4 lessons you can learn today from Holocaust survivors

If you are in need of inspiration today, here are words from four Holocaust survivors on resilience, perspective, happiness and humour.

“This is my champagne!” – Olga HorakPhotograph of Holocaust survivor Olga Horak looking upwards

This was 96-year-old Holocaust survivor Olga Horak’s remark while drinking a glass of water. Olga survived unthinkable horrors during the Holocaust. Today she is elegantly dressed, yet very much appreciative of the simple things that sustain her and give her life.

“Happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands.” – Eddie JakuPhotograph of Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku smiling

The late Eddie Jaku had a lot to teach about happiness, as the self-proclaimed “happiest man on earth”.

Eddie survived multiple camps, including Auschwitz, where his mother and father were both murdered. Eddie is remembered by people from all over the world for his positive outlook on life, despite the adversity he experienced in his life.

“No matter how hard it was, how bad it got, I never gave in.” – Jack MeisterPhotograph of Holocaust survivor Jack Meister holding a photo of himself and his wife at their wedding

At age 95, Jack still tells his story of survival to students and museum visitors weekly. He recalls the hard labour he endured in Kielce ghetto and Radom labour camp, and his time in Auschwitz and Buna concentration camps.

Jack always expresses an air of resilience. He attributes his survival and his strength to tell his story today to his determination not to give up.

“You have to put your profile on the web” – John Gruschka Photograph of Holocaust survivor John Gruschka

John survived the Holocaust when, at the age of 15, he was sent to live with distant relatives in England during the war. He had to learn to speak English, be self-reliant and adjust to a different way of life. He had two years of intercontinental correspondence with his parents and learnt how to communicate despite physical distance.

This came in handy when, later in life, John sought a companion and he knew that “you have to put your profile on the web.”

To learn more about the inspiring stories of Holocaust survivors, visit our Digital Story, titled ‘Closer: Portraits of Survival’. Click here to learn more.

If you would like to read one or more of our Holocaust survivor memoirs, you can click here to browse our selection in our online Museum shop.

Photographs by Katherine Griffiths.

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