Quotes by Elie Wiesel
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Elie Wiesel. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel (, born Eliezer Wiesel Hebrew: אֱלִיעֶזֶר וִיזֶל ʾÉlīʿezer Vīzel; September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016) was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.
He was a professor of the humanities at Boston University, which created the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies in his honor. He was involved with Jewish causes and human rights causes and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. In his political activities, he also campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa, Nicaragua, Kosovo, and Sudan. He publicly condemned the 1915 Armenian Genocide and remained a strong defender of human rights during his lifetime. He was described as "the most important Jew in America" by the Los Angeles Times in 2003.
Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind", stating that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps", as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace", Wiesel has delivered a message "of peace, atonement, and human dignity" to humanity. The Nobel Committee also stressed that Wiesel's commitment originated in the sufferings of the Jewish people but that he expanded it to embrace all repressed peoples and races. He was a founding board member of the New York Human Rights Foundation and remained active in it throughout his life.
Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love.
Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.
No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.
Peace is our gift to each other.
Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.
Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.
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.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations, not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.
I come from a very religious background.And actually I remained in it. All my anger I describe in my quarrels with God in Auschwitz, but you know I used to pray every day.
Perhaps some day someone will explain how, on the level of man, Auschwitz was possible; but on the level of God, it will forever remain the most disturbing of mysteries.
I remember those faces of people who were good I saw that. I saw a father who gave his bread to his son and his son gave back the bread to his father. That, to me, was such a defeat of the enemies, will of the enemies, theories of the enemies, aspirations, here in Auschwitz.
Man prefers to blame himself for all possible sins and crimes rather than come to the conclusion that God is capable of the most flagrant injustice. I still blush every time I think of the way God makes fun of human beings, his favorite toys.
We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not.
The only place where I felt at home, on familiar ground, was the Jewish cemetery. And yet I had never set foot in it before. Children had been forbidden to enter.
Man asks and God replies but we don't understand his replies because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die.
Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor. That one instant before dying, man is still immortal.
I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever.
I was there when God was put on trial... At the end of the trial, they used the word 'chayav,' rather than 'guilty.' It means 'He owes us something.' Then we went to pray.
What is the difference between Jew and Christians? We all await the Messiah. You believe He has already come and gone, while we do not. I therefore propose that we await Him together. And when He appears, we can ask Him: were You here before?
Bite your lips, little brother...Don't cry. Keep your anger, your hate, for another day, for later. The day will come but not now...Wait. Clench your teeth and wait.
For the purpose of my life, I don't ask the question. First of all, I believe. I think the Five Books of Moses are inspired. Call it divine. I don't know. But I would certainly call it inspired.
Mankind needs peace more than ever, for our entire planet, threatened by nuclear war, is in danger of total destruction. A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent.
Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. Does that seem paradoxical? Well, war is not afraid of paradoxes.
What I don't like today is, to put it coarsely, the phony Hasidism, the phony mysticism. Many students say, Teach me mysticism. It's a joke.
In spite of despair, hope must exist. In spite of suffering, humanity must prevail. And in spite of all the differences in the world, the worst enemy, the worst peril, is indifference.
I've worked with five Presidents in America, all of them I ask the same question always: Why didn't the American allies bomb the railways going to Auschwitz?
I think those governments who resent religion, they're afraid of religion because religion may be in their eyes, in their views be seen as a counter government or a parallel government.
I did not weep, and it pained me that i could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like -- free at last!
I don't think governments use religious repression as a weapon, they use it as a as a means of -- of oppression. To stifle opposition. To mute resistance.
One always goes back to one's childhood in the beginning, and I come from a very religious family and surrounding. Very religious.
Nobody is stronger, nobody is weaker than someone who came back. There is nothing you can do to such a person because whatever you could do is less than what has already been done to him. We have already paid the price.
Even if I wrote on nothing else, it would never be enough, even if all the survivors did nothing but write about their experiences, it would still not be enough.
*Response when asked how much longer is he going to write about the Holocaust.
What is being lost is the magic of the word. I am not an image person. Imagery belongs to another civilization: the caveman. Caveman couldn't express himself so he put images on walls.
Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate -- healthy virile hate -- for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
I remember when I heard the words Biblical criticism in my town, it was with disdain: Biblical criticism? How dare you?
When has religion ever been unifying? Religion has introduced many wars in this world, enough bloodshed and violence.
For us it's not easy to be conformist, I cannot stand to be conformist, I don't accept what it is, I like to say no. If I see an injustice I scream.
All I hope is that the American coalition is doing its best to prevent civilian casualties and the killing of innocent people.
For nearly 3,500 years Exodus has left such an imprint on people's memories that I cannot imagine it had been invented just as a legend or a tale.
