for being a messenger to mankind: his message is one of peace, atonement and dignity
(1928 - 2016)
Eye-Witness and Messenger
The Jewish author, philosopher and humanist Elie Wiesel made it his life's work to bear witness to the genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II. He was the world's leading spokesman on the Holocaust.
After German forces occupied Hungary in 1944, the Wiesel family was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and killing centre in Poland. Upon arrival, Elie Wiesel's mother and younger sister were murdered in a gas chamber. Wiesel and his father were selected for forced hard labour, and intentionally exposed to starvation, cold and abuse. In early 1945, the two were forced on a death march to Buchenwald concentration camp, where Wiesel’s father became infected by dysentery. He died shortly after their arrival on 29 January. Over the next few months, the guards were killing thousands of prisoners a day. However, seventeen-year-old Elie was still alive when Allied soldiers liberated the camp on 11 April.
For the world to remember and learn from the Holocaust was not Elie Wiesel's only goal. He thought it equally important to fight indifference and the attitude that “it's no concern of mine”. Elie Wiesel saw the struggle against indifference as a struggle for peace. In his words, “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”.