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Self-proclaimed 'happiest man on earth' dies at 101

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The self-proclaimed happiest man on earth has died. Eddie Jaku was 101 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EDDIE JAKU: I aim to help people who are dying. I was at the bottom of the pit. So if I can make one miserable person smile, I am happy.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Jaku shared his message of happiness and resilience in a TED Talk a couple of years ago. And he wrote a bestselling memoir called "The Happiest Man On Earth." It was published last year.

MARTINEZ: Jaku was born in Germany in 1920.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAKU: I'm standing in front of you today a survivor of the Holocaust and a witness of the most tragic times in the history of mankind.

MARTINEZ: During World War II, Jaku and his family ended up in several concentration camps before arriving in what he called hell on Earth - Auschwitz. His parents and other family members did not survive the war.

MARTIN: In 1945, Jaku made a daring escape on a train. He survived by hiding in the forest for months, eating whatever he could find. Jaku refused to let all his loss consume him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAKU: I do not hate anyone. Hate is a disease, which may destroy your enemy but will also destroy you in the process.

MARTINEZ: A lot of wisdom there. In 1950, he moved to Australia and lived what he called a beautiful life with his family. He's survived by Flore, his wife of 75 years, as well as their sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

(SOUNDBITE OF YO-YO MA AND KATHRYN SCOTT'S "SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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