Noted human rights activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has passed away. He was 87 years old.
Wiesel was born September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now in Romania. His family was Jewish and during World War II they, along with hundred of thousands of other Romanian Jews, were persecuted by the Nazis. In 1944 Wiesel and his family were sent to concentration camps. Wiesel first went to Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald, where he father died just weeks before the American Third Army liberated the camp. His mother and one of his three sisters also died in concentration camps.
After the war Wiesel became a journalist, writing for French and Israeli publications. In 1955 he moved to Washington, D.C. after becoming a U.S. citizen. It was in 1954 when Wiesel wrote And the World Remained Silent that eventually was shortened and became his best known work, Silent. It was first published in Buenos Aires, Argentina as the original manuscript, and then in France and finally, in 1960, in the United States.
In the book Wiesel described the horror of the Nazi concentration camps, much of it introverted on himself and how he lost his faith in God and humanity. Since then his writing, which includes more than 50 books and countless essays and news articles, has become an important and influential part of Holocaust literature.
Wiesel has received many awards in his lifetime, including the Nobel Prize for peace, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, here in the United States. besides his career has a writer and journalist Wiesel pursued peace as well as fighting against racism, anti-semitism and persecution for religious beliefs. He returned an award in Romania after that government honored a member of the World War II era government that allowed the Germans to deport and murder hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews. He railed against the genocide in Bosnia, and Apartheid in South Africa.
He was not without controversy. Some of his fellow Holocaust survivors took out an ad in several publications condemning Wiesel’s justification for the Israeli bombings of Gaza that killed thousands of Palestinians, including children.
Elie Wiesel will be remembered as one of the last voices of the Holocaust survivors and an activist for peace and human rights and dignity. He is survived by his wife Marion and son Shlomo Elisha Wiesel.
Photo above from YouTube, Elie Wiesel accepting the 2012 William O. Douglas Award.
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