Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a Holocaust survivor Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel died Saturday at the age of 87.
Wiesel first rose to public acclaim after his best-selling memoir, “Night,” was published, which described his ordeals during Nazi Germany’s Third Reich and is ranked with “The Diary of a Young Girl [Anne Frank]” as a standard reference on the Holocaust.
His death was confirmed on Twitter by Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, after being first reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Yad Vashem mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel-Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, renowned author https://t.co/YhyhrvZqhl
— Yad Vashem (@yadvashem) July 2, 2016
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Wiesel “a powerful force for light, truth and dignity,” and Obama referred to him as “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world,” according to Fox News.
he Wiesel family’s lives were seriously disrupted in 1940, when Hungary annexed Sighet and all the Jews in town were forced to move into one of two ghettoes. In May 1944, the Nazis, with Hungary’s agreement, deported the Jewish community of Sighet to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The teenage Wiesel was sent with his father Shlomo to the Buna Werke labor camp, a sub-camp of Auschwitz III-Monowitz, where they were forced to work for eight months before being transferred to a series of other concentration camps near the war’s end.
Wiesel’s father, mother Sarah and younger sister Tzipora all died during and as a result of the Holocaust.
At the war’s end he was sent to an orphanage in Écouis, France, where he was reunited with his older sisters, Beatrice and Hilda — the only surviving members of his immediate family.
Wiesel’s first and most famous work, “Night,” started out in the mid-1950s as an 800-page Yiddish manuscript. After going through numerous revisions and language changes, it was eventually published in the United States in 1960 at just over 100 pages.
“’Night’ is the most devastating account of the Holocaust that I have ever read,” wrote Ruth Franklin, a literary critic and author of “A Thousand Darknesses,” a study of Holocaust literature that was published in 2010.
“There are no epiphanies in ‘Night’. There is no extraneous detail, no analysis, no speculation. There is only a story: Eliezer’s account of what happened, spoken in his voice.”
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