In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, a heart-wrenching and inspiring new memoir by a Canadian Holocaust survivor
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” of January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation and 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 60 members and grew up in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and an uncle and aunt. In the spring of 1944—five and a half years after the 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 taken to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Fifteen-year-old Max survived the selection process and 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. After treating his injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner and an assistant in the operating room. After surviving both the war and new obstacles in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last 22 years of his life to educating people across Canada and around the world about the Holocaust.
Max Eisen is a Hungarian Jew who was deported to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. He is a passionate speaker and educator who volunteers at the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Ivy.