Posts Tagged ‘Buchenwald’
Friday, October 18th, 2013
By Carolyn Yeager
In January 2011, I featured a Letter of the Week from Hailey S. In November the same year I featured two more, from Shelby and Sarah. Now I have received three more complaints about this site from (another?) Hailey, a Katie and a Lauren — right in a row. Thank you ladies!
But it’s an odd thing — the latest three were all sent from the same computer. And with an email address that ends in the same edu., which I won’t reveal. I’m not even sure it’s legitimate … that is, a real school. Could these young ladies be friends conspiring together in writing their comments? Could they even be the same person using different names and slightly different email addresses?
The content and point of view is similar, but written in different ways. You will find that “belief” and “believing” are the major basis for, well, believing the “holocaust.” These comments are also similar to the earlier ones I published from Hailey S, Shelby and Sarah, although better written and thought-out. So I could reply to them all together, but since they are written to three different blog articles they appear on different pages. This is why I decided to reply to them here, under the title of “More Letters of the Week.”
First, from Hailey, who sent her comment to “Elie’s Adventures in Buchenland” on Oct. 14:
I find the trivialization of the Holocaust extremely disgusting. It maybe that some don’t believe that Elie Wiesel was an actual part of the Holocaust, but that does not mean anyone has the right to make fun of or make light of a horrific historical event. An event that almost entirely wiped out an entire group of people. There is an amount of dignity that must be maintained when dealing with this horrific time in history.
I already replied to Hailey on that page, so I’ll just say here that she’s free to express her feelings but I hope she understands that that is all she’s doing. Hailey has been indoctrinated into believing that “Holocaust survivors” are telling the truth about their “horrific” suffering and that “an entire group of people [by which she means Jewish people] were almost entirely wiped out.” Honest research has shown otherwise, but Hailey prefers to ignore this research.
The second comment is from Katie, who sent her comment to “Elie Wiesel Was Not in Buchenwald Made Simple“ on Oct. 16:
I think that there could be a logical explanation to explain the holes in Elie’s story. I cannot bring myself to believe that someone would fictionalize a story on the holocaust and its terrible events. When someone under goes a traumatic event they will most likely not be able to remember every detail perfectly therefore he may have been confused on the dates and times. Elie has also grown older in age which also may make it difficult for him to remember. His book Night, is very detailed and descriptive which makes it difficult to believe that he could make those events up. This blog also states that Elie has not been asked to explain his discrepancies in his “tale”. Could it possibly be because there is no solid proof to question his story? And if he wasn’t actually a survivor than his book is still an incredible account of a Jewish person in the Holocaust and is still educational and provides people with an insight to the terrible things that happened.
Poor logic here. Katie says, “I cannot bring myself to believe …” — she is also putting her belief first. How many times can we repeat that reality is not about belief. It’s about facts and evidence. Belief belongs in religion — in this case the religion they have all been brought up in: Holocaustism.
Katie brings up belief a second time, saying in essence that after reading Night, she finds it “difficult to believe that he could make those events up.” But Wiesel is primarily a fiction writer and has made up lots of stories about Jews; in fact Night was for a long time listed and sold as fiction! Good fiction makes us believe it’s real even when we know better.
As to the “logical explanation” Katie thinks could be found, she doesn’t come up with one. Illogically, she says that Elie was traumatized and thus not able to remember well. But Elie has always said he waited for 10 years to write his book so that he would have a clearer mind about it. Her other “logical explanation” is: Elie is now elderly and has a poor memory, thus he gets mixed up on dates and times. But Elie wrote Night in 1955, and it is in this book that the problems exist — the book itself is inaccurate and inconsistent. Since that time he has continued to say different things — inconsistent things.
Katie’s final remark falls back on what the bulk of “Holocaust” defenders come up with: Even if he wasn’t a survivor, it’s still an “incredible [fictional] account” providing an insight into the terrible things that happened. How does he know what happened if he wasn’t there? He made it all up, taking the framework for what others had already said about it. Stop defending this multi-millionaire shyster, Katie.
Third, is Lauren, who sent her comment to “Ken Waltzer inadvertently supplies proof that Elie Wiesel was not at Buchenwald“ on Oct. 16:
I find this constant speculation about the validity of the Holocaust and its survivors extremely disturbing. The Holocaust was not a glamorous event, therefore, I find it hard to believe that someone would make up a story about being a victim of such tragedy. While I realize that many people would consider my opinion to be a ‘too optimistic’ view of human nature and morality, there is a lot of information to support the fact that Elie Wiesel was at the camp without the information that Mr. Waltzer is supposedly with-holding.
Once more, we find the belief mode: “I find it hard to believe that someone would make up a story…” Why? Hundreds of fake survivors have done so. What does it take for you to give up this childish belief in a religion of sadistically persecuted Jews?
You say it is not a glamorous event … but for ordinary “non-glamorous” Jews it is the ultimate stardom, and a very lucrative source of money too. Not only from the books they write, but also from the talks they give on the “speakers circuit” — and how they love all that respectful attention. They also love fooling so many Gentiles.
You say “there is a lot of information to support the fact that Elie Wiesel was at the camp …” No, there isn’t! This entire web site is devoted to showing that the alleged “information” is false or simply does not exist. Yet you cling to your belief in the non-existent. That is religion, not history, Lauren.
You are also mis-stating the case when you say Mr. Waltzer is withholding information. He is withholding nothing, for he doesn’t have the information he claims. Your Mr. Waltzer is another fraud who’s been caught in his frivolous promises. I know it’s tough for you to accept. But logic should tell you that if Waltzer had the information he would have put it out there already. He is embarrassing himself as a university professor by remaining silent and not publishing it. In failing to do so, he is proving my point … not yours.
Well, young ladies, thanks for your written words. They are a treasure. You are of course welcome to write again, but I caution you that I expect you to address my replies to you in some way. If you just write more of the same I probably won’t publish it. I don’t want to bore the readers. So step up to the plate!
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: belief vs evidence, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, history vs religion, Holocaustism, Kenneth Waltzer, Letter of the Week,
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Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
by Carolyn Yeager
The interview with psychiatrist Max Hamburger that appeared in the March 2012 Dutch magazine Aanspraak was translated into English for me by Hasso Castrup. Some things that Hamburger said are revealing of his overall honesty when it comes to his statements about “the Holocaust.” Being a “holocaust survivor” who appears in the famous photograph is, after all, his only claim to fame.
Max Hamburger in 2012 pointing to himself in the Famous Buchenwald Lie-beration Photo from 1945 (Source: Aanspraak magazine)
I’ve already reported in a previous article (scroll down to end) that his father was an Amsterdam diamond merchant, Hartog Hamburger, who died from a bizarre accident when Max was only four years old. His mother, a fashion designer, worked even harder after that and often left him with his grandparents. When Max was ten, his brother died of leukemia, leaving Max alone with his mother. This is quite a lot of trauma in the first ten years of life, which couldn’t help but leave a mark on his psyche.
He says his brother’s death is what inspired him to study medicine, beginning in 1938 when he was 18. But in 1942, further public education was denied to him because he was Jewish. His job with the Jewish Council (Judenrat) allowed him to remain immune to deportation to Westerbork by getting a special stamp on his Ausweis (ID). In the summer of 1942, he went to work as an intern at the New Israelite Hospital, where he learned that when the substance ‘Pyrifer’ is injected intravenously it will cause high fever similar to what one gets with malaria or typhoid. Hamburger began injecting this into the Jewish patients so they would be declared unfit for deportation.
This, of course, raised suspicion among the Germans and Hamburger says in June 1943 the New Israelite Hospital was raided, in order to be emptied. He and other medical personnel hid patients under laundry and in the morgue, and led seriously ill patients into hiding (?). He is proud to describe himself as part of the Resistance and says he was later awarded with a memorial cross because of it. He tells a story that describes how in August 1943 he once again escapes deportation, but I’m not repeating it because there is no way to assure it’s true.
Working with the Resistance
He then moved to the Jewish Handicapped (Asylum) at Weesperplein, where he and other doctors again tried to”save” as many patients as possible by declaring them ill with contagious diseases. He says at the Portuguese-Israelite Hospital people in mixed marriages were to be sterilized. Along with most of the staff, he refused to cooperate and went through a hidden door into a neighboring villa and went into hiding. He and his girlfriend were married by a rabbi; they were both fully into the Resistance now. His mother was also brought to where he was, but she quickly hid herself elsewhere.
He says that “shortly afterwards we were betrayed and arrested, interrogated and deported to Westerbork. My mother was also betrayed.” On Sunday, February 6, 1944, he saw her for the last time in the penal barracks at Westerbork. They fell into each other’s arms and cried. But then … “In Auschwitz I met a fellow radiologist who was deported together with her. He told me that my mother was gassed on March 6, 1944. I arrived there on February 10, 1944 (his 24th birthday, but he doesn’t mention it), but did not see her again.”
Since we know there were no gassings at Auschwitz – this is a dead giveaway that he’s telling a big lie, although he’s putting the lie in the mouth of an unnamed “fellow radiologist.” This is a trick that is used often by so-called witnesses and “survivors.” The so-called informant should always be named; if they can’t name the exact source of the information, they should not be believed.
At Auschwitz, he at first failed, then succeeded in becoming recognized as a doctor. He began on a work detail where he says he was “poorly dressed in the icy cold damp weather, the work meant a maximum survival of 3 months.” (We hear so often that the life expectancy was “3 months,” but why did most inmates not only live until liberation, but into old age after it? Hamburger himself is 93 years old – Feb.10, three days ago, was his birthday.) As a doctor, he supervised the cleaning of the barracks during the day, in the afternoon handed out soup, evenings he did lice control. What’s so hard about that? Yet he says that in April he developed a fever, and on May 1st managed to avoid the medical inspection (a strange story of ‘luck’) in order to be included in a transport of Hungarian “forced” laborers headed to Silesia. He says this “saved his life” (considering his 3 months were almost up, don’t you know).
According to this, Hamburger was at Auschwitz from Feb. 10 to May 1, 1944 – a little less than three months. This was the usual length of quarantine at Birkenau for those who were then sent to other camps as labor. During the 2 to 3-month quarantine period the inmates did not work, so I do think his account has quite a bit of invention in it so as to not sound like quarantine. His mother would also have been in quarantine and he would not have seen her there, being the men and women were strictly segregated into separate camps. This is the usual situation from which “survivors” claim their relatives were gassed, the information so often coming from a nameless fellow inmate; sometimes from a “sadistic guard.”
After Auschwitz, the story gets more confusing
The train took them to Gross Rosen, where an old factory was assigned as their hospital. He says “we” had to vaccinate everyone against typhus in February 1945. Their only hope were reports of advancing Russians and Americans, which they knew of because a fellow prisoner secretly listened to the radio. At the evacuation of the camp they had to walk in the snow to the Czech Republic. From there they were taken by train from Prague to Flossenbürg camp in Bavaria.
According to USHMM, Gross Rosen camp was evacuated in early February ’45 and “about 40,000” from the main camp and sub-camps had to march west. This is a lot of inoculation to be done in a few days. But more important, the 9-month period he spent at Gross Rosen between May 1944 and February 1945 is blank. May 1944 coincides with the time of the large Hungarian deportation to Auschwitz; Hamburger says he was with a Hungarian labor unit that had already been to Auschwitz and sent out from there. Would not the new arrivals also have been sent out from there in like manner? From here on, his narrative remains very sketchy, and is mostly made up of vague horror stories.
He says, “The camp guards were shooting prisoners who were their live targets in the white landscape. Daily there were death sentences and prisoners were hanged before our eyes.” Yet the prisoners were needed to work in the quarries and Messerschmitt factories … and they had been innoculated in February against typhus, no doubt at some expense. So why would they be wasted as target practice for the guards? This is when survivor stories become really unbelievable. At the beginning of March 1945, he says they were deported to Ohrdruf, a work camp of Buchenwald. “Here were bombproof underground factories for assembly of V-weapons. After underground explosions with dynamite, we were to remove the big stones from the corridors by small-gauge trains.” But he doesn’t stay there. “We had to walk for four days and nights 80 km (approx. 40 miles) through the snow to Buchenwald.” Although he says he was practically “in a coma,” he’s clear about the dates and distances.
“On 11 April 1945, Buchenwald was liberated by the American army. Five days after the liberation our well-known picture (was taken). I lie down there, fourth from the left. As I lay there someone advised me to go to the hospital, because I otherwise would not survive. “If they do not record you, you go ‘under the grass.’ When an American goes by and sees you lying, he makes sure that you get recorded. And so I went. With DDT powder I was lice free. The lice and I got U.S. baby food! For me THAT was liberation. During a night in the hospital, I knew: ‘If I fall asleep, I’ll never wake up and I won’t be able to testify to what happened to us.’ I fought that night to the utmost against sleep and thereby I survived.”
From the beginning of March to April 11, Hamburger has nothing to say except that he spent 4 days walking from Ordruf to Buchenwald and that he was in the photograph taken on April 16. He doesn’t give the date that he arrived at Buchenwald. What he tells can be picked up from any number of accounts of the time period. Can we believe he was even at Buchenwald? Why was he in that barracks #56? How long was he there? Why did “someone” have to tell him to go to the hospital 5 days after the Americans arrived? All very implausible since he was a medical professional.
But beyond all this is the fact that the figure he says is him is indeed a retouched copy of the figure in the row above, 3rd from the left. He doesn’t claim any relationship to that person, who has been identified (inaccurately) by Yad Vashem Museum as Yehuda Doron or Yaakov Marton. This famous photograph has been proved to be a composite photo created by a U.S. military intelligence department to be used in the ongoing propaganda war against Germany and Hitler’s Third Reich, so everything about it is suspect.
The rest of what Hamburger said in the interview does not apply to the questions I have. Again, my primary question is: When did Max Hamburger first say he was in that photograph? Like so many others, it was not at liberation, nor in the years following. In fact, there is no information that I have found as to when this did occur. Why? Because it must be recent – too recent.
In 1945, Max was 25. He wrote that he and the loyal wife he married when he was 22 were divorced sometime around or after 1957, and he is now with his third wife.
“For a long time I have been a psychiatrist and I have helped many war victims thanks to my own experiences. Until I could no longer afford to listen to them. Unfortunately I never found a psychiatrist who could help me. I regret that I was a bad partner in the previous marriages, but that’s because I was in the grip of the past I had lived through. I find it annoying when people make demands on me and I can get angry.”
I bet he could sure get angry with me! I am making demands on Max Hamburger to fill in the blanks in his “holocaust survivor” story. I don’t have any reason to doubt the early part of his story but, starting with his and his mother’s arrival at Auschwitz, there is much to question.
He is, from all appearances, a loyal Jew with the typical Jewish desire to avenge the “wrong” done to his people and the interruption and pain in his own personal life. Telling lies to accomplish this is not, therefore, a wrong in his eyes. A wrong for a wrong is, for Jews, a fair exchange … nothing to be ashamed of. This may even be how he counseled his patients.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dutch Resistance, Gross Rosen camps, holocaust survivor, Max Hamburger, photo forgery, Westerbork,
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
Do we have a stupid President, or what?
On Monday, April 23, U.S. President Barack Obama toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with Elie Wiesel as his guide. Following the tour, both Wiesel and Obama gave boring, highly hypocritical speeches to the assembled diplomats, Jews, Shoah survivors, supporters and workers. Both speeches together lasted about 35 minutes. (Pictured right, Wiesel and Obama hug between speeches)
During Obama’s talk, he recalled a previous time that Elie had guided him through one of the Shoah’s sacred shrines–Buchenwald, in June 2009. At the 11:10 mark of this video, Obama remembers:
We stopped at an old photo, men and women lying in their bunks, barely more than skeletons, and if you look closely you can see a sixteen year old boy, looking right at the camera, right into your eyes … you can see Elie.
President Obama was talking about this old photo, which is a cropped version of the original.
This photograph was taken on April 16, 1945 when Elie Wiesel could not have been in it because he was in the hospital at Buchenwald deathly ill from food poisoning, according to both Night and his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea.
Obama made a big boo-boo in saying “men and women” were in the photo, lying in bunks together. But we already questioned his intelligence, so we’ll pass that by. The bigger mistake he made was identifying the face in the far upper right as Elie Wiesel. His presidential aides should familiarize themselves with this blog before their boss’ next meeting with the Holo idol. This site has proven that it is not Elie Wiesel in that picture, especially here and here.
Judge for yourself from this cleaned up, unretouched enlargement of the round-headed man (right), found to be in his 30′s by a computer program designed by Apple. Or check out Computer program judges “Elie Wiesel in Buchenwald” to be 30-36 years of age once again.
Compare this face to a real 16 year-old—Nikolaus Grüner in the far lower left of the picture above.
This tells us that President Obama doesn’t think for himself, but accepts whatever he is told by members of the Jewish race, like Elie Wiesel. But we already knew that. Elie says, “That’s me,” and Barack says, “My, so it is.”
Obama continues recalling the Buchenwald meeting:
And at the end of our visit that day, Elie spoke of his father. “I thought one day I would come back and speak to him,” he said “of times of which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will. “ Elie, you’ve devoted your life to upholding that sacred duty. You’ve challenged us all as individuals and as nations to do the same with the power of your example, the eloquence of your words … as you did again just now … and so to you and Marion we are extraordinarily grateful.
First, who is we? The entire U.S. citizenry? I’m sure there are many who, like me, opt out of that sentiment and are not grateful to Elie Wiesel. Think how Wiesel uses the word “memory” here. “Memory should become a “sacred duty of all people,” is what he is saying. How can “memory” alone be a sacred duty? But he is meaning a specific memory of the Jewish Holocaust, nothing else. He doesn’t want to say that out loud for all us non-Jews to hear, but we’re supposed to pick it up anyway. We know he means only the memory of the Jewish “holocaust” because he supports the Holocaust Lobby’s condemnation of the Germans’ right to their memories, doesn’t he? If any nation’s memories conflict with the sacred Shoah narrative, they should be suppressed, even criminalized. Wiesel said as much in his speech. In the case of Germany, their non-shoah-approved memories are criminalized (see here). It is the same in Austria and to a lesser degree in many European countries, and Wiesel is on record for favoring criminalization in the United States! Barack Obama is promising that “as a nation” we will follow Elie Wiesel’s example.
You should also be aware that the Shoah narrative is still in flux, still changing, so we don’t even know what we’re in for.
Barack Obama, representing the American people, is committing a great injustice to most of us in order to beg for the Jewish vote. How far will we allow the Jewish takeover of America to go?
UPDATE: April 26, 8 p.m.
A perfect example of the hypocrisy of Wiesel’s “sacred duty of memory” was offered today in a news story from Europe. The U.S. State Department’s “special envoy to fight global antisemitism” Hanna Rosenthal was touring Latvia after meeting earlier with the mayor of Malmo, Sweden. In Latvia, she pressed the Latvian leadership on their country’s continued commemorations of Latvian participation in the Waffen SS, the military wing of the National Socialist party, which included volunteer divisions from all over Europe. Many Latvians consider the volunteers who fought against the Soviets to be heroes of the nation. To Rosenthal’s objections that this amounted to condoning the killing of Jews, they said their history is “complicated” and they don’t see it in simple right/wrong terms. But Rosenthal insisted, with the weight and power of the United States government behind her, that such a commemoration was “offensive to Jews.” Because it is offensive to Jews, the Latvians’ sacred duty to their memory of resisting the takeover by the Soviet Union cannot be allowed.
What could show more clearly that it is indeed only the memories sacred to the Jews that all the world is expected to honor. Our own sacred memories, whatever they may be, must come second to theirs. Who in their right mind accepts such rules?
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Barack Obama, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, USHMM,
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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 Carolyn Yeager
Elie Wiesel questioned under oath in a California courtroom in 2008:
Q. And is this book Night that you wrote a true account of your experience during World War II?
A. It is a true account. Every word in it is true.
In Part One, I established that the decision to rebrand Night into an autobiography was the reason for a new translation, in which necessary changes could be made to better ‘fit’ the story both to the real Elie Wiesel and the known facts of the Hungarian deportation.
When the 2006 translation came out, with its new classification to “autobiography,” questions arose from some circles. Responding to these questions, Edward Wyatt wrote an article in the NewYork Times on Jan. 19, 2006, in which he quoted Jeff Seroy, senior vice president at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, parent company of Night publisher Hill & Wang, as strongly denying that changes were made to bring the book more in line with the facts. “Nonsense,” said Seroy. “Some minor mistakes crept into the original translation that were expunged in the new translation. But the book stands as a record of fact.”
Left: Elie Wiesel manning his table at a Jewish book fair in Austin, TX in 2006. The new translation of Night by his wife Marion had come out in January of that year. It was also chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s book club at that time. Below: Publisher Jeff Seroy, center, with writer Brad Gooch to his left, Doug Stumps on his right .
Blaming the Translator
“Mistakes in the original translation” can only mean mistakes by Stella Rodway, the original translator! But we have already shown that Stella Rodway faithfully reproduced the French La Nuit, which was Wiesel’s own work. The author and publisher are casting these changes as translation errors to divert attention away from Elie Wiesel’s own errors—part of their campaign to pass Night off from now on as “a record of fact.”
A record of fact it isn’t
When I ended Part One, Eliezer and Father were still in the train car on their way to Buchenwald. You will recall that the Yiddish, the French and thus the original English version of Night specified the trip took 10 days and 10 nights from Gleiwitz (on the former German/Polish border) to Buchenwald. Since we know from standard historical sources1 that the prisoners were evacuated from Monowitz on Jan. 18 and arrived in Gleiwitz the next day, Jan. 19; and since according to the description in Night itself, they spend three days in Gleiwitz (Jan. 20-22), this would make their day of arrival February 1, 1945. But in Night, Father’s death takes place the night of Jan. 28-29, three days before they arrived! This is why Marion Wiesel removed the number 10 in her new translation, leaving the number of days and nights undetermined.
A strange detail that actually belongs in Part One is on page 87 of the original Night. Eliezer remarks, after his and his Father’s deliberations and final decision to go on the march: “I learned after the war the fate of those who had stayed behind in the hospital. They were quite simply liberated by the Russians two days after the evacuation.” The evacuation, as we all know, was on the 18th. We also know the Russians did not arrive on the 20th of January! The actual liberation day is January 27. What possessed Wiesel to write this? Well, because it was in Un di velt: “Two days after we had left Buna, the Red Army occupied the camp. All the sick had stayed alive.”
From the point in the story of Eliezer and Father’s arrival at Buchenwald there are no significant changes made by Marion Wiesel to the original French and English versions. But there is much in all the versions that differs strikingly from the “official holocaust history” as written by acknowledged official chroniclers such as Danuta Czech. So I will continue with comparisons between Night and “official history,” along with some very significant changes made from Un di velt hot geshvign to Wiesel’s edited French La Nuit.
Arrival at Buchenwald: 26 Jan. or 1 Feb.?
Danuta Czech, in her Auschwitz Chronicle1, records that on January 26,
A transport with 3,987 prisoners from Auschwitz auxiliary camps reaches Buchenwald. There are 52 dead prisoners in the transport. 115 prisoners die on the day of arrival. Their corpses are delivered to the autopsy room. (P 801)
This is the transport that carried Lazar and Abraham Wiesel/Viezel, Miklos (Nikolaus) Grüner and all of the inmates of Monowitz whose names are on the transport list.2 According to Czech, the Monowitz prisoners began their march on the evening of January 18, 1945, with “divisions of nurses placed between the columns” of 1000 each (P 786), arriving at Gleiwitz Camp the following evening. On Jan. 21 “they are loaded in open freight cars with other prisoners from Auschwitz who have arrived in Gleiwitz.” (P 788) From Jan. 21 to Jan. 26 is five days of travel … not ten, as Wiesel wrote in Night.
The narrative in Night gives us a date of Jan. 22 for the boarding of the train, one day later than Czech. And while Night gives the number of days on the train (10), it does not name the date of arrival.
Hilda Wiesel says her father died on arrival
Totally contradicting what is written in Night, Hilda Wiesel Kudler, Elie’s oldest sister, in her testimony for the Shoah Foundation in 1995, said she learned from her brother that their father died as he stepped off the train.
And I said, where is father? And he replied, he’s gone back to Sighet; he[Elie] didn’t want to tell me [that he was dead]. And I repeated, but where is he? And he insisted he was at Sighet. And I said, look, I want you to tell me the truth. Because he knew the date of my father’s death. You know, they did a long march3 from Auschwitz, then they put them on the train to go to Buchenwald; he died gasping for air; when he stepped off the train, he died gasping for air; at Buchenwald. But he[Elie] knew the date.
Right: Hilda Wiesel Kudler, in France, giving her videotaped testimony to the Shoah Foundation
From this, we can better understand something about Elie Wiesel—that he has never had a problem with making up stories that “sound better” than the truth. But, if Hilda is correct in her recall, and if their father really was one of the 115 inmates who Danuta Czech reports died on the day of arrival, then Wiesel’s long, melodramatic story of watching his father sicken and die over a ten-day period in Night is fiction. All of it—including his father being whacked on the head by a cruel “officer” in the barracks.
The day of arrival for this transport is Jan. 26, but according to the timeline in Night, it arrives on Feb. 1. Either way, it doesn’t correspond to the date of Jan. 28 that Wiesel, for reasons unknown, selected as the date his fictional Father died.
You might also be interested to know that Hilda is named Deborah in Un di velt; the name Hilda is never used. It was Wiesel who changed it to Hilda in La Nuit.
Un di Velt says Father dies a week after arrival in Buchenwald, Night says 8-10 days … yet it is January 28 … or is it the 18th Day of Shevat?
Regular readers of this blog will know this already, but it bears repeating yet again: there is no Shlomo Wiesel in the official history or in the records who fits the profile of “Father” as described by Elie Wiesel in Night. There is an Abraham (sometimes shortened to Abram) Viezel who is recorded in several places—on a medical report at Auschwitz, on the transport to Buchenwald, and on a death certificate dated Feb. 2, 1945, seven (7) days after arrival. This Abraham was born Oct. 10, 1900, making him 44 years old when he died. Recall that Night gives Father’s age as 50 in 1944 (SR, P 40).
Wiesel’s description has the transport to Buchenwald arriving on Feb.1st. But that’s just the beginning. After arriving, this is the timeline given in both the original Night and Marion Wiesel’s 2006 translation:
It was daytime when I awoke. I went to look for my father. (Feb. 2nd)
On the third day after our arrival at Buchenwald, everyone had to go to the showers [his father went too-cy]. Even the sick who had to go through last. (Feb 4th) […] Struck down by dysentery, my father lay in his bunk, five other invalids with him. I sat by his side watching him … A week went by like this. (Feb. 11th or Feb. 8th depending on how you read it)
[ . . . ]
When I got down after roll call, I could see his lips trembling as he murmured something. […] Then I had to go to bed. I climbed into my bunk, above my father, who was still alive. It was January 28, 1945. (still Feb. 8 or 11) I awoke on January 29 at dawn. In my father’s place lay another invalid. They must have taken him away before dawn and carried him to the crematory.” (Feb 12th or 9th) [Stella Rodway translation, pp 107-112]
The timeline in Un di velt is not in doubt:
On the seventh or eighth day of our being in Buchenwald, the bunk-elder [should be block-elder -cy) who used to deal out bread for the whole bunk [sic], came to me. . . .
[ . . . ]
On the same day, in the evening, disaster struck. The end. During roll call. The healthy had to go out of the block in order to be counted by the S.S. men. The sick stayed in their bunks. My father and I thus stayed inside. He — because of his dysentery and I — because of my bandaged foot. Father was lying in the lowest bunk and I — in the uppermost.
[ . . . ]
After roll call, I immediately jumped down from the uppermost bunk and ran to him. He was still breathing. But — he was silent.
[ . . . ]
For a couple of hours I stayed by him and looked at his face long and well […] Then they forced me to go lie down to sleep. I climbed up to the uppermost bunk and I did not know that in the morning, on awakening, I would find my father no more.
It was the eighteenth of Shevat, 5705.
* * *
Nineteenth of Shevat. Early in the morning.
I got up and ran to my father. Another sick man was lying in his place.
I had a father no more. (pp 233-238)
Readers might be surprised to learn that the Hebrew calendar date of 18-19 Shevat, 5705 corresponds to February 1-2, 1945! How neat is that? So, in Un di velt Father dies seven days after arrival, on the very same day as Abraham Viezel died, who was officially recorded at Buchenwald with the registration number of 123488 and the Auschwitz registration number of A-7712. (However, Un di velt also says that the trip from Gleiwitz to Buchenwald took ten days, which means they could not have arrived until sometime in February. Seven days from that time would not be Feb. 2nd.)
So can we conclude from this that Abraham is Shlomo? Not necessarily. The Yiddish author reports Father’s death as occurring during the night of 18-19 Shevat (Feb. 1-2), but Elie Wiesel, author of La Nuit, says the date is Jan. 28th! Why? Who can answer that but Elie Wiesel? He certainly knows what the month of Shevat and the year 5705 means … or he could have easily found out.
