Posts Tagged ‘Hilda Wiesel’

Elie’s Adventures in Buchenland

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

By Carolyn Yeager
Copyright 2013 Carolyn Yeager
(last edited on 7-30-13)

How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Introduction: In Elie Wiesel’s book Night, we find the scenario and characters changing often, and in many cases, with little rhyme or reason that is apparent to the reader. One easily concludes that, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is a work of absurdity.

In Lewis Carroll’s classic, nothing makes sense because nothing has to make sense – the intention was to be a “childish” type of foolishness or make-believe from the start. It is an example of literary nonsense1 genre. Interestingly, we find similar examples of nonsense and absurdity in many of the stories and writings of self-proclaimed “holocaust survivors” – and we put Elie Wiesel into this category. This is why Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is such a good fit for a parody of Elie Wiesel’s Night.

Cast of Characters:

Elie = Elie Wiesel

White Rabbit = Ken Waltzer

Father = no such person has been found

The King and Queen of Hearts = SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV)

The Duchess = Hilda Wiesel

The Cheshire Cat = Carolyn Yeager

The March Hare = Antonin Kalina, Czech communist block leader

The (Mad) Hatter = Gustav Schiller, Polish Jew block leader

Elie is quite bored one warm afternoon at the Jewish orphan’s mansion in France where he lives. This is not unusual for Elie, who has absolutely nothing to do all day but play chess or study the Talmud or other holy texts of which he is known to be almost fanatically fond. Today, though, no one was around the chess table that had been set up outdoors under a large tree, and Elie becomes a bit dreamy, maybe even sleepy. He is suddenly brought wide awake again when he sees a White Rabbit run by, looking at its pocket watch and muttering “Oh dear, oh dear, I’m going to be late!”

Elie, having never heard a rabbit speak to itself before, let alone have a pocket watch, impulsively runs after the comical creature right into a large rabbit hole. He feels himself slowly falling a long distance before he comes to solid ground. When he does, an unrecognizable landscape of trees, shrubs and creatures such as he has never seen before greets his blinking  eyes, and a feeling of being an innocent young girl in an enchanted garden comes over him.

Before he can wonder too much at this, he catches sight of the White Rabbit again and follows him until he is stopped by a barbed wire fence. Standing before it, just the thought of how he might squeeze through the wires to the other side as the rabbit did causes him to shrink to just the right size to step through. As he does—suddenly—he is in a closed railway car with many other people, Jews like himself.

Elie is so unhappy at this turn of events he begins to cry. He cries so much and so hard his tears flood the rail car, making all the others inside very angry, including his own late father whom now, however, seems to be very much alive. As the water made up of Elie’s tears rises closer to the top of the boxcar, the door opens and the inhabitants swim out with the rushing flood.

Appearing for all the world like a catch of wet fish flapping on the platform, the unfortunates find themselves being questioned by a large Caterpillar-looking officer seated on a high stool smoking a hookah. But not one of them is able to answer the officer’s questions as to the particulars of who they are.

I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Camp Buchenland

The hookah-smoking officer tires of their inability to name themselves and, pointing in a certain direction, tells them to march that way to a camp where they will get dry clothes. Once there, the group lines up in an open assembly area and is told they are in Buchenland, the kingdom of the Queen of Hearts who, in spite of her kindly-sounding name, gives orders that must be obeyed. Ordered to now go to the showers where they would also receive the promised new clothing, Elie and Father already fail to obey.

The entrance to the showers is crowded with pushing, shoving people. Father sits down on the ground outside, “I can’t go on anymore; I’ll wait here until we can go into the showers.” As the two lose themselves in an argument over the subject of impending death, the electric lights go out and a loudspeaker commands that all must now be in their assigned barracks.

In haste, Elie follows a crowd into a nearby barracks, where, still unshowered, he falls to the floor and sinks into a dreamless sleep. It is only in the morning that he realizes he is alone; he must have lost his father in the rush to the barracks, and then forgotten about him! Going in search, he wanders about the camp for hours, unmolested by any officers or guards of the Kingdom. Happening upon a place where coffee is being distributed, he gets in line for a cup and magically hears the voice of his father calling to him.

From then on, for the next 7 days (as well as days can be counted in Buchenland), Elie keeps coming back to his father, looking after him in a rather haphazard fashion. Father is not well, not well at all, and Elie, “for a ration of bread,” is able to secure a cot next to his father in the barracks.(2) But a few days later, Elie is sleeping on the upper bunk, above his father, because of his (Elie’s) bandaged foot.(3)

The time comes that Father passes his last breath in his bunk during the middle of the night. According to Elie’s reckoning, it is February 8th-9th, 1945. But elsewhere, Elie states his father died on the night of January 28-29, and again on the 18-19 of Shevat, 5705, which corresponds to February 1st.(4) Elie is both secretly relieved and personally devastated over the loss of Father and blames it on the cruelty of the officials of the Kingdom of Buchenland, calling it murder.

The Queen of Hearts learns about young Elie’s defamations against her health care system, and at the same time the multiple death dates he asserts for his father, and proclaims with great indignation that this cannot be allowed in her Kingdom. The King agrees and they summon the culprit to their presence. After listening to Elie’s disconnected narrative of how he came to be in Buchenland and how he lost his father, she loses patience with the constantly changing versions of his story and shouts “Off with his head!”

