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October 3, 2011

if you insist on answers to your questions, you could be “morally ill”

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:34 am

According to the world’s most famous Holocaust survivor, there is a difference between being mentally ill and “morally ill.”  In 2007, Elie Wiesel stepped into an elevator at the Hotel Argent in San Francisco where he was scheduled to speak at a peace conference. A young man named Eric Hunt got into the elevator with Wiesel.  Eric Hunt wanted answers to some questions about the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel told a reporter recently that he does not think that Eric Hunt’s problem is mental illness.  No — Eric Hunt is morally ill, according to Elie Wiesel, because he questions the Holocaust.

This quote is from a recent news article in the Tallahassee Democrat which mentions the incident in the elevator:

“He wanted to drag me off to his room and convince me that the Holocaust never happened and videotape me saying it was all made up, which is completely ridiculous,” Wiesel, who turned 83 this week, said.

Wiesel, who will speak Tuesday night at Florida State University, eluded the erstwhile kidnapper and alerted police. The culprit was arrested, put on trial and convicted.

“He was a college graduate. Only 22. His career is finished. And for that? I had to attend his trial. He apologized to me,” Wiesel said. “Personally, I felt nothing. I felt sorry for his mother, but not him. I felt nothing. There are some people who are mentally ill. There are other people who are not mentally ill but morally ill.”

Elie Wiesel prefers to ask questions, rather than answer them.  Here is another quote from the news article in the Tallahassee Democrat:

When asked what he will speak about next week during his return to FSU for The Golden Tribe Lecture Series, Wiesel quickly reversed the question, “I don’t know. What do you think I should talk about?”

“Wiesel also exhibits what I think to be a wonderful attitude to life which is driven by the desire to question — the existence of God, why he survived, etc.,” [FSU religion professor Martin] Kavka said. “My favorite quote from him is from an interview he gave to Oprah Winfrey over a decade ago: ‘I have no answer for anything, really. I have shelves and shelves of books in my apartment, but none of them has answers — only questions. I teach my students how to ask questions. In the word ‘question,’ there is a beautiful word ‘quest.’ I love that word. We are all partners in a quest.'”

When Elie Wiesel speaks at FSU tomorrow night, hopefully there will not be some “morally ill” student in the audience, who will dare to ask him any embarrassing questions like “Where’s your Auschwitz tattoo?” or “Where’s your Buchenwald registration card?” or “What was your identification number at Buchenwald?”

In his famous book Night, Elie wrote that he became sick three days after the Buchenwald camp was liberated on April 11, 1945 and was in the hospital for two weeks. Yet he also claims that he is in the photo below, which was taken inside Buchenwald Barrack #56 by Private H. Miller of the Civil Affairs Branch of the U.S. Army Signal Corps on April 16, 1945.

Famous photo taken at Buchenwald on April 16, 1945

Close-up of the famous photo in Barrack 56 at Buchenwald

The face of the man to the left of post on the lower bunk is allegedly the face of Elie Wiesel who was 16 years old at the time that this photo was taken.

Eric Hunt, the “morally ill” young man who confronted Elie Wiesel years ago in a San Francisco elevator is still around.  He has his own web site here.