Nobel Laureate and Boston University Prof. Elie Wiesel has worked on behalf of oppressed people for much of his adult life. His personal experience of the Holocaust has led him to use his talents as an author, teacher and storyteller to defend human rights and peace throughout the world.
For nearly 60 years, Prof. Wiesel’s message has been both simple and powerful: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, a Romanian town that the Nazis turned over to Hungary from 1940 to1945. He was 15 when he and his family were deported to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished there. He and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in 1945.
After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris and eventually became a journalist in that city. During an interview with the French writer François Mauriac, he was persuaded to end his silence about the death camps. Published in the mid 1950s, his memoir Night has been translated into more than 30 languages and millions of copies have been sold.
Wiesel’s more than 50 books have won numerous awards, including Prix Médicis for A Beggar in Jerusalem, the Prix Livre Inter for The Testament and the Grand Prize for Literature from the City of Paris for The Fifth Son. His latest book is Hostage (August 2012), published by Knopf.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust; and in 1980, Wiesel became the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and soon after, he and his wife Marion established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity with a mission to fight indifference, injustice and intolerance around the world.
Wiesel has served as distinguished professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972-1976), and the Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in the Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University (1982-1983). Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he is also a faculty member in the departments of religion and philosophy. In 2002, Boston University created the Elie Wiesel Center of Jewish Studies in his honor.