Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel died on July 2, 2016 at the age of 87.
As the grandchild of a Jewish family enmeshed in a history of survival of Nazi assault, this news hits close to home and fills me with gratitude. It wasn’t long ago that I had a conversation with two family members about their concentration camp tattoos, and the indelible reminder of the past every single time they look at their wrists.
Wiesel embodied the consciousness (and grace) of a Holocaust survivor who witnessed utter travesty. He did not stay silent about what he saw and he translated utter horror into memories of bravery, survival and poignant lessons on the history of war. He was just 15 years old when he was in the concentration camps.
In honor of Wiesel, I bring together some of his most powerful words on what it means to survive with strength, dignity and poise and to continue to offer the gifts we contribute to this lifetime.
“For the survivor who chooses to testify,his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living.”
“There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.”
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
“If the only prayer you say throughout your life is ‘Thank You,’ then that will be enough.”
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
The citation when he received the Nobel Peace Prize read that he was a “Messenger to Mankind.”
Author: Caitlin Oriel