Or can we conclude that Un di velt was written by Lazar Wiesel, as Nikolaus Grüner claims … that he wrote his story as a father-son relationship … and that he was perhaps not the brother of Abraham as Grüner says he was? (It’s noted on Lazar’s Buchenwald file card that his father was also in Buchenwald; his mother in Auschwitz.) Well, again, not necessarily. There are other possibilities. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The facts are, there are problems with all of these theories; none is a perfect fit. We can ask: If Elie Wiesel is the author of Un di velt hot geshvign, why did he change so many of the underpinning facts of the story when he rewrote it in French as La Nuit? This is a real head-scratcher. We can also ask: Why did Naomi Seidman, the Jewish professor who discussed in detail some of the differences between the Yiddish book and Night, not mention the 18th of Shevat? Is it because she couldn’t find an explanation for it? Siedman, Ruth Franklin and other Jewish reviewers have never brought up some of these Yiddish to French discrepancies. They are too embarrassing a problem for them.
What we can safely say is that no matter who the author of Un di velt was … he was totally unfamiliar with the real facts of when the Monowitz prisoners arrived at Buchenwald. Was it because he was not one of them? Was it because he was not concerned about accuracy since his story was directed at a non-critical audience—a Yiddish-speaking Jewish audience? As we continue, we’ll find more mystifications, but also a few certainties.
What happens to Eliezer after Father’s death?
Wiesel writes in Night (essentially the same in all translations):
I had to stay at Buchenwald until April eleventh. I have nothing to say of my life during this period. […] I was transferred to the children’s block, where there were six hundred of us. […] I spent my days in a state of total idleness. And I had one desire—to eat. I no longer thought of my father or of my mother. (SR, P 114)
He continues that on April 10, a general evacuation of the remainder of the camp—20,000 prisoners in all, including “several hundred children”—was begun but was soon interrupted. It resumed on the 11th but was again interrupted around ten a.m. when the camp inmate “resistance movement” rose up, firing guns. And then at 6 p.m. on that same day the first American tank arrived. This corresponds pretty well with the official story, but then it goes astray.
In a November 2000 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Wiesel recalled:
… and we [children] were left until the end. But every day we marched to the gate anyway. I was near the gate more than five times before I was released, and each time, the gate closed just before I came to it.
Ah, we have heard this before, haven’t we? As exaggerated as it sounds, in Un di velt the author goes even further. He writes:
I didn’t even bother to try hiding myself. Let myself be born along with the stream. Tens of times I stood before the iron camp gate, on the threshold of death, and always something happened which brought us back to the block.
Un di velt continues: “If I was not killed then it is merely thanks to almighty chance. For — because of the hunger, I even wanted to go to the gate: outside the gate, they were distributing bread and marmalade.”
Above:Elie interviewed by Oprah in 2000. Right: The front gate at Buchenwald, from the inside looking out, that Wiesel says he marched right up to “tens of times” but was always turned back!
Liberation brings Freedom and Revenge
UdV, P 244: The first gesture of freedom: the starved men made an effort to get something to eat. They only thought about food. Not about revenge. Not about their parents. Only about bread. And even when they had satisfied their hunger—they still did not think about revenge.
SR, P 115: Our first act as free men was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. We thought only of that. Not of revenge, not of our families. Nothing but bread.
Oprah Winfrey interview: Oprah asks, “After you were liberated, what did you do?” Wiesel answers: “The first thing many of us did was reassemble to say a prayer for the dead.” (page 5)
* * * *
UdV, P 244: Early the next day Jewish boys ran off to Weimar to steal clothing and potatoes. And to rape German girls [un tsu fargvaldikn daytshe shikses]. The historical commandment of revenge was not fulfilled.
LN, P 178: Le lendemain, quelques jeunes gens coururent à Weimar ramasser des pommes de terre et des habits—et coucher avec des filles. Mais de vengeance, pas trace.
SR, P 116: On the following day, some of the young men went to Weimar to get some potatoes and clothes—and to sleep with girls. But of revenge, not a sign.
MW, P115: The next day a few of the young men ran into Weimar to bring back some potatoes and clothes—and to sleep with girls. But still no trace of revenge.
In this case, Wiesel made the change from ‘rape’ to ‘sleep with’ in La Nuit. The expression for “German girls” that we find in the Yiddish book was also removed. The term that was actually used is shikses, a word which originally meant “abomination” and which is used today as a term of contempt for all non-Jewish women. In other words, in saying daytshe shikses, the author was expressing, in rather vulgar terms, his contempt and hatred for German women. This apparently was not good for the eyes of the Goyim to see. It was changed by Wiesel in the French La Nuit, and thus it never reached our eyes until now.
Yet, the Yiddish author goes even further and decries the failure of the Jewish males to take a proper revenge, which is here envisioned as a much larger public act of retribution than the “too mild” raping of German women. (Public retribution, of course, did come later with the Nuremberg Military Tribunals.)
Eliezer is hospitalized for two weeks—April 14 to April 28
UdV P 244: Three days after liberation I became very ill; food-poisoning. They took me to the hospital and the doctors said that I was gone. For two weeks I lay in the hospital between life and death. My situation grew worse from day to day.
SR P 116: Three days after the liberation I became very ill with food poisoning. I was transferred to the hospital and spent two weeks between life and death.
MW P 115: Three days after the liberation of Buchenwald, I became very ill: some form of poisoning. I was transferred to a hospital and spent two weeks between life and death.
Three days after liberation on April 11th is April 14th. Thus, Eliezer is in the hospital from April 14 until April 28—extremely ill, close to death. In his 1995 memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Elie Wiesel claims that on that day (the 14th) he was thrown a can of lard, which he apparently ate although he doesn’t remember doing so. He lost consciousness and awoke in a hospital. But the addition of this story, which is in the original Un di velt, presents serious problems for Elie Wiesel. Perhaps the hospital story had slipped his mind when he decided to claim he was one of the survivors lying on a bunk in the “famous Buchenwald liberation photograph.” Because he was in the hospital …
He cannot be in the famous Buchenwald liberation photo taken on April 16 …
I have already demolished the false claim that Wiesel is in that photograph here. But on top of that, our translator found an interview of Leo Eitinger, a Jewish Czech-born psychiatrist, by Harry James Cargas, a friend and biographer of Elie Wiesel, which contained this gem:
HJC: The same thing happened with Livia Rothkirchen at Yad Vashem as happened with you. I was there doing research on atrocity photography for my book A Christian Response to the Holocaust and saw a photo that covers a large wall, of seventeen men lying in their bunks at liberation time. I think you’ve probably seen this picture. Wiesel and Dr. Rothkirchen passed it by many times, over a several-year period, before he told her he was in that photograph. I asked Elie if I could write something about it and he said, “No.” I wrote something and showed it to him and he gave me permission to publish it.
LE: I didn’t know Elie is in the photo.4
Cargas’ book was published in 1993, ten years after it was publicly announced that Elie Wiesel was in that photograph. Apart from the revelation that Cargas has to ask permission from Wiesel before he publishes anything about him, can you imagine that after walking by that famous photo for several years, Wiesel would finally think to say, “Oh hey, that’s me laying there, back in the shadows.”
Right: The photo at Yad Vashem in Israel with Elie Wiesel posing in front of it in 1986 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
He cannot have been present to agree to and sign the Military Questionaire on April 22 …
Much has been made by holocaust historians like Kenneth Waltzer and others I won’t name that this Fragebogen made out for Lázár Wiesel proves that Elie Wiesel was in Buchenwald. The birth date is not Elie’s; the date of arrest is not Elie’s; the signature is not Elie’s; the registration number belongs to another prisoner (Pavel Kun) who died only a month earlier; and on top of all that … Elie himself tells us in Night that he was lingering between life and death in the hospital on April 22. He was still six days away from having recovered enough to leave the hospital.
He cannot be in the photograph of the “Boys of Buchenwald” taken on April 27.
Kenneth Waltzer also claims on his Michigan State University website that Elie Wiesel is “seen to the left” (fourth from the front in left row wearing dark suit in front of the taller boy wearing a beret) in this photograph of the youths being transferred from the barracks inside Buchenwald to the former SS barracks on the outside. Why is Waltzer not paying attention to what is written in Night – that Eliezer was put in the hospital on the 14th of April, at death’s door, and remained for two weeks? One really has to wonder at the stupidity of holocaust historians. Or more likely — how stupid they think the rest of us are! See The Many Faces of Elie Wiesel.
The book’s ending: What does the long passage in Un di velt hot geshvign tell us?
UdV P 245: One fine day I got up—with the last of my energy—and went over to the mirror that was hanging on the wall. I wanted to see myself. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the mirror a skeleton gazed out.
Skin and bones.
I saw the image of myself after my death. It was at that instant that the will to live was awakened.
Without knowing why, I raised a balled-up fist and smashed the mirror, breaking the image that lived within it.
And then—I fainted.
From that moment on my health began to improve.
I stayed in bed for a few more days, in the course of which I wrote the outline of the book you are holding in your hand, dear reader.
Now, ten years after Buchenwald, I see that the world is forgetting. Germany is a sovereign state, the German army has been reborn. The bestial sadist of Buchenwald, Ilsa Koch, is happily raising her children. War criminals stroll in the streets of Hamburg and Munich. The past has been erased. Forgotten.
Germans and antisemites persuade the world that the story of the six million Jewish martyrs is a fantasy, and the naive world will probably believe them, if not today, then tomorrow or the next day.
So I thought it would be a good idea to publish a book based on the notes I wrote in Buchenwald.
I am not so naive to believe that this book will change history or shake people’s beliefs. Books no longer have the power they once had. Those who were silent yesterday will also be silent tomorrow. I often ask myself, now, ten years after Buchenwald:
Was it worth breaking that mirror? Was it worth it?
SR P 116: One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me.
The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.
MW P 115: One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.
The look in his eyes as he as he gazed at me has never left me.
The difference in length between the Yiddish and the English passage is the first thing that strikes us. The Yiddish writer had a lot to say in these final thoughts. He regained his “will to live” right there in the hospital. Twice he speaks of writing an outline and notes for Un di velt hot geshvign while still in his hospital bed. But there is no record by Elie Wiesel anywhere that says he did any writing in preparation for writing his “testimony” while in the camp (in fact, just the opposite), or at any time in advance of 1954.
The tragic true story of Ilse Koch is that she gave birth to one child while a prisoner of the Americans but she certainly was not allowed to raise him. She was hounded, vilified and persecuted after the war, retried by a German court in 1951 after being acquitted at the IMT, and ultimately given a life sentence—solely, it can be argued, to satisfy Jewish vengence. She committed suicide in prison in 1967.
Left: Ilse Koch on the witness stand in 1947. She was seven months pregnant and the only woman brought before the American Military Tribunals held at Dachau.
The Yiddish author also mentions the “six million Jewish martyrs” … in 1954. This number emerged from the Nuremberg Tribunals, but we know that claims of “six million Jewish victims” goes all the way back to the 1890’s.
All this and more was cut out for the French La Nuit (which, remember, was written by Wiesel) and the English versions which were taken from the French. As has been noted by Jewish commentators themselves, the Yiddish writer is an angry, politically-minded religious Jew who expected, or wished, the world to have been transformed by the travail of the Jews during WWII. He is bitterly disappointed. There is more in this final chapter of the Yiddish book that doesn’t appear in the French or English versions. Here is just one passage:
Dreams of truth, of freedom are false dreams for men. Visions of justice and equality are false visions for men. Man is: the struggle for bread, for meat; man is: the struggle to satisfy one’s own instincts.
Man is instinct to the core. Flesh to the core. And not heart. And not spirit. And not morality.
I learned that in Buchenwald. And what one learns in such conditions is without a doubt the truth, the purest truth. For man can really know man only in extreme conditions, when he has thrown away from himself all masks, social and psychological, and appears before us naked, as he is in truth.
In Buchenwald I saw the true face of man. The face of a human animal, which is worse than a true animal. O God, woe is you, woe is man, how trifling and puny. Ought you to even exist, if the son of Adam was made in your image!
God . . . I had ceased to believe in his existence. But despite that, I continued to believe in his evil. (UdV, P 240-41)
Was this written by Elie Wiesel? If it was, he is a man who has put on his own mask to play the game of Jewish vengence against the goyim persecutors of his people. In other parts of Night, Wiesel writes of losing his faith in a caring God, of no longer following his religion—but later he denied that is true, even though he wrote it! But this passage in Un di velt is too passionate to dismiss as merely a passing sense of discouragement. That is, of course, unless it is just a literary construct and doesn’t reflect any truth of the author.
What does it all mean?
The title of this two-part article is “What Changes were made to Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Why.” I didn’t promise to solve the mystery of the author of Un di velt hot geshvign, but I did hope I might do so, or at least eliminate some contenders.
I confess I expected there to be more difference between the Yiddish and the French books than it turns out to be. It is now clear that La Nuit was taken directly from Un di velt, although that doesn’t mean they were written by the same person. However, that is the greater likelihood unless it can be proven otherwise. Similarly, if Elie Wiesel is the author of Un di velt, it doesn’t mean he was in the camps. The fact that the books are filled with errors argues against it.
Night is a novel
It’s difficult to come to any certainties when the material we have to work with is so internally inconsistent and when there are several versions of it—similar in some ways to the many versions of the Anne Frank Diary. But we can conclude for certain that Night only works as a novel, not as an autobiography—no matter how much the Jewish spin doctors say that a memoir, to be a work of “great literature,” must include some fictional flights of fantasy. Nowhere does Night fit the facts. Even with wife Marion’s changes in 2006, it couldn’t be pulled together enough to make a convincing true-life testimony. And we know how many of these “survivor novels” there are around. It’s not like many other hopefuls didn’t have the same idea!
The Lazar-Lázár Riddle
In spite of all the above, I would like to propose a hypothetical scenario, one that I am not endorsing, for obvious reasons, but that does have the value of answering one of the more ignored aspects of this riddle, namely the way the 31-year-old Lazar Wiesel disappeared at the same time the 16-year-old Lázár Wiesel appeared. This cannot be denied. Thirty-one-year-old Lazar arrived at Buchenwald in January; sixteen-year-old Lázár left there in July. The easiest explanation for this is that Lazar wanted to have the papers of a 16-year-old Buchenwald orphan so he could be sent to France. In the confusion of the last months of the war and the immediate post-war period, this kind of thing became more possible. Such an explanation may sound a little far-fetched, but is it any harder to swallow than Elie Wiesel not having the tattoo (Auschwitz ID number) that he says he has? Or Elie Wiesel not having his own Buchenwald identification number, but “borrowing” a dead man’s (Pavel Kun, 2 years older than Elie) right before, or after, liberation? These things don’t make sense. Nor does the fact that in La Nuit Elie Wiesel wrote that his father died on Jan. 28, 1945, while in the Yiddish book that he also claims to have written as his own “testimony” the date is Feb. 2nd? Or that he wrote that the Russian Army took over the Auschwitz complex two days after its evacuation, which everyone knows is false?
Elie Wiesel even wrote in Night that his foot was operated on right before the evacuation of Auschwitz, while in his later real memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea (pp 89-90), he flat-out recalled it as his knee, something that could not be mis-remembered. I could list many of these senseless “mistakes,” many of which I have written about in earlier articles.
There is something that doesn’t fit well into this Lazar-Lázár hypothesis, though—that is, that we have pictures of the real Elie Wiesel in France at the Jewish welfare orphanage, OSE. But how did he get through a year at Auschwitz and Buchenwald with no records of his being there … and a poor memory of what occurred and when? Did he somehow manage to attach himself to the Buchenwald transport with the stolen identity papers? But also, there are other ways he could have come to be at the Ecouis homes in France than in the children’s transport from Buchenwald. Just as there are other ways he could have come into possession of the Yiddish Un di velt without writing it himself.
Was Elie Wiesel in the camps?
My answer is still no. Wiesel could have been in some camps in some capacity under some auspices, but he is not telling the truth about what camp experience he did have. That means Hilda Wiesel Kudler is also not telling the truth but is standing by her brother. She says at the end of her bitter testimony to the Shoah Foundation, “I will not forget, and I will not forgive.” Have you ever wondered why Elie has not contributed a videotaped testimony to the Spielberg/USC Shoah Foundation library?
Wiesel’s other sister, who changed her name to Beatrice from Batia, never wrote or testified a word about it. She did go to work for Jewish organizations in Germany, however, immediately after the war, helping Jews to emigrate to wherever they wanted to go, including Palestine. The whole family were committed Zionists, as were most Eastern European/Russian Jews who were able to flood into the West because of the war. ‘Bea’ finally got her own papers to emigrate to Canada.
Left: Elie Wiesel with his older sisters Bea (left) and Hilda (right) in Paris after the war, exact date unknown.
A Jewish organization, Sharit Ha-Platah, gathered names of Jews who were liberated from Dachau and it’s many sub-camps and published them in 1946. This is the only record so far found with the names of Hilda and Beatrice Wiesel, and it is a self-identified list of Jews by Jews, not an official German record of forced laborers or prisoners. So the hard evidence for the Wiesel family is not there. It doesn’t mean they weren’t, however; it’s just that we’re left with believing what they say, because we want to or because we’re expected to.
The easiest option is to go along with Elie Wiesel’s story that he was in those camps, and question his credibility from other angles, such as the in-credible stories he tells. This is what revisionists had done before Nikolaus Grüner came along and released documents he had obtained from Buchenwald and the correspondence he had with the archivists there. These documents cannot be ignored, in spite of what other nonsense Grüner writes in his book Stolen Identity. These documents have caused a sea change in revisionism about Elie Wiesel, to the extent that it can be divided between pre-Grüner and post-Grüner research and writing.
Wiesel needs to expose himself to questions
Because of these documents, it is up to Elie Wiesel to come forth and answer questions about them. But being that he is completely unprepared to do so, this job has been given to his surrogates—Professor Waltzer for one. Kenneth Waltzer promised, with a lot of bombast, that he would produce proof that Elie is Lazar and that Shlomo is Abraham, but for a year now he has failed to produce it, or even say anything more about it. He has also failed to come out with his promised book, “The Rescue of Children and Youths at Buchenwald,” which was to include Elie Wiesel. In the opinion of this writer, Waltzer is as big a fraud as Wiesel, selling emotion and sentimentality instead of factual history. They are both supported with professorships at well-funded universities.
So, back to the main question: Was Elie Wiesel in Auschwitz and Buchenwald? As I said, my answer is still no … and no one should accept that he was without some further explanation from him, during which he subjects himself to questions. If he’s genuine, he can certainly withstand questions. That, however, is not going to happen because … fill in your own answer.
Elie Wiesel has kept the details of his life before 1955 vague. He has managed to prevent unwanted questions from being asked of him. He hides behind a stated aversion to “holocaust deniers” so that anyone who is not a 100% believer is not welcome in his company. He gets away with the ‘moral outrage’ he professes toward anyone who doubts, thus no interviewer, reporter, writer, academic, student or even President dares to doubt in his presence. It works like a charm.
1. Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle: 1939-1945. New York: Henry Holt, 1997
2. APMO, D-Bu 3/17, pp. 18-85, 87 (transport list as cited by Czech in Auschwitz Chronicle)
3. Hilda was obviously unaware that the march itself was only 24 hours, probably because she had heard so many false and exaggerated stories about “endless days of marching” that proliferate in survivor stories.
4. Harry James Cargas, ed. Voices from the Holocaust, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1993. pp. 116-22.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Hilda Wiesel, Holocaust fraud, Miklos Grüner, Night, Shlomo Wiesel, Un di velt holt geshvign,
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Friday, February 17th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 Carolyn Yeager
On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Amazon.com announced that it was changing the categorization of a new translation of Elie Wiesel’s Night from novel to memoir.
Amazon would also revise the editorial description of the original edition to make clear that they consider the book a memoir, not a novel. “We hope to make these changes as quickly as possible,” said Jani Strand, a spokeswoman for the online retailer. The day before, Oprah Winfrey had announced that Night was her latest book club choice, displacing her previous selection, James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces.
The sudden switch from fiction to non-fiction caused some discussion and questions, which Strand brushed away by saying, “Amazon.com’s data source for the Oprah Book Club edition of Night inaccurately classified the book as fiction.” She declined to offer details. The book, re-classified as “Autobiography” and blessed by Oprah, was already No.3 on Amazon.com as of that Tuesday afternoon! Wiesel, interviewed later with his literary agent Georges Borchardt, insisted they had never portrayed it as a novel.
But the publisher did.1 There has been confusion about the question for so long—even Wiesel’s defenders have to admit it. Ruth Franklin, in her 2011 book, A Thousand Darknesses, wrote: “Unfortunately, Night is an imperfect ambassador for the infallibility of the memoir, owing to the fact that it has been treated very often as a novel—by journalists, by scholars, and even by its publishers.”2 On Night’s Wikipedia page it has long been described as autobiography, memoir, novel—yes, all three. How long will that continue? As long as there are editions of Night that still sport those labels, one assumes.
Left: Oprah Winfrey and Elie Wiesel pose together at the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity Award Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on May 20, 2007. Winfrey was honored with the Humanitarian Award for “positively impacting people all over the world, especially children.” One year earlier, she had selected Wiesel’s “Night” for her popular book club “pick” which sent it immediately to the top of the national bestseller lists.
As for Wiesel and Borchardt, they answered questions about differences in the text of the new edition by saying they were not significant enough to justify raising questions. The next day, Wiesel’s wife Marion, the translator of the new edition of Night, said in an interview that among the changes was a reference to the age of the book’s narrator when he arrives in 1944 at Birkenau, the entry point for Auschwitz.
“At no point did this change the meaning and the fact of anything in the book,” Marion Wiesel said. She explained it this way: The narrator tells a fellow prisoner that he is “not quite 15.” But the scene takes place in Spring 1944. Mr. Wiesel, born on Sept. 30, 1928, would have already been 15, going on 16. So in the new edition, she changed it to “15.” Whaaaa? She changed the age as it was written in the Yiddish to fit Elie Wiesel, who was fifteen and a half at that time and would not have written “not quite 15.” What is written in the Yiddish original, Un di velt hot geshvign, we also find in the original Night. I will add that if your birthday is still four months away, you don’t say you are “not quite” your next age, especially when you are young. Marion tried to joke it away, telling reporters “I kidded Elie and told him, ‘I don’t think you can add.’”
But that particular change, rather than insignificant, was one of the major reasons that a new translation was undertaken. There are other quite significant changes in the new edition that will be enumerated in this article. When you learn what they are, you can decide for yourself if you think they are insignificant.
Right: Marion Wiesel is the translator of the 2006 edition of Night. Here, in 2010, she attends an after party at The Monkey Bar for Oliver Stone’s new “South of the Border” New York premiere at Cinema 21.
Wiesel wrote a Preface to the New Translation, something he didn’t have in the original La Nuit or Night.
In his preface, Wiesel begins: “Why did I write it? … so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness …”
He continues in this vein—typical Wiesel mystical-religious style. However, in his only description of the writing process of this book—the typing of the 862 pages which he titled Un di velt hot geshvign, according to his later memoir—it is hard to believe that he was in such a state of mind. He writes in All Rivers Run to the Sea that during this time in Paris he is busy with his newspaper job and contacts; also involved in a love affair with a woman named Hanna. He embarks on a major journalistic assignment in Brazil, sent by his editor, taking along a friend to keep him company on the ship’s crossing. They both get free tickets from a “resourceful Israeli friend”—these benefactors are usually unnamed. As the voyage begins, he says his mind is dwelling on Hanna and whether he should take the marriage step that she had asked for.
I can’t imagine an atmosphere less conducive to writing about what he describes as “the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history.” But he continues very matter-of-factly in All Rivers, “During the crossing I wrote my testimony …” and in one short paragraph tells us all he thought important to say about it. Moreover, he has never elaborated on it since!
In the new preface, Wiesel writes that in retrospect he doesn’t know what he wanted to achieve with his words, but then he comes up with something: “I knew that I must bear witness. I also knew that, while I had many things to say, I did not have the words to say them.” He needed to “invent a new language.” He is not speaking of an actual language, like German, French or English—but a language of survivors, or for survivors. Wiesel writes that common words like “hunger—thirst—fear—transport—selection—fire—chimney … all have intrinsic meaning, but in those times, they meant something else.” Really? He does not explain how that is so. But Wiesel has tried to create the idea of holocaust survivors as a special class, set apart, who know things others do not know, and can never understand—”Only those who experienced Auschwitz know what it was. Others will never know.”
Wiesel describes his writing as slow! “Writing in my mother tongue (Yiddish) … I would pause at every sentence, and start over and over again. I would conjure up other verbs, other images, other silent cries. It still was not right.” This contrasts totally with his description in his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea (p. 238-40) that he wrote the original Yiddish manuscript fast and feverishly without re-reading!
Why a new translation of Night after 45 years of success with the old one?
Here again, Wiesel hedges in the preface and doesn’t have a convincing answer. He says his wife Marion has translated other books for him, and “knows his voice better than anyone else.” He says he didn’t pay enough attention to the original English translation by Stella Rodway—after his first reading of Night from the publisher, he never read it again. As for Mrs. Wiesel: “Fluent in French, she had never read the English version,” she said. But good news! Elie Wiesel Cons The World has found a translator and now has large portions of the Yiddish book translated into English. We can compare the real 245-page original to both the 1960 English translation from the French by Stella Rodway and the 2006 English translation done by Marion Wiesel.
In doing so, we have made two important discoveries.
First, Stella Rodway’s 1960 English translation of Night is an accurate rendition of the French text of La Nuit, as originally published in 1958. That means that if there are any “errors” in the Night story, they weren’t put there by Stella Rodway.
Second, when we compare the three texts—the original version of Night, as translated by Rodway, the “corrected” 2006 translation by Marion Wiesel, and the 1955 Yiddish original of Un di velt hot geshvign—we find that the “errors” brought up by Marion Wiesel are for the greater part what was actually written in the original Yiddish book, though usually in more detail there.
In other words, the 1955 Yiddish version, the 1958 French version, and the 1960 English version generally agree—only the “corrected” 2006 translation is different. So, are these really errors of translation that Marion Wiesel is fixing for us? Or are they not simply problems for Elie Wiesel? Under close scrutiny, the Elie Wiesel narrative has huge holes which bring up embarrassing questions, and this is what Marion Wiesel’s new translation was meant to head off.
Left: Original Night cover, 1960, features the title, while the author’s name is exceptionally small and insignificant. Francois Mauriac’s forward is featured. In 2006, the author becomes the “title,” i.e. the main selling point, and Mauriac is no longer mentioned, although his forward remains in the book.
A Comparison of the 1960 original with the 2006 new version.
Following are the most “significant” differences I have found between the Stella Rodway 1960 translation and the Marion Wiesel 2006 translation. To make as clear a case as possible, I begin with the Yiddish [UdV] and its French translation La Nuit [LN], followed by the Stella Rodway English translation [SR]. Finally, Marion Wiesel’s revised translation [MW]. The word or phrase being compared is in boldface. Number one has already been written about in When Did Elie Wiesel Arrive at Auschwitz?
1. The Saturday before Pentecost … or two weeks before?
UdV Page 22: Geshen iz dos Shbth far Shbw’wth. A friling-zun hot oysgegosn ir likht un varemkeyt iber der gorer velt un oykh iber geto … / It happened Saturday [Sabbath] before Shavuot. The springtime sun had spread its light and warmth over the whole world, and even over the ghetto. . . .
LN Page 29: Le samedi précédant la Pentecôte, sous un soleil printanier, les gens se promenaient insouciants à travers les rues grouillantes de monde / The Saturday preceding Pentecost …
SR Page 23: On the Saturday before Pentecost, in the Spring sunshine, people strolled carefree and unheeding, through the swarming streets.
MW Page 12: Some two weeks before Shavuot (Pentecost). A sunny spring day, people strolled seemingly carefree through the crowded streets.
The Yiddish, the French and the original English versions agree—it was the Saturday before the festival of Pentecost/Shavuot—but Marion Wiesel’s new edition sets that date back by two whole weeks. This is important because, as the story continues, it was later on the following day that the Jews of Sighet were forced to leave their homes in preparation for their eventual deportation: “The ghetto was to be liquidated entirely. We were to leave street by street, starting the following day.”
So Mrs.Wiesel was NOT correcting errors in the English translation, but changing the text to fit the reality of when the Hungarians from Sighet arrived at Birkenau. Pentecost was on Sunday, May 28, 1944. The “Saturday before Pentecost” is thus May 27. Some two weeks before is May 14.
Un di velt hot geshvign, La Nuit and the Rodway translation all have Eliezer’s family leaving on the final journey to Auschwitz around June 2nd, six days after Pentecost/Shavuot, which was a Friday. However, they also agree that “Saturday, the day of rest, was chosen for our expulsion.” So it’s necessary for us to add another day to the family’s stay in the small ghetto to make the chronology work. On Saturday, then, the Jews are marched to the synagogue and spend the night there; in the morning, Sunday June 4, they board the train: “The following morning [Sunday], we marched to the station, where a convoy of cattle wagons was waiting. [… ] We were on our way.” Four days and three nights on the train (according to the description in Night) makes their arrival date June 6, 1944, around midnight.
But this is not only long after the prisoner number A7713—which Elie Wiesel supposedly received at Auschwitz, and still (again, supposedly!) has tattooed on his left arm—had been given out, but also long after the last transport left from Sighet. Indeed, there were no transports from the town after May, according to official records.