I have tried to keep memory alive... I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
Fanaticism is the greatest threat today. Literally, the 21st century threatened by fanatics, and we have fanatics in every religion, unfortunately, and what can we do against them? Words nothing else, I'm against violence but only words.
From time immemorial, people have talked about peace without achieving it. Do we simply lack enough experience? Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace... War may be too much a part of history to be eliminatedever.
No one has written the way Isaiah does. The royal style, the majesty of the language. He is called the prince of the prophets. No one has written like that. I've studied ancient literature, Homer, for example, but it's not the same thing.
Today again the teacher is the important thing, but on the other hand anti-Semitism is growing today. No doubt about it. All over the world, especially in Europe, and it's true they begin with anti-Israeli attitudes and then it's so strong that it runs over and becomes anti-Semitic.
We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark.
We're alone, but we are capable of communicating to one another both our loneliness and our desire to break through it. You say, 'I'm alone.' Someone answers, 'I'm alone too.' There's a shift in the scale of power. A bridge is thrown between the two abysses.
You can do something. You can, even for one person Don't turn away; help. Because those who suffer, often suffer not because of the person or the group that inflicts the suffering; they seem to suffer because nobody cares.
His cold eyes stared at me. At last, he said wearily: I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
Education in the key to preventing the cycle of violence and hatred that marred the 20th century from repeating itself in the 21st century.
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.
I thought that culture and education are the shield. An educated person cannot do certain things and, and be educated, you cannot, and there they were, killing children day after day.
In the word question, there is a beautiful word -- quest. I love that word. We are all partners in a quest. The essential questions have no answers. You are my question, and I am yours -- and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people.
I never compared Nazis into communism, but communism was the same thing, the end justifies the means. Whatever the means.
At Auschwitz, not only man died, but also the idea of man. To live in a world where there is nothing anymore, where the executioner acts as god, as judge-many wanted no part of it. It was its own heart the world incinerated at Auschwitz.
How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?
Do you know what laughter is? I'll tell you. It's God's mistake. When God made man in order to bend him to his wishes he carelessly gave him the gift of laughter.
There is a coalition of anti-Semitism today, the extreme left, the extreme right and in the middle the huge corpus of Islam. I'm worried, I go around with a very heavy heart.
Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.
One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
A holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it.
I believe in God -- in spite of God! I believe in Mankind -- in spite of Mankind! I believe in the Future -- in spite of the Past!
All those who love thrillers will find in Michael Alexiades's first novel a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. It combines suspense and knowledge, experience and imagination. His grateful readers will now wait for the next.
It is up to us to determine whether the years ahead will be for humankind a curse or a blessing. We always must remember that it is given to men and women to choose life and living, not death and destruction.
I cannot cure everybody. I cannot help everybody. But to tell the lonely person that I am not far or different from that lonely person, that I am with him or her, that's all I think we can do and we should do.
I developed an anger at Moses Mendelssohn. Later, I read the book. I realized there was nothing subversive in it.
I don't speak about my pain. My pain is something that doesn't need to be purged. I want to prevent people from suffering. I don't speak about my suffering. Suffering is something personal and discreet. Also, I know it will never leave me. I don't want it to leave me. It would be a betrayal.
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silent encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Once upon a time refugee meant somebody who has a refuge, found a place, a haven where he could find refuge.
We are all teachers, or should be. Anyone who relays experience to another person is a teacher. Not to transmit your experience is to betray it.
Fanaticism in many lands has surfaced as the greatest threat to the world. Indifference to its consequences would be a serious mistake.
I think he is condemned by himself to loneliness. God is One: he was, he is, he will be always One. One is so lonely. Maybe that is why he created human beings -- to feel less lonely. But as human beings betray his creation, he may become even lonelier.
Nevertheless, we are led to believe that true words can communicate more than truth, they communicate what life is all about, that it's threatened, when it's threatened, when it's in danger, then it becomes a curse or a blessing.
Usually I get up early every morning and from 6:00 to 10:00 I write. The rest of the time I study and prepare my work or I do other things. But four hours a day are exclusively devoted to writing.
Certain things, certain events, seem inexplicable only for a time: up to the moment when the veil is torn aside.
The impact of the holocaust on believers as well as unbelievers, on Jews as well as Christians, has not yet been evaluated. Not deeply, not enough.
I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone -- terribly alone in a world without God and without (hu)man(ity).
I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible.
I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible and they show that there were times, and there probably are times, that it is human to be inhuman.
As you know, I describe Shirat ha-Yam as part of an epic story that has qualities of history and which also has qualities of the mythological, of an epic.
It was like a page torn from a history book, from some historical novel about the captivity of babylon or Spanish Inquisition.
Whatever we thought was certain is no longer certain, and therefore in science probably certain things must be correct, but in human behaviour I am not so sure.
This day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused.
Am I my brother's keeper? There you have the whole Biblical understanding that you are your brother's keeper. You also have a whole other understanding in which you are not your brother's keeper. And I've heard some extremely bright people take this position.
