September 20, 2016

Life of Elie Wiesel honored with unanimous passing of resolution by U.S. House of Representatives

On September 12, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution honoring the life of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel. The bipartisan resolution was introduced in July by Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL). Representatives Israel, Meehan and Deutch are members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928. Between 1940 and 1944, that region of Romania was part of Hungary. Wiesel was 15 years-old when Hungary allied with Nazi Germany in March 1944. In May 1944, the Wiesel family was among thousands of Jewish Romanian families deported from the Sighet ghetto to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland. Upon arrival, Wiesel and his father were selected for forced labor while Wiesel's mother and youngest sister were sent directly to the gas chamber.

Wiesel and his father were deported from Auschwitz to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. His father died there just a few weeks before the camp was liberated on April 11, 1945. Soldiers from the 6th Armored Division, part of the Third Army, found more than 21,000 survivors in the camp. The SS murdered at least 56,000 male prisoners in the Buchenwald camp system, some 11,000 of them were Jews. Wiesel and two of his three sisters were the only members of his family to survive the Holocaust.

Wieisel's memoir Night was first published in French in 1956. In 1960, it was translated into English. By 2011, over six million copies had been sold in the United Sates. 

In 1978, Wiesel was appointed by President Carter as chair to the President's Commission on the Holocaust whose mandate was to develop a national memorial to the Holocaust. Wiesel's vision was to create a "living memorial" and in 1980 he became the founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and led the charge in conceiving and constructing the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

I believe firmly and profoundly that anyone who listens to a Witness becomes a Witness, so those who hear us, those who read us must continue to bear witness for us. Until now, they’re doing it with us. At a certain point in time, they will do it for all of us." – Elie Wiesel

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his humanitarian work and for serving as a witness to the Holocaust, committing his life to not only memorializing it but urging reconciliation, education, and using it as a warning of the threat unchecked hatred poses to democracy. In 1993, he dedicated the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and served on the Museum's Council through appointments from five consecutive U.S. Presidents, until his death on July 2, 2016. 

Learn more.

Related to: