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March 6, 2010

“Night” — Did Elie Wiesel really write this book?

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:33 am

There is a bit of a controversy going on, regarding Elie Wiesel’s book Night. This book was first published in Paris in 1955, and it has sold over 10 million copies. For years, Night has been assigned reading for students in almost every High School in America.  Now, a famous revisionist historian, Carlo Mattogno, has written an article in which he suggests that Night was actually written by a man named Lázár Wiesel, and that Elie Wiesel is an imposter who stole the identity of Lázár Wiesel.

You can read the article by Carlo Mattogno on this blog.

For what it’s worth, my opinion, and it’s just an opinion, is that Lázár Wiesel is not the author of Night.  My opinion is not based on any research, but on common sense. Elie Wiesel has written around 50 more books since Night was published.  How many books did Lázár Wiesel write after he allegedly wrote Night?  None, that I know of.

After World War II ended, Elie Wiesel studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in France; then he became a professional journalist, writing for newspapers in France and Israel. Was Lázár Wiesel a professional writer with a college education?  Not that I know of.

Night is not just a Holocaust memoir — it is a work of literature.  It was written by someone who had most likely taken a course in creative writing.  The book is full of literary devices such as symbolism, anaphora (the repetition of phrases like “Never shall I forget…”) and parallel structure (the similar grammatical structure of adjacent phrases or clauses that show equality of importance).

This quote from Night illustrates parallel structure:

The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames… A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured it.

In the above quote, the author used parallel structure in order to draw attention to the two equal things which died, his religious faith and his childhood.

This quote from Night illustrates anaphora:

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. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Using the phrase “Never shall I forget” three times in the same paragraph highlights the main theme of Night which is “Never forget the Holocaust.”

Then the author repeats the same phrase again in the next passage:

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Literary devices are used to get across several themes in the book.  For example, in the book, “the last night” is mentioned many times to call attention to one of the important themes.  The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night on the train to Auschwitz, and the last night in the Buna (Monowitz) camp are all part of a theme.

There are 400 or more Holocaust memoirs in print, but only one Night. This book is studied in English class, not history class.  It is not supposed to be a historical account of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  If Lázár Wiesel had written it, Night would have exact dates and accurate descriptions of Birkenau.  For example, the gas chambers at Birkenau are not even mentioned in Night.  Instead, there are burning pits which are much more horrible and have a greater impact on the reader.

In real life, the burning of bodies at Birkenau took place outside Krema IV, and especially outside Krema V, after the ovens in these crematoriums broke down.  But in Night, the author sees the burning pits as he is walking down a road at night, after getting off the train at Birkenau.  At the last minute, the prisoners are ordered to turn left.  Later, in the book, the author mentions that there was a Gypsy Kapo in the section of the camp where he and his father entered the barracks.  I am not positive, but I think that all the Gypsies were gone from Birkenau by 1944, but that doesn’t matter since this is not a history book.  The Gypsy camp was nowhere near Krema IV and Krema V; it was to the left of the road that bisects the camp, going from the women’s camp to the new section called Mexico.  The exact location of the burning pits might be important in a memoir, but it is not important when you are doing creative writing.  The burning pits are symbolic.

Before Oprah Winfrey selected Night for her Book Club, it was classified as a novel on Elie Wiesel’s own web site.  This was changed when the book became an Oprah Book Club selection.

Schindler’s List is classified as a novel because, although it is based loosely on history, it is fiction.  Night is  fiction, that is loosely based on history, and it should also be classified as a novel.

16 Comments

  1. […] to Buchenwald January 26, 1945, that his father soon died a few days later. -Kenneth Waltzer in a comment at Scrapbookpages Blog, March 6, […]

    Pingback by “Elie Wiesel Was Not in Buchenwald” Made Simple | Elie Wiesel Cons the World “Elie Wiesel Was Not in Buchenwald” Made Simple | A Blog Dedicated to Finding out the Truth about Elie Wiesel's Tattoo — June 11, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

  2. […] be in his essay on Elie Wiesel and Buchenwald? Will it be the same as he wrote in a March 6, 2010 comment at Scrapbookpages Blog, when he […]

    Pingback by Is it time to call Ken Waltzer a fraud? | Elie Wiesel Cons the World Is it time to call Ken Waltzer a fraud? | A Blog Dedicated to Finding out the Truth about Elie Wiesel's Tattoo — April 1, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  3. For the skeptics and know-nothings who have written in suggesting Eli Wiesel was not in the camps, that Night is purely fiction, you are all dead wrong. The Red Cross International Tracing Service Archives documents for Lazar Wiesel and his father prove beyond any doubt that Lazar and his father arrived from Buna to Buchenwald January 26, 1945, that his father soon died a few days later, and that Lazar Wiesel was then moved to block 66, the children’s block in the little camp in Buchenwald. THese documents are backed up by military interviews with others from Sighet who were also in block 66, and by the list of Buchenwald boys sent thereafter to France. All of this is public domain.

    Wishful thinking by Holocaust deniers will not make their fantasies true. While Wiesel took liberties in writing Night as a literary masterpiece, Night is rooted in the foundation of Wiesel’s experience in the camps. The Buchenwald experience, particularly, runs closely to what is related in Night.

