Elie Wiesel: words from a former Prime Minister

July 3, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Community leaders have been joined by a former Australian Prime Minister in mourning the passing of Nobel Peace prize winner and Holocaust chronicler Elie Wiesel.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard told J-Wire: “We honour Elie Wiesel and mourn his passing.  A survivor of the Holocaust, he was witness to its singular horror of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people, and never ceased to call the conscience of the world to account.  A humanitarian, he was wholly dedicated to ensure that never again would such crimes against humanity occur.  Elie Wiesel is no longer among us, but the meaning of his life and teachings will always be with us.”

Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia said: “Elie Wiesel was one of the strongest and most eloquent voices to emerge from the dark night of the Shoah. Now we will have to adjust to a new dawn in a world without one of the Jewish people’s truest giants.”

In his autobiography Night Wiesel wrote, “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never.”

Dr Danny Lamm

Dr Danny Lamm

Lamm added: “Through his powerful writing, Wiesel ensured that generations to come would also remember the horrors of the Shoah. He also encouraged people never to stay silent on any of the world’s injustices and this is what made him such a worthy winner of the Nobel Prize and all of the other accolades he received over the years”.

Wiesel was also a strong supporter of the Jewish State and on a number of occasions was offered to be the President of Israel. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize he said, “I trust Israel, for I have faith in the Jewish people. Let Israel be given a chance, let hatred and danger be removed from her horizons, and there will be peace in and around the Holy Land.”

Lamm commented: “May the words and memory of the great Elie Wiesel be a blessing to his family, his friends and colleagues, and to every single person touched in some way by the poetic wisdom of his writing and activism”.

Prof. Elie Wiesel was Vice Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council in Jerusalem., passed away yesterday at the age of 87 in the United States.  In May 1944, Wiesel, age 15, was deported together with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was selected for forced labor at Auschwitz III-Monowitz, a work subcamp, together with his father. In April 1945, Wiesel was liberated at Buchenwald concentration camp by the Allied Forces. He immigrated to the United States in 1955.

Elie Wiesel at Yad Vashem

Elie Wiesel at Yad Vashem

Prof. Elie Wiesel was an accomplished writer and humanitarian. His famous La Nuit (Night), based on his memoir Und di velt hot geshvign (And the World Remained Silent), became a top-selling book as well as tool for teaching the subject of the Holocaust to youth around the world. Wiesel won numerous awards and prizes including the Nobel Peace Prize. Together with his wife Marion, he founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity whose mission is to “combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality.” (http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org/aboutus.aspx)

Over the years, Wiesel worked closely together with Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, on many projects relating to Holocaust remembrance and education. He served as Vice Chairman of Yad Vashem Council and was involved in the planning of the Holocaust History Museum that opened in 2005 and the design of Yad Vashem’s permanent exhibition “Shoah” in Block 27 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Together with Romanian historian Jean Ancel, Wiesel also led the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, established by former Romanian President in 2003.  “Elie Wiesel was a loyal member of the Jewish nation,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “He dedicated his life to strengthening and ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people throughout the world. As a Holocaust survivor, he was devoted to bearing testimony to the atrocities he witnessed, and did so through his exceptional talents both as a writer and as a gifted orator. Elie believed to his dying day that the world must remember and study about the Holocaust as a unique event for the Jewish nation that has a universal message for all of humanity. Furthermore, Shalev reflected that “Wiesel’s death is a painful reminder that the generation of Holocaust survivors is dwindling each year. Yad Vashem is committed to ensuring their legacy for generations to come.”

The leader of the Australian Labor Party Bill Shorten tweeted:


Elie Wiesel was born in Romania on September 30, 1928

He passed away at the of 87 at his home in Manhattan on  July 2, 2016

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