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Elie Wiesel Biography

By austinanderson23 May 14, 2013 2204 Words
Austin Anderson
May 5,2013
Mrs. Griffin
English 3 Honors
This is going to be my biography on Elie Wiesel. He’s a very famous man for multiple reasons. He survived the Holocaust which is a very amazing thing, especially since he was at one of the worst concentration camps you could possibly be at, Auschwitz. I’m going to do an in depth biography on Elie’s life from when he was a young boy up until now. Elie has lived a very amazing life and a very fortunate at that, not many people can say they have survived the Holocaust and lived so long after it as well. Childhood

Elie was born on September 30,1928 in Sighet, Transylvania (which would later become present day Romania). Wiesel says “I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death” (page: 5). This was Wiesel not believing he was going to be able to survive the torture of the concentration camps he was experiencing. His name given to him at birth was Eliezer Wiesel. His parents, Sarah and Shlomo had four children. Elie was the 3rd child and the only boy out of all four children. Elie had an interest in learning about Hebrew Literature, he acquired his liking for this from his father. Shlomo was the owner of a grocery store and Sarah was the son of a farmer. The Wiesel Family grew up in a very small village. They used Yiddish as there language they use around the house. Elie learned how to speak Hungarian, Romanian and Germany. Elie as a young boy enjoyed folk tales and mystical storys about Hassidic sect of Judaism. Elie had to experience people on the train that were starving, including him and would literally kill for food. The Wiesel family was on the train to Auschwitz-Birkenau for about three days at the beginning of June in the year 1944. The prisoners traveling to the death camps including the Wiesel’s would eat the snow because it was just about all they could eat because they were not provided anything to eat, besides bread. The amount of bread the German guards would throw into each train car was ridiculously small for the amount of people in the cars. Elie witnessed a young boy in his train car kill his own father over a piece of bread. Imagine going through this being at the age of 15. Elie arrived at Birkenau and spent the night there and then the next day was sent over to Auschwitz. Elie was given the number A-7713, which was tattooed on his arm upon arrival to the death camps. Elie and his family along with other people going into the concentration camps were told that they were a “labor camp”, and that the working conditions were good and families would not be divided. The people told them that the young would work in the factories and the old and sick would work out in the fields. Right before Elie arrived at Birkenau they started to understand that it wasn’t a “labor camp” they were all going to. He and others started seeing barbed wire and he started to smell a strange stench, this was the smell of burning flesh. Elie along with everyone else were greeted by the German Nazi’s and told to leave everything behind in the train and get out now. This is when Elie and everyone else new that they had arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

