Honoring Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust Witness Who Kept a Memory Alive

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tags: Holocaust, Elie Wiesel



Five months after his death, Elie Wiesel’s family gathered here on Wednesday with prominent political figures from the writer and Nobel laureate’s adopted country to honor his contributions to Jewish history and memory.

Mr. Wiesel was born in Romania, survived the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps and spent considerable time in Europe and remote corners of the world after World War II. The tributes he received spanned the whole of his political and literary life, but many of the speakers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum talked of how he made America his home after moving here in 1955.

As a journalist in New York, he discovered the pleasures and contradictions of American life on road trips across the country: the dreaminess of Disneyland, where he said he had visited his childhood; the cruelty of Southern racism that made him feel “shame for being white”; the surprise of meeting a Holocaust survivor on an American Indian reservation in Arizona, after which he joked, “America is truly a wonderland. Even the Indians speak Yiddish.”




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