The Jewish Press mourns the death, at age 87, of Professor Elie Wiesel, arguably the world’s best known Holocaust survivor due to his tireless writing and speaking on the horrors of the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” Without his eloquent calls to remembrance, the Holocaust would have soon been but a memory following the German surrender in 1945, despite the unspeakable scenes the victorious allies beheld in the concentration and death camps. It was a subject not easily embraced.
Leavened with the sensitivities and pen of the poet, Mr. Wiesel’s writings and teachings revealed inner philosophical conflicts: the traditional religious beliefs of his childhood in Sighet would not survive intact and gone forever would be the lofty thoughts of a youthful idealist seeking to study and celebrate his faith and the human condition. He seemed never able to resolve in his own mind whether the world had for a season been polluted by demons from a nether world or that humanity had simply run amok.
The unspeakable Jewish suffering to which he bore witness was etched into his very features. And as we continue to witness the prosecution of some of the Nazi tormentors who are now and in their nineties, and the listen to testimony of survivors who are of similar age, we cannot but wonder who, with Mr. Wiesel’s passing, can be counted on to keep the message alive?
As he said in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he had dedicated his life to trying “to keep memory [of the Holocaust] alive.” Why? “Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.”
May his memory be a blessing.Editorial Board