While Elie was in the concentration camp of Auschwitz he encountered many unimaginable things. It was cruel that Elie was split up from 2 of his sisters and especially his mother. I can’t imagine how it would be to deal without your mom when he was that young. Elie says "When they withdrew, next to me were two corpses, side by side, the father and the son. I was fifteen years old."(Wiesel Pg.96) This is showing how brutal this kind of experience the Holocaust was at the age of only 15 years old. Elie and his father, Shlomo ended up going to the same concentration camp though. They were both sent to a attached work camp called Buna. It was a subcamp of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Monowitz. Elie and his father stuck together through eight long months of terrible living conditions and almost starving to death. Wiesel says in his famous book “Night” “Was there a single place here where you were not in danger of death?"(Wiesel pg.37) this meaning that there was always a slight fear of death at the camps and that your life could be at risk at any moment in the concentration camp. The last couple days they were at the concentration camps Elie and his father were moved amongst 3 different camp which I can imagine would be very stressful. Elie says in “Night” "We were all going to die here. All limits had been passed. No one had any strength left. And again the night would be long.")Wiesel pg.98) This is him loosing hope in making it threw this harsh Genocide. Also Wiesel says"After my father's death, nothing could touch me any more."(Wiesel Pg.107) this also about Shlomo about how this is the worst thing that could happen to him, his own fathers death. Him and his father marched to Buchenwald in January of 1945, on April 6th a few days before the U.S. Third Army liberated the concentration camp as many as 10,000 people are killed each day at Buchenwald. Elie’s father dies of dysentery. Elie says in his book “Night” this, "I was thinking of my father. He must have suffered more than I did."(Wiesel Pg.56) This is Wiesel saying his father had suffered more than him because of how horrible his death was, he made it basically all the way through the Holocaust and died right before he would have been saved. The Third Army liberates the camp on April 11, 1945. Once Wiesel was released from the concentration camp he ended up falling ill first and wrote an outline for a book about his experiences of the holocaust and later became a professional journalist. Before he becomes the journalist though, he had a couple other jobs. He spent some time at a French orphanage and also later in 1948 went to Paris, France to study at The Sorbonne. Elie ended up becoming a Journalist for the French newspaper L’arche. At first Wiesel didn’t want to publish his writings about his experiences at the concentration camps but eventually his acquaintance, Francois Mauriac talked him into spewing his information about the camps he had to go through. He has written over 30 books. Wiesel’s first published piece was a 900 page memoir called “Un di velt hot geshvign” it was published in the language he grew up using, Yiddish. This piece was published in Buenos Aires. Later Wiesel revised this piece and shortened it up into a 127 page book in French. This time it was called “La nuit”. This is the book that would later be translated into English into the famous book called “Night”. In March of 2006 there was a total from the day “Night” was first published that over 6 million copies had been sold. “The Trial of God” is another one of Wiesel’s famous books it is about his real-life experience at Auschwitz witnessing three Jews that were on the brink of death conduct a trial against god. In 1955 Wiesel moved to New York City as a foreign correspondent for Yediot Ahronot. Elie was injured in a car accident and had to be in a wheelchair and had to stay past his visa expiration so he was offered U.S. citizenship to solve this problem. Most people can agree that Wiesel is definitely one of the pioneers of Holocaust writings. Wiesel has written over 40 fiction and non-fiction books in his lifetime and we don’t even know if he is done yet because he is still around! The second novel that Elie had published was in 1961 it was called “Dawn”. This book was about another fellow concentration camp survivor. One of his pieces called “A Begger In Jerusalem” earned him one of France’s top literary rewards the Prix Medicis. After most these books in 1969 Wiesel ended up marring a women that was married before. Her name was Marion Erster Rose she was from Austria, her and Elie would end up having a son, and naming him after Elie’s father Shlomo. Elie’s wife would translate all of Elie’s books that he wrote in foreign languages. Wiesel would continue to write throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. For examples he wrote”The Trial Of God” in 1977 it was about a man questioning God’s hostility, cruelty and indifference. Wiesel slowly started to drift away from calling God his caretaker. Most of Wiesel’s books are based around the same themes : Tragedy and joy, Madness and hope, the fragility of meaning and the quest for faith. Elie was a very successful writer and first, not many people would make it out of the Holocaust alive and after that end up living so long and writing many books about his experiences in the Holocaust. He also wrote a lot of things that had to do with religion. Some examples of his religious type books are “Zalman” or also called “Madness of God”. This book was about what would happen to a rabbi that had spoken out against the Soviets on Yom Kippur Eve. Wiesel also wrote “Five Biblical Portraits” a book about five major people in the Jewish religion: Saul, Jonah, Jerimiah, Elijah, and Joshua. These are some people that have played a major role in the Jewish religion. Many people seem to say the same thing about Wiesel’s books, they mostly all say that his books are packed with information and very significant. In 1985 the “Night Trilogy” came out it was Elie’s first memoir and his first two novels: “Night, Dawn and Day”. In 1986, Elie Wiesel was awarded with the “Nobel Peace Prize” a very prestigious award. Elie was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in literature, there are Chemistry,Physics, psychology and medical Nobel awards too. Mr. Wiesel won many awards after the Nobel Peace Prize but I don’t think any of those awards can match up to the caliber of the Nobel Peace Prize, not many people can say that they are a part of the elite winners of the Prize. Some of the other awards he won are Profiles in Courage award from B’nai B’rith in 1987. This medal was award to him for risking his career going against God. Wiesel also earned the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” for his exceptional qualities in his personal life as well as his qualities in his professional life. Another significant award Elie has earned was him being named as the Humanitarian of the Century by the Council of Jewish Organization. Elie has earned as of now 18 doctorate degrees from colleges ranging from colleges like Michigan State and all the way to the University of Warsaw in Poland. Earning a doctorates degree from one of the countries that the holocaust was in is kind of ironic to me. Elie and his wife Marion later found the “Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity” which gives many awards for people and they even do awards for college juniors and seniors.

Elie Wiesel’s story about surviving the Holocaust is a very touching story. He goes very deep into his personal experiences and I cant imagine explaining all of the harsh memories he had to the public. It must have been a very uneasy thing to do. Sources

Primary Source: "Elie Wiesel - Biography". 30 Apr 2013 This website gave me a lot of background information on Elie Weisel. For example where he was born and what he did prior to extermination camps. Primary Source: "Elie Wiesel." 2013. The Famous People website. Apr 30 2013, 03:50 This website talks about the books Elie wrote in his lifetime. It also talks about the awards he has one and what they were for. Secondary Source: "Elie Wiesel Bio." Elie Wiesel Bio. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013 This gives you an in-depth timeline of Elie’s life. Its talks about him becoming a U.S. citizen also.

Secondary Source: A+E Networks. "Elie Wiesel Biography." A&E Networks Television, 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. This website informs you that Elie is a world activist. As well as a international activist, speaking out against bad calls by the government in other countries.

Secondary Source: "Elie Wiesel Biography." -- Academy of Achievement. N.p., 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. This talks about how Elie was in a car accident with a taxi cab. This accident left him in a wheelchair for about a year.

Secondary Source: "Elie Wiesel." Elie Wiesel. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. This website give you a more in depth point of view on Elie’s Religion. It talks about how he became a college professor as well.

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