    Comment by kenwaltzer — November 14, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    • What was Lazar Wiesel’s date of birth?

      Comment by furtherglory — November 14, 2010 @ 7:34 am

  4. Sceptic, You have made an excellent point. Let me elaborate it a little.
    The six million of professors of six million Michigan Universities can release six million books each and there still will not be any proofs of their claim. Making references to each other and to the memoirs (tales) of “survivors” ” will not constitute any evidence. The historians, who are making references to each other, or relying on the testimonies of partial witnesses, are worth nothing. The Michigan professor needs to produce firstly the list of six millions Jews, who were exterminated, before his book even be considered as a historical research.

    Comment by Gasan — November 9, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

  5. Die “Wahrheit” hatte noch einmahl ein Blödsinn geschrieben.
    “Many serious students of the Holocaust does not read Wiesel, and many shun him”. I beg your pardon? Are you telling us that most acclaimed “survivor-in-chief ” is not credible? Are we not supposed to believe his tales, uh… sorry, I mean “novels”. Who should we believe then? “The serious holocaust students”? And who are they? Are you the one, Wahrheit? Then explain to me please the document, I am looking at right now!
    It is the Red Cross Office of Special Registry release as of January 16, 1984, Arolsen, Germany, signed by the official named Butterweck.
    The total number of all confirmed death in all concentration camps of Europe is 282,077. This number does include all elderly people, who died from natural causes, stillborn children, pregnant women, who died during delivery, people, who had the terminal illnesses (Noma, Tay-Sachs, etc.), typhus, cancer, you name it. There were lots of people executed in the camps as well: murderers, rapists, underground and guerilla fighters, and all of them are included in that magic number: 282,077. This document does include not only Jews, but all nations of Europe. What was the percentage of the Jews in this number?
    Maybe Wahrheit can produce the list of six million Jews, who died in those camps? Simple question for Wahrheit. Could you go to the normal court to testify what you believe in? And what evidence would you bring? The memoirs of the survivors? The doctored photos? You will be charged with perjury, Wahrheit.
    And, I can bring to the court, just this document. The Red Cross would have to acknowledge or deny that there was an official in Arolsen by the name Butterweck. They would have to proof that the seal on that document is a fake. Do you hear me Wahrheit? Lots of your relatives and friends “tales” vs. a single document.

    Comment by Gasan — November 9, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

  6. […] When Elie Wiesel was a young man, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris in the 1950s, did he ever dream that there would some day be a web site devoted to him, called Elie Wiesel Cons the World?  Back in 1955, Elie Wiesel had his first book published; it was a thin volume, entitled “Night,” which used all the creative writing techniques that he had learned at the Sorbonne.  I think he actually wrote this book, as I previously blogged here.    […]

    Pingback by Did Elie Wiesel ever dream that something like this would happen? « Scrapbookpages Blog — November 9, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  7. Elie Wiesel does not attend the reunions with the other survivors of Auschwitz.

    He does not have the same style ID tattoo as all the other survivors.

    Some of the claims he made are denied by the other Jews who definitely were imprisioned there.

    I think he is a fraud worse than Bernie Maddoff. I believe he wrote fiction,lies, and exxagerations and got away with it for decades because we felt sorry for the real Jewish victims.

    Comment by Bruce — May 4, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  8. The case against Elie seems to be founded on a lot of hype, and much speculation. The case that Lazar =/= Elie is similarly weak.

    If Lazar was a different person, why do we not know of his whereabouts? What happened to him after the war? Why did he not speak out when Elie apparently took over his story?

    If Elie was not interned in a concentration camp, how did he know of these experiences? How did he end up in France immediately after the war?

    Mattogno’s article rests on much speculation, but nothing hard, and surely not enough to call in question Elie Wiesel’s experience in a concentration camp.

    Of course, this really isn’t about historic truth, but it is about symbolism. Many serious students of the Holocaust do not read Wiesel, and many shun him; however, deniers like to focus on the trivial matters, and build a fringe case-as opposed to going to dealing with the painful evidence.

    Comment by Wahrheit — March 7, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    • I don’t know the answers to your questions, but perhaps you could contact Ken Waltzer, a professor and director of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University. He is currently doing research for a book that he is writing about the Buchenwald orphans, and he is including the story of Elie Wiesel in his book.

      Waltzer was involved in exposing the fake story of Herman Rosenblat called “Angel at the Fence.”

      On this web site http://harpers.org/archive/2008/12/hbc-90004103 Waltzer said that he admires these memoirs:

      “Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz, Filip Muller’s Eyewitness Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Fania Fenelon’s Playing for Time are all very fine, very honest, works.”

      Waltzer is also quoted on the web site above as saying this:

      “This story (of the Buchenwald orphans) is largely unknown. I hope to tell it honestly, and with attention to detail, drawing on the voices and memories of many of these Buchenwald boys who today are men in their late seventies as well as the documentary evidence now available from the Red Cross International Tracing Service archive and other sources.”

