Elie Wiesel - Nobel 1986

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel (born September 30, 1928 in Sighet) is a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor.

Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, a little town in Transylvania, (now Sighetu Marmaţiei), Maramureş, Kingdom of Romania. His father, Sholomo Wiesel, was an Orthodox Jew, who instilled a strong sense of humanism in his son, encouraging him to learn modern Hebrew and to read literature, whereas his mother, Sarah, encouraged him to study the Torah and Kabbalah. Wiesel’s early life, spent in a small Hasidic community, was a rather hermetic existence of prayer and contemplation. In 1940 Sighet was annexed by Hungary, and in March 1944 the town was brought into the Holocaust. Within days, Jews were “defined” and their property confiscated. By April they were ghettoized, and on May 15 the deportations to Auschwitz began. Wiesel, his parents, and three sisters were deported to Auschwitz, where his mother and a sister (Tzipora) were killed. He and his father were sent to Buna-Monowitz, the slave labour component of the Auschwitz camp. In January 1945 they were part of a death march to Buchenwald, where his father died on January 28 and from which Wiesel was liberated in April.

After the war Wiesel settled in France, studied at the Sorbonne (1948–51), and wrote for French and Israeli newspapers. Wiesel went to the United States in 1956 and was naturalized in 1963. He was a professor at City College of New York (1972–76), and from 1976 he taught at Boston University, where he became Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities.

During his time as a journalist in France, Wiesel was urged by the novelist François Mauriac to bear witness to what he had experienced in the concentration camps. The outcome was Wiesel’s first book, in Yiddish, Un di velt hot geshvign (1956; “And the World Has Remained Silent”), abridged as La Nuit (1958; Night), a memoir of a young boy’s spiritual reaction to Auschwitz. It is considered by some critics to be the most powerful literary expression of the Holocaust. In the US, Wiesel wrote over 40 books, both fiction and non-fiction, and won many literary prizes.

All of Wiesel’s works reflect, in some manner, his experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust and his attempt to resolve the ethical torment of why the Holocaust happened and what it revealed about human nature. He became a noted lecturer on the sufferings experienced by Jews and others during the Holocaust, and his ability to transform this personal concern into a universal condemnation of all violence, hatred, and oppression was largely responsible for his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. In 1978 U.S. President Jimmy Carter named Wiesel chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, which recommended the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Wiesel also served as the first chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1985, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence, KBE (Knight of The British Empire) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1996. (From Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica)