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WHY WE MUST REMEMBER ELIE WIESEL

By July 3, 2016 10 Comments

elie wiesel2In the aftermath of the Holocaust, at a time when the world could not bear to remember, he could not bear to forget. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate was described as one who “…gave voice to those who had been silenced forever and devoted his life to fulfilling the promise of ‘never again’ for all future victims of genocide.”

The closest I got to Elie Wiesel was in Jerusalem at the Holocaust Memorial Center in February 2015. The Center showcases thousands of binders of testimony, testimony which fills over 2.2 million pages – stories of Jews murdered by the Nazis. Wiesel’s story is one of the rare survivors.

My time at the Memorial Centre was numbing. Story after story and picture after picture, in room after room showing children, teens, women, men – millions exterminated throughout Europe during WWII.

Elie WieselWithin hours of Wiesel’s death, social media posts appeared discrediting his record of the Holocaust. One of America’s new allies, Iran, is a Holocaust-denying nation. Which is why I write this post.

We must never forget what Wiesel remembered.

Hungary – 1944

In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied Hungary which extended the Holocaust into that country. Elie Wiesel was 15, and he with his family, along with the rest of the town’s Jewish population, were placed in a confinement ghetto. In May 1944 the Wiesel family were deported to Auschwitz where 90% of the people were exterminated on arrival. His mother and his younger sister were killed.

Wiesel and his father were later deported to the concentration camp at Buchenwald. His father only survived for eight months, dying just a few weeks before the camp was liberated. Wiesel never forgot the shame he felt when he heard his father being beaten and was unable to help.

A Modern Day Lazarus

For ten years after the war, Wiesel refused to write about or discuss his experiences during the Holocaust. He began to reconsider after a meeting with the French author Francois Mauriac who was a devout Christian. He compared Wiesel to  “Lazarus rising from the dead,” and persuaded him to begin writing about his harrowing experiences.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against violence, repression and racism. The Norwegian Nobel Committee described him as “one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world.” 

“Wiesel is a messenger to mankind,” the Nobel citation said. “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief.”Elie Wiesel Israel Museum

11 Fearless Quotes From Elie Wiesel

1. “I belong to a generation that has often felt abandoned by God and betrayed by mankind. And yet, I believe that we must not give up on either.”

2. “Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.”

3. “If I survived, it must be for some reason. I must do something with my life. It is too serious to play games with anymore, because in my place, someone else could have been saved. And so I speak for that person. On the other hand, I know I cannot.”

4. “The only role I sought was that of witness. I believed that having survived by chance, I was duty-bound to give meaning to my survival, to justify each moment of my life.”

5. “I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.”

6. “For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.”

7. “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

8. “No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.”

9. “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”

10. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.”

11. “Think higher and feel deeper.”

APPLICATION: Do you think its important for people to remember and to speak up for those who cannot? If so, share this on your social media platforms. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.elie wiesel quote


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 27 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 38 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Cheryl says:

    Thank you for sharing this writing pastor Bob. Outside of the recent news and this post, I had not heard of the name Elie Wiesel. His story has inspired me to learn more about the man that dedicated his life to helping others through sharing his personal survival/ testimony of an incomprehensible atrocity. He was brave enough to battle through incredibly tragic memories, and somehow had the courage to be the voice for millions that had been permanently silenced not only through death, but, for those survivors who had been silenced through fear of further condemnation.

  • bob jones says:

    I’m glad the post could draw your attention to a great man. Its incumbent on us now to insure that history does not get rewritten and that we do not lose these memories. Thanks for commenting, Cheryl.

  • Carole Schlachta says:

    Thank you, Pastor Bob. An incredibly heart-wrenching account of a nation that has been persecuted from the beginning. I cant even imagine what his life lived must have been like. It makes me weep inside and makes me think about when Jesus wept over Jerusalem. No one could ever know, umderstand or feel what Mr. Wiesel lived.
    Another thank you to the Lord for His transforming mercy and grace. This is horrifying
    example of how our God will work through our instabilities and painfulness to extend His loving care and mercy to others who need Him.
    God bless and reach the hearts of all who read your summation of this man’s life and God’s love.