Elie is put on trial

Elie is taken to court to be tried for the offense of butchering his father’s date of death. The King and Queen are seated on the high bench. Elie is formally charged with reckless endangerment of the facts of his father’s death. To everyone’s surprise, The Duchess arrives at the court, accompanied by her cat, and asks to testify for the accused. She is granted her request and takes the stand.

You know, [father and son] did a long march from Auschwitz, then they put them on the train to go to Buchen[land]; [Father] died gasping for air. When he stepped off the train, he died gasping for air; at Buchen[land]. But [Elie] knew the date. (5)

The Queen frowns; she is impatient of such testimony that adds even another version of the death in question—what can The Duchess be up to anyway? Then the Duchess’ Cheshire Cat begins to speak, saying the entire court is out of order because the father of the defendant is not the same as the 44-year old man who actually died and is listed in the Buchenland death records; therefore the date that Elie’s father died is irrelevant. Angered to hear it said that her court is out of order, the Queen shouts “Off with his head!” pointing to the Cheshire Cat. As the Queen’s guards move toward the cat to seize him, he cleverly disappears his body, leaving only his head for the spectators to see. How then can his head be chopped off?

Realizing she has been outwitted by a cat, the Queen then turns to Elie and declares him “Guilty! Off with his head!” As Elie is being escorted to the place of execution, he and his guards meet up with the Cheshire Cat again, now sitting in a tree. The Cat advises them to go to the March Hare’s house instead, warning, however, that the Hare is quite mad. “But then, everyone here is mad,” the Cheshire Cat adds with a grin, before he disappears altogether, leaving only his grin still floating in the air.

Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Hatter’s Tea Party

The White Rabbit is again spotted running ahead as if leading them to the house of the March Hare, which turns out to be another barracks, this one called the “Children’s Block.” Inside, the Hare and his companion The Hatter (also mad—in fact “mad as a hatter”) engage the children in a continual tea party intended to take their minds off the dreariness of their surroundings.

Elie, feeling grateful (for a change) to still have his head on his shoulders, takes a place at the tea table. He is hoping for something good to eat, as he has now lost interest in everything around him except food. But while the Hare and the Hatter provide nothing in the way of food themselves, Elie still finds the tea party routine—one of constantly changing seats, asking unanswerable riddles and reciting nonsensical poetry— much to his liking.

The Hatter has red hair, carries a big stick and likes to boss the children around in his Polish Yiddish. The March Hare is actually of Czech origin and is known to be at his most mad during the month of March, which it happens to be at this very time. Thus do the days pass in the children’s block.

The overthrow of the Queen

However, when the month of April rolls round, the Queen of Hearts discovers that Elie has been hidden in the house of the March Hare and commands the whole place be evacuated. Every day, for several days, Elie is marched to the camp gate with the other children—rumor has it either to be taken away and disposed of or to be given bread and marmalade outside the gate—but every day he is stopped right before the gate and returned to the March Hare’s house. No marmalade and no explanation given.

On the 11th, the enemies of the Queen from outside Buchenland arrive in such great numbers that all the King and Queen’s guards are forced to flee, leaving Buchenland in the hands of the Mad Hatters and the March Hares. In their celebratory mood, on the third day of what they term the “liberation,” they throw open the Queen’s royal pantries and a real party begins. Elie greedily gorges himself on whatever comes first to hand, causing a poisonous shock to his system. He falls unconscious, is taken to a hospital and doesn’t recover for two weeks.

Buchenland doesn’t even notice Elie’s absence. The new owners are busy taking photographs(6), writing publicity propaganda and giving tours of the place. Hunting down every last subject of the former Queen also occupies their attention. The non-descript intruder named Elie (not the only one so named!) is quickly forgotten.

But for this particular Elie, when he awoke again, it was like being reborn. The absurd world he had found himself in after following that White Rabbit down the rabbit hole existed no more; he was back at the mansion in France, unthreatened by any harm. It must have been a dream, he thought. But then, “I shall write about what I remember—now, before I forget. Even though it didn’t really happen, perhaps it could have happened. And since it’s there in my mind like a memory, that makes it real enough! Plus it’s a jolly good story.” So, going inside the mansion, he found paper and pencil and began writing of his amazing adventure in Buchenland, as he remembered it. And he called it Night.

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll,  Alice in Wonderland

Endnotes:

1.  Literary nonsense (or nonsense literature) is a broad categorization of literature that uses sensical and nonsensical elements to defy language conventions or logical reasoning.

Nonsense is distinct from fantasy, though there are sometimes resemblances between them. Everything follows logic within the rules of the fantasy world; the nonsense world, on the other hand, has no system of logic, although it may imply the existence of an inscrutable one, just beyond our grasp.

2.  “For a ration of bread I was able to exchange cots to be next to my father.” Night, Marion Wiesel translation, 2006, p.108.

3.  “The sick stayed in their bunks [during roll call]. 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.” Un di Velt hot geshvign, 1955, p.235.

The bandage refers to the foot operation the fictional Eliezer had before he left Monowitz on or about Jan. 15-16. Could he still be wearing the same bloody bandage he arrived with? Of course not—which means he received treatment that he doesn’t want to tell about.

