Elie Wiesel S Background Information


Elie Wiesel S Background Information

Elie Wiesel’s Background Information


Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in the small village of Sighet in the Carpathian Mountains. In May 1944, Germans forced all Sighet Jews into railway cattle cars. The Jews did not know the destination.

The first stop was Kaschau, Czechoslovakia. A few days later, they arrived at the death camp of Auschwitz. Birkenau was the selection and disposal center. Elie and his father survived the physical selection process and were marched to Buna.

In January 1945, the nearness of the liberating Russian army caused the Buna guards to force all of the inmates outside, where they were driven through heavy snow to Gleiwitz. Those who survived were loaded into roofless cattle cars for a freezing ten-day journey to Buchenwald. Elie’s father died a short time later. When the camp was liberated on 10 April 1945, Elie could scarcely recognize himself in the mirror. He thought the face of a cadaver appeared to stare back at him.


In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

"A slim volume of terrifying power" -- The New York Times
"I gain courage from his courage" -- Oprah Winfrey
"No one has left behind him so moving a record." -- Alfred Kazin

Amazon.com: See all Editorial Reviews


Eliezer Wiesel was born on September 20, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania. His parents owned and operated a store, and his mother was also a teacher. He credits his maternal grandfather with his love of storytelling. As a child and adolescent, Wiesel studied the Talmud, Hasidism, and the Kabala. During the years when he was studying so seriously, he thought it was a waste of time to read novels.

Just after Passover in 1944, when Wieisel was 15, the Nazis sent all of the Jews in Singhet to the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He and his father were later transferred to Buchenwald. He was 16 when the war ended and he was released. Wiesel traveled to France and was reunited with his two older sisters.

Wiesel studied at the Sorbonne from 1948 until 1951. He learned the French language and took courses in literature, psychology, and philosophy. He tutored other students, directed a church choir, and worked as a translator to support himself.

Soon after his release from the concentration camps, Wiesel realized that he had a duty as a survivor to let others know what had happened. He was encouraged in this endeavor by Francios Muriac, a Catholic writer whom Wiesel met in Israel. Wiesel's first book, And the World Has Remained Silent, was published in Yiddish in 1956. The abridged, autobiographical version, Night, was published in Paris in 1958. Since then it has been translated into eighteen languages and is his best-known work.

Wiesel traveled to the United States in 1956 to write about the United Nations. He was hit by a taxi cab in Times Square. Since he was unable to return to France to renew his residency papers, he instead applied for United States citizenship. He married another Holocaust survivor, Marion Erster Rose, in New York in 1969.

In 1976 Wiesel became the Andrew W. Mellen Professor in Humanities at BostonUniversity. President Carter named him the chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust and the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Wiesel has received numerous awards and honors. In 1986 alone he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Freedom Cup Award from the Women's League for Israel, the Jacob Javits Humanitarian Award of the UJA Young Leadership, and the Medal of Liberty. He holds membership in many societies including the Authors League, a lifetime membership in the Foreign Press Association, American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, and the Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East. He continues to write and speak for peace and the humanitarian treatment of all peoples.


Note: Elie Wiesel writes in French.

His works are translated into English by his wife.

Only the English titles are given in this list:

1956 And the World Has Remained Silent

1958 Night

1960 Dawn

1962 The Town Beyond the Wall

1964 The Gates of the Forest

1966 Legends of Our Time

1966 The Jews of Silence: A Personal Report on Soviet Jewry

1970 Beggar in Jerusalem

1970 One Generation After

1972 Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters

1973 The Oath

1976 Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends

1978 A Jew Today

1978 Dimension of the Holocaust (with others)

1980 Images from the Bible

1981 The Testament

1982 Somewhere a Master: Further Hasidic Portraits and Legends

1983 The Golem: The Story of a Legend as Told by Elie Wiesel

1985 The Fifth Son

1985 Against Silence: The Voice and Vision of Elie Wiesel

1988 Twilight

1988 The Six Days of Destruction (with Albert Frielandaer)

Revised 31 January 2010