Tibor “Max” Eisen is part of a dying generation.
Born in 1929 to an Orthodox Jewish family in the former Czechoslovakia, Max entered Auschwitz at age 15. Before World War II, his extended family contained 60 people. By the time the war was over, only Max and two of his cousins remained.
His recently published memoir, By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz, starts with his brief childhood and guides the reader through a harrowing tale of near death and survival in the most infamous Nazi death camp.
I understand that this is a memoir and not a novel. But still, I wish the narrative was not as dry. That being said, I found the story to be engaging. Surviving any of the Nazi death camps was often a game of luck and chance more than anything else. The fact that Mr. Eisen not only survived, but thrived as an adult blows my mind.
Now retired, Mr. Eisen travels around Canada speaking to various groups about his experiences during the war. The fact is that the survivors are dying. Books like Mr. Eisen’s will be the only voice and narrative we have for this time in history. If nothing else, this book reminded me of how easy it is to hate someone based on external factors and how far that hate can go.
I recommend it.