Elie Wiesel

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 children, 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.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read the book, NIght, and these words about his first night in Auschwitz as a young boy. I only know that I have never read anything that has conveyed a moment in time as powerfully as this passage.

You don’t have to be of a certain faith or race to appreciate his life and words. You only have to be human.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel

Among Mr. Wiesel’s many awards are the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He helped establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has campaigned for victims of oppression all over the world, including those in South Africa, Nicaragua and Sudan, among many others.

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

If you have never read the book, NIght, I encourage you to do so. It’s a very short book, but as we’ve learned, the most important lessons of life rarely require elaboration.

No human race is superior; no religious race is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.
Elie Wiesel

We should listen closely to his words today, because as much as the world has changed, nothing has really changed.

Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving; the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking; For God’s sake, where is God? And from within me I heard a voice answer: Where is he? This is where–hanging from this gallows…

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

God rest his soul.

 

55 thoughts on “Elie Wiesel

      1. colinandray

        I am very familiar Anne Frank, and the voyage of the ship St. Louis. I firmly believe that if the holocaust is ever forgotten; if we ever forget the depths of depravity that humans can fall to………. if all that is ever forgotten, then we as a species are in serious trouble.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. DailyMusings

    I remember reading Night in Middle School- it haunted me for a long time. Such an amazing man who accomplished so much in his lifetime. Thank you for this post George

    Like

    Reply
  2. vanbytheriver

    A brilliant man, a powerful testament to a tragic, shameful part of our human experience. It’s hard to believe he lived 7 decades beyond the nightmare.

    An important post here, thanks, George. 💔

    Like

    Reply
  3. colorpencil2014

    I read Night years ago, and it haunted me, it still does. It wanted to crab my children and hold them close to me and never let go. It made me cry with anger and despair. It is only right to pay honor and tribute to Mr. Wiesel for is honest, raw story. It must have been hell to write it all down. Thank you George, Johanna

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      I think I read somewhere that didn’t want to write about for at least ten years. Maybe he needed time to try and find words, as if words could ever really relay the depths of those who suffered and died there.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. In My Cluttered Attic

    He wrote what he saw—just as it was—pulling no punches. A forever living indictment of mans inhumanity to his fellow man. And if that doesn’t move humanity in mass to rise up in one way or another against injustice and hate, then there is no hope for all of humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        It’s almost like we’re obstinately avoiding the idea of learning from the past. It’s as if we’re afraid that we might actually benefit from such an undertaking. I guess there’s nothing like practicing stupid to make us an expert at it.

        Like

      2. George Post author

        That’s a great last line. You’re right, it’s almost a sense of arrogance on our part. Like we’re smarter and know better than those who came before us. How short sighted we are.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Coleman

    Thank you for this post, George. I believe “Night” is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. And years ago, when I learned that Elie Wiesel was speaking at a University near me, I knew I had to go and see this man in person. He gave a very moving talk, even though at times I struggled to understand his accent. I don’t know how he found the strength to write so honestly about his experiences as a holocaust victim, but I am so glad he did. I just wish that more of us could learn the lesson he was trying to teach us.

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Ann. He was a pretty amazing guy and you’re right it must have taken such strength to write as honestly and with such emotion as he did. I wish I had the opportunity to hear him in person. That must have been such a special moment for you in spite of his accent. If only society can learn from the lessons of so many.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Kim Gorman

    This is a beautiful tribute to an amazing. man. I read Night twice; once in college and once again on my own. He could have let his experience leave him bitter and broken, but instead he chose to use it as a way to make positive change in the world. Such a moving memoir and I’m so glad you wrote about him. It’s a reminder that no matter what our religion, ethnic or racial background, gender, or whatever else, we’re all human. If we forget this, we’re lost. Thank you for posting this, George.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Ilona Elliott

    Thank you George. What a powerful post. My heart is in my throat. I pray that the end of his earthly life will encourage many more to read his words and be awakened by them. There are too many people, here and abroad, flirting with some of the same rationalizations that led to the political climate which preceded the rise of fascism and the resulting holocaust.

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Ilona. That point about the rise of racism has certainly been made during this election year. Like you, I pray there is a new appreciation for his life and words but unfortunately our society is not that intuitive.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. homeschoolbum

    George, this post will stay with me, that I have no doubt. I must read this book. You said ‘You only have to be human’ amongst your words, if only we all used that as the catalyst for change. For those who think they do not qualify to be change makers, the prerequisite should be ‘you only have to be human’….

    Like

    Reply
  9. Barb Knowles

    I wish every American would read “Night.” I’ve read it 3 times, I think, and I agree with you about his succinct and moving descriptions. Perhaps we should read it every year. Perhaps our politicians should read it at least every 4 years. I like what your reader above said “it will touch your soul.” Wonderful post.

    Like

    Reply
  10. Joanna Lynn

    I cannot even imagine the atrocities they endured. I took 8 years of German, so I know more than many how horrible it was because my HS teacher felt is was important we know the history of the Holocaust, but I still can’t imagine living it.

    Like

    Reply
  11. Browsing the Atlas

    I had the great privilege of hearing Elie Wiesel speak a few years ago. What an incredible person. I attended a book signing/talk from Holocaust survivor Michael Kraus last week. Another incredible story of surviving. Each story needs to be heard. They are each one unique.

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      That really was a great privilege and experience. You’re right, each story does need to be heard and there is an urgency since the number of survivors are shrinking each year. Thankfully many of these stories are documented for future generations. Hopefully lessons will be learned.
      Thank you for reading.

      Like

      Reply
  12. roughwighting

    I’ve always considered Elie a type of prophet, perhaps even a saint, delivered to us to yes, never let us forget the horror of what humans can do to each other, but to also remind us of the great amount of wisdom, love, insight within us all, if we only allow it to be free of the other ‘crap’ within us. I studied Eile’s work when I was in my 30s, a young mom, going to weekly classes on his writings and his life. I think his words changed my life. I attended one of his ‘talks’ in San Francisco in the late 1990’s. AMAZING. He spoke of love, faith, hope, fear, horror, but always love in his soft voice full of… wisdom and kindness. What a human being. What a spirit.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s