      Since Waltzer is doing research on “the documentary evidence,” he should be able to provide Elie Wiesel’s bonafides and settle this controversy once and for all.

      Comment by furtherglory — March 8, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    • I just noticed these new comments and want to answer them.

      Unfortunately, Wahrheit is trying to assure “believers” that there is nothing to worry about as to Wiesel’s bonafide identity as an Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor. But he uses no evidence whatsoever, only his own meandering words.

      Carlo Mattogno used “hype” and “speculation” in his article on Wiesel that you referred to in your blog that we are now commenting on?? Hardly! He exhibited two documents that proved that Lazar Wiesel received the number A-7713 at Auschwitz and that he was processed into Buchenwald on a certain date in January 1945. Yet Wahrheit dismisses this hard evidence and wants to accept Wiesel’s books as proof that he was there.

      He writes: If Elie was not interned in a concentration camp, how did he know of these experiences?
      Hilarious. Elie didn’t know, that’s why the experiences he writes about are mostly completely unlike what is known to have actually occurred at the camps. Elie’s accounts are fantastical and devoid of practical details.

      Wahrheit asks: How did he end up in France immediately after the war? Maybe he was already in France, do you think that is possible? Along with his sisters, who have zero to say about their alleged time in Auschwitz. This is really a no-brainer.

      Rather than Mattogno not having enough to call into question Elie’s experience in a concentration camp, it is Elie who does not have enough to convince anyone with a discriminating mind that he was ever in a concentration camp.

      Then Wahrheit trys to dismiss the importance of EVIDENCE, and turns to attacking “deniers.” Where is this “painful evidence” you say you have, Mr. Truth Seeker? Are you waiting in hope that Jewish Studies professor Ken Walzer will come up with some for you? At least he’s got the big university position going for him, if not integrity. His book is going to be all about “memories,” as they all are.

      I apologize for my impatience with your comment, but I am very fed up with nonsense such as you are parlaying here.

      Comment by sceptic — March 13, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

      • Correction to this sentence beginning paragraph three:

        Carlo Mattogno used “hype” and “speculation” in his article on Wiesel that you referred to in **your** blog that we are now commenting on??

        It should say, “Carlo Mattogno used “hype” and “speculation” in his article on Wiesel that you referred to in **the** blog that we are now commenting on?? I am not replying to furtherglory.

        Comment by sceptic — March 13, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    • I forgot to address these questions posed by Wahrheit:
      If Lazar was a different person, why do we not know of his whereabouts? What happened to him after the war? Why did he not speak out when Elie apparently took over his story?

      As I’ve already said, Lazar’s identity is proven; it is Elie’s that is in doubt. Lazar went to Brazil or Argentina after the war. He didn’t speak out when Elie took over his story because he was then dead! His trail ends at the time the book “Night” came out. Was he murdered? Or did he just die from natural causes and Elie found he could wrap himself in this man’s identity?

      I imagine anyone looking into what happened to Lazar Wiesel will be, and would have been, seriously discouraged from doing so. Elie Wiesel has powerful friends on his side.

      Comment by sceptic — March 13, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  9. Throw the baby out with the bathwater … you mean, Elie Wiesel’s book is still good, even though he is a fraud. One really needs to contemplate the integrity of that.

    EW has used that and other books to perpetrate a fraud upon the world — a fraud that has brought him a huge amount of money and fame and a privileged life. Fraud can never be excused but his supporters (like Paul) will excuse it, based on some idea that he has “done good.” What good?

    You wrote that “Elie Wiesel studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in France” after WWII. How did he manage that? Where is his university record – I want to see it. Maybe he was studying philosophy at the Sorbonne DURING WWII!

    Comment by sceptic — March 7, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  10. It’s not too important who wrote “Night” since it’s a piece of creative writing, not a factual account of what Auschwitz, Birkenau or Monowitz were actually like. That’s what you said and I agree.

    If Elie Wiesel wrote it, it only underscores that Lazar Wiesel, who was there, would not have written such an inaccurate picture of the place … and that Elie Wiesel was NOT there. His “memoir” is purely poetic.

    The fact that Elie Wiesel does not have a tattoo A-7713 on his arm (though he claims it) and Lazar Wiesel (much older than Elie) is recorded as being given that number — what more does it take to prove than Elie Wiesel is lying and he was never at Auschwitz.

    This is truly earth-shaking information, but I don’t see any Holocaust believers coming to the defense of his record. Paul tried here, but was pathetically unconvincing. Paul, do you want to try again?

    I also question whether he stole the name Wiesel from Lazar. Who is this man who calls himself Elie Wiesel, really?

    Comment by sceptic — March 6, 2010 @ 11:32 pm

    • It is important to note that Elie Wiesel was in France after World War II. Many of the orphans at Buchenwald were sent to France. Carlo wrote that there is no record of Elie Wiesel being at Buchenwald, although there is a record of Lazar Wiesel being there. It could be that Elie Wiesel met one of the orphans in France who told him all about Buchenwald and Birkenau and he decided that this would make a good subject for a book. In any case, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water — in other works, don’t throw out the book because we’re not sure who the author is.

      Comment by furtherglory — March 7, 2010 @ 2:15 am


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