Wiesel, Elie

orig. Eliezer Wiesel

born Sept. 30, 1928, Sighet, Rom.

Romanian-born U.S. novelist.

Living in a small Hasidic community, Wiesel and his family were deported in 1944 to Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald; his parents and sister were killed. All his works reflect his experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust and his attempt to resolve the ethical torment of why it happened and what it reveals about human nature. They include Night (1958), A Beggar in Jerusalem (1968), The Testament (1980), and The Forgotten (1989). A noted lecturer, he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace for his universal condemnation of violence, hatred, and oppression.

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▪ American author
byname of  Eliezer Wiesel 
born September 30, 1928, Sighet, Romania
 Romanian-born Jewish writer, whose works provide a sober yet passionate testament of the destruction of European Jewry during World War II. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986.

      Wiesel's early life, spent in a small Hasidic community in the town of Sighet, was a rather hermetic existence of prayer and contemplation. In 1940 Sighet was annexed by Hungary, and, though the Hungarians were allied with Nazi Germany, it was not until the Germans invaded in March 1944 that 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 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. His other works include La Ville de la chance (1962; “Town of Luck”; Eng. trans. The Town Beyond the Wall), a novel examining human apathy; Le Mendiant de Jérusalem (1968; A Beggar in Jerusalem), which raises the philosophical question of why people kill; Célébration hassidique (1972; “Hasidic Celebration”; Eng. trans. Souls on Fire), a critically acclaimed collection of Hasidic tales; Célébration biblique (1976; “Biblical Celebration”; Eng. trans. Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends); Le Testament d'un poète juif assassiné (1980; “The Testament of a Murdered Jewish Poet”; Eng. trans. The Testament); Le Cinquième Fils (1983; The Fifth Son); Le Crépuscule, au loin (1987; “Distant Twilight”; Eng. trans. Twilight); Le Mal et l'exil (1988; Evil and Exile [1990]); L'Oublié (1989; The Forgotten); and Tous les fleuves vont à la mer (1995; All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs).

      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.

Additional Reading
Ellen Norman Stern, Elie Wiesel: Witness for Life (1982, reissued 1996), is a biography. Among many critical works on Wiesel's writings are Michael Berenbaum, The Vision of the Void: Theological Reflections on the Works of Elie Wiesel (1979, reissued as Elie Wiesel: God, the Holocaust, and the Children of Israel, 1994); Ted L. Estess, Elie Wiesel (1980); Ellen S. Fine, Legacy of Night: The Literary Universe of Elie Wiesel (1982); Robert McAfee Brown, Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity, rev. ed. (1989); and Carol Rittner (ed.), Elie Wiesel: Between Memory and Hope (1990).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • WIESEL, ELIE — (Eliezer; 1928– ), journalist, novelist, professor, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Born in Sighet, Romania, in a town that became part of Hungary in 1940, Wiesel was raised in a fervently Orthodox and ḥasidic milieu.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Wiesel, Elie — (1928– )    Born in Sighet, Transylvania, Wiesel is a survivor of the Holocaust who, through his novels and personal memoir, Night (1969), dedicated his life to keeping alive the memory of the Shoah. His outspoken condemnation of genocide has… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Wiesel, Elie — ► (n. 1929) Escritor estadounidense. Fue premio Nobel de la Paz en 1986, por su dedicación al estudio de las atrocidades nazis durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. * * * orig. Eliezer Wiesel (sep. 1928, Sighet, Rumania). Novelista estadounidense… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Wiesel, Elie — (b. 1928)    American writer. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania. He was deported with his family to Auschwitz where his mother and sister died. His father died in Buchenwald. After liberation, he continued his education in France and became an… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Wiesel, Elie — (b. 1928)    American author. He was born in Sighet, Romania. A survivor of the concen tration camps, he later lived in Paris and New York. He became a foreign correspondent for an Israeli daily newspaper, and from 1957 worked for the Jewish… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Wiesel, Elie(zer) — Wie·sel (vēʹsəl), Elie(zer). Born 1928. Romanian born writer and lecturer. A survivor of Nazi concentration camps, he is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. He won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. * * * …   Universalium

  • Élie Wiesel — Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel au Congrès américain Eliezer Wiesel, né à Sighet (Roumanie) le 30 septembre 1928, est un écrivain américain de langue française. Il est Prix Nobel de la paix et consacre une par …   Wikipédia en Français

  • WIESEL (É.) — WIESEL ÉLIE (1928 ) Né en 1928 à Sighet, en Transylvanie (Roumanie), Élie Wiesel est déporté dans les camps de Birkenau, Auschwitz, Monovitz, Buchenwald pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Sa mère, sa sœur, son père, ses amis compteront parmi les …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Elie Wiesel — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Wiesel en el Foro Económico Mundial en el 2003 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Élie — Elie oder Élie ist ein männlicher Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Bekannte Namensträger 2.1 Elie 2.2 Élie // …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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