 There is no mention in Night that Wiesel’s foot was still bandaged after 7 days in Buchenwald, and that he could be considered “not fit” for even the ordinary routine. After the march on foot to Gleiwitz, from Auschwitz, Elie never again refers to his foot in Night.

4.  http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/night-1-and-night-2%E2%80%94what-changes-were-made-and-why-part-two/

5.  From Hilda Wiesel’s testimony to the Shoah Foundation in 1995. According to the time line in Night, she is speaking of February 1, 1945. According to the official time line, it is Jan. 26, 1945. http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/night-1-and-night-2%E2%80%94what-changes-were-made-and-why-part-two/

6. Including the Famous Buchenwald Liberation Photo, taken on April 16, 1945 in Barracks #56 while the fictional Eliezer was in the hospital recovering from his fictional food poisoning.

Night #1 and Night #2—What Changes were Made and Why, Part Two

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.

Elie Wiesel at Jewish Book FairIn 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 Chronicle1records 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.

But—

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.

Endnotes

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.

 

 

The Truth about ‘Night’: Why it’s not Elie Wiesel’s Story

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

by Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2011 carolyn yeager

Why is Grandma Nisel not mentioned in Elie Wiesel’s Night?

According to Hilda Wiesel’s 1995 “Survivors of the Shoah” testimony, Grandmother Nisel (also spelled Nissel) went with the family to Auschwitz.

According to Elie Wiesel’s 1995 memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea1, Grandmother Nisel went with the family to Auschwitz.

But Grandma Nisel is not mentioned even once in Wiesel’s 1958-60 supposedly autobiographical Night.2

Did Wiesel simply forget about his grandmother only 10 years after the event and then remember her again in the 1990’s? Did he cut her out because he wanted to condense his book and she was peripheral to the storyline? Neither of these can be believed. In the first place, Wiesel makes it clear in All Rivers how important Grandma Nisel was to him and he writes affectionately about her. Secondly, by including his grandmother when he mentioned his mother and three sisters, he would not have added more than a few words to the deportation narrative, as we will see. Thirdly, Grandma Nisel, as a member of his family group that he says he lost at Auschwitz, could not with any decency be left out when writing about this momentous event.

And, in fact, he didn’t leave her out of his memoir, nor did Hilda leave her out of her testimony. But Night is another story (pun intended).

There is no excuse or explanation that can be given for such a lapse, and none has ever been attempted. Not one of Wiesel’s numerous interviewers, biographers, commentators or adulators have ever asked about it, or, if they did, they must have accepted without complaint a “no comment” from him. (I suspect that whenever Wiesel gives an interview or allows someone to write a book about him, he obtains an agreement in advance as to what can be discussed and what is off-limits. And I imagine probing questions about his family are off-limits … probably on the grounds that it is “too painful” for him. Wiesel is always treated with the softest of kid gloves.)

Who is Grandmother Nisel and why is she important?

Nisel Bash was the daughter of Moshe and Yehudit (or Mindil) Bash (or Basch). She was born in 1881 in Chust, Ruthenian-Czechoslovakia. She married Eliezer Vizel and lived with him in Sighet, Rumania … which later became Hungary. (This information is from the victim forms filled out for Yad Vashem by her nephew and grandson; see further below.) We don’t know the date of her marriage, but her first child may have been born in 1900 when she was 19 years old. This first child of Nisel and Eliezer was probably a daughter, either Idiss or Giza. In 1903 their first son, named Shlomo, was born. After that came another son, Mendel; then two more daughters.

Below: YV forms for Shlomo Wiesel by Son Eli and cousin Yaakov Fishkovitz. (click on picture for larger image) Below that is the 1957 YV form for Mendel Wiesel by Yaakov Fishkovitz.

 

I have reconstructed the birth dates of Nisel’s children as best I can since no reliable family genealogy has ever been made available. Sites like Rootsweb are completely useless for information about the Wiesel family. In All Rivers (p. 7), Elie Wiesel writes about his aunts:

“I also had two aunts in Czechoslovakia: Aunt Idiss in Slotvino and Aunt Giza in Ungvaer. Grandma Nissel’s other two daughters lived in Sighet. Zlati, the youngest, was called an old maid behind her back. She married late, you see—at twenty-one.”

The older of the two daughters who lived in Sighet is never named or described, yet she could not have died as a child since Wiesel speaks of her as living in Sighet when he was a boy. Did she disgrace the family in some way and so is not to be mentioned? Wiesel writes that Grandma Nisel sat at the cash register in his father’s store, but also helped out at her son Mendel’s store:

“Maybe (Grandma Nisel) was trying not to show favoritism toward any of her children. My father was the oldest, but she was just as close to my Uncle Mendel, who had a modest grocery store on the other side of town.”

From this we can understand that Shlomo was the oldest of the two sons. Among Orthodox Hasidic Jews, males are in an entirely different category of importance and expectations than females, who are only required to find a good husband and have children. Mendel married Golda Feig, the sister of Sarah Feig, making for a tight-knit Wiesel-Feig family relationship.

Uncle Mendel Wiesel was born in 1905, according to cousin Yaakov (the only source we have) and died at the same time as Shlomo in 1943 … in Sighet. He would have been only 38 years old! Yet in Night he appears in the story at the time of the deportation to Auschwitz—Elie Wiesel’s family stays in his empty house in the small ghetto. On page 30:

“The people must have been driven out unexpectedly. I went to see the rooms where my uncle’s family had lived. On the table there was a half-finished bowl of soup. There was a pie waiting to be put in the oven. Books were littered about on the floor. Perhaps my uncle had had dreams of taking them with him?”

