The Life of Elie Wiesel
By: Cory Marks
Elie Wiesel is a writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize and was also a Holocaust survivor. Wiesel has written many books but his most famous is Night which he describes his experiences during the Holocaust where he survived living in the concentration camps. His book Night has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold millions of copies eventually leading up to number one on the New York Times bestseller list in 2006.
Elie Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928 in Romania to an Orthodox Jewish father and a Hasidic mother. Elie grew up with his mother, father, and three sisters in the town of Sighet. In 1940, Wieselís small town was annexed to be a part of Hungary and in 1944; Wieselís family was placed into a ghetto of Sighet. In May of that year, the Hungarian police transferred all of the Jewish people in their town to Auschwitz concentration camp. Immediately after the Wiesel family arrived at Auschwitz, Elie and his father were separated from his mother and sisters. He never his mother and one sister again and then found out years later that his mother and youngest sister were killed in the gas chambers at the concentration camp. Elieís father tried to protect his son during their time at Auschwitz by giving Elie his portions of food and standing in front of his son to guard him from the soldiers and other people in Auschwitz. Eventually in 1945 just a couple months before the Americans liberated the concentration camps, Wieselís father died due to the horrible conditions that they suffered at the camp.
After being liberated Elie was placed in a French orphanage and was eventually reunited with two of his sisters who also survived the turmoil at Auschwitz. In France, Wiesel was very hesitant to talk about his experiences during the Holocaust, due to the fact that it was such a depressing moment in his life. But when he met Francois Mauriac, who won the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, Mauriac convinced Wiesel to tell the world about his life during the Holocaust. Later, Wiesel wrote Night to show to the world the hardship he faced during the Holocaust.
In the book Night, Wiesel tells his story through a young boyís experiences named Eliezer. This book is considered to be a memoir of Wiesel experiences during the Holocaust at Auschwitz. He decided to write the book at that time because people believed that the Holocaust was not as bad as the media made it out to be. Wiesel wanted to show the world through his book how terrible the ordeal was and how painful it was to go through especially as a young boy. Wiesel retells his story by using descriptive words to make it extremely passionate and it makes the readers feel like they were placed into the concentration camps and going through the same things Wiesel went through.
In 1955, Wiesel moved to New York City and eventually became a United States citizen. While in the United States, Wiesel wrote more books and won several literary prizes. Historians believe that Wiesel, through his writings and speeches, gave the Holocaust its present definition. In 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize and helped to orchestrate the building of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Currently, Wiesel does many public speeches across the country to talk about human rights and express how important they are for the world. Wiesel made a couple of visits back to Auschwitz, particularly one visit in 2006 when he went with Oprah Winfrey to be broadcasted on her television show.
Elie Wiesel is a very important person because he was able to express through his writing the events that occurred during the Holocaust. This time in history is very important to me, because of the millions of Jewish people that were killed during it. The Holocaust was a very horrible time for the Jewish people in Europe, who were sent to concentration camps just because of the religion they believed in. Millions of Jewish people died either from the Nazis killing them directly or from starvation and exhaustion from living in the unbearable conditions at the camps. Wieselís publications of his experiences during the Holocaust will be around for a very long time because it will teach the children of the future about this horrible event even though it happened a long time before these children have been born. Wiesel uses his public speaking abilities to show why the Holocaust actually happened and to voice his opinion on how the world should not do the same things that occurred in Europe. Even after Wiesel retires from public speaking in the future, his speeches and ideals will carry on for years to come.
"Elie Wiesel-Biography." 1 Feb. 2008. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-bio.html.
"Elie Wiesel." Wikipedia. 1 Feb. 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elie_Wiesel.