Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words Elie Wiesel survived concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald to become a Nobel Laureate, activist and defender of human rights. He died this summer at age 87.
NPR logo

Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507597698/507597699" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words

Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words

Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507597698/507597699" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Elie Wiesel survived concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald to become a Nobel Laureate, activist and defender of human rights. He died this summer at age 87.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A number of influential people died in 2016, and we're taking a moment now to remember one of them, a man who dedicated his life to making sure the world would never forget.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Elie Wiesel survived concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was 16 when he was liberated, bearing the tattoo A7713 on his arm and the horrors of the Nazis in his memory. He wrote dozens of books. He gave hundreds of lectures. He spoke out for those who were hated and persecuted.

SHAPIRO: During an interview with WHYY's FRESH AIR in 1988, Elie Wiesel explained to Terry Gross why he chose to make that his life's work.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ELIE WIESEL: What else could one do having gone through certain events? I believe a human being - if he or she wants to remain human, then he or she must do something with what we have seen, endured, witnessed. I mean naturally the human being wants to forget pain.

In this case, all those or most of those who went through the experience during the war - they want to remember more and more and more. It's never enough because we feel that we have to tell the story, and no one can tell the story fully.

TERRY GROSS, BYLINE: Did you know when you got out of the camps that you wanted to write?

WIESEL: Oh, I knew that I was going to write before I entered the camps. I knew I would have to bear witness. Everyone who was there is a witness, and everyone who was there is a true witness. Others who are trying to speak about the subject occasionally are false witnesses. And I felt that I had to be a true witness, and therefore, I decided to wait for 10 years, not to speak about it or to use language related to these experiences until I knew that the words were true words.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Holocaust survivor, human rights defender and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel - he died in July at his home in Manhattan at age 87.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.