Nisel lived in her own house that was close to her son Shlomo’s home. Young Elie dropped in often to visit her and had quite a few stories to tell about that in All Rivers. Elie’s namesake grandfather Eliezer had been killed in the First World War in his capacity as a stretcher-bearer. Nisel related to her grandson that when she was told of his death: “I learned what catastrophe meant, and I knew my mourning would never end.” (All Rivers, p 8)

On page 9, Wiesel relates a story that when he returned to Sighet as an adult, he first went to the cemetery to find his grandfather’s grave. He spoke to his grandfather’s spirit about the deportation to Auschwitz thus: “Did you know, Grandpa, that Grandma Nisel was the only one in the family, almost the only one in the whole community, who guessed it all? She knew she would never come home. She left this wretched town in her funeral dress. Yes, she wore her shroud under her black dress. She alone was ready.”

There are two other distinct mentions in All Rivers of his grandmother taking part in the deportation-to-Auschwitz process. On Page 70 he writes that on Tuesday, May 16, they were ordered out of their houses to be sent to the small ghetto. “There was another heat wave. My little sister was thirsty, and my grandmother too.” Page 77, arriving at Auschwitz: “I stared intently, trying desperately not to lose sight of my mother, my little sister with her hair of gold and sun, my grandmother, my older sisters.”

Yet in 20 pages in the book Night of detailed description of the pre-deportation events, the trip to Auschwitz and their arrival, there is no mention at all of a grandmother. Nowhere in the entire book is there a Grandma Nisel.

Other family members place Grandma Nisel at Auschwitz.

 

 

 

Her nephew Yaakov Fishkovitz in 1957 filled out a YV form (above top) stating she died at Auschwitz in 1944. Yaakov also filled out a form for his cousin Shlomo Wiesel. A grandson, Eliezer Shlomovitz of Los Angeles CA, filled out a Yad Vashem form for his grandmother Nisel Vizel too, many years later in 1994 or 1999 (hard to read), saying she died at Auschwitz in 1944 (above). But neither Elie nor his two surviving sisters acknowledged her death at Auschwitz in this way. Although Hilda said in her 1995 Shoah testimony: “… we were, myself and my sister, the one who was in Canada and is now deceased; my mother; my grandmother, that is my father’s mother; and, oh . . . my little 10-year old sister.”

Hilda also said: “And my mother – died. She was 44 years old.” She then repeated: “And my little sister – dead at age 10.” These are assumed deaths. But if she is correct about her mother’s age in 1944, then Sarah Feig was born in 1900. Could she have been 3 years older than her husband, born in 1903 according to his cousin Yaakov? Possibly, even considering what we know about Hasidic marriages, wherein the groom is usually no more than one year older, or the same age, as the bride.3 But Hilda, being the eldest, should know her mother’s age. Right: Hilda, age 16, in 1938 with her mother Sarah Feig Wiesel, who would have been 38 in the picture if she were born in 1900.

The name Shlomo appears only once in Night at the end.

On the very first page of this famous novel it is written: “My father was a cultured, rather unsentimental man.” Right here it would have been natural to write: My father, Shlomo Wiesel, was a cultured, rather unsentimental man. But no, and throughout the book this character continues to be known only as “my father,” until page 103-4 when another prisoner, Meir Katz, addresses him by his first name. In the original edition it is spelled Chlomo; in the 2006 translation, the spelling is changed to Shlomo. The name of Wiesel also occurs only once, on page 51:

We had already been eight days at Auschwitz. It was during roll call. We were not expecting anything except the sound of the bell which would announce the end of roll call. I suddenly heard someone passing between the rows asking, “Which of you is Wiesel of Sighet?

The man looking for us was a bespectacled little fellow with a wrinkled, wizened face. My father answered him.

“I’m Wiesel of Sighet.”

The little man looked at him for a long while, with his eyes narrowed.

“You don’t recognize me—you don’t recognize me. I’m a relative of yours. Stein. Have you forgotten me already? Stein! Stein of Antwerp. Reizel’s husband. Your wife was Reizel’s aunt. She often used to write to us … and such letters!”

Let’s remember there were many Wiesel’s (Vizel’s) in Sighet, a town with a large Jewish population. For example, there are three Mendel Wiesel’s from Sighet of around the same age in the Yad Vashem databank, and there are eight Shlomo Wiesel’s recorded as sucumbing in the camps. This doesn’t include all the Wiesel’s with other first names! So we can expect that the man Stein would have used the first name too, or Wiesel would have asked Stein which Wiesel he was looking for. This seems like another avoidance of using the name Shlomo, but it is strange that both the first and last name were used one time only.

On page 2, the sisters are named:

There were four of us children: Hilda, the eldest; then Bea; I was the third, and the only son; the baby of the family was Tzipora.

In the original Night (p 31), the family servant, a Christian from a nearby village, is named Martha. In All Rivers, she becomes Maria, and the name in the 2006 re-translation of Night is changed to Maria. Okay, it could have been an error.