Marion Wiesel did not mention this one to the reporters; nor did Elie speak of it in his preface to his wife’s translation. But it was discovered by our translator. Marion Wiesel’s arbitrary “correction” allows Eliezer’s family to leave on May 21 and to arrive by May 24 (just before midnight!) thus making it possible for Eliezer to receive the registration number A7713. This is a very significant change, probably the most significant in her entire new English translation.
An added note: This interesting passage is on page 27 of Un di velt, but is not included in the shorter French or English Night:
We had opportunities and possibilities to hide with regular goyim and with prominent personalities. Many non-Jews from the surrounding villages had begged us, that we would come to them. There were bunkers available for us in villages or in the mountains. But we had cast aside all proposals. Why? Quite simple: the calendar showed April 1944 and we, the Jews of Sighet, still knew nothing about Treblinka, Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Now we have April as the general time of deportation! So according to the timeline we find in Un di velt, Eliezer and his family left Sighet some time in June, while the calendar on their wall still said April . . . and in the meantime, we know from official Auschwitz records that the deportations actually occured in the last two weeks of May. The person who wrote this knew nothing about the real deportation dates for the Sighet Jews.
2. Copulating on the train … or just caressing?
UdV Page 47: Tsulib der engshaft hobn a sakh instinktn zikh dervekt in kerper. Erotishe instinktn, un untern forhang fun der nakht hobn yungeleyt un froyen zikh gelozn bahersht durkh di oyfgereytste chwshym zeyere.
Ot der ershter rezultat fun umglik: erotishe freyheyt. Di shpanung fun di letste teg hot itst gezukht a veg vi oystsulodn zikh un der leychtster iz geven – an erotisher.
Di erotishe stsenes hobn nisht dervekt keyn protestn mtsd di eltere Yidn. Zey hobn farmakht oyern un oygn, zikh gemakht nisht zen un nisht hern. In moment fun schnh faln avek di keytn fun der konventsioneler moral. Mentshn hobn zikh getrakht: ver veys vos der morgn iz “lwl tsu brengen? Zol yugnt oysnutsn dem heynt, oystsapn fun im dem letstn hn’h-tropn . . .
In English: Because of the crowding, a host of instincts awoke in [people’s] bodies. Erotic instincts – and beneath the curtain of night young men and women let themselves be ruled by their aroused senses.
And so the first result of misfortune: erotic freedom. The stress of the last days now sought a way to discharge itself, and the easiest was – an erotic one.
The erotic scenes did not arouse any protests from the older Jews. They closed their ears and eyes, and forced themselves not to see and hear. In the moment of danger, the chains of conventional morality fall away. People thought to themselves: who knows what the morning is likely to bring? Youth must seize the day, squeeze from it the last drops of pleasure . . .
LN Page 45: Libérés de toute censure sociale, les jeunes se laissaient aller ouvertement à leurs instincts et à la faveur de la nuit, s’accouplaient au milieu de nous, sans se préoccuper de qui que ce fût, seuls dans le monde. Les autres faisaient semblant de ne rien voir.
SR Page 34: “Free from all social constraint, the young people gave way openly to instinct, taking advantage of the darkness to copulate in our midst, without caring about anyone else, as though they were alone in the world. The rest pretended not to notice anything.”
MW Page 23: “Freed of normal constraints, some of the young let go of their inhibitions and, under cover of darkness, caressed one another, without any thought of others, alone in the world. The others pretended not to notice.”
Elie Wiesel did not mention this change in his preface to the new English translation by his wife, but he did give quite a lengthy explanation (humorous to us) in the preface he wrote for the new French edition. This is what he said there:
Thanks to her, it was possible for me to correct an incorrect expression or impression here and there. An example: I describe the first night-time voyage in the sealed cars, and I mention that certain persons had taken advantage of the darkness to commit sexual acts. That’s false. In the Yiddish text, I say that “young boys and girls allowed themselves to be mastered by their excited erotic instincts.” I have checked among many absolutely trustworthy sources. In the train, all the families were still together. A few weeks of the ghetto could not have degraded our behavior to the point of violating customs, mores and ancient laws. That there may have been some clumsy touching, that is possible. But that was all. Nothing went any further. But then, why did I say that in Yiddish, and allow it to be translated into French and English? The only possible explanation: it is myself I am speaking of. It is myself that I condemn. I imagine that the adolescent that I was then, in the throes of puberty even if profoundly pious, could not resist such erotic imaginings, enriched by the physical proximity between men and women.
The original French : Grâce à elle, il me fut permis de corriger çà et là une expression ou une impression erronées. Exemple : j’évoque le premier voyage nocturne dans les wagons plombés et je mentionne que certaines personnes avaient profité de l’obscurité pour commettre des actes sexuels. C’est faux. Dans le texte yiddish je dis que « des jeunes garçons et filles se sont laissés maîtriser par leurs instincts érotiques excités. » J’ai vérifié auprès de plusieurs sources absolument sûres. Dans le train toutes les familles étaient encore réunies. Quelques semaines de ghetto n’ont pas pu dégrader notre comportement au point de violer coutumes, moeurs et lois anciennes. Qu’il y ait eu des attouchements maladroits, c’est possible. Ce fut tout. Nul n’est allé plus loin. Mais alors, pourquoi l’ai-je dit en yiddish et permis de le traduire en français et en anglais? La seule explication possible: c’est de moi-même que je parle. C’est moi-même que je condamne. J’imagine que l’adolescent que j’étais, en pleine puberté bien que profondément pieux, ne pouvait résister à l’imaginaire érotique enrichi par la proximité physique entre hommes et femmes.
Is this convincing, dear readers? Consider that the narrator of Un di velt says exactly the opposite of what Wiesel tries to present in his new French preface: the first result of a few weeks in the ghetto was erotic freedom, which was acted out in front of everyone in the train. And the “erotic instincts” that the youths let themselves be “ruled by” clearly must have involved sexual intercourse—why else would everyone have needed to shut their eyes and ears so tightly?
The Elie Wiesel of 2006 (and perhaps the Hasidic rebbes had something to do with this?) wants us to believe in the inviolable sanctity of the Jews’ “customs, mores and ancient laws,” and also in their innate respect for their elders and one another, but he is directly contradicted by what are, we are told, his own words of fifty years ago : “In the moment of danger, the chains of conventional morality fall away.” Which Wiesel do we believe?
And Ruth Franklin (right), senior editor at The New Republic, has the temerity to insist (in her 2006 review article) that “his [Elie’s] original suggestion that couples “copulated” in the cattle cars on the way to Auschwitz . . . was always a gross mistranslation of the original Yiddish.” We’ve shown you here that it isn’t.
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.” It can mean 14 ½. However, it is a minor point that I will not emphasize. What we can clearly see is that Marion Wiesel has changed the author’s original words to fit them to her husband’s age in Spring 1944.
4. April … or May?
UdV Page 83: A sheyner April-tog iz es geven. A frilings-rich in der luft. In English: It was a beautiful April day. A scent of spring in the air.
LN Page 69: C’était une belle journee d’avril. Des parfums de printemps flottaient dans l’air. Le soleil baissait vers l’ouest.
SR Page 49: It was a beautiful April day. The fragrance of spring was in the air. The sun was setting in the west.
MW Page 40: It was a beautiful day in May. The fragrances of spring were in the air. The sun was setting.
(See again When Did Wiesel Arrive) Once more, the original Night as translated by Stella Rodway agrees with the Yiddish and the French; Marion Wiesel arbitrarily changed April to May, yet said her translation did not “change the meaning or the fact of anything in the book” … what she calls a “significant change.” Well, this is a significant change, and for the same reason as given in number 1 above.
5. Himmler … or “Reichsfuehrer Himmler?”
UdV Page 124-5: “In nomen fun Himler . . . der heftling num’ . . . hot gegnbet . . . bsh”thn luft-alarm . . . loytn gezets, paragraf . . . iz der heftling num’ . . . farurteylt tsum toyt! Zol dos zeyn a lere un a beyshpil far ale heftlingen . . .”
“In the name of Himmler . . . prisoner number . . . stole . . . during the air raid . . . according to the law, paragraph . . . prisoner number . . . is condemned to death. May this be a lesson and an example for all prisoners.”
LN Page 100: “Au nom de Himmler ... Le détenu No… a dérobé pendant l’alerte… ”
SR Page 68: “In the name of Himmler … prisoner Number … stole during the alert … According to the law … paragraph …prisoner Number … is condemned to death. May this be a warning and an example to all prisoners.”
MW Page 62: “In the name of Reichsfuehrer Himmler … prisoner number … stole during the air raid … according to the law … prisoner number … is condemned to death. Let this be a warning …..”
Again, the Yiddish and the original Night agree. However, no trained member of the SS, or even the Wehrmacht, would ever have shown such disrespect as to use Himmler’s name in such a formal context without his full title: Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler. Marion Wiesel tried to fix the error by adding “Reichsfuehrer,” but she still gets it wrong: you don’t drop the “SS.” On its own, this tells us that the speech was an imaginary one invented by the author (whoever that is), someone who was never present at such a scene. Indeed, lack of knowledge about how the SS functioned in the camps is evident throughout the book. For example, the SS did not normally go inside the barracks; everything inside was handled by the kapos.
Left: Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler
6. Ten days and ten nights … or just “days and nights”
UdV Page 207: Tsen teg un tsen nekht hot gedoyert di reyze. / Ten days and ten nights the trip lasted.
LN Page 155: Dix jours, dix nuits de voyage. Il nous arrivait de traverser des localités allemandes.
SR Page101: Ten days, ten nights of traveling. Sometimes we would pass through German townships.
MW Page 100: There followed days and nights of traveling. Occasionally we would pass through German towns.
In January of 1945, as the advancing Red Army approached Auschwitz, a decision was made to evacuate, sending the prisoners to other camps in Germany. Evacuation of the Monowitz (Auschwitz III) camp, to which Eliezer and Father had previously been transferred, began at 6 p.m. on January 18. The prisoners were given extra clothing and food—bread to carry with them. They also had whatever food they had saved up. After marching all night during a snowfall, they rested in the morning in an old brick factory. In late afternoon, they began again and reached Gleiwitz camp in a few hours [night, Jan. 19]; they then remained in Gleiwitz barracks for three days. On the 22nd they went to the train stop and waited until evening. They were brought bread for the journey. The convoy set out
From there, as we see above, the Yiddish, the 1958 French and 1960 English versions agree on the trip lasting ten days and nights. But Marion Wiesel removes the number ten because it makes Eliezer’s timeline for the death of his father on Jan. 28/29 completely impossible. Another very significant change. Ten days and nights from the night of Jan. 22nd is the night of Feb 1, 1945.
This shows that the author of Un di velt knew nothing about the transport that arrived at Buchenwald on January 26 with 3000 prisoners from Auschwitz. This is the transport that, according to existing official records, brought Lazar and Abraham Wiesel to Buchenwald, who were registered at the camp there on . . . January 26, 1945! (See Buchenwald Archivist Cannot ID Elie Wiesel, How True to Life is Wiesel’s description of Buchenwald, and Gigantic Fraud Carried Out.)
7. Fifteen … or sixteen?
UdV Page 213: I was fifteen years old then. Do you understand—fifteen? Is it any wonder that I, along with my generation, do not believe either in God or in man; in the feelings of a son, in the love of a father. Is it any Wonder that I cannot realize that I myself experienced this thing, that my childish eyes had witnessed it? (This passage from Moshe Spiegel’s stand-alone translation of Chapter Six of Un di velt hot geshvign, published as “The Death Train” in the 1968 volume Anthology of Holocaust Literature.)
LN Page 158: J’avais quinze ans. / I was fifteen.
SR Page 103: I was fifteen years old.
MW Page 102: I was sixteen.
In the original versions, Eliezer repeats that he is fifteen years old in January 1945. Elie Wiesel’s birth date is Sept. 30, 1928 so on that day in 1944 he became sixteen years old, making him 16 years and 4 months when this particular event on the train to Buchenwald occurred in late January 1945. Once again, Marion Wiesel simply changes the age as she did before – if Elie was actually sixteen at that time, then Eliezer, the character in the book, must be too!
In Part Two, I will construct the timeline of the events in Buchenwald following the arrival of Eliezer and his father, and other details about Buchenwald. What will we find out? Stay tuned.
1. On the back cover of the original hardcover Night, with the black & white striped jacket (as pictured here), it is printed “Literature” as the classification.
2. Ruth Franklin, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp 71-72.
Unfortunately, Night is an imperfect ambassador for the infallibility of the memoir, owing to the fact that it has been treated very often as a novel—by journalists, by scholars, and even by its publishers. Lawrence Langer, in his landmark study The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination, notes that Night “continues to be classified and critically acclaimed as a novel, and not without reason.” . . .
Nonetheless, in 1997 Publishers Weekly columnist Paul Nathan had to issue a correction apologizing for referring to the book as an “autobiographical novel”; he had been misled, he said, by the entry on Wiesel in The International Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Biography. In response, the correction itself was challenged by the director of Penguin Reference Books, publishers of the biography dictionary, who cited half a dozen sources to the effect that Night was in fact a novel. Together with most critics, Gary Weissman, who recounted the above history in his book Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust, seems to concur with Ernst Pawel’s remark in an early magazine survey of Holocaust fiction, that “the line between fact and fiction, tenuous at best, tends to vanish altogether in autobiographical novels such as Night.” The hybrid terms used to describe it include “novel/autobiography,” “non-fictional novel,” “semi-fictional memoir,” “fictional-autobiographical memoir,” “fictionalized autobiographical memoir,” and “memoir-novel.
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Saturday, November 26th, 2011
by Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2011 carolyn yeager
Accepts Yad Vashem propaganda book as good enough to go by.
According to a letter (see below) received by a German reader of this website from Sabine Stein of the Gedenkstatte Buchenwald (Wiemar, Germany), the Buchenwald Memorial’s acceptance that Elie Wiesel is one of the men in the famous Buchenwald Liberation photograph is based on the reliability of Yizhak Arad’s The Pictorial History of the Holocaust. This book was published several years after the New York Times announced to the world that Elie Wiesel was in the picture, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum went along with it. There has never been any real, or convincing, verification that the man in the picture is Elie Wiesel.
Originally published in 1990, The Pictorial History of the Holocaust was edited by Yizhak Arad; designed by Hava Mordohovich, published by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. It says on the copyright page: The publication of this album was made possible through the initiative and generosity of Miriam and Haim Schaechter. The Editorial Board is composed of Yizhak Arad, Reuven Dafni, Gideon Greif and Yehudit Levin. Maps drawn by Alissa Gold. The book is a 100% Jewish-Israeli production (note the Star of David on the cover) and is partisan propaganda.
