SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor died at the age of 87 on Saturday. He was one of the most famous survivors of the Holocaust.
“I have seen war, and I know that war is a malediction.”
Wiesel was born in 1928 in Romania, but at 15-years-old, he and his family were rounded up by the Nazis in Hungary.
In 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz, where another inmate advised him to tell the Germans he was 18 so he would be a candidate for work saving his life but elongating a nightmare. He was later taken to Buchenwald camp, where he eventually watched his sick, malnourished father, die after getting beaten by a German soldier. It was just weeks before the U.S. Army would arrive.
He wrote about that, plus the death of his mother and younger sister during the Holocaust, in his acclaimed 1955 autobiography, “Night.” Elie Wiesel’s words represent the pain and torment that so many Holocaust survivors went through and his literary works gained so much recognition because of the raw emotion he poured into his work so soon after the events occurred in his own life.
When WWII was over many Holocaust survivors were traumatized or went into what is described as a silent mode. Joseph Singer of Longmeadow said, “They didn’t want to talk about it, and I personally had an aunt that survived two camps with a very interesting story of her own, and she didn’t talk about it.”
Wiesel went through a similar period of reflection, but started writing in France and later moved to America. Joseph Singer’s daughter met Wiesel in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he had a beach house, while getting groceries.
Singer said, “Elie Wiesel and he turned around and when she approached him and she broke out in such cry she could not control herself at all she couldn’t speak. And he told her I understand and they stood there for a few seconds and then they embraced each other. So she never talked to him, but they communicated.”
As he did with so many generations. “Night” was the first novel I read about the Holocaust. Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986
Abby Karbot of Springfield said, “As sad as his death is I think that his death can inspire more activist work like he did.”
Joseph Singer said, “He dedicates his life really to talk and write about the Holocaust, because this is a subject especially for Jews, is so dramatic so different than anything that happened before we are just in the beginning of this process and it’s going to go on for generations.”
A private funeral for Wiesel was held Sunday in New York City.