Elie Wiesel “was born on September 30, 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now known as Romania.” (The Story of Elie Wiesel, 2003) He grew up speaking in different kind of languages. He “spoke Yiddish at home, Hungarian, Romanian and German in public.” (The Hall of Public Service, 2003) Elie had 2 older sisters and 1 younger sister. Elie loved mystical, traditional and folk tales of the Hassidic sect of Judaism. When going to school, Elie learned how to speak in Hebrew. Elie’s father in the time, encouraged Elie to study the modern Hebrew language and concentrate on his secular studies. The most important thing in his life was his religious book. The people that influenced Elie is, his grandfather, mother and father. His father taught him how to reason and how to reach his mind. It was not until at the age 15, where him and his family were deported. At that very time, life would never be the same. Elie Wiesel with all that happened, struggled to survive and as a result became a successful writer in telling others of his story.
“In 1944, the village of Sighet were deported to the concentration camps in Poland.” (Elie Wiesel Bio, 2003) “The train full of deportees had crossed the Hungarian frontier and on Polish territory had been taken in charge by the Gestapo.” (Night, 2003) Upon arrival in Auschwitz, the family were separated immediately from mother and sister. However, he managed to stay with his father. For the next year, they worked almost to death; starved, beaten, and shuttled from the camp to camp either on foot, in open cattle cars, or in driving snow without food, proper shoes nor clothing. In the last months of war, Elie’s father was succumbed to dysentery, starvation, exhaustion and exposure. As a result, his father passed in Buchenwald. Elie had no one. His father, mother and younger sister, by the name of Tzipora all died at the hands of the Nazis. “Babies were thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets.” (Night, 2003) Elie survived the forced labor, forced marches, starvation, disease and all the beating that went around. Elie knew somehow that, the first night, his mother and little sister would be swept away by the fire. It was not until after WWII, when he found out that his mother and younger sister Tzipora died in the gas chambers. Out of Elie’s family, along with him, his 2 older sister survived as well. Elie was sent to Buna, Gleiwitz, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz. At the age of 14, he was taken to the concentration camps in Czechoslovakia and Germany where he almost lost his foot to the cold, but luckily Elie was fortunate to have had surgery on it. As Elie was being deported to Auschwitz, Madame Schater was on the same train as well. She lost her mind and went crazy on the train screaming out hysterically. “Fire! I can see a fire! I can see a fire! “Look! Look at it! Fire! A terrible fire! Mercy! Oh, that fire! Е Jews, listen to me! I can see a fire! There are huge flames! It is a furnace! “Look at the fire! Flames, flames everywhere” (Night, 2003) Dr. Mengele was the one whom decides who goes to the gas chambers. Elie has seen him in Birkenau and in Buna. In Buna, he meant Jouliek whom was a violist and made friends with Yosia and Tibi. He made a friend by the name of Alphonse whom would give him extra soup whenever and wherever possible. Zalmen worked at the Buna warehouse, sad for him; he got a stomach cramp and was on his way to the bathroom where he was then trampled. On the other hand, Mier Katz was the one who saved Elie’s life when someone tried to strangle him on the train to Buchenwald. Sadly, Katz died when he gave up trying to fight the camps. As time went by, and all the Jews were trying their best to survive… it was not until “April of 1945 where the concentration camps were liberated.” (World Book W-Z, 2003)
Once the camp was liberated, Elie was sent to France along with four hundred other orphans. It was in France where Elie learned for the first time that his two older sisters survived the war. In 1948, Elie moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. He was involved in journalistic work with the French newspaper, L’arche. Elie was acquainted with the Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac. While “at Sorbonne, Elie mastered the French language and studied philosophy. He supported himself as a choirmaster and a teacher of Hebrew. Elie later on became a professional journalist, where he wrote newspapers for and in both France and Israel.” (The Hall of Public Service, 2003) Elie wrote for the Israeli Yediot Archonot. Elie vowed since his experience from the camps that he would not write about it. However, that all changed. When Elie met Francois Mauriac, the Nobel laureate, Elie then broke the vow. He was convinced to write about the Holocaust. Elie did so over thirty times. Elie later on in his life earned the Nobel Peace Prize was appointed commission on the Holocaust, awarded Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement and many more other awards. “Appointed in 1978, as chairman of the President’s Commissioner of the Holocaust, his job was to plan an American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. They made a museum honoring the Jews who were killed by Hitler and the Nazis. The museum denied Nazis as a posthumous victory, honoring the last wishes of the victims to tell and protect the future of humanity from such evil from recurring. The museum was divided into five areas by the commission, which were made up of 57 people. The commission of the 57 people included people like senators, Rabbis, Christians, professors, judges, congressman, priests, Jews, men and women. The five areas that were divided were memorial, museum, education, research, and commemoration and actions to make sure that the problems don’t reoccur.” (The Story of Elie Wiesel, 2003) In “1980, Elie became the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He was also the founding President of the Paris based Universal Academy of Cultures. He received over 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning. Teaching has always been central to Elie.” (Elie Wiesel Bio, 2003) Elie Wiesel later on in his life, dedicated to the establishment of the second-generation and that the memory and action be carried on. Elie Wiesel “remained chairman of the committee until the year of 1986.” (Elie Wiesel Bio, 2003)
As Elie vowed never to write about his experiences of the Holocaust, it changed. From his experience, he dedicated his life to ensure that none will forget what happened to the Jews. He was inspired by Francois Mauriac to write about the concentration camps and the Holocaust. Elie ended up writing over 40 books both fiction or non-fiction. His first book was written in 1954, it was called, “And the World Remained Silent.” This was a 900-page volume about the Holocaust and his experiences in the concentration camps. Two years after he wrote the first book, he wrote “Night”. Night is a 127-page novel. His literature is all a piece of his life. To Wiesel, “Night is a somber, moving memoir to his faith-destroying experience in the death camps. The novel, Night was the foundation.” (Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Surivior: Story and Silence, 2003) When Elie took a trip to the Soviet Union, he took an increasing interest in the persecuted Jews. His travel to the Soviet Union is reported in “The Jews of Silence”. At the same time, Elie Wiesel also wrote plays, essay and short stories as well as novels both fiction and non-fiction.
Throughout all that he went through in the concentration camp, his belief is true through it all. For a Jew, Judaism and humanity all must go together. “To be Jewish today, is to recognize that every person is created in the image of God and that our purpose in living is to be a reminder of God.” (The American Jewish Committee, 2003) Elie rejected all fanaticism anywhere and everywhere. It is said that “You must be sensitive to pain of all human beings. You cannot remain indifferent to human suffering. The mission of the Jewish people has never been to make the world more Jewish, but to make it more human.” (The American Jewish Committee, 2003)
“Since 1976, he has always been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor, where he also holds the title of University Professor. He is a member of the faculty in the Department of Religion and in Philosophy. He has served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York from 1972-1976. He was the first Henry Luc Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University.” (Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, 2003) Elie pleads for oppressed people in the Soviet Union, South Africa, Vietnam, Biatra and Bangladesh. Elie Wiesel has lectured at colleges all around the United States. He still writes books in French with his wife, Marion. They both work together and collaborate on their English translation. Few months after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, both, his wife and himself established the, “Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.” Elie Wiesel “became an U.S. citizen since 1963 and homes now in New York with his family, wife and son, Elisha.” (Elie Wiesel Bio, 2003) Elie Wiesel with all that happened, struggled to survive and as a result became a successful writer in telling others of his story.
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