The Trent community is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Max Eisen, renowned speaker, author, Holocaust survivor, and honorary degree recipient, who dedicated his life to educating future generations about human rights and the horrors of the Holocaust.
A member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Eisen has received many other accolades and awards for his tireless efforts, including: a Ministry of Citizenship and Culture certificate for volunteering; the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Award of Valour; the V’Ahavta, Tikun Olam Award for helping to heal the world through education; and several honorary degrees – the first of which was presented by Trent University in 2018. At Convocation ceremonies at the Durham GTA campus, Dr. Eisen was recognized for his efforts in the area of Holocaust education and promotion of human rights. Dr. Eisen was well-known to the Trent community, sharing his story with students, faculty, staff and community members on several occasions, most recently in April 2021.
”Max Eisen’s dedication to Holocaust education made him not only an important educator but also an extraordinary Canadian,” said Trent history professor Dr. Carolyn Kay, and friend of Dr. Eisen.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1929, Dr. Eisen was the only member of his large orthodox Jewish family to survive the Holocaust. Dr. Eisen survived slave labour in Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee Camps and was forced to go on a Death March in January of 1945 where thousands died from exposure to severe weather conditions and malnutrition. He was liberated from the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria in 1945 as an orphaned teenager.
After his arrival in Toronto in 1949, he studied English and worked a variety of jobs before launching his own manufacturing company in 1964. Considered a respected pioneer in his industry, Dr. Eisen retired in 1992.
As a first-hand witness and a survivor, Dr. Eisen was devoted to educating others about the Holocaust, encouraging understanding, and teaching about the dangers of hatred and discrimination in society. Through his involvement with the Holocaust Education Centre of Toronto, Dr. Eisen spoke extensively with students, community groups, police forces, and the media. His impactful visits were often incorporated into teaching curriculums.
Dr. Eisen’s acclaimed memoir, By Chance Alone, won the 2019 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads and was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize in 2017.
The University extends heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Eisen, and to all who knew him at Trent. In honour of Dr. Eisen, the flag atop the Bata Library will be lowered to half-mast position on July 8, the day of his funeral.