The dust jacket on an original, hard-bound copy of Night reads: “The adolescent Elisha and his family, among hundreds of thousands of Jews […] are cruelly deported …” Elisha is not the name of the main character in the book; it is Eliezer. The first time that name is used is on page 86: “Let’s hope that we shan’t regret it, Eliezer.” On page 92: “Don’t let yourself be overcome by sleep, Eliezer.” On page 96, Eliezer is addressed by his name twice by Juliek. On page 108: ”Eliezer … my son … bring me … a drop of coffee…” Then, again, on pages 109, 110 and 112. Why is he called Elisha on the dust jacket? Elisha is the name of the main character in Wiesel’s second novel, Dawn. A little mix-up there?

In Night, Father is 50 and little sister is seven.

In spring 1944, just arriving at Auschwitz, Eliezer’s father declares that he is fifty years of age. Eliezer says he is “not quite 15.” (p 40) In the new 2006 translation (p 30), Eliezer’s age is changed to “15” but the father’s “fifty” remains the same. “Not quite 15″ doesn’t equate to Elie Wiesel, whose birthday is Sept. 30, 1928, so that was an oversight in Night. Or it can also be seen as a similar situation as with Tzipora’s age: Making the young victims even younger so they will appear more sympathetic to the reader, and making some adults older. Lying about their age is a tactic used by many “holocaust survivors” in their memoirs to explain how they escaped the “gas chamber.” Arguably, this could have been done by Sarah Wiesel for Tzipora too—claiming her to be 14 instead of 10, since in the story Night, Eliezer made himself out to be 18 (3 years older that he really was) and got away with it.

Why is the father in Night fifty? Shlomo Wiesel was certainly somewhere between 40 and 44 years of age in 1944. Actually, according to his cousin Yaakov, he wasn’t even alive, having died in 1943! Moreover, Mendel died in 1943 also. One has to assume from this that they died together somehow. Yaakov filled out a form for Mendel at the same time as for Shlomo. The forms look exactly alike except for the different name and date of birth. Shlomo is shown to be born in 1903, Mendel in 1905. Keep in mind that in 1957 the book Night was not yet published in French or English and the name of Elie Wiesel was completely unknown, so Fishkowitz had no reason to lie to protect his relatives, as he might have had later.

Contrarily, on the Yad Vashem form Elie Wiesel filled out in 2004, no birth date is given for his father, nor the age at death. Did he not know? Is it possible for a son not to know his father’s age?

This photograph (left) of Shlomo Wiesel was taken in 1942 according to Hilda Wiesel. At this time he would have been 39 years old.

Further, we have no information on these details for Wiesel’s mother Sarah Feig either, and no family member (or anyone) ever filled out a YV Holocaust victim form for her or her youngest daughter who supposedly died with her at Auschwitz. (Can the reason be that they don’t want to record an age/birth date for either one?) But, as I wrote above, Hilda Wiesel Kudler said in her Shoah testimony that her mother was 44 years old when she died, and her youngest sister was ten. Is Hilda a reliable witness?

On page 30 of Night, Eliezer says: “I looked at my little sister Tzipora, her fair hair well combed, a red coat over her arm, a little girl of seven.” This is when the family was walking to the ‘small ghetto’ after being ordered out of their home in the spring of 1944, only a week or so before they arrived in Auschwitz. But Hilda said Tzipora was then ten years old. Which is correct? Or is neither? Some of my readers will tell me, “What does it matter?” Accuracy matters, because if a source is wrong in some things that can be determined as wrong, nothing from there should be depended upon.

Nowhere in All Rivers do we find Tzipora’s age given by Wiesel, even though he mentions her many times. He only wants us to know that she was young or “a child.” A ten-year-old girl is quite a bit more mature than a seven-year old. I venture to say she was given the age of seven in Night to make her appear more vulnerable, and her death even more of a barbaric crime. Also, if she were seven, there would be more reason to “exterminate” both mother and daughter, under the extermination thesis. But in truth, a 44-year-old-woman and her 10-year-old daughter could be quite useful in the labor force, and therefore could have gone on to meet some other fate. There may even be some private knowledge of that—which may be another reason no one has filled out a Yad Vashem Holocaust Victim report for these two, while two were filled out for 64- year-old Grandma Nisel.

That Shlomo Wiesel was 50 years old in 1944 can be ruled out by the fact that his mother was 64 years old in 1944, making her only 14 years older than a 50 year old. So this Father character cannot truly be the real Shlomo. The father is depicted as somewhat confused, a poor decision maker, and as having difficulty adjusting to camp life, both physically and psychologically. He appears more like a man of sixty. Eliezer is often shown to be his father’s caretaker. “My father … was running at my side, out of breath, at the end of his strength, at his wit’s end. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support.” (Night, p 90)

A fifteen-year-old with a gold crown?

How many 15-year-olds do you know who have a crown on a tooth already? Thirty-one-year-olds may, the age Lazar Wiesel was in 1944. Or the following story could be totally fabricated. Wiesel writes in Night that when he was transferred to Monowitz (Buna), he was given a physical and a dental exam. The dentist wanted to remove his gold crown; Eliezer talked him out of it. One day his work foreman, named Franek, noticed the gold and told Eliezer he wanted it. Eliezer resisted, but eventually, after suffering a series of abuses, gave up his gold tooth to Franek. In this story, he is called out for his dental appointment by his number, “A-7713.” (p 58) The number is used again on page 64 when the Kapo decides to give him a beating.

