Romania / USA
25 May 2004 (UN News).
Human rights advocate Elie Wiesel has been “among the staunchest defenders of people victimized by hated and bigotry in many parts of the world,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.
In a tribute given yesterday at the Anti-Defamation League’s gala celebration of the 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate’s seventy-fifth birthday, Mr. Annan said through his unforgettable books on the Holocaust and “the face of absolute horror,” Mr. Wiesel had done as much as anyone else to raise public awareness of the plague of anti-Semitism.
“It is that combination of eloquence and empathy that led me to ask him to become a United Nations Messenger of Peace,” Mr. Annan said of the Romanian-born author and journalist.
The collective conscience, on which Mr. Wiesel had made a historic and profound imprint, could not help but be deeply troubled by violence and injustice in the Middle East, by divisions on so many issues, by despair in so many places, he said. These challenges had solutions only when people’s consciences were duly aroused.
“Elie, the world needs you to carry on doing what you do best. And that is to speak out, build bridges and raise the alarm about the wrongs afflicting our world,” Mr. Annan said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the Anti-defamation League's gala celebration of Elie Wiesel's birthday.
"Elie Wiesel is a good friend of mine. I have turned to him for advice on many occasions. I have been enriched by his lectures, and moved by his renowned story-telling. Nane and I have also been privileged to enjoy his company in smaller settings. But far more important than my own good fortune in knowing him, is what Elie's work and wisdom have meant for all humankind.
His unforgettable books have given us searing testimony about the Holocaust and the face of absolute horror. He has done as much as anyone to raise awareness of the plague of anti-Semitism. And he has been among the staunchest defenders of people victimized by hatred and bigotry in many parts of the world. It is that combination of eloquence and empathy that led me to ask him to become a United Nations Messenger of Peace. He has been a good friend to the United Nations, too.
Elie's imprint on the collective conscience is historic and profound. Even as we pay tribute to him for that contribution, we know that his voice is still needed. Our collective conscience cannot help but be deeply troubled today: by violence and injustice in the Middle East, by divisions on so many issues, by despair in so many places. These are all challenges with solutions. But we will not find them unless our consciences are duly aroused. Elie, the world needs you to carry on doing what you do best. And that is to speak out, build bridges, and raise the alarm about the wrongs afflicting our world.
Elie, the world knows you for your permanently furrowed brow, and for a face that communicates so well the anguish of the human condition".
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, now a part of Romania. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
After the war, Elie Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, La Nuit or Night, which has since been translated into more than thirty languages.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Elie Wiesel as Chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980 he became the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is also the Founding President of the Paris based Universal Academy of Cultures. Elie Wiesel has received over one-hundred honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.
A devoted supporter of Israel, Elie Wiesel has also defended the cause of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua’s Miskito Indians, Argentina’s Desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, victims of famine in Africa, victims of apartheid in South Africa, and victims of war in the former Yugoslavia...
For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Liberty Award, and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. In 1986, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace. A few months later, Marion and Elie Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. An American citizen since 1963, Elie Wiesel lives in New York with his wife and son.
by Anti-Defamation League