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Elie Wiesel Essay, Research Paper
Elie Wiesel’s statement, "…to remain silent and indifferent is the
greatest sin of all…"stands as a summary of his views on life and
the driving force of his work. Wiesel is the author of 36 works dealing with
Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral
responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.
Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of
many Jewish children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world
revolved around family, religious study, community and God. Yet his family,
community and his innocent faith were destroyed upon the deportation of his
village in 1944. Arguably the most powerful and renowned passage
in Holocaust literature, his first book, Night, records the inclusive
of the Jews:
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 that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the
whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke
beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all
eternity, of the desire to live. 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
And Wiesel has since dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget
what happened to the
Jews. Wiesel survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. After the
liberation of the camps in April 1945, Wiesel spent a few years in a French
orphanage and in 1948 began to study in Paris at the Sorbonne. He became
involved in journalistic work with the French newspaper L’arche. He was
acquainted with Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac, who eventually
influenced Wiesel to break his vow of silence and write of his experience in
the concentration camps, thus beginning a lifetime of service.
Wiesel has since published over thirty books, earned the Nobel Peace Prize,
been appointed to chair the President’s Commission on the
Holocaust,awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement and
more. Due to a fateful car accident in New York in 1956, Wiesel spent a
year confined to a wheelchair while recovering. It was during this year that
made the decision to become a U.S. citizen and is still today an active
within our society, as well as fulfilling
his role in Jewish politics around the world.
Wiesel’s job as chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust
was the planning of an American memorial to the victims of the
Holocaust.Wiesel writes that the reason for creating
the museum must include; denying the Nazi’s a posthumous victory,
honoring the last wish of victims to tell, and protecting the future of
from such evil recurring. Always maintaining
his dedicated belief that although all the victims of the Holocaust were not
Jewish, all Jews were victims of the Holocaust, Wiesel advocated placing the
major emphasis of the memorial on the
annihilation of the Jews, while still remembering the murder of other groups.
Guided by the unique nature of the Holocaust and the moral obligation to
remember, the Commission decided to divide and emphasize the museum
into areas of memorial, museum,
education, research, commemoration and action to prevent recurrence. In
order to come to these decisions, a group of 57 members of the Commission
and Advisory Board — including
Senators, Rabbis, Christians, professors, judges, Congressmen, Priests,
Jews, men and women — traveled to Eastern Europe, Denmark and Israel to
study Holocaust memorials and
cemeteries and to meet with other public officials. The emotional pain and
commitment required by such a trip is remarkable, and Wiesel’s leadership is
Wiesel remained chairman of the Committee until 1986. He has aided in the
recognition and remembrance of Soviet Jews, the establishment of Israel and
has dedicated the latter part of his life to the witness of the
and the vital requirement that memory and action be
carried on after the survivors have all left us. Wiesel’s own words are the
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.
1928–born in Sighet, Romania
1944–deported to Auschwitz
Jan.1945–father dies in Buchenwald
Apr.1945–liberated from concentration camp
1948–moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne
1948–work in journalism begins
1954–decides to write about the Holocaust
1956–hit by a car in New York
1958–Night is published
1963–receives U.S. citizenship
1964–returned to Sighet
1965–first trip to Russia
1966–publishes Jews of Silence
1969–married Marion Rose
1972–son is born
1978–appointed chair of Presidential Commission on the Holocaust
1980–Commission renamed U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council
1985–awarded Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement
1986–awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Wiesel’s Night (Cliff Notes) (Paperback – August 1996)
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