I felt the sweat run down my back.

“A-7713!”

I came forward.

Earlier, on page 51, the author wrote:

“The three “veterans,” with needles in their hands, engraved a number on our left arms. I became A-7713.”

Yet where is the number A-7713 on Elie Wiesel’s left arm?

At Buna, he worked in an electrical warehouse alongside some Polish civilians and a few French women After his beating by the Kapo, one of the French girls came over to him, “wiped his blood-stained forehead with her cool hand,” gave him a mournful smile and a bit of bread. Finally she spoke to him “in almost perfect German.” Several years later he recognized her in the Paris Metro, and prodded her memory. They went to a terrace café and she revealed to him that she was Jewish, from a religious family, and during the occupation she obtained forged papers and passed herself off as an Aryan. She was enlisted in “forced labor groups” and deported to Germany. That’s how she escaped the concentration camps.

These kinds of stories abound in Night and other holocaust-survivor books. No witnesses, no proofs, no names, just a bit of imagination. I will remind you again that the original Night was published in 1960 categorized as Judaica/Literature … in other words, fiction. When the new translation came out in 2006, it was changed to Autobiography/Jewish Interest. It is now an autobiography of Elie Wiesel, with his picture on the back cover and a special new Preface, written by him, which condemns the Germans and attempts to explain the changes he and his wife have made in the text.

Eliezer Wiesel is not necessarily Elie Wiesel

The author of the Yiddish book is Eliezer Wiesel. The author of Night is Elie Wiesel. There is only 2 years between the publication of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign in 1956 and the French La Nuit in 1958, but in that time the author’s name had changed. When did Elie start being called ‘Elie’ rather than Eliezer or Liezer or Lazar or something else? According to some of his biographers, it was when he was still living at home with his family. As we know, there were many Eliezer Wiesel’s (Vizel’s) in Sighet, let alone in Hungary, at the time. Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, however, was written in Polish Yiddish, or at least it was published in that language. The final version of the book of 245 pages was edited by Mark Turkov who specialized in Polish Yiddish. Where the story came from, we really don’t know. That’s the bottom line. We have the preposterous story told by Elie Wiesel of writing it in a ship’s cabin on his way to Brazil at a time that he was involved in a serious love affair and embarking on an important assignment for his newspaper. Equally preposterous is his claim to have handed an 862-page manuscript over to the stranger Turkov during a chance meeting on the ship, docked at Sao Paulo, without a copy for himself or a contract or any guarantee of return – just ‘good faith.’ Being an experienced journalist at that time, he would certainly have known better. Worse than that, he says he didn’t even believe when he gave it to him that Turkov would publish it. (All Rivers, p 240-41)

We make a leap of faith to believe that Eliezer Wiesel has to be Elie Wiesel. It should also be pointed out that these survivor stories were all the rage within the Yiddish-speaking communities at the time. There were many of them in circulation, even before they were published. Elie Wiesel had cousins in Argentina whom he visited while he was there in April-May 1954; he mentioned them in All Rivers.4 It’s very likely that he was introduced to these survivor stories, and Mark Turkov’s publishing house, through these relatives and their circle. Was he attracted to a particular story by an author with his own name, Eliezer Wiesel?

More unlikely stories

Wiesel tells us another unlikely story in All Rivers (p 277) that in Dec. 1955, back in Paris, he received a copy of the published book, edited down to 245 pages, in the mail from Turkov. There are no witnesses to this. He only mentions telling one close friend, Israel Adler, who took him out for a coffee by way of celebration.(!) Shortly after that he moved to the United States. It appears from his writings that Wiesel forgot all about the manuscript he gave to Turkov until the book came to him in the mail, but he does add on that page that “they never did send back the manuscript”—to give himself a reason for not having it and not being able to say what was actually in it.

In contradiction to this story is the one wherein Francois Mauriac, whom Wiesel first meets in Spring 1955, encourages him to write about his concentration camp experiences. He doesn’t tell Mauriac he has already done so, but acts like he will think about it, later accepting the guilt-ridden, elderly Catholic’s help in getting the book published. Wiesel writes in All Rivers, p 319, that he sent a manuscript of what became La Nuit (Night) to Mauriac one year later, in 1956.

In 1957, during my convalescence, I received good news from Francois Mauriac: Jerome Lindon of Editions de Minuit was going to publish La Nuit (Night). The letter of confirmation opened a new chapter in the book of commentaries that is my life.

Lindon didn’t like the orginal title: “And the World Remained Silent.” He preferred a biblical phrase, perhaps something from the Book of Jeremiah. But after discussing various suggestions, we settled on La Nuit. Lindon also wanted me to tighten the text, given to him by Mauriac, though I had already pruned and abridged it considerably.

The text was given to the French publisher by Mauriac. In the following lines he says that he, Elie, was the one who made the drastic cuts in the original manuscript. When?!

He proposed new cuts throughout, leading to significant differences in length among the successive versions. I had cut down the original manuscript from 862 pages to the 245 of the published Yiddish edition. Lindon edited La Nuit down to 178.

What a tissue of lies. Never before had Wiesel written about the Yiddish book, but now, in 1995, he relates that it was he who cut the 862 pages to 245. Such a prodigious task would certainly not have gone unremarked upon by him! And now it is the publisher Lindon who did the final editing to 178 pages. One wonders just what part Elie Wiesel played in this group effort?

