Remember
Holocaust Survivors
Holocaust Survivors Memorial Sites | Auschwitz Liberation (Getty images/Galerie Bilderwelt)

Elie Wiesel Obituary

9/30/1928 - 7/2/2016| Visit Guest Book
Elie Wiesel (Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Nancy R. Schiff)
Elie Wiesel (Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Nancy R. Schiff)
Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning author who told the story of his Holocaust internment in his autobiographical novel "Night," died July 2, 2016. He was 87.

Born Sept. 30, 1928, to a Jewish family in Transylvania's Carpathian Mountains, Wiesel was just a boy when World War II began. It was 1944 when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Sighet and placed Wiesel and his family – along with thousands of their neighbors – in ghettos. Within months, the Nazis moved those ghetto residents to the horrific Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The events that followed became well-known to the reading public eventually, as Wiesel dramatized them in "Night." Wiesel and his father were separated from his mother and three sisters. For almost a year, Wiesel and his father suffered the inhuman conditions of three different concentration camps as Wiesel tried to care for his quickly declining father, who died just weeks before the liberation of their final camp, Buchenwald. He was reunited with two of his sisters after the war, but he never saw his third sister or his mother again – they died in their own concentration camp.

Wiesel didn't spare readers from the sickening details of the Nazis' treatment of Jews in the concentration camps and on the journeys between them. "Night" offered a stark portrayal of genocide. Amazingly, the deeply unsettling narrative was heavily edited, reduced from Wiesel's original 862-page manuscript to a taut, terrifying 245 pages, published in 1958 in France and translated into English for U.S. readers in 1960. Wiesel called "Night" his "deposition," noting that it was a true story, though parts of it were fictionalized.

"Night" wasn't the first Holocaust memoir to reach U.S. shores – Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" had been published eight years earlier. But similarities between the two accounts are few. Wiesel told The New York Times, "Where Anne Frank's book ends, mine begins." As a victim of the concentration camps that Wiesel survived, Frank wasn't able to write about her experiences as Wiesel did. Yet one trait unites the two authors: their essential optimism in the face of horror. Frank famously wrote, "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." As for Wiesel, he told the Atlantic, "I still believe in humanity in spite of man. I still believe in humanity in spite of what humanity has done."

With his unflinching descriptions of the realities of the Holocaust, Wiesel became a pioneer of a literary genre.

"In the beginning, survivors didn't speak because people refused to listen," he told the Atlantic. "When I began to write, it was to tell other survivors to write. All we have is words." His example did indeed inspire other Holocaust survivors to tell their stories, from Felix Weinberg to Sarah Tuvel Bernstein to Primo Levi.

Though "Night" is Wiesel's best-known work, it's one of dozens of his literary works. "Night" was part of a trilogy, followed by "Dawn" and "Day." "The Trial of God" was another of Wiesel's works drawn from his Holocaust experience, a play based on an actual event he witnessed while in Auschwitz, as fellow prisoners staged a mock trial of God. Wiesel wrote additional novels including "The Oath" and "The Forgotten," as well as biographies and other nonfiction, a second play, two cantatas and two children's books. He wrote two volumes of memoirs: "All Rivers Run to the Sea" and "And the Sea Is Never Full."

In addition to writing, Wiesel was a professor for many years at institutions including Boston University, City University of New York and Columbia University. He was also a respected speaker and activist who spoke out in support of Israel and condemned apartheid, in addition to lending his support to a wide variety of other human rights issues. He created the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, with a mission dedicated to "combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality."

In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against violence, repression and racism. It was one of a great number of honors he received, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, grand officer in the French Legion of Honor and an honorary knighthood in the United Kingdom. He is survived by his wife, Marion Wiesel.
Read Full Obituary for Elie Wiesel

