Where is Elie's Tattoo?
Elie Wiesel has told us for over 50 years that he was tattooed at Auschwitz in 1944, and that his tattoo number is A7713. He has repeatedly said that he still has this original tattoo on his arm. Just last March in Dayton, Ohio, Elie met with the press, high school and college students, and 2300 members of the local community. As reported in the Dayton Daily News , one student asked Wiesel if he still has his concentration camp number and if it serves as a reminder of those terrible experiences. "I don’t need that to remember, I think about my past every day," he responded. "But I still have it on my arm – A7713. At that time, we were numbers. No names, no identity."
Posted on July 15, 2016 at 11:11 am
by Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2016 Carolyn Yeager
It’s pretty pathetic to be confronted with a picture like the above, and expected to acknowledge that it is Elie Wiesel’s Auschwitz tattoo that I have been asking to see for six years now. Once again, the best suggestion I have for magnifying it is to click on it to get the image page, then hit the plus key up to 8 times while holding down the Ctrl key. The image stays sharp while being greatly enlarged. What do you see? I invite all the amateur, and maybe professional sleuths out there to do their thing.
Wiesel has been hiding this faded-out, so-far-undecipherable spot on his arm for 70 years, and now that he’s safely buried and completely inaccessible, Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper that broke the story of Wiesel’s death, is beginning to reveal that arm. At least, that’s how it looks from where I’m sitting.
To the naked eye, it appears to be a bruise on the arm. Upon magnification, we can barely make out what appear to be numbers, but it’s not at all clear what numbers they are. I see a couple but I’m not going to reveal what I think I see because I want a better image – and think we all deserve one. The dark and light lines made by his arm hair create a confused mess, visually. What we need are more high-resolution photographs like this one, preferably with a straight-on view of the arm. The photographer Eyal Toueg must have taken many shots on this day in 2006 and he would have all the negatives. It is his responsibility to publish them all, every one that shows Wiesel’s left arm, but he is probably Israeli and is under the dictate of higher ups. Someone else may have bought all the negatives. Maybe Haaretz owns them.
As it is, we are left with many questions – such as, why has Wiesel refused to show his supposed faded tattoo over the years? Is it because it’s unreadable? If he revealed it, the public would question it – or at least sceptics would – and he was not prepared to answer questions. Probably, if there were journalists who took a genuine unflinching investigative approach, he would have been forced to discuss it, but none did. The efforts of Jean Robin of Enquete & Debat website to encourage such an investigation show conclusively that lack of journalistic willingness.
Has it been kept hidden because it is not A-7713? Could that be why whatever was there has been defaced or somehow unnaturally/synthetically faded or smeared? I cannot find any example of an Auschwitz tattoo that looks like his does.
Is it because it is something he put on his arm himself when he was a youth in France? In this 1945 photograph taken at the French orphanage for Jewish boys we see what looks like an Auschwitz tattoo, albeit a tiny one, on Wiesel’s arm in the same place we see the dark spot in the 2006 photo.
The ready conclusion is that it’s his Auschwitz tattoo A-7713. But we can’t make it out at all! It’s already faint in 1945 and when I magnify it, no part of it is recognizable.
It’s also interesting that this photograph was posted on the Internet by French Jew Loupi Smith, but it doesn’t seem to be in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum online collection (where it is hopeless to try to view their Wiesel photo collection, anyway; they obviously don’t want you to see it). Nor is it in the Yad Vashem photo collection under Elie Wiesel – in fact, they have only 3 photographs with Wiesel in them – all the rest are aerial views of Auschwitz-Birkenau! Really weird. I think this decision to withhold pictures of Wiesel can only have come from Wiesel himself. In my opinion, though, the above is definitely a photo of Elie Wiesel in 1945 in France.
Our next pictures are these two, which show the same mark on the arm in the same place, but both are still completely unreadable as numbers. I assume these pics are from the same 2006 photo shoot that produced our newest picture, which is a much better high-resolution image. We can see sharp detail, but the “tattoo” is still not decipherable. It’s a really bad “tattoo!” The problem does seem to be with the “tattoo,” not the photograph. It is just very faint.
Now take a look at this man’s equally hairy arm below– he is Erwin Farkas who was transported to Auschwitz from Hungary in 1944 at the age of 14. His number, A-7899, is only 186 digits beyond A-7713 – they are in the same time frame. His tattoo is faded and a little blurred, but still legible. There is no discoloration of the surrounding skin and the numbers are definitely blue. In fact, all the tattoos that one sees on the Internet are in this good of shape or better (many are fake though).
What happened to Wiesel’s that it is almost impossible to see? Only Wiesel could answer that – or would – so it’s clear that he didn’t want to since he didn’t let the higher quality picture at the top of this page be published during his lifetime.
In the “court of public opinion” and morally, if not legally … there is no excuse for Elie Wiesel to have been treated as he was by journalists and by historians. He had a duty to show the tattoo he said was on his arm and allow it to be photographed. He had a moral duty to prove that it was what he said it was—A-7713. His failure to do that over the course of many years makes him, and the mainstream media that enabled him, guilty of worse than negligence … they are guilty of “withholding evidence.” The media and academics are more guilty than Wiesel himself because Wiesel has to be given the right not to incriminate himself.
But morally, Wiesel is guilty of withholding evidence that was available all the time.
Above, I used the words “higher quality” but if all these pictures of Wiesel in the white knit short-sleeve shirt were taken on the same day by a professional photographer (which it makes sense that they were) then they should all be of similar high quality. And since we can’t make out the numbers on any of the three, it can only be that it’s the fault of the “tattoo,” not the photography.
I don’t believe this latest-to-be-revealed photograph from 2006 is photo-shop in any way. I do believe this is what Wiesel has on his arm, which he always claimed was A-7713. If it turns out to be A-7713, I won’t be upset in the least because all I’ve ever wanted was the truth about Elie Wiesel. But there will be questions and I will have a very hard time reconciling myself to the idea that the SS camp authorities could have made up a registration card for a 15 year old boy with the information that he was a 31-year-old man with the occupation of Schlosserlehring (Locksmith) – and never correcting it – allowing this boy to enter Buchenwald with that identification. No, it would be very hard to believe that.
So I can only hope that more of these photos by Eyal Toueg will be published. Because as it stands now, Elie Wiesel’s tattoo claims still don’t pass the most elementary test – that of what the heck is the number!