If you make a determination that story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac is not historical, do you throw it away? I don't think we can say whether it's precisely, scientifically historical.
A Jew must be sensitive to the pain of all human beings. A Jew cannot remain indifferent to human suffering... The mission of the Jewish people has never been to make the world more Jewish, but to make it more human.
It is obvious that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men, women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory.
For the good of all, I say: Be careful, the brutality of the world must not be more powerful or attractive than love and friendship.
Go over to Greece with the Iliad and Odyssey. These have elements of history, and they have non-historical elements. It's very difficult to pull them apart. And I think there's not much reason to.
I've organised for the last years, since I got the Nobel Prize actually, Anatomy of Hate Conferences all over the world, what is hate. Didn't help but at least they explored it.
I listen to music when I write. I need the musical background. Classical music. I'm behind the times. I'm still with Baroque music, Gregorian chant, the requiems, and with the quartets of Beethoven and Brahms. That is what I need for the climate, for the surroundings, for the landscape: the music.
I imagine, like all his predecessors, Barak Obama would like to achieve greatness in bringing peace in the Middle East. I hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.
In my town we studied the five Books of Moses, but rarely the prophets. We studied the Talmud so much that I sometimes knew the prophets because of the prophetic quotations in the Talmud. We almost never studied the prophets themselves.
The Biblical text does not have punctuation marks like periods and question marks. Where we end sentences is a matter of interpretation.
In Talmudic literature, certainly in the beginning, he was like a human being -- except he was a serpent. But he was talking and walking and probably dreaming.
I am not so naïve as to believe that this slim volume will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. Books no longer have the power they once did. Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.
When I see what is happening all over the world today -- the violence -- the stupid, arrogant, grotesque violence that is dominating humankind. I cannot not remember that there were other times, of course the Second World War. I never compare.
The Holocaust is not a cheap soap opera. The Holocaust is not a romantic novel. It is something else.
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lies are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are prosecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must -- at that moment -- become the center of the universe.
I would hesitate to give advice to the Dalai Lama and his people because they are suffering. The Dalai Lama suffered from exile and the people in Tibet suffer from oppression.
What of the Exodus? That too, is a wonderful story, but from the viewpoint of an historian, it is -- to use a word scholars love -- problematic. Let's say there are doubts, to say the least, among many scholars, as to whether the Exodus actually occurred. That's a historical issue.
London radio, which we listened to every evening, announced encouraging news: the daily bombings of Germany and Stalingrad, the preparation of the Second Front. And so we, the Jews of Sighet, waited for better days that surely were soon to come.
Writing should not be routine; writing should actually be the opposite of procedural because otherwise the written word would become a routine word.
There are moments when I think it will never end, that it will last indefinitely. It's like the rain. Here the rain, like everything else, suggests permanence and eternity. I say to myself: it's raining today and it's going to rain tomorrow and the next day, the next week and the next century.
The sky is so close to the sea that it is difficult to tell which is reflected in the other, which one needs the other, which one is dominating the other.
We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything -- death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth.
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.
When you die and go to heaven our maker is not going to ask, 'why didn't you discover the cure for such and such? why didn't you become the Messiah?' The only question we will be asked in that precious moment is 'why didn't you become you?'
The deeper the nostalgia and the more complete the fear, the purer, the richer the word and the secret.
I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it. That is why the children of survivors are so tragic. I see them in school. They don't know how.
Today there isn't a university where they don't have special courses Jewish studies or Holocaust studies, hundreds and hundreds of universities, young people today want to know more than their elders did, much more, and therefore I am very optimistic about young people.
I don't see the junk youth. I only meet students, and even those who are not formally at the university, if they come to listen to me, they come to read me, it means they are not junk students.
There is Israel, for us at least. What no other generation had, we have. We have Israel in spite of all the dangers, the threats and the wars, we have Israel. We can go to Jerusalem. Generations and generations could not and we can.
You're shaking … so am I. It's because of Jerusalem, isn't it? One doesn't go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That's one of its mysteries.
Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.
Every single human being is a unique human being. And, therefore, it's so criminal to do something to that human being, because he or she represents humanity.
No human being is illegal.
No human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?
Every nation has its prestigious military academies -- or so few of them -- that reach not only the virtues of peace but also the art of attaining it? I mean attaining and protecting it by means other than weapons, the tools of war. Why are we surprised whenever war recedes and yields to peace?
The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference.
The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Indifference creates evil. Hatred is evil itself. Indifference is what allows evil to be strong, what gives it power.
We must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
If I were in the government, I would persuade the prime minister to see the beauty in the fact that people see Israel as a haven -- from their sadness to their hope.
Historically, I come from Jewish history. I had the classic upbringing in the Yeshiva, learning, learning, and more learning.
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