Credit: Elie Wiesel by Sergey Bermeniev
Elie Wiesel is an author, scholar and Holocaust survivor. He witnessed unspeakable horrors during World War II as 6 million Jews were wiped off the face of this Earth, including his own family. In Night, Wiesel recalls his childhood before the Nazis ripped him from his hometown and the daily terrors he endured inside the German death camps. However painful this autobiographical work is to read, Night is a testament to memories, wounds and losses. Each chapter raises questions that have haunted the world since Hitler's rise: How could the world allow such a staggering number of innocents to be persecuted and executed? Why does one man survive when his body, mind and spirit are brutalized for months, even years, when his neighbor—or father—does not? Night is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and the legacy it left behind.
Elie (short for Eliezer) Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania (a town in northern modern-day Romania near the meeting of the Hungarian and Ukrainian borders). He was 15 years old when he and his family were deported by the Gestapo to Auschwitz and separated.
After the war, Wiesel spent a few years in a French orphanage. In 1948, he began his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and began to work for the French newspaper L'arche. Though he had become involved in journalism, Wiesel had never shared his own personal experiences during the war. Over time, Wiesel became acquainted with the distinguished French Catholic writer and Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac, who finally inspired Wiesel to break his self-imposed vow of silence and write about surviving the Nazi concentration camps.
The result was a nearly 900-page personal account, And the World Remained Silent, written in Yiddish and published in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1956. Two years later, a compressed, 127-page French version called La Nuit (Night) was published. In 1960, the first English translation was published. Since then, Night has been translated into more than 30 languages. A new 2006 edition, translated by his wife, Marion Wiesel, offers the most accurate English translation of the work to date. And in a substantive new preface, Elie Wiesel reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Wiesel has dedicated his life to speaking out against hatred, bigotry and genocide. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Elie Wiesel as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and was instrumental in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Considered one of the premier humanists of modern times, he has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Liberty Award and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor.
In 1963, Wiesel became a U.S. citizen, and he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University since 1976. Wiesel and his wife have one son, Shlomo-Elisha, named after his father.
Read Oprah's interview with Elie Wiesel.
Published on January 16, 2006