Elie Wiesel

by Madison from Alpine

Peace is not God's gift to his creatures. It is our gift to each other. --Elie Wiesel

Not many people know what a hero Elie Wiesel is, or even who he is, but he is a hero nonetheless. He was born in the small, close-knit Jewish town of Siget, Transylvania (now what is called Romania) on September 30, 1928. He had three siblings, all sisters, was raised an extremely religious Hasidic Jew, and started his studies when he was a small child. His parents encouraged him with his Hebrew and religious studies as well as his secular studies.

Elie's life changed tremendously in 1944, at the age of 15. At this time, the Nazis invaded his town and all of the Jews in the village were deported to concentration camps across Poland. He was separated from his mother and younger sister immediately and he has never seen them again. He managed to stay with his father for one year while they were worked nearly to death through starvation, exhaustion, cold weather with improper clothing, being shuttled in cattle cars, and being beaten regularly. But in the end, his father was murdered by the Nazis in Buchenwald. While living in France, years after his horrible experiences in Auschwitz, Bun, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz, Elie learned that his two older sisters had survived.

In France, he studied philosophy and supported himself by becoming a choir master and teaching Hebrew. He also became a professional journalist. He did not talk about his war experiences for 10 years, and then he wrote a 900 page book called Un die welt hot geshvign (And the World Kept Silent). Later, he compressed this book into a 127 page book called Night.

Since then, he has written about 30 books and spoken out about the horrors of war. Wiesel has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, an appointment to the President's Commission on the Holocaust, the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement, and much more. Elie Wiesel makes it clear that we cannot forget the Holocaust, and that he never will. He honors those who have died and makes sure that none of them will ever be forgotten. He expresses his feelings through these quotes:

“Let us remember, let us remember the heroes of Warsaw, the martyrs of Treblinka, the children of Auschwitz. They fought alone, they suffered alone, they lived alone, but they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them."

“Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe."

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

“I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead, and anyone who does not remember betrays them again."

“That is my major preoccupation --memory, the kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich that kingdom, glorify that kingdom and serve it."

“A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent."

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference."

Two Quotes from Night:

    • “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed... Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." Chapter 3, pg. 32

  • “I shall always remember that smile. From which world did it come?" Chapter 6, pg.86

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings."

“A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent."

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Page created on 5/16/2007 2:54:25 PM

Last edited 11/14/2017 6:35:38 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Elie Wiesel Foundation - To combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogues and youth-focused programs
Elie Wiesel - Nobel Peace Prize 1986
Elie Wiesel - Timeline and Biography
Academy of Achievement: - Read an interview with Elie Wiesel. The Academy of Achievement brings students face-to-face with the extraordinary leaders, thinkers and pioneers who have shaped our world.
"The Perils of Indifference" - The History Place - Great Speeches Collection