By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz

· Sold by HarperCollins
19 reviews

About this ebook

WINNER of CBC Canada Reads

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz comes a bestselling new memoir by Canadian survivor

Finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize

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” in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, 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 sixty members, and he lived in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. In the spring of1944--five and a half years after his 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 brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. At fifteen years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and he 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. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last twenty-two years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world.

The author will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding.

Ratings and reviews

19 reviews
Michelle Jansen
May 11, 2019
Teenaged Holocaust survivor Tibor (Max) takes the reader on the journey with him through tragedies and heartbreak. Max finally puts pen to paper and triumphs by surviving and teaching the world. An inspiring man he became. A true hero!
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Peni Reid
April 16, 2018
Firsthand experience of the holocaust in all It's ugliness. Experiencing the true hearts of the German people and other Jew haters like them.
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Ewelina R
August 7, 2018
One of the best written books about camps and Holocaust I have read
1 person found this review helpful
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About the author

MAX EISEN was born in Moldava nad Bodvou, a town in rural Czechoslovakia. He was ten years old when Hungary occupied Slovakia. In 1944 his family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of them were immediately killed in gas chambers. Max, his father and uncle worked as slave labourers, but two months later both men were selected for medical experiments and subsequently murdered. Max lived; he managed to survive the Death March in January 1945 and the camps at Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee in Austria. He was liberated by the American 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion on May 6th, 1945. Eventually, he returned to Czechoslovakia, where he spent three years in an orphanage. Max Eisen arrived in Quebec City in October 1949 en route to Toronto, where he met his wife, Ivy Cosman. In 2016, Eisen released his memoir By Chance Alone, which was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize and the winner of the 2019 CBC Canada Reads competition. He died on July 7th, 2022. Max Eisen is survived by his wife, his sons Ed and Larry, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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