But the Buchenwald Memorial outside of Weimar has nothing better to point to as why we should believe that Elie Wiesel was one of their famous “guests.” This book captions the picture in question as: “Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1986, is the farthest right on the second tier from below.” Interesting that they add Nobel Peace Prize winner, isn’t it? That was the whole purpose of claiming Elie to be in the picture to begin with.
Sabine also admits that Simon Toncman (standing, who never identified himself in the picture) was identified by his internee number, while all others who are supposedly known to be in the picture recognized, i.e. identified, themselves. That means Elie Wiesel is self-identified, as is Myklos Grüner.
To put a better face on this, Ms. Stein tells the letter-writer about the questionnaire of 22 April 1945. But as we know, this questionnaire was filled out for Lázár Wiesel with a birthdate of Oct. 4, 1928, not Sept. 30 which is Elie’s birthdate, and the hand-written signature on the questionnaire doesn’t match Elie’s later known signature. The Buchenwald ID number given to this Lázár Wiesel is 123165, which had formerly belonged to a Pavel Kun who died on 8th March ’45 (one month earlier!) That means it could not have been given to Elie Wiesel when he arrived and was registered at the end of January ’45. Why would young Elie Wiesel be given, in April, a new ID number that had belonged to a recently deceased inmate? And at the same time be given a new birthdate? With all these problems, this questionnaire is still used, along with the photograph, to “prove” Wiesel was detained in Buchenwald. I conclude that the Memorial Museum is only going along with these weak pieces of “evidence” because it is itself part of the “holocaust” business. We must remember that the Buchenwald Memorial was the creation of ex-inmates, mostly communists, who had. and still have, a vested interest in promoting the worst possible view of the National Socialist Germans. No exaggeration or lie was too great for them to enshrine as truth. The organization these ex-inmates formed still runs the Buchenwald Memorial site today.
All deceased internees names not known
Ms. Stein further tells our reader that her department cannot determine the names of all deceased internees of the KZ Buchenwald because at the beginning of 1945 arrivals died before their personal datas could be registered. However, the day and location of death was registered as “unknown deaths.” (We know that Shlomo Wiesel could not be one of these “unknown deaths” because his death, according to son Elie’s books, took place over a week after arrival. In addition, others in the transport Elie and Shlomo are said to have been on were registered.) According to Stein, there were a total 1265 of these deaths between Jan. 1 and April 11, 1945 and just who they are will be determined at a future time when the Bad Arolson archives are made available to them. (Can it be that the Arolson archives are open to Ken Waltzer of Michigan State University Jewish Studies Dept. but not to the Archive Dept. of the Buchenwald Memorial Museum? Strange stuff.)
Therefore, Sabine Stein says a complete list of the names of the liberated internees of the KZ Buchenwald, who were present at Buchenwald on April 16, 1945, is not available from her. In other words, she cannot clear up the mystery of Elie Wiesel, she can just go along with the narrative as it is and not make waves.
The letter from Sabine Stein to our reader, with personal information removed, is translated below into English.
07 09 11
Dear Mr. ______,
Please find the enclosed answer of your questions as per our previous notice.
Permit me some remarks concerning the general position of the memorial regarding its archive and documents.
The Archive of the memorial does not posses the original registration of the KZ Buchenwald, nor the original documents of the closing of the camp after its liberation in April 1945. Those documents are stored at the International Search Service of the Red Cross at Bad Arolsen (www.its-arolsen.org). The basis of our research is a biographical collection of individual persons and comprehensive reports for our archive. We started in 1971; for historical reasons it is therefore forced to be incomplete. In order to arrive at dependable results, additional relevant collections and archives have to be gained, specifically in regard to internees who were transferred to different national socialist concentration or destruction camps.
1) Photo 020-46007
With exception of Simon Toncman who was identified by his internees number, all other named persons recognized themselves. Elie Wiesel’s identification was based on the publication of Yizhak Arad’s The Pictorial History of the Holocaust, Maxwell Macmillan International 1992. On page 403 is the photo and on page 404 the following text appears: Buchenwald, after the liberation, survivors in their barracks. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1986, is the farthest right on the second tier from below.
2) Regarding the liberated person Elie Wiesel, there exists a questionnaire on microfilm for inmates of the concentration camp 22nd of April 1945, (BwA 51-11-842). The original is at the aforementioned ITS (International Tracing Service) Arolsen.
When counting the dead internees based on the camp statistics, you made an error. According to documents of the camp office, official death is registered for the time span 1.1.1945 to 31.3 1945. (Jan. 1 to March 31—3 months -cy) During that time 13.910 internees died.
From 1.4.1945 until 11.4.1945, 913 internees died. (April 1 to April 11—10 or 11 days) This amounts (from 1.1 to 11.4 1945), to a total of 13,966 and not 13,969. (These figures don’t add up, but I double-checked them and this is what the original letter in German said.)
Throughout years of research we tried our best to determine the names of all deceased internees of the KZ Buchenwald. Yet at the beginning of 1945 arrivals died before their personal datas could be registered, in that case the statistics of the camp register them as “unknown” death. All those not-named deaths are registered at the data bank as “unknown death,” by day of death and location of death. For the time of January till April 1945 a total of 1265. Because the archive of the international search institute at Bad Arolsen unfortunately remained closed for us, the files available there are not yet worked into our memorial book. This will be done in the near future. A complete list with the names of the liberated internees of the KZ Buchenwald or the persons present at Buchenwald on 16.4.1945 is unfortunately not available. Further information might be found at the National Archive at Washington.
Of the 5 Buchenwald internees numbers, I can only name the one of Miklos Gruener (Michael Nikolas Gruener), 120762. The one of Wiesel, 123165, you know already. The other numbers I could not find because the number card is not handed down (or complete). Only ITS Arolsen can also help here.
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Friday, November 18th, 2011
by Carolyn Yeager
Myklos Grüner will finally get his day in court!
This writer spoke on the telephone with Grüner in Sweden in September 2010, at which time he assured her he would challenge Wiesel’s identity in a court in Budapest the following January. We know how court dates can be postponed, and even cancelled, but Grüner has proved himself to be a persevering man, and though a year late, it now seems he will indeed present his evidence in court. However, the defendant will not be the highly protected Elie Wiesel himself, but Hungarian rabbi Slomó Köves, who invited Wiesel to Hungary in 2009 while “knowing that (he) is not a genuine Holocaust survivor” but “stole the identity of an inmate,” according to Grüner.
In a news story
written by Stefan J. Bos for the BosNewsLife service, dated Friday, Nov. 18, Grüner (pictured right) is reported to have said, “It’s better to sue Wiesel directly, but that is impossible. After 26 years of research, the Hungarian court provides the first opportunity to present my case, which I hope to do by suing the rabbi.”
Grüner explained, “Elie Wiesel, who lives in the United States, is a very hard man to get. The whole world is protecting him, from [U.S. President] Barack Obama to [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel. They are all scared the truth will come out, because of prestige and money. I am also pressuring the German Bundestag to show me archives about Wiesel’s past.”Grüner is quoted by Stefan Bos in a private interview on Friday as saying, “I don’t seek financial compensation, but I want [Köves] to tell the world who his friend Elie Wiesel really is. Wiesel was never born in Hungary or Romania as he claims and was not in a concentration camp. He doesn’t even speak Hungarian.” (I don’t know what evidence Grüner has that Wiesel was not born in Hungary or Romania, but I will surely be pleased if he has some.)
Köves denies the accusations against Wiesel. “I was with him two days and Wiesel spoke with me in Hungarian. He also addressed parliament in Hungarian. These allegations are of an elderly man with some kind of complex,” he told BosNewsLife. Köves also told Bos he had not been invited yet for the January 24 court hearing. The 82-year old Grüner has said he is angry at Köves for accusing him of “falsifying history,” and comparing him to American academic Norman Finkelstein who wrote ‘The Holocaust Industry.
Elie Wiesel with Slomo Köves (center) in Budapest in 2009.
It’s possible this could deteriorate into a circus, but one hopes not. Grüner views the court case in Budapest as a giant leap in a long, painful, personal journey, according to the BosNewsLife story. As a 15-year-old boy in Auschwitz whose father had died, he “befriended Lázár Wiesel, who was among those protecting him. In January 1945, as the Russian army was coming, the inmates were transferred from a satellite camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau to Buchenwald in Germany.” The satellite camp was Monowitz, or Auschwitz III, for workers at the IG Farben plant.
Gruner exaggerates the length of time it took the Auschwitz inmates to get to Buchenwald, but he indeed was on that march. (The march itself was only one day, after that they went by train.) Gruner, as well as Lazar and Abram Wiesel, were registered at Buchenwald, but the man we know as Elie Wiesel never was. This is proved by the documents held at Buchenwald. Gruner states in the Bos article that Abram Wiesel, Lazar’s older brother, died on the way, but this is not as he described it in his book Stolen Identity, nor according to Buchenwald records which record Abram Wiesel’s death on Feb. 2, 1945 in Barracks 57.
Miklos Gruner, like most holocaust survivors, has memory problems and embellishes his facts … however, he was there and he is in the famous photograph (far left, lower bunk) while Elie Wiesel is not the man at the far right (upper bunk) that he claims is himself. This has been proven on this website Elie Wiesel Cons The World, most recently and thoroughly here.
According to Bos, Grüner still says that when he was invited to meet Nobel Prize winner Wiesel in 1986, he thought he would be meeting his old friend. Instead it was a man who Grüner claims he never saw before. “Wiesel refused to show me his tattoo. It was a very short meeting.” Grüner “doesn’t mind that Wiesel earns 25,000 dollars” for a 45 minute speech. “But I don’t want him to make money on the deaths of my family members and the millions of others who perished in the Holocaust,” he said, his voice trembling. “I want to leave this world knowing that I have told the next generation the truth…I even want a dialogue with Anti-Semites and the Catholic Church for I later painted as an artist.”
Swedish newspaper article from 1986 of Grüner-Wiesel meeting. Grüner, on left, greets Wiesel, right, in a friendly fashion but is inwardly wondering who he is!
It is our hope that Mr. Grüner succeeds in having his day in court and that he will be able to make his case. It appears that at least the BozNewsLife news service will cover it, and that is good news for us. We know what he is up against, but still we hope.
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Sunday, October 16th, 2011
By Carolyn Yeager
Elie Wiesel’s father Shlomo in 1942, according to Hilda Wiesel.
Is he 39 or 48 years old?
A report in the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims database by Yaakov Fishkovitz contradicts Elie Wiesel’s story about his father’s death.
Yaakov (Jacob) Fishkowitz filled out a death form in 1957 for his cousin Shlomo Wiesel, shortly after Yad Vashem first began its “Central Database of Shoah Victims Names.”1 He also filled out a form for Shlomo’s mother Nisel Basch Wiesel, his aunt. The cousins shared a maternal grandfather, Moshe Basch.
Yaakov was the son of Mentza Basch, daughter of Moshe, and Fishel Fishkovitz. Yaakov recorded Shlomo’s date of birth as 1903, which is much later than has been assumed, making Elie Wiesel’s father only 40 years old when he died! However, since Wiesel himself was 14 or 15 years old in 1943 this makes a lot more sense for an Orthodox Hasidic father-son. I will examine this further on in this article.
As seen in the two Yad Vashem Shoah Victim reports below—one by Fishkovitz and the other by Elie Wiesel—Yaakov spells the last name as both Wiesel (German) and Vizel (Roumanian). The German ‘W’ is pronounced as the English ‘V;’ similarly with s and z. He also gives both the formal name Salomon and its casual form Shlomo. Elie, on the other hand, spells his father’s name as Vizel and his own name as Eli Vizel, dropping the ‘e’ in his first name that he adopted for his post-war identity.
Shlomo’s children have never or seldom used the formal ‘Salomon’ for their father, but they do agree that Eleizer (or Leizer) and Nisel were his parents and that he was born in Sighet; that he was married and operated a store. Yaakov uses the word “merchant” while Elie uses “shop owner.” Elie adds his mother’s name, Sara Feig, but leaves his father’s date of birth blank, while also giving an incorrect date for his death according to his own book, Night.
The details from the forms (the form itself is shown in upper left corner), are translated into English from the Yiddish that was used by Elie and partially by Yaakov to fill out the forms. However, the dates can be read. The first one is by cousin Fishkovitz in 1957; the second one by son Elie in 2004, almost 50 years later.
(Click on forms to see a larger, full image.) Notice that each submitter fills in what he knows or believes to be important. Yaakov knew the year of his cousin’s birth; it may have been close to his own. Elie did not know, or doesn’t want us to know. He has never written it or given that information to an interviewer. This is important, but even more important is that Yaakov says Shlomo died in 1943 in Sighet, the year before the deportation of the Jews of Sighet! This changes the entire narrative.
What evidence do we have for Shlomo’s age?
In Elie Wiesel’s Night (“a true story, every word is true”) Eliezer’s father answers “fifty” when asked his age by a friendly Jew when they first arrive at Auschwitz in May 1944. Eliezer answers that he is fifteen years old. The Jew tells them to lower and raise their ages respectively, which they do. (Even so, they’re put in a line that takes them right up to the edge of a pit of fire before they are turned away.) Because of this, Shlomo Wiesel has generally been assumed to have been born in 1894, although that has never been verified. For example, Wikipedia does not give a date.
In Hilda Wiesel’s Shoah Foundation testimony, she shows the photo of her father that is at the top of this article, and says it was taken in 1942. Does he look like he is 39 in this photo (born in 1903) or does he look to be 48 (because he was 50 in 1944)? It’s impossible to tell for sure, but he looks like a youngish man to me.
As we know, there are no records at Auschwitz-Birkenau or Buchenwald for a Shlomo Wiesel that fits his profile. Nor are there any for Elie Wiesel and his profile. The records that are used by the “Wiesel-in-Buchenwald” supporters are those for Abraham Viezel (also spelled Vizel or Wiesel), born Oct. 10, 1900 in Sighet, who died at Buchenwald on Feb 2, 1945. He died in Block 57; the death report was made out on Feb. 3, the following day. Yet Elie Wiesel claims in Night and elsewhere his father died on Jan. 28 and was carted off to the cremation ovens immediately, fully 5 days before Abraham’s death took place.
Death record for Abraham Viesel at Buchenwald, brother of Lazar Wiesel whose Auschwitz # was A7713
This Abraham Viesel is the same Abram Wiesel who was the older brother of Lazar Wiesel, according to Myklos Gruener, who says the two brothers had become his comrades at Auschwitz-Birkenau after the death of his father. (Auschwitz records exist for Myklos, his father and two brothers, as well as for Lazar and Abram Wiesel, including each of their numbers.) Abram’s Auschwitz tattoo number A7712 is written by hand on this death record, as well as his Buchenwald number, 123488.
