Posted on June 11, 2017 at 7:19 pm

My work on “Night” is featured in a talk given by Jewish Professor Alan Astro at St. Francis College in 2014

Alan Astro PhD, Trinity University

By Carolyn Yeager

I happened upon this video and recognized my own text of Yiddish-to-French-to-English translation being used by this professor at a Catholic university in San Antonio TX. Though a native of Brooklyn, Alan Astro says he has been at Trinity University for over 25 years. His field is modern languages and literatures; one of the subjects he teaches is Yiddish culture.

His lecture, titled “Christianity and the Holocaust in Elie Wiesel’s Night” was filmed by St. Francis College and at the 6min59sec mark, he shows text from my very important 2012 article “Night #1 and Night #2—What Changes were Made and Why, Part One.” So you never know who is reading this site – a lot of people and all people who have a professional interest in Elie Wiesel.

At 6:59, Astro shows text translated by Kladderadatsch for this web site, which he calls “Where’s the tatoo?” (sic). He says that even though Yiddish was not known very well even in the Jewish world … “Holocaust deniers somehow get their hands on the Yiddish and manage to get it translated. Here is one holocaust denier or minimizer on the web who makes a whole big deal about the fact that in the Yiddish and French and English original translations Wiesel “is not quite 15” when he is arrested and sent to Auschwitz, whereas he is 15 in the newest edition and this is considered to be something that somehow questions the veracity of the whole historical knowledge of the Holocaust. But that’s another issue all together. But it does show you that things can very often have strange consequences.” (He goes quickly to something else at 8:10. So Astro has my text on the screen for one minute, 11 seconds, enough time to read it all.

This is the segment he used:

3.  Not yet fifteen … or fifteen?

UdV Page 63 : Yingl, vi alt bistu? fregt mir a heftling.  Zeyn pnym iz geven in der fintster, ober zeyn kol iz geven a mids, a varems. Nokh nisht keyn 15 yor, hob ikh geentfert.

“Kid, how old are you?” a prisoner asked me.  His face was in darkness, but his voice was tired and warm. “Not yet 15 years,” I answered.

LN Page 54:  Hé, le gosse, quel âge as-tu?  C’était un détenu qui m’interrogeait.  Je ne voyais pas son visage, mais sa voix était lasse et chaude.  “Pas encore quinze ans.” / Not yet 15 years.

SR Page 39: “Here, kid, how old are you?” It was one of the prisoners who asked me this. I could not see his face, but his voice was tense and weary. “I’m not quite fifteen yet.”

MW Page 30:  “Hey, kid, how old are you?” The man interrogating me was an inmate. I could not see his face, but his voice  was weary and warm.  “Fifteen

This very important passage was discussed above. I think the reader would agree that “not yet 15″ can mean even farther from the age of 15 than “not quite fifteen.” What is clear is that Marion Wiesel has changed the author’s original words to fit them to her husband’s age in Spring 1944.

Astro dismisses this important observation with the misrepresentation (in boldface above) that the example is intended to negate the entire holocaust story. No, it isn’t; obviously it questions the veracity of Elie Wiesel’s truthfulness in “Night” since this scene took place in April or May, and the real Wiesel’s 16th birthday was coming up on September 28, 1944. Thus Wiesel was not 14 in Spring ’44, but had already been 15 for at least 7 months. Astro is not interested in telling that to his audience or pursuing it himself. He is a professor of languages and literature, but not an expert on Elie Wiesel or the Holocaust. Far, far from it.

Another photo of Professor Alan Astro.

At 19:33, hear him pronounce Wiesel’s name as weasel (as I say it) and then quickly correct himself to the affectation Wie-zell that he used throughout the talk. This indicates that ‘weasel’ is his default way of pronouncing the name, or the way he first learned it.

At right is another photo of Professor Astro I found online that gives what might be a truer look at the man.

3 Comments to My work on “Night” is featured in a talk given by Jewish Professor Alan Astro at St. Francis College in 2014

  1. by Hans

    On June 12, 2017 at 5:22 am

  2. by Carolyn

    On June 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Yes, interesting. The video reveals him not to be a good communicator, just as his students say. He kind of mumbles, doesn’t talk loud enough, and so can be hard to understand. If he didn’t have the visuals I wouldn’t have been able to follow him at all.

    In the end, he sums up his “argument”, as he calls it, this way: “It’s not the religious part of Wiesel’s book that is Christian, but is rather the aesthetic elements which are necessarily Christian, and if there is a particularly Jewish component it is the Trial of God. In other words, how could God have this happen, but this is very much condensed but happy to ….” he trails off, I think inviting questions from the audience. This is very much a big nothing burger because it was already discussed by Francois Mauriac way back when he wrote the preface for the original La Nuit in 1958. Astro quotes similar talk from other Jewish writers before he comes to his very unoriginal conclusion. I would have liked to have heard the question-answer session, if there was one.

    Typical college professor who has stayed in the same safe spot for 25 years. I am completely down on college. It certainly didn’t do me any good except to say, yes, I’m a college graduate … as many of the comments you linked to imply also, as in “Take the course, you won’t learn anything but it’s an easy grade.”


  3. by Carolyn

    On June 12, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Another comment: Astro does say that Wiesel never mentioned the Yiddish text until his memoir “All Rivers Run to the Sea”, first published in French in 1994. Strange, right? He asks why at 8min 10sec and gives his “possible reasons.” They are totally false reasons. The real reason, that I have written about on a few occasions, is that Elie didn’t want that Yiddish version to become publicly known – it brought up too much for him to explain.

    The reason Wiesel was forced to acknowledge the Yiddish book was because Nicholas Grüner had discovered it around 1988 and accused Elie Wiesel of stealing it from it’s true author, Lazar Wiesel. This has all been well-covered by me on this web site. The reason I bring it up is to show how this ‘professor’ covers for Elie, just as the entire establishment does, and lies or omits in the name of academic scholarship. He certainly knows about Grüner, but never once mentions him as a reason for the “unearthing” of the Yiddish book.


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