Scrapbookpages Blog

April 26, 2010

The question that won’t go away — Does Elie Wiesel have a tattoo or not?

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:48 am

According to my blog statistics, the subject that most people are interested in is Elie Wiesel’s tattoo or lack thereof. Why is this so important?  Well, if he has a number tattooed on his arm, that might mean that he was  a prisoner at Auschwitz.  Of course, anyone can get a fake Auschwitz tattoo after the fact, so a number tattooed on one’s arm proves nothing.  On the other hand, if Elie Wiesel does not have a tattoo on his arm, that might mean that he was not at Auschwitz.  But what if he was in Auschwitz and had his identification tattoo removed?  So the lack of a tattoo proves nothing.

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Elie Wiesel in person and if I ever did see him, I don’t think I would demand that he show me his tattoo.  Others have said that Elie refuses to show his tattoo to audiences when he gives his talks.  Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust icon.  Who would be so rude as to ask the most famous Holocaust survivor in the world to publicly display his tattoo as proof that he is what he says he is?

A few years ago, I heard Elane Geller, a survivor of the Auschwitz II camp (Birkenau) give a talk at a local college.  Geller is famous for saying that she ate toothpaste and drank her own urine to survive at Birkenau.  This doesn’t make any sense at all. I had to use baking soda to clean my teeth when I was a child during World War II, yet the Nazis provided expensive toothpaste for the Jews at Birkenau?  More likely, the toothpaste was in the Red Cross packages that were handed out at Birkenau.

In her talk, Geller spent almost an hour ranting about “Holocaust deniers,” and barely mentioned her ordeal at Birkenau.  She did say that she does not have an Auschwitz identification tattoo because her father sneaked her into Birkenau.  Yes, you read that right. At the age of four, Elane Geller was sneaked into the Birkenau camp, hidden under a tarp on a truck; her father was not able to find a Polish family to take care of his daughter and he didn’t know what else to do with her, so he decided to sneak her into Birkenau where her aunt was a prisoner.  But I digress.

Elie Wiesel did not sneak into Auschwitz-Birkenau as Elane Geller did.  Elie wrote in his most famous book, Night, that he arrived at Birkenau on a train transport from Hungary in May 1944, although he did not mention the exact date. The train arrived at night, and Elie and his father were assigned to the former Gypsy camp at Birkenau.

According to his own account, in his book Night, Elie was transferred from Birkenau to Block 17 in the main Auschwitz camp, where he was put into quarantine for a period of three weeks. It was only after his time in quarantine that Elie was tattooed with the number “A-7713,” according to his book. However, the records in the archives at Birkenau show that the number A-7713 was given to another man: Lazar Wiesel, born Sept. 4, 1913; Auschwitz tattoo #A-7713, Buchenwald ID #123565.  The archives at Buchenwald do not show an ID number for Elie Wiesel.

Could two people have been given the same ID number at Auschwitz?  Yes, but not in the series of numbers that started with an A.

This YouTube video shows Elie Wiesel on a visit to his home town and then on a tour of Birkenau.  His bare arms are shown, and there is no tattoo visible.

Newspaper accounts of the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945

Mon., April 30, 1945***** Chicago Herald-American


DACHAU, Germany, April 30. –(AP)–

The U.S. 42nd and 45th divisions captured the infamous Dachau prison camp today and freed its 32,000 captives.

Two columns of infantry, riding tanks, bulldozers and Long Tom rifles – anything with wheels – rolled down from the northwest and surprised the S S (Elite Corps) guards in the extermination camp shortly after the lunch hour. (more…)