Wiesel continues with an unconvincing “explanation” of why the book’s original ending was cut out, something that was made controversial by a certain Jewish scholar. He then says, “By the time Night was published in France, I was at work on another book.” This rendition of how such an important book came about is so sloppy and insulting to the intelligence of his readers that it speaks for itself.

Both the USHMM and Wikipedia have the dates wrong.

At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Elie Wiesel Timeline: From 1952, it says Wiesel interviewed Mauriac in 1954 (it was 1955) and that Wiesel finished his “900-page Yiddish manuscript” in Brazil in 1955 (it was 1954). I believe it is backwards on purpose, in order to fit Wiesel’s lies. But this is typical of the scholarship carried out at this totally Jewish-run, but government funded museum. It reads:

1954
During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, Elie is persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps.

1955
Elie Wiesel finishes a nearly 900-page manuscript in Yiddish while on assignment in Brazil. And the World Stayed Silent is published in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1963
Elie Wiesel becomes an American citizen.

Wikipedia skips over the dates, doesn’t give any dates for the writing of the books because they don’t fit, but says that Wiesel moved to NYC in 1955.

“In 1955, Wiesel moved to New York City, having become a US citizen: due to injuries suffered in a traffic accident, he was forced to stay in New York past his visa’s expiration and was offered citizenship to resolve his status.”

Others say he moved to NYC in 1956. Since he was still in Paris in Dec.’55, one assumes he didn’t leave for the U.S. until Jan. ‘56. Wiesel nowhere gives a date, which is the reason for the confusion — his biographers have to guess. But, while he received a U.S. “green card” sometime after recovering from his accident, he did not become a citizen until 1963. Wikipedia is known to change its information on Wiesel without notice. For example, it now spells his father’s name Chlomo, whereas previously it was Shlomo.

Why did Wiesel start campaigning for the Nobel Prize the same year Mark Turkov died?

Mark Turkov, the publisher of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (And The World Remained Silent), died in 1983, the same year Wiesel’s supporters began their campaign to get him a Nobel Prize. It is a fact that Wiesel never spoke about the Yiddish book that was the precursor to Night until after Mark Turkov’s death. As I wrote in “The Shadowy Origins of Night, Part III,” this was the time Wiesel first began to speak of being the author of the Yiddish book, which he obliquely referred to in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1986, when he said “the world did know and remained silent.”

Another reason for bringing the previously ignored Yiddish book into the light is that Buchenwald survivor Myklos Grüner began, in 1987, to claim that a different Eliezer Wiesel was the author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, thus making it necessary for the first time for Elie to explain just how it got written … by him. That he botched the explanation so badly in his memoir is no surprise to those who have studied the man. From the article mentioned above:

Grüner writes in his book Stolen Identity (p 50), “My work of research to find Lazar Wiesel born on the 4th of September 1913 started first in 1987, to establish contact with the Archives of Buchenwald.” He was also writing to politicians and newspapers in Sweden. This could not have failed to attract the notice of Elie Wiesel and his well-developed public relations network. Grüner tracked down Un di Velt Hot Gesvign as the original book from which Night was taken, and believed it was written by his friend Lazar Wiesel and stolen somehow by Elie. (p 43)

This could account for why Elie Wiesel suddenly began to speak and write about ‘his’ Yiddish book, published in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1956. He deals with it in his memoir All Rivers, published in 1995, after Turkov and everyone else associated with it are dead. No witnesses.

Is it too far-fetched to believe that Turkov agreed to remain silent about the real author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, either by being bought off, threatened, or even voluntarily? And once Turkov was safely dead, Wiesel and his supporters could breathe more easily about claiming his authorship of the book?

It is a strange fact that the title Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (or, in English, And the World Remained Silent) does not appear on the long list of “books by Elie Wiesel” at the beginning of his memoir All Rivers, nor in the original or in the new 2006 translation of Night. It also does not appear in the complete list of his books at The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. It is, however, at the beginning of the list of his books on Wikipedia. Clearly, there is uncertainty about this book, perhaps a desire by publishers not to put down in writing something that could bring them a lawsuit … or perhaps a wish by Wiesel not to stimulate questions about that book.

Conclusions

1. The characters in Night are only loosely based on Elie Wiesel and his family. Therefore it can’t be called an autobiography.

2. Elie Wiesel is the author of Night, written in French with the assistence of his editor and probably Francois Mauriac, but he cannot have been the author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign.

3. Elie Wiesel made arrangement while in Brazil/Argentina for Mark Turkov to mail him the book by Eliezer Wiesel as soon as there was a hard copy, or his relatives mailed it to him. (Elie received a copy in Dec. 1955, according to himself, but the book was not available to the public until 1956.)

4. In the winter and spring of 1956, in the United States, Elie adapted the book to a shorter version in French, which he mailed to Francois Mauriac in Paris. He inserted the names of his family members and personalized it, especially in the beginning chapters.

5. The secrecy of the birth and death dates among Wiesel’s close relatives is to keep from contradicting what is written in Night, on which his fame and fortune truly rests. Without Night, Wiesel fades into just another Jewish-Zionist writer.