Guest Book Highlights

If you need help finding the right words, view our Suggested Entries
 

Other obituaries

Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Board of Directors of American Friends of the Open University of Israel mourns the loss of their esteemed fellow Board Member Elie Wiesel. His kindness, his warmth, his wit and... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Friars Club mourn the loss of their esteemed member Elie Wiesel. A truly great man. Jerry Lewis, Abbot; Larry King, Dean; David Cornstein, Prior; Bruce Charet, Scribe Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. With profound sadness, the staff and board of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) mourn the loss of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, tireless advocate for human... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Professor Elie. Fifth Avenue Synagogue mourns the loss of its esteemed Honorary Trustee, Nobel Laureate, and global humanitarian Professor Elie Wiesel. He was a luminary, an educator, an... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. "Tzadik Haya Bedorotav-- Righteous Man of his Generation". I mourn my friend Elie, fellow Holocaust survivor, whose memories of Auschwitz, the graveyard of our families, we shared.... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Moment Magazine mourns the passing of Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, co-founder of Moment in 1975. His commitment to Jewish life lives on in its pages. Nadine Epstein, Editor &... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 10, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Board of Directors, Overseers and staff of the International Rescue Committee are deeply saddened by the loss of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and memory keeper of the victims... Read Obituary
Published on NYTimes.com from July 14 to July 15, 2016
The Mayor of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and its Inhabitants, the Association pour la Mémoire des Enfants Cachés et des Justes-AMEJC, and The American Friends of the Chambon Memorial, express their deep... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie: The American Academy of Arts and Letters notes with sorrow the death of our esteemed colleague. His writing bears witness to the horrific capabilities of man, and powerfully... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 7, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York mourns the loss of Elie Wiesel. A cherished friend and a man of impeccable integrity and conscience, he spoke out at many of our... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 7, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The 92nd Street Y Board, staff and community mourn the passing of Elie Wiesel, one of the world's most important humanitarian voices and an unwavering champion for memory and... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 7, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The loss of Elie Wiesel is like the disappearance of a star in the heavens which you expect to see in the dark of night among other stars, somewhat brighter, more friendly and... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 8, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) mourns the loss of our dear friend, inspiration, hero, and supporter Elie Wiesel. Elie inspired generations with his teachings of... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 8, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. We mourn the passing of Elie Wiesel, who was an emblem of and an advocate for the victims of the Holocaust and the Armenian and other genocides of the 20th century. We thank him for... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Heartbroken! Deepest love to Marion, Elisha, Lynn, Elijah, Shira. He will always live in you. Florence, Leah and Perry Berkowitz Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion mourns our beloved honorary alumnus, tenacious guardian of Holocaust memory, and inspiring advocate for the Jewish people, Israel,... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Kaufman Music Center mourns the loss of Honorary Trustee Elie Wiesel, survivor and witness to the Holocaust who dedicated his life to ensuring that the six million Jewish victims... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. SSEJ mourns its honorary president Elie Wiesel and Ethiopian Jews grieve the loss of a compassionate champion. Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Trustees and staff of the Museum of Jewish Heritage -- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust express profound sadness on the passing of Elie Wiesel. An Honorary Chairman of this... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2016
WIESEL--Eliezer (Elie), Mutual of America and its Board of Directors, together with its officers and employees, mourn the passing of Elie Wiesel, who was an esteemed member of the Board of... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. With profound sadness, the staff and board of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) mourn the loss of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, tireless advocate for human... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The World Jewish Congress mourns the passing of one of the preeminent Jewish thinkers, human rights activists, authors, teachers, and moral authorities of our age, Nobel Peace Prize... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. American Jewish Heritage/ Dialogue Forum deeply mourns the immense loss of our Honorary Chairman, mentor, teacher, friend. Across more than four decades he strongly supported with... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The members of The Lotos Club mourn the loss of their highly esteemed colleague and longtime friend, Elie Wiesel, and send condolences to his family. Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. S'iz gefaln a demb - we have lost a great man. The League for Yiddish mourns the passing of Eliezer Wiesel, our honorary Board member. His first book, "Un di velt hot geshvign", was... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Zamir Choral Foundation joins the world in mourning the passing of Elie Wiesel, our conscience, transmitter of memory, and a giant among men whose voice and legacy will remain an... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Yeshiva University family mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate and human rights advocate. He received an honorary degree from YU in 1973 and... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Board of Directors of Gatestone Institute mourn the loss of their esteemed Board of Advisors Member Elie Wiesel. He was the moral conscience of the world, speaking out against... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Clal mourns the loss of our co-founder Elie Wiesel, a beacon of moral conscience, a passionate defender of both the Jewish people and of universal human dignity, and a visionary... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. Marion, Elisha and family: Our hearts go out to you for your irreplaceable loss. Irma and Norman Braman Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The Anti-Defamation League mourns the loss of our dear friend and advisor, the Holocaust survivor, writer and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. A Jewish voice of conscience for a... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on July 5, 2016
WIESEL--Elie. The American Society for Yad Vashem mourns the passing of its Honorary Chairman, Elie Wiesel. Born in Romania before WWII, he was deported as a teenager to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Elie... Read Obituary
Published online on July 2, 2016 courtesy of Tributes.com
Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning author who told the story of his Holocaust internment in his autobiographical novel "Night," died July 2, 2016. He was 87. For full obituary and coverage... Read Obituary

Search Memorials

About This Site: Holocaust Survivors Memorials

The Holocaust Survivors memorial includes obituaries and Guest Books from the Legacy network of newspaper and funeral home affiliates.