If Shlomo died in 1943, this would explain why there is no death record for him at Buchenwald. Are there any other convincing reasons to go along with the 1943 date? Yes. In Night and in All Rivers Run to the Sea, we’re told of Shlomo’s resistance work helping Jews with legal problems and those who needed to flee from one place to another. He had been jailed for it, something mentioned by both Elie and Hilda. Elie characterized his father’s tireless efforts as “out of a loving, helpful heart.” But was his father, and his family, more radical than we’ve been led to believe? Was Shlomo’s life a dangerous one? Were there disputes about money—money collected to buy weapons, or for passage to safe places? Or perhaps there was anger within the Jewish community over who was being helped and who wasn’t?
In All Rivers, on page 4, Wiesel writes that as a child and adolescent he “saw his father rarely […] The Sabbath was the only day I spent with him.” “Often preoccupied,” his father spent the week in his little grocery store and at the “community offices where he worked to assist prisoners and refugees threatened with expulsion.” Expulsion from where? By whom? What were the community offices? Wiesel names Sighet as a “sanctuary for Jews fleeing …since 1640.”
What knowledge can we piece together about Shlomo?
Shlomo was a preoccupied man. He ran a store. He took in deliveries. He may have been involved in smuggling – guns, people, documents. Smuggling was a way of life among the Zionists. Jews began going to Palestine long before Elie Wiesel was born. There were different factions of Jews—the Haganah was formed in 1920 to guard Jewish settlers in Palestine. In 1931 the Irgun splintered off and there was sometimes bitter enmity between the two organizations all the way up to 1948. The Irgun policy was that every Jew had a right to enter Palestine and it became the major smuggling arm for the Zionists. The Irgun worked in Poland, for example, in the 30’s to bring Jews into Palestine with the cooperation of secret agencies of the Polish government. (See “The Role of the Irgun in Central and Eastern Europe” at http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/elie-wiesel-and-the-mossad-part-ii)
It is fully possible that as things heated up in 1943, Shlomo got caught in some crossfire — perhaps was killed by the Hungarian police. If this were the case, Elie, as only son, may have been sent to France for safety before the deportations of Spring 1944. Further, if this were the case (a story as good as any other), Elie was an Irgun-supporting Zionist from an early age, which fits everything we know about him.
On page 8 of Night, Wiesel wrote:
In those days [Spring 1944] it was still possible to buy emigration certificates to Palestine. I had asked my father to sell everything, to liquidate everthing, and to leave. ‘I am too old, my son,’ he answered. ‘Too old to start a new life. Too old to start from scratch in some distant land …’
If he were only 40, that is not credible. Even at 50 he was not too old, unless he really didn’t believe the worst would happen and that things would right themselves. His children were certainly not too old and he would have them to look after him in his old age. Something doesn’t add up here. This “good man” doesn’t protect his family because he feels too tired at age 40-50 to go somewhere new? He allows them all to be taken prisoner because he can’t see what’s coming, even though he’s spent his adult life helping Jewish prisoners and refugees? Wiesel often fails to give convincing explanations for why events happen as they do in his writings. I have noticed it again and again, and commented on it. It seems to me to be a combination of laziness and lack of true inventiveness. He has admitted that he was rather spoiled and lazy in his childhood and youth; one doesn’t see any evidence of change.
The age of the typical Hasidic bride and groom
Back to the question of the appropriateness of Sholmo Wiesel being age 40 in 1943-44. The Hasidic sect sees the ideal age of marriage for a male as 18-21. They encourage the bride and groom to be close in age. Taken from the New York Times article on an important Hasidic wedding:
What they saw was a marital merger of two leading international Hasidic dynasties, the Bobovers of the BoroughParkneighborhood in Brooklynand the Satmars of Williamsburg. The 19-year-old groom is a grandson of the Bobover Grand Rabbi, Shlomo Halberstam. The 18-year-old bride is a granddaughter of the Satmar Grand Rabbi, Moses Teitelbaum. The two grand rabbis are the descendants of the first Hasidic leaders in Europe. They are also first cousins and close friends.2
Another Hasidic wedding is announced, this one in Israel.
Even longtime Hassidim are raising their eyebrows: A 16-year-old young man is engaged to his 15-year-old second cousin, both great grandchildren from “Hassidei Vizhnitz.” Thousands of members of the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect, one of the largest and wealthiest in the world, are expected to attend the festive wedding ceremony, which will take place in approximately another year.3
If Shlomo were born in 1903, as Yaakov Fishkowitz has it, he would have been 25 years old in September 1928 when his third child and first son Eliezer was born. His first child Hilda was born in August 1922, when he would have been 19 years old. Perfect for a Hasidic man!
On the other hand, if he were born in 1894, he was already 34 when Elie was born, and 28 when he had his first child. That is too old and is not in the tradition of his community! That may be why Wiesel avoids mentioning his father’s date of birth; it does not fit the story of Night, which he adopted as his own. Here’s a thought: Is there an Hasidic law or tradition that forbids lying about one’s parents and other ancestors? Probably, which can be the reason he says so little about his father, mother and grandparents as far as checkable data goes.
Is it not strange for the ‘High Priest of Memory’ to be so negligent in recording the history of his family? He only filled out the Yad Vashem form (with a camera aimed at him) at the behest of that institution, as an encouragement to others to do the same. That was admitted in the TV publicity given it. Plus it is the only Shoah victim form he filled out. His mother and sister are not in the Yad Vashem Shoah Victim database! He says it’s because he’s written about them in books, so the bare facts on a form are not necessary. But in his books, he doesn’t give dates or checkable details. Why has no family member recognized the death at Auschwitz of Sara Feig Wiesel and her daughter Tzipora by filling out a form?
Is Elie Wiesel’s story about his family and their fate entirely or just partially false?
We know Wiesel’s story about his family and youth to be full of falsehoods. His book Night has been lampooned as much as it has been praised because of the contradictions and inappropriate descriptions of people and events it contains. He has long been described as a fabricator, an exaggerator, a false witness. However, here at Elie Wiesel Cons the World our mission is to expose every lie, not just the most obvious of them. So we dig deeper.
Elie Wiesel has every reason to want his father with him at Buchenwald since the story in Night, which started out as fiction, is about a son and his father. The story also says his mother and younger sister perished on their first night in Birkenau. But if Shlomo died in 1943 and never went to Auschwitz, did any of his immediate family go? Remember, there are no records for any of them there.
Could Elie Wiesel have known in 1955 how huge the Holocaust Industry would become? No, no one did. Would Elie Wiesel in 1958 have anticipated the intense scrutiny of this book Night, or his own star status in which he himself would come under intense scrutiny? No, again. Elie Wiesel didn’t prepare for the kind of future he turned out to have, so he’s been “playing it by ear” ever since—and using his untouchable Jewish holocaust survivor status with which to protect himself. His sisters and other family members and friends were silenced to keep the ‘wrong’ information from slipping out. Journalists were obviously ordered to stay away from them!
But, perhaps unbeknownst to their inner circle, there lay two victim reports with vital information relating to Elie Wiesel in the Yad Vashem databank filled out in 1957 by Yaakov Fishkovitz, one of which is displayed in this article. The other is for his aunt—Shlomo’s mother—Nisel Basch Wiesel, stating she was born in 1881 and died in 1944 at Auschwitz (in her 63rd year). Another form for Nisel was filled out in 1999 by her grandson, Eliezer Shlomovitz, living in Los Angeles CA. He gives her date of birth as 1880 with a question mark. I will write about Nisel Wiesel in a separate article, but for now I want to establish that if Nisel were born in 1880-81 she would have been only 13 years old when she gave birth to her son Shlomo, if he were born in 1894. Since Shlomo was not her first child, but perhaps even her fifth or sixth (undetermined as of now), this is clearly impossible. If Shlomo were born in 1903, it is doable.
Thus, we have every reason to doubt everything about Elie Wiesel’s story of his family history and their concentration camp credentials. I will continue with this fascinating and very important examination of the Wiesel extended family in an upcoming article. Stay tuned.
1. Yad Vashem was established in 1953 as the official “remembrance authority” (for the Jewish Shoah) by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. At that time, Jews were told that all Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis or their accomplices during the years of Nazi power, i.e. 1933-1945 could be considered Shoah victims. This includes Jewish soldiers serving in the Soviet and Polish armies, who were taken prisoner and died in Nazi POW camps. Jews who survived until the liberation but died within six months of liberation are also considered Shoah victims.
Another category is ‘Shoah survivor’ All those living in Nazi-occupied territories from 1933 onward could be considered victims of the Nazis, including French, Bulgarian and Romanian Jews, and even those who went deep into the Soviet Union. Also included are “Jews who forcefully left (?) Germany in the 1930s.” Even those who went to Israel, obviously No other group has so generously allocated ‘victim-opportunities’ to its people. This is called Chutzpah in Yiddish. (Information taken from http://www.yadvashem.org/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_S5?New_WCM_Context=http://namescm.yadvashem.org/wps/wcm/connect/Yad+Vashem/Hall+Of+Names/Left+Links/en/3HON_FAQs)
2. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/04/nyregion/a-royal-wedding-a-family-affair-two-hasidic-dynasties-unite-in-brooklyn-gala.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm Further of interest: The Satmars originated in Hungary and the Bobovers came from Poland. […] Because Hasidic families often have 10 or more children, the two groups now have tens of thousands of followers in Brooklyn and more around the world.
3. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/133130 “We have a tradition of marrying at a young age, but we usually mean 19-22, although there have been occasions of marriages before the age of 18,” one Vizhnitz member told the Hebrew-language daily Yisrael HaYom. “However, marrying at the age of 15 is definitely exceptional.”
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Abraham Viesel, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Hasidic marriage, Hilda Wiesel, Night, Shlomo Wiesel, Yaakov Fishkovitz, Yad Vashem Shoah Victims Database,
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Friday, September 23rd, 2011
By Carolyn Yeager
The real inmate at Buchenwald, Lazar Wiesel, 31 years old in 1944, was the son of Szalamo and Serena Feig Wiesel of Sighet.
We present the question of why the personal information on Lazar Wiesel is so close, but still far from exact, to that of Elie Wiesel. Can we believe, as Prof. Kenneth Waltzer would have it, that these were errors in taking down the information on Elie, and Lazar is really Elie? No, we can’t because the nature of the differences cannot be simple errors. Lazar had a brother Abram with him in the camps; the 44 year-old Abram (in 1944) cannot be turned into Elie’s father. And he certainly can’t be turned into Lazar’s father as only 13 years separated them. But it is very possible that the two families were related and that a part of Elie’s immediate family escaped the deportation altogether. Many so-called Hungarian Jews did – many more than are officially acknowledged. Keeping this in mind, I will examine the family names and see what they tell us.
Lazar Wiesel’s Buchenwald File Card (below) records Lazar’s father, Szalamo (equates to Sholomo), as being interned at Buchenwald.1 But more striking, Lazar’s mother, Serena Wiesel nee Feig, is listed on this card as being interned at KL Auschwitz. (As we know, Elie’s story is that upon arrival he saw his mother and sister moving away with the women and never saw them again. The idea they went to a gas chamber is pure speculation copied from other books.)
CLICK ON CARD FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW. Buchenwald Registration file card for Lazar Wiesel, birth date Sept, 4, 1913, arriving on Jan. 26, 1945 from KL Auschwitz.
Elie Wiesel’s parents are known to be Shlomo and Sara (or Sura) Wiesel, nee Feig.
In Jewish Orthodoxy (the Wiesel’s were members of the Hasidim sect) and in Eastern Europe generally, certain family names were repeatedly used—recycled if you will. This is certainly the case in the Wiesel family with the names Eliezer, Elisha, Shlomo and Sara, and probably some others we don’t know about.
It’s no surprise that we find the name of the founder of Hasidic Judaism to be Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, and that he was born to Eliezer and Sara in Okopy, a small village that over the centuries has been part of Poland, Russia, and now Ukraine.
Wiesel was named after his grandfather Eliezer. His other grandfather on the maternal side is Dovid Feig.
Looking for genealogical information on Elie Wiesel is a disappointing affair—so little can be found. For such a famous person, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, to have his family history wiped away, hidden or not known is strange indeed. How to explain it when Hasidic family ancestry is traditionally honored and held in high esteem? It must be purposely hidden. The Jews talk about Adolf Hitler hiding his ancestry! Not at all. Hitler’s complete and accurate genealogy is available on the Internet, but Wiesel’s is not. How do we figure that?
The #1 site on Google Search for Wiesel’s genealogy is Geni which has only very limited information. There is nothing additional to be found on Wikipedia. I have filled in the gaps with two pages of testimony from Yad Vashem’s online database—one for his father that Wiesel filled out himself, and one for his father’s mother, Nisel, that was filled out by her grandson Eliezer Shlomovitz, who lives in Los Angeles, CA. This is all I could uncover and I do not guarantee the correctness of any of it.
Father: Shlomo Elisha Wiesel
- Parents: Eliezer Vizel and Nisel Vizel nee Bash. This grandfather Eliezer died serving on the side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI.
- Nisel was born in Chust (or Hust, not far from Sighet), later Ruthenian-Czechoslovakia , in 1880 to Moshe and Yehudit Bash, according to a Yad Vashem death report (mentioned above).
- Shlomo is said by several sources to have been born in 1894, but I think this is deduced from the book “Night” where he is said to have been age 50 in 1944. If this is correct, it would make Shlomo’s mother age 14 when he was born. Elie Wiesel never gives his father’s or mother’s birthdates.
- Wiesel writes in his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea that he met his father’s brother Samuel in New York, but he has never written about his cousin Eliezer Shlomovitz in Los Angeles.
Mother: Sara Feig Wiesel
- Parents: Dodye (Dovid) Feig; no mother given
- Wiesel highly praises this grandfather in All Rivers and writes, “… in 1944 my parents invited him and his wife to live with us.” His wife, not ‘my grandmother.’ That is the only mention of ‘her.’ Seems clear she was not Elie’s grandmother, but a new wife. In any case, he declined and went to stay with his sons.
- Elie writes in All Rivers: “I had four uncles on my mother’s side: Chaim-Mordechai, Ezra, Israel and Moshe-Itzik
- He met an ‘Uncle’ Morris in New York.
From the little we have available, we can see certain names repeating. Elie Wiesel gave his son his father’s middle name, Elisha. He himself was named after his paternal grandfather Eliezer. A cousin, another grandson of his paternal grandmother, is also named Eliezer. This cousin’s last name is Shlomovitz. From this we can begin to ascertain that Eliezer, Shlomo, Elisha and Sara are “family names” within the extended Wiesel family, along with being Hasidic names.
