The Wisdom of Elie Wiesel

atkins bookshelf quotationsEliezer “Elie” Wiesel (1928-2016), an American Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor, wrote more than 57 books, but his best-known work was Night, an unflinching but inspiring memoir based on his imprisonment, at the age of 15, at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps in 1944-45. The memoir has sold over 10 million copies in America and has been translated into 30 languages.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1986. The Nobel Committee recognized that “[Wiesel] has emerged as one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterise the world. Wiesel is a messenger to mankind; his message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief. His message is based on his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps. The message is in the form of a testimony, repeated and deepened through the works of a great author. Wiesel’s commitment, which originated in the sufferings of the Jewish people, has been widened to embrace all repressed peoples and races… [Wiesel], with his message and through his practical work in the cause of peace, is a convincing spokesman for the view of mankind and for the unlimited humanitarianism which are at all times necessary for a lasting and just peace.”

Here are some notable quotes from Wiesel, whose message of human dignity and peace, live on through his words which should never be forgotten:

“There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”

“If the only prayer you say throughout your life is “thank uou,” then that will be enough.”

“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.”

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

“One person of integrity can make a difference.”

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”

 

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”

The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

The Wisdom of Lady Grantham
The Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz

The Wisdom of Yoda
The Wisdom of George Carlin
The Wisdom of Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of Steven Wright
The Wisdom of Spock
The Wisdom of Muhammad Ali

For further reading: Night by Ellie Wiesel (1960)
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/press.html

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