  • bob jones says:

    Thanks Carole for commenting and sharing.

  • Carole Schlachta says:

    Would you describe the picture? Where was it, what are they on and I believe they are the Jews who died?

  • bob jones says:

    This is in the Holocuast Memorial Centre in Jerusalem. This is a cone-shaped picture holder with a sky light at the top with pictures of Jews killed by the Nazis.

  • Shirley Bidnick says:

    You did not mentioned Wiesel’s book ‘Night’. Are you assuming that everyone has read it? That is a good assumption. It is not like you to overlook an opportunity to recommend an important read. I’d hate anyone to miss it.

    I cannot imagine anyone being foolish enough to deny that the Holocaust occurred. I have met survivors and felt an undeniable horrifying chill at the sight of the evil tattooed ID number that still marks their forearm. As you point out, millions of pages of written eye witness accounts, photographs, physical evidence and living survivors provide more than adequate volumes of proof that the Holocaust occurred. How can the truth be denied? More importantly, why would any one, including Albertans, not only Iranians, need to deny the truth that something so horrible occurred? I can’t answer that question, just like I don’t know how anyone can deny the truth of the Gospel or God’s Word. I think denial of the Holocaust, Gospel and Word of God all require strong non-rational insane thinking.

    I had to stop and do some self examination as I read your points #7 and #9 (above). I am ashamed to admit that on occasion, I have been reluctant to report suspicions of child neglect/abuse out of respect for the sanctity of the family and it’s boundaries. Even when I sought counsel, I was encouraged to mind my own business. If I cannot ‘interfere’ on behalf of one victim, out of fear of offending one tomentor or standing alone, I can understand why so many Jews and other victims died, while waiting for the Allies to’fearlessly’ disregard national borders and the sensitivities of the tormentors, gather enough support, and act to free the tormented. I pray for God to give me/us courage to do the right thing at the right time. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

    Thank you for remembering a man who was tormented and for reminding us to remember too. Hopefully remembering will help us overcome the indifference you refer to in #10, because it is not easy being passionate.

  • Carole Schlachta says:

    It must have been totally overwhelming to say the least. As I have been taught as a child to pray for God’s people.
    There are many of his statements that will stay with me forever.
    5. I don’t believer in accidents, there are only encounters in history.
    That is a statement that must cause us to think. It brings our thoughts directly to our Almighty God who leads and guides us when we follow Him. Also it clearly shows us His Mercy and Grace.
    8. No one is capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.
    AS Einstein said “Darkness cannot dispel light, but light can dispel darkness.
    a. What darkness he must have lived in as a child only to know the difference when he God brought out of it into the light! It is an indescribable thought!
    To realize how grateful I am to the Lord for not having experienced that kind of darkness and he called it a kingdom. Truly the world of Satan.
    Pastor Johnson once said “remember in the darkness what you had in the light!”
    That was so profound to me I wrote it in my bible. Now reading his description of the darkness being a kingdom, I have realized anew the strength of the Kingdom of Light, God’s world, when we find ourselves in darkness.
    What a profound and real experience I have lived coming into the Kingdom of Light!
    I praise God for how He used this man’s torment and pain and sense of abandonment to HIs glory and for all those who, because of Mr. Wiesel, came into the kingdom of light.
    This gives me a new and overwhelming understanding of God”s light. It is a Kingdom! His!

  • bob jones says:

    Ah, Shirley. So good to hear from you on such an important subject. There is a good possibility that once first person accounts of historic evil are lost to the grave that revisionists will hold sway. “Night” is such a powerful book. No wonder the Nazis worked so hard to burn books when they took power.

    Truth marches on with you. God bless.

  • bob jones says:

    Very encouraging words, Carole. We are “children of the day” – lights on a hill – grateful.

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