I don’t think I have to tell anyone who Elie Wiesel is, but for those who don’t know him, I’ll provide a brief overview.
Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet (in Transylvania, now a part of Romania, but part of Hungary between 1940 and 1945) on 30 September 1928 and grew up in a Chassidic (and thus Orthodox Jewish) family.
After the Nazis had occupied Hungary in 1944, the Wiesel family was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Elie Wiesel’s mother and younger sister were murdered in the gas chamber there. In 1945, Elie and his father were sent on to Buchenwald, where his father died of starvation and dysentery. Seventeen-year-old Elie was still alive when American soldiers opened the camp.
After World War II, Wiesel became a journalist, prolific author, professor, and human rights activist. He was a Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972–1976). In 1976, he became the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also held the title of University Professor. During the 1982–83 academic year, Wiesel was the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in the Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University.
For any further information on Elie Wiesel, I will give you an assignment. We live in an era where nearly any information you want to get is at the reach of your fingertips. Do some research on Elie Wiesel on the internet or go into a library and find one of his books.
The title of this post is a quote from Elie Wiesel of an interview he had with Georg Klein, a fellow Holocaust survivor, in 1986. The clip below is appropriately titled “The world is not learning anything.”
It shames me to admit that Elie was so right, the world isn’t learning from its mistakes and history.
On this day, his birthday, I hope we all pause for a moment and contemplate what world we want to live in. Do we want hate to rule once more? Or do we want love to conquer? I know what I want.
Leaving you with some of Elie’s quotes:
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the centre of the universe.
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