Two marriages between the Wiesel’s and the Feig’s
Looking back at the Lazar (from Eliezer) Wiesel who was at Buchenwald, we see another marriage between the Wiesel’s and the Feig’s. We see the same names: father is Szalamo (Shlomo); mother is Serena Feig. Lazar is 15 years older than Elie and his brother Abram is 28 years older, and they are from the same city, Sighet. It seems pretty clear to me that these are two branches of the family tree.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match!
Orthodox men and women usually meet through matchmakers in a process called a shidduch. A matchmaker’s services are necessary because of the constant intermarriage going on within the closely knit Orthodox communities. A matchmaker (shadchan) knew of the relations between those in the community, or could find them out, and could therefore prevent or warn against marriages between a couple who were too genetically similar. This role is not mentioned on Wikipedia and other Jewish sites, but it’s the most important one. In Night, Wiesel wrote that in 1943 his mother “was beginning to think it was high time to find an appropriate match for Hilda” who was already 21 years of age.2
The two families may have been recognized as having diverse enough genetic relationship to one another to make for viable marriages. Perhaps there was a history of successful unions between the two family lines. In any case, it explains the similarity in personal information between the older and younger Wiesel, and also the temptation (and ease) to claim the one to be the other. The family members can be trusted to remain silent about it.
This last part is speculation, but one thing we notice is that Elie Wiesel does not want us to know who or where are the members of his family, and even more, he doesn’t want any of his family members to talk to us, the general public. We are not to know anything but the simplistic legend that he and his supporters and defenders have created for our consumption.
An interesting side-note: I just discovered a book From Generation to Generation by Arthur Kurzweil, published in 2004, which features on the cover “Forward by Elie Wiesel.” This forward turns out to be only one page long, much shorter than the Acknowledgements even, and consists of a few vague words about the mystical aspect of names. What is interesting is that the book is 400 pages of “how to research your Jewish genealogy.” If Wiesel has researched his own, he certainly is not publishing it. Wiesel gives himself the prerogative of remaining a very private man, while working hard to become a highly public name. Jewish chutzpah at work.~
1. Myklos Gruener never mentioned a father for Lazar and Abram, only his own father.
2. Elie Wiesel, Night, Hill and Wang, 2006 (original copyright 1958), p. 8
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Monday, July 18th, 2011
By Carolyn Yeager
Ken Waltzer wrote in his comment on this blog on June 27th:
“More important, Elie Wiesel’s commentary in Night bears fairly close resemblance to the actual experiences he had at Buchenwald—as recorded in camp documents.” (my italics)
What are we to make of the words “fairly close resemblance?” According to Waltzer—and to Wiesel—Wiesel is writing down his own experience. “Every word is true!” Wiesel has said of his book Night. Thus it should exactly resemble the actual experience he had. I’m going to examine closely what is written in Night about Buchenwald to see if that is the case.
It’s not too difficult because the newest English edition of Night1—a new translation by wife Marion Wiesel which changes (corrects) some of the more blatant “boo-boos” found in the original 1960 edition—comprises only 115 pages. Of that, Wiesel’s description of his time at Buchenwald begins on page 104, giving it only 11 pages (one page being blank).
Wiesel wrote a new preface for this new translation in which he tries to answer some of the more common criticisms of his book. His answer to the differences between the Yiddish And the World Remained Silent and Night is that he cut passages he thought might be superfluous … or “too personal, too private, perhaps.” Strange thing to say since he had already published it. Concerning Buchenwald, he quotes the original writing about the death of his father, where the club-wielder is called “an SS” three times! In Night, as you will see below, this person becomes simply “an officer.” Naturally I ask: Did this scene even happen? Wiesel also tries to explain why he cut out from the ending so much of what was in the Yiddish version, but in doing so he leaves unmentioned an extensive part of what he cut. I have quoted these two endings in Shadowy Origins of Night, Part II.
Wiesel begins his experience at Buchenwald by writing that upon reaching the entrance to the Buchenwald camp along with his father and all the new arrivals from his transport, the SS counted them and they were directed to the Appelplatz (roll call area inside the camp) where loudspeakers ordered “Form ranks of fives! Groups of one hundred! Five steps forward!” He then writes, “A veteran of Buchenwald (as he puts it), told us that we would be taking a shower and afterward be sent to different blocks.” He makes it sound as if it were one of those among them, but it actually had to be a Kapo.
He writes that hundreds of prisoners crowded the shower area and made it difficult to get in, therefore his father wanted to find a place to sit down and wait—which he did in a pile of snow where there were other ‘bodies’ sticking out. Dead or alive we’re not told. It’s one of those literary scenes wherein Eliezer confronts Death via his fear of his father’s death. He writes: “This discussion (with his father) continued for some time.” Then … “sirens began to wail … lights went out … guards chased us toward the blocks.” They obviously did not get a hot shower. Wiesel adds: “The cauldrons at the entrance found no takers.” 2
Are we to believe that the kapos, or “veterans of Buchenwald,” allowed non-disinfected, non-showered new arrivals into the barracks, possibly carrying lice and other vermin with them? No way could this have happened. Yet Wiesel writes: “We let ourselves sink into the floor. To sleep was all that mattered.” I guess it was okay because they didn’t get into the beds.
In the morning, having lost track of his father the night before, he went to search for him. What about the regimentation? What about the early morning roll call? Wiesel writes: “I walked for hours without finding him. Then I came to a block where they were distributing black ‘coffee.’ ” 3 He heard his father’s voice asking for some coffee. He brought it to him. “He was lying on the boards,” meaning, I suppose, a bare bunk. Then, “We had been ordered to go outside to allow for cleaning of the blocks (barracks). Only the sick could remain inside. (If that was the case, they were not fumigating.) We stayed outside for five hours. We were given soup. When they allowed us to return to the blocks, I rushed toward my father” … who told Eliezer he had not been given any soup because “they said we would die soon and it would be a waste of food.”
Apparently, he stayed with his father in that barracks, making sure he was fed. Were they allowed to live in whatever barracks they chose? Again, there is no explanation given for this. He then writes that on the third day after their arrival everybody had to go to the showers, even the sick. Having done that (with no description of the process at all), they again had to wait “a long time” outside the barracks while they were being cleaned.
He fills a couple of pages with scenes of watching his father deteriorate amidst all the heartlessness. Then, after a week, a Blockälteste (block warden) told him he couldn’t save his father and he should help himself by eating his father’s rations. Instead, he pretends to be sick so he can stay in the barracks with his father. He doesn’t go to roll call. Now comes the famous passage in which he writes: “In front of the block, the SS were giving orders. An officer passed between the bunks. My father was pleading: “My son, water…I’m burning up…My insides …” The officer shouts at him to be quiet, walks over with a club and hits him “a violent blow to the head.” On that night, January 28, 1945, his father allegedly died.
The main problems with reality in this passage are:
1) The SS is known to have not been active inside the camp; the prisoner-trustees, usually communists, took care of giving the prisoners their orders. So the SS would not be in front of the block giving orders.
2) “An officer” can only be an SS officer. But they never came inside the barracks. Inmates, no matter how much “in charge” they might be, were not called officers. So who was this mysterious “officer” who was inside the barracks? Not SS at all; just part of the fiction and another attempt to assign brutalities to the SS.
Eliezer says he did not weep for his father. He was numb. He was transferred to the children’s block, where he remained with 600 others until April 11. That’s two and a half months, yet he tells us nothing of that time except that he did have an appetite and his only interest was getting an extra ration of soup. On April 5 (he knew the exact date) “we were inside the block, waiting for an SS to come and count us. He was late. Such lateness was unprecedented in the history of Buchenwald.”
Same problem as above: the official story (and Waltzer’s story) tells us that the communist “veterans” had these boys hidden away in the “small camp” where they cared for them, keeping them away from the SS and the camp authorities. We know that the SS did not go inside the blocks. Yet Wiesel writes that they did every day because on this day they were late. Covering for Wiesel, Waltzer writes on his website:
…the 16-year old Wiesel was assigned to a special barracks that was created and maintained by the clandestine underground resistance in the camp as part of a strategy of saving youths. This block, Block 66, was located in the deepest part of the disease-infested little camp, a separate space below the main camp at Buchenwald that was beyond the normal Nazi SS gaze (the local SS officer actively cooperated and conducted appels inside the barracks).
The barracks was overseen by block elder Antonin Kalina, a Czech Communist from Prague, and his deputy, Gustav Schiller, a Polish-Jewish Communist originally from Lvov. Odon Gati, a Communist from Budapest, was stubendienst. Schiller, who appears briefly in “Night,” was a father figure and mentor, especially for the Polish-Jewish boys and many of the Czech-Jewish boys, but he was less liked, and even feared, by Hungarian- and Romanian-Jewish boys, especially religious boys, including Wiesel. He appears in “Night” as a menacing figure, armed with a truncheon.
First, Waltzer mentions the underground. But they did not have the power to hide away the youths who were assigned to the special barracks 66. It was a policy of the Camp Commandant to separate these children to keep them safe, to feed them as well as possible, and they were fully aware of the children’s barrack 66 where they were kept. Thus. there may have been a “local SS officer” assigned to look after Block 66 to make sure everything was being done according to regulations … that is, even to supervise, to some extent, the communist block leaders. The story that it was the communists who “saved these boys from death” is a fiction that was created later, after the liberation of the camp and the formation of the Buchenwald association which was made up of former prisoners of communist persuasion. It was the camp authorities who made the decision to place the “children” away and apart from the adult prisoners, not the underground resistance.
Second, Wiesel writes in Night, “Gustav, the Blockälteste, made it clear with his club” that they had to obey the order to gather in the Appelplatz. Doesn’t this imply that the communist overseers were not necessarily acting as “father-figures” and mentors, but simply as guards? Also note that the kapo Gustav was carrying a club and used it, while earlier it was an “officer” in the barracks who wielded a club against Eliezer’s father. Relative to this, Ferenc Kornfeld reports : “Without exception, the Kapos all had big sticks.” He also said a Kapo armband went with a double food ration. And, “They continually shouted and they hit people on the head and the neck.” Kornfeld wrote about Buchenwald: “There were common criminals, murderers and thieves, in concentration camps too. They were called the “Blockältesters”. They were the “Kapos” (bosses). As they were murderers, they had black triangles on their uniforms. The Kapos hit and slapped all of us.” So much for the idea of Blockälteste’s as mentors.
The abrupt ending of Night
Wiesel claims on pages 114-15 (the last two pages of the book) that on April 5 everyone, even the children, were ordered to gather in the Appelplatz. On the way, some prisoners told them to go back because the Germans planned to shoot them. They turned around and on the way back they learned that “the underground resistance of the camp had made the decision not to abandon the Jews and to prevent their liquidation.” What kind of nonsense is this? Well, it is “the story” which evolved that these communists at Buchenwald finally, on the very last day, fought the Germans. What really happened was the Germans were ready to abandon the camp on the 11th, which they did. Wiesel simply picks up that official fiction of the underground resistance and incorporates it into his narrative. I don’t think the Germans ever intended to evacuate the children and youths.
Apparently, after the 5th, blocks of prisoners were being evacuated to other camps. By April 10, Wiesel writes, “we had not eaten for nearly six days except for a few stalks of grass and some potato peels found on the grounds of the kitchen.” From whom did these potato peels come? Did their communist keepers gather them and bring them to the youths inside the barracks? Did the boys roam around freely and eat grass? At ten o’clock the next morning, he tells us, the SS positioned themselves around the camp and began to herd the remaining inmates toward the Appelplatz. At this point the underground resistance members appeared “from everywhere” with guns and grenades. Eliezer and the other children “remained flat on the floor of the block.” (Therefore they saw nothing.) By noon, the SS had fled and the resistance was in charge. The first American tank arrived at 6 p.m.
Wiesel now wastes no time in concluding the book. He says he became very ill from food poisoning three days later because they “threw themselves on the provisions.” He spent two weeks in the hospital “between life and death.” One day he got up and looked in a mirror and saw only a corpse gazing back at him. This was at the end of April or first of May 1945. Yet he recovered so well that we see a healthy, smiling boy in the picture supposedly taken of him at Ambloy in late 1945 … or is it early or mid 1946?
It’s interesting that Wiesel made such a point later on of maintaining he had vowed in 1945 to wait ten years to write down his experiences. The reasons given, including that his memory would be sharper after ten years, are completely bogus—especially since his book bears little resemblance to the actual camps as we know them to be. The much longer Yiddish version was published in 1955-56. The abridged French version La Nuit in 1958; the English Night in 1960.
I have to say Wiesel doesn’t describe Buchenwald at all. You don’t know anything about Buchenwald from reading Night. You don’t learn much about Eliezer or anyone else. You are given an impression of suffering, without rhyme or reason, so Buchenwald becomes synonymous with suffering, that’s about it. We don’t know what it looks like. We don’t know the name or the physical appearance of any person, not even Gustav carrying a club, who is said elsewhere to have had red hair. Wiesel makes up a story about “an officer” using a club in the barracks when it could only be a kapo (if it was anyone at all). He doesn’t tell us anything about the children in the barracks where he stayed for 2 ½ months. He doesn’t describe the few days after liberation, before he got sick. One did not have to be at Buchenwald to write what he wrote!
Ken Waltzer also writes at his website:
Elie Wiesel has acknowledged the role played by the clandestine underground and political prisoners in saving children and youth at Buchenwald, especially in his autobiography, but he did not attend to this in “Night.” It was not his purpose or focus in that book. Many of his fellow barracks members, however, who are still alive and remember very well their days and nights in Block 66; their relations with Kalina, Schiller and others; and the hope provided to them there, have been helping fill in the story.
You can see a couple of these fellow barracks members here: Scroll down for Excerpts from the “Boys of Buchenwald” discussion panel (7.45 minutes) You can judge for yourself how impressive they are…or not. Neither one mentions Elie Wiesel.
1. Elie Wiesel, Night, Hill and Wang, New York, 2006, 120 pgs.
2. This can refer to soup or disinfectant being available at the entrance to the barracks. Obviously, Eliezer and his father dawdling by having their long conversation caused them to miss out on both shower and whatever was in the cauldrons. Just another example of the intended vague descriptions permeating this book.
3. In the book, “coffee” is in quotes signifying it wasn’t real coffee. I left off the quote marks in the original writing because of the quote mark signifying the end of the sentence. Poor judgement on my part, but whether it was real coffee or not wasn’t the focus of my attention in this critique. However, the sharp attention of the author of the Scrapbookpages Blog picked up on this and wrote about Wiesel’s failure to know that real coffee was not served in the camps. My apology to “Furtherglory” for misleading him and to my readers also. I have added the quote marks since reading the blog at Scrapbookpages Blog.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: And the World Remained Silent, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Gustav Schiller, Ken Waltzer, Night,
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