest Man on Earth, but one that stuck out (especially for entrepreneurs) was the power of learning technical skills, along with the opportunities they bring.
As the build-up to World War 2 grew in scope within Germany, Eddie, despite Jewish people being viewed as sub-human within the country, continued on with his education in engineering and manufacturing under a fake name in a prestigious school. His father urged him to do it and stick with it as these skills would undoubtedly serve him down the road… and boy did they ever.
Learning these unique technical skills ended up saving Eddie’s life while being enslaved by the Nazis. Jaku would have been murdered at Auschwitz and never gone on to have such a massive impact around the world had he not completed his engineering education. The technical skills required to produce critical manufacturing components for the German war machine were the sole reason Eddie wasn’t murdered by the Nazis…
He had critical technical skills his captors needed, so the Nazis sent him to the production plant day in and day out instead of the gas chamber.
Eddie’s technical skills literally opened the door to survival. He is more than 100 years old today and considers himself to be the happiest man on Earth. He’s a beautiful person and has spread his message of optimism, love, and hope globally. Just watch his Ted Talk in Sydney from a couple years back, and you’ll see what I mean.
Expand Your Tool Kit at Every Opportunity
Often during economic downturns or moments of significant change in our personal life, we have extra time. Don’t waste these ‘lulls in life.’ Learn to code, develop an insatiable appetite for reading, make engaging videos, improve your writing, or expand your mechanical mind to build things people love or need. Learn skills that take time and effort to understand and master. This effort and commitment, in the end, is what will separate you from the pack.
P.S. Entrepreneurship is about being open to new ideas and learning how to spot them. Let me share some of my findings. Subscribe to my free newsletter. Only my best content will land in your inbox.