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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

serves as

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

Himself. Never.

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

undeniably noteworthy.

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

1995–publishes memoirs


Wiesel’s Night (Cliff Notes) (Paperback – August 1996)



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