Oprah: Because indifference allows the world to stand by and watch?
Elie: Indifference creates evil.
Oprah: Doesn't hatred create evil?
Elie: Hatred is evil itself. Indifference is what allows evil to be strong, what gives it power.
Oprah: Did you come out of the horror of the Holocaust with your ability to love intact?
Elie: After my liberation, I fell in love with every girl—consecutively. But I would never dare tell a girl that I loved her, because I was timid—and afraid of rejection. I missed so many opportunities because I was afraid to say what I felt. I needed to love more than I needed to be loved. I needed to know that I could love—that after all I had seen, there was love in my heart.
Oprah: Do you remember the day you were released from the camp?
Elie: April 11, 1945. The Americans were close by, and a few days before that, on April 5, the Germans had decided to evacuate all the Jews. Every day, they would evacuate thousands—and most were killed upon leaving. I was in a children's block with other adolescents, and we were left until the end. [But every day we marched to the gate anyway.] I was near the gate more than five times before I was released, and each time, the gate closed just before I came to it.
Oprah: How do you explain that you survived the camps?
Elie: I have no explanation.
Oprah: You—someone who has studied the Talmud, the Cabala—have no explanation?
Elie: Believe me, I have tried to know, but I do not. If it is God, I have problems with that. If he bothered to save me, why couldn't he have saved all the others? There were people worthier than I.
Oprah: Don't you think your survival has something to do with who you've become and what you've said to the world about the Holocaust?
Elie: No, no, no. The price is too high. Because I survived, I must do everything possible to help others.
Oprah: After you were liberated, what did you do?
Elie: The first thing many of us did was reassemble to say a prayer for the dead. Then I went to an orphanage in France. That's when I began to live again. I was reunited with my two sisters by accident. [Wiesel was reunited with his sister Hilda in 1945 in Paris, and then Bea several months later in Antwerp, Belgium.]
We Hear You!