Elie Wiesel and Oprah Winfrey at Auschwitz Speak About the Relevance of the Holocaust Today
“A memorial unresponsive to the future would violate the memory of the past.”
—Elie Wiesel, First Council Chair, September 1979
“I feel a sense of communion with the spirits of those who died and those who survived to bear witness. I have never felt more human.”
—Oprah Winfrey, Auschwitz, January 2006
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, champion of human rights and advocate for awareness of past and potential acts of genocide, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. On the atrocities in Sudan, Wiesel asked in July 2004 “How can a citizen of a free country not pay attention? How can anyone, anywhere not feel outraged? How can a person, whether religious or secular, not be moved by compassion? And above all, how can anyone who remembers remain silent?” He continues to speak out. In April 2006, Wiesel urged a rally of tens of thousands on the National Mall to call for an end to genocide in Darfur: “Silence helps the killer, never his victims.”
Wiesel also served as chair of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust and was a guiding force in the establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In his best-known work, Night, Elie Wiesel describes his experiences and emotions at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust: the roundup of his family and neighbors in the Romanian town of Sighet; deportation by cattle car to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau; the division of his family forever during the selection process; the mental and physical anguish he and his fellow prisoners experienced as they were stripped of their humanity; and the death march from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.
Elie Wiesel at the Museum’s dedication ceremony in April 1993:
What have we learned? We have learned some lessons, minor lessons, perhaps, that we are all responsible, and indifference is a sin and a punishment. And we have learned that when people suffer we cannot remain indifferent. And, Mr. President, I cannot not tell you something. I have been in the former Yugoslavia, last fall. I cannot sleep since for what I have seen. As a Jew I am saying that, we must do something to stop the bloodshed in that country!
Elie Wiesel with Nesse Godin at a rally for Darfur, April 30, 2006
“We, the Survivors of the Holocaust, know the consequences of silence, and this time we must all speak up for those suffering in Darfur.”
Elie Wiesel has worked tirelessly to combat what he calls "the perils of indifference." Listen to his Voices on Antisemitism podcast episode. Listen to interview
Museum Director Sara Bloomfield discusses the Museum and the relevance of the Holocaust today. Listen to interview