6. Elie Wiesel’s failure to correct and clarify details of his family history (especially birth and death dates of his parents, sisters and other close relatives), and of the writing and publication of Un di Velt and La Nuit, mirrors his refusal to show the number A-7713 that he says is tattooed on his left arm.

7. The essential purpose for securing a Nobel Prize for Wiesel, in literature or peace, was to solidify his reputation in light of the fagility of Night as the basis of that reputation. Nobel prize recipients are a protected species by the entire “global elite,” not just the Jews. Having himself falsely identified in the Buchenwald Liberation photo served the same purpose.

My challenge: I welcome any native Polish Yiddish speaker/reader who is also fluent in English to prove me wrong about what I have written above by providing an honest, accurate translation of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign into English so it can be compared with Night. Why hasn’t this already been done? It’s natural to be suspicious of what is kept hidden. Let’s put everything on the table so that the questions I have raised can be cleared up.

Endnotes:

1. Elie Wiesel, Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1995. 418 pp.

2. Elie Wiesel, Night, Hill and Wang, New York, 1960. 116 pp. (Original edition)

3. “One day my father saw a beautiful young girl in a carriage and was so struck by her that he ran after her, calling out, ‘Who are you?’ Of course, she did not deign to reply, but that evening the driver gave him the answer. The girl was the younger daughter of Reb Dodye Feig, of the village of Bichkev. The following year they were married, and they had four children, three girls and a boy.” (All Rivers, p 15)

4. “In Buenos Aires my cousins Voicsi and her husband Moishe-Hersh Genuth came to meet us. I gave them some articles for Yedioth Ahronoth, unaware they would be reprinted or quoted in the American Jewish press.” (All Rivers, p 241)

Relative of Shlomo Wiesel says he died in 1943, not at Buchenwald

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.

 Endnotes:

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 campsJews 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.”

 

 

Another photo of young Elie Wiesel that is not Elie Wiesel

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

by Carolyn Yeager

 

Discovered! The newspaper photograph in which Hilda Wiesel recognized her brother Elie at the OSE home near Paris. (Might take some time to download.)

At the end of her video-taped Shoah Foundation testimony in 1995 (the same year Wiesel’s memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea came out),  Hilda shows some family pictures:  her mother, her father, her sister and brother, and lastly the one above.

Hilda says (translated from French): With the cap, that’s him.  My brother with the cap.  That is this picture that I saw in Paris and thanks to this picture we met.  I was for several months in Paris, as he was too; and we didn’t know we were both alive—and thanks to this picture we met.

Hilda may have been on the look-out for her brother when she saw this photo and thought or hoped it might be him. By contacting that OSE home that was mentioned in the story, and asking about Eliezer Wiesel,  they located him there and  the brother and sister were reunited. A heartwarming story, but it’s clear to me that the boy in this picture is not Elie Wiesel. Compare the known Elie in the picture below taken at the same time.

Below is an enlargement of the chess-playing boy.

This boy is what you’d call gawky, which young Elie was not as we know from other pictures of him at Ambloy during this same few months of the second half of 1945.  This boy’s chin is too long and his ear appears to curve outward away from his head. The nose is short. Both boys faces seem to me to have been retouched in a crude fashion to define the features, especially the eyes. The chess player’s arms and legs are unusually long—compare them to the other boy—which is not true of Wiesel in all the pictures of him we have seen. This suggests he is going to be a tall person, while Elie Wiesel has never been more than 5’9” tall. Clearly this lad is a young adolescent, still growing at an uneven rate. If you, dear reader, can believe this is Wiesel, let me hear from you and give me your reasons.

Another point is that Wiesel always wore a beret, and I don’t think he would be caught dead in a cap like that. Nor in those striped pants. He took himself too seriously to be going about in such garb.

Yet, Elie writes in All Rivers that he remembers the day when two journalists took a picture of him when he was playing chess with another boy  If that is indeed the truth, the picture taken of Wiesel was not the picture published in the newspaper that Hilda Wiesel saw. As I wrote in Elie Wiesel and the Mossad:

 Wiesel says he “rededicated” himself to his sacred studies, and in between played chess. One day:

…a couple of strangers wanted to take pictures as we played. One of them asked some questions in bad German; I answered in good Yiddish. Someone said they were journalists, but I had never met a journalist before; they were of no interest to me, and I didn’t see why I should interest them. (All Rivers, p 113)

Here Wiesel’s orthodox Jewish “apartness” reveals itself. Those in the non-Jewish world were of no interest, unless and until they were needed for some purpose.  But the question at hand is whether Hilda still believes this is a photo of her brother, or whether she is in on the creation of the Wiesel family legend. Elie must know it is not him, but  he seems to attempt to affirm it is when he writes in All Rivers that “they were of no interest to me”—aligning with the boy in the photograph who does in fact look disinterested.

If Elie Wiesel were honest, he would declare the picture his sister saw was NOT of him playing chess. Would that take too much away from his sister’s feeling of pride or importance that she happened to  recognize him in a newspaper? When feelings are more important than truth, the actual truth can be shape-shifted in any number of ways.

This is the way of Jews—not only about their imagined holocaust but concerning their affairs in general—that the rest of us don’t quite understand and should not be forced to go along with. If they want to lie to themselves, fine, but don’t lie to us. We should call them on it. That’s what I think.

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