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September 13, 2010

Keeping up with the Wiesels…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:09 pm

No, the title of this blog post does not refer to a new TV reality show.  This is about the ongoing controversy regarding two men named Wiesel: Elie Wiesel and Lázár Wiesel.  Elie Wiesel is the author of the famous book, Night, that is currently assigned reading for virtually every school kid in America.  Lázár Wiesel is the name of a young man from Elie Wiesel’s home town in Hungary, who was a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp, the same place where Elie Wiesel claims to have been a prisoner in 1945.

Elie’s full name is Eliezer Wiesel and there has been some speculation that he and Lázár Wiesel might be the same person. Both were born around the same time in 1928 and both were allegedly liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945.

There are documents which prove that Lázár Wiesel was one of the 904 “orphans” at Buchenwald and that he was sent to France in July 1945.  Elie Wiesel was living in France after World War II and he also claims to have been on that list of “orphans,” although there are no documents to prove his claim.  There are no documents to prove that Elie was registered in Buchenwald, nor even that he was registered in Auschwitz.

Now a researcher has proved that Eliezer Wiesel and Lázár Wiesel are definitely not the same person because their signatures are not the same.  Some people might say “So what?”  Others are outraged. Elie Wiesel is an icon; he has made millions off his books and speeches about the Holocaust, and has been awarded prizes for his stories.  But is he a fraud?

I believe that Elie Wiesel wrote the book Night, but there is no proof that he wrote the original book, that Night was based on.  You can read the three part essay entitled Shadowy Origins of “Night” here.

In 1948, America changed the laws which had previously limited the number of immigrants from Germany coming to America, and thousands of Holocaust survivors came here, while thousands of others emigrated to Israel.   Almost none of these survivors wrote books about their experience in the Nazi death camps in the 50s and 60s, probably because they did not want to be confronted with the obvious question: “How did you manage to survive when 6 million Jews were killed?”  Many people thought that the obvious answer to that question was that the survivors had co-operated with the Nazis.

In 1954, at a time when there was no market for Holocaust survivor books, Elie Wiesel allegedly wrote an 862 page book called Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (And the World Remained Silent). This 862 page book became the basis for the book Night.  Elie claims that he typed up this book, which was written  in Yiddish, while he was on an ocean voyage to Brazil in the Spring of 1954.  Yiddish is a dialect of German, but it is written with Hebrew letters.

The researcher, who questions whether Elie Wiesel wrote the original book, brings up the question of where the author got enough typewriter ribbons to type up a 862 page book while he was in the middle of the ocean.

Elie Wiesel worked for a Yiddish newspaper in 1954, so that’s why he had a Yiddish typewriter. There is a photo of a Yiddish typewriter included in part III of the article about the Shadowy Origins of Night.

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