Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was a Romanian born Jewish-American human rights advocate and author. In 1944, when Wiesel was 15 years old, the German army deported him and his family to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Though they survived the death march to Buchenwald, Wiesel’s father died before the camp was liberated in April 1945. After the war, Wiesel was eventually persuaded to write about his experiences. His internationally acclaimed memoir, "Night," is one of the definitive works of Holocaust literature. Appointed chairman of the U.S. President's Commission on the Holocaust in 1978, Wiesel became the founding chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980. He was the founding president of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures and the chairman of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Wiesel served as an advocate for numerous causes, including those of Soviet Jews, Nicaraguan Miskito Indians, Argentinian desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, Kurds, the victims of famine and genocide in Africa, and South Africans living under apartheid. Wiesel won numerous awards for his achievements in literature and human rights, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the Medal of Liberty Award, an election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor, an honorary knighthood in the U.K., and more than a hundred honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning. In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has published more than 40 works of fiction and nonfiction throughout his lifetime. Wiesel was a founding member of Human Rights Foundation and died in July 2016 at the age of 87.