I recently finished the book Night by Elie Wiesel and it offered some powerful inspiration that I want to share with you today.
Jewish-American author, professor, and political activist Elie Wiesel is the ultimate example of how a person can turn their own struggle into a benefit for the world.
Wiesel survived the Nazi concentration camps to tell his story as a message of peace and dignity on behalf of all humankind.
Elie Wiesel Life Story
Eliezer Wiesel was born into a traditional Jewish family in Romania on September 30, 1928. He was a teenager when the German army invaded his hometown of Sighet in 1944, imprisoning the entire Jewish community (including Wiesel, his parents, and three sisters) in ghettos.
The Wiesel family was separated when they were deported to Auschwitz, but Elie and his father remained together, dragged from one camp to another while they were worked to the brink of death.
Wiesel endured the Nazi’s regimen of dehumanization -- exhaustion, starvation, humiliation, absolute deprivation, not to mention constant physical and mental abuse and threat of extermination.
He was reduced to bare existence, to a body to be processed -- no more than the number tattooed on his arm, “A7713.”
He watched his father, already wasting away from dysentery, being brutally beaten until his last breath, not only by the Nazi guards, but also by fellow prisoners who wanted his meager food ration.
Just weeks his father was sent to the crematorium, Wiesel was set free with the remaining Jewish prisoners when the U.S. army liberated the camp in April 1945.
From Silent Victim to Spokesman for Humanity
After the war, Wiesel ended up in France, where he lived in an orphanage for a few years, until he began studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. He entered the field of journalism, writing for French and Israeli newspapers and translating articles into Yiddish, and through his multilingual work, quickly rose in the ranks to become an international correspondent for a Parisian paper.
Even though he was earning a living as a man of letters, Wiesel could not -- would not -- find the words for his experience of the Holocaust.
For over ten years, he refused to speak about it, much less write about it: it seemed only silence could capture the unimaginable trauma. But after opening up to his mentors, nobel-prize winning French author François Mauriac and Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, he finally came to writing, producing a 900-page memoir in Yiddish.
In hopes of reaching a wider audience, Wiesel rewrote a shorter version of his story, which was later translated into French and then into English as Night. But even with Mauriac’s help, Wiesel struggled to find a publisher for the book, and it only sold relatively few copies...
Wiesel was not discouraged in his commitment to never forget, to never let us forget the dark night in human history: he got his message out through reviews, interviews, and networking among literary authorities.
His perservence in telling and re-telling his testimony paid off over time: Night has sold millions of copies worldwide (appearing in translation in over 30 languages), earning the top spot on the NY Times Bestseller List.
Wiesel turned an unspeakable experience into a life’s work of advocacy, speaking out against the horrors of genocide -- the racism, systemic violence, and degradation of which he was a victim.
He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement in 1985 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 (among other honors) for his interventions in global human rights issues. The Nobel committee called him “the messenger of mankind,” acknowledging his authoritative voice on peace and human dignity.
In addition to his continued political activism, Wiesel chaired the commission responsible for memorializing the Holocaust, authored dozens of books after his best-selling memoir, co-founded (with his wife) his own humanitarian organization, and taught at several U.S. universities, still holding the position of distinguished professor today, at age 86.
From Ultimate Humiliation to Vocation
Wiesel’s success lies in his determination to give meaning to his experience -- not only for himself, but for the sake of human potential.
His story reminds us that no matter how hard life hits us, there are people who have survived the worst that we could imagine -- and worse, beyond what could ever imagine. We are capable of more than we think, and this includes our capacity for creating a better world by learning from our errors, from the lessons of history.
But more than that, what we have to learn from Wiesel’s story is that there is value in every struggle -- it is simply a matter of finding a way to articulate that value; we all carry a message from our darkest night.
* Oprah Winfrey's interview with Elie Wiesel.
Who is Elie Wiesel? - Short Biography
Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor, human rights activist, and author. He was born on September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Romania.
During World War II, Wiesel, his family, and other Jews from his hometown were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. His mother and younger sister were killed at Auschwitz, while he and his father were sent to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in 1945.
After the war, Wiesel studied in France and later became a journalist. In 1956, he published his first book, "Night," a memoir of his experiences in the Holocaust. The book has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
Wiesel dedicated his life to Holocaust education and fighting against genocide and oppression. He was appointed Chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust by President Jimmy Carter and later served as the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He also wrote over 40 books, including novels, memoirs, and non-fiction works.
In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Holocaust education and his efforts to promote human rights and understanding around the world. He died on July 2, 2016, at the age of 87.
Elie Wiesel is widely considered as one of the most important Holocaust survivors, educators and human rights activists of the 20th century. His book "Night" remains one of the most important books about the Holocaust and his legacy continues to be celebrated and studied around the world.
Elie Wiesel Fast Facts
* Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor, human rights activist and author.
* He was born on September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Romania.
* During World War II, Wiesel, his family, and other Jews from his hometown were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.
* His mother and younger sister were killed at Auschwitz, while he and his father were sent to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in 1945.
* He published his first book, "Night," a memoir of his experiences in the Holocaust in 1956, which has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
* Wiesel dedicated his life to Holocaust education and fighting against genocide and oppression.
* He was appointed Chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust by President Jimmy Carter and later served as the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
* He also wrote over 40 books, including novels, memoirs, and non-fiction works.
* In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Holocaust education and his efforts to promote human rights and understanding around the world.
* He died on July 2, 2016, at the age of 87.
* Wiesel is widely considered as one of the most important Holocaust survivors, educators and human rights activists of the 20th century.
* His book "Night" remains one of the most important books about the Holocaust and his legacy continues to be celebrated and studied around the world.
Elie Wiesel Best Quotes
"Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." (Meaning)
"Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future." (Meaning)
"Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds." (Meaning)
"For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile."
"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude." (Meaning)
"It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed."
"Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories." (Meaning)
"I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again."
"I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory."
"Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life." (Meaning)
"No one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions." (Meaning)
"For me, every hour is grace. "
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." (Meaning)
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." (Meaning)
"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity."
"Peace is our gift to each other." (Meaning)
"There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win." (Meaning)
"Some stories are true that never happened."
"No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them." (Meaning)
"When language fails, violence becomes a language." (Meaning)
"Not to transmit an experience is to betray it." (Meaning)
"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity." (Meaning)
"Human beings should be held accountable. Leave God alone. He has enough problems." (Meaning)
"Language failed me very often, but then, the substitute for me was silence, but not violence." (Meaning)
"Man, as long as he lives, is immortal. One minute before his death he shall be immortal. But one minute later, God wins." (Meaning)
* The editor of this short biography made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any quotes, facts, or key life events. If you're looking to expand your personal development, I recommend exploring other people's life stories and gaining inspiration from my collection of inspiring quotes. Exposing yourself to different perspectives can broaden your worldview and help you with your personal growth.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.