Elie Wiesel: Remembering a Survivor, His Voice
His legacy originates with his story as a Holocaust survivor, but what he leaves behind is so much more.
Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel is being remembered across the world, and while many are mourning the loss of the moral leader, his impact will not be forgotten.
“His is the voice we hear when we teach the Holocaust, when we think about the Holocaust,” said Jeremi Suri.
Wiesel is the most recognized voice from one of history's deadliest genocides.
“And he not only articulated the experiences, the horrible experiences that they suffered, but he was a transmission belt of that voice to a younger generation, including myself,” Suri said.
Elie Wiesel transcended a discussion that, until then, the world had tip-toed around.
“Between the end of World War II and 1960 when he published “Night,” most Jews and non-Jews didn’t talk about the Holocaust,” said Suri.
Wiesel was 15 when he was sent to Auschwitz and spent a year under Nazi control. He was one of the few to survive.
15 years later, in his best-selling memoir "Night," he shared his recurring nightmare with the world.
“He didn’t carry vengeance with him, but he didn’t want to forget,” said Suri. “He brought words to the indescribable.”
Wiesel dedicated his life to fighting hatred and violence.
But perhaps his greatest fight was against silence.
“And the silence of powerful people when genocide occurs,” added Suri.
A criticism he recognized decades ago, still relevant today.
“I think it’s safe to say that Elie Wiesel would be horrified by the anti-Muslim rhetoric, the xenophobia,” said Suri.
In a world that continues to be plagued by cruelty and hatred, it's Weisel's voice that many argue needs to be heard now more than ever.
“That hatred, that we sit by and do nothing about, that’s what Elie Wiesel would condemn,” said Suri. “His warning was that mini-Holocausts occur when good people sit on their hands and let a few bad people take advantage of the circumstances.”
Wiesel was influential in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., one of the most visited museums in the world.
Wiesel was 87 years old.