Posts Tagged ‘Night’
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
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.
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.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Alice in Wonderland, Camp Buchenland, Cheshire Cat, Childrens Block, Elie Wiesel, Hilda Wiesel, Ken Waltzer, Lewis Carroll, literary nonsense, Night, Queen of Hearts,
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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
[Part 2 of "Is it time to call Ken Waltzer a fraud?"]
by Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2013 carolyn yeager [last updated 6-16-2013]
“In literature, Rebbe, certain things are true though they didn’t happen, while others are not, even if they did.” -Elie Wiesel speaking of his book Night, from his Memoir: All Rivers Run to the Sea
For the skeptics and know-nothings who have written in suggesting Eli Wiesel was not in the camps, that Night is purely fiction, you are all dead wrong. The Red Cross International Tracing Service Archives documents for Lazar Wiesel and his father prove beyond any doubt that Lazar and his father arrived from Buna to Buchenwald January 26, 1945, that his father soon died a few days later. -Kenneth Waltzer in a comment at Scrapbookpages Blog, March 6, 2010.
The story that Michigan State University history professor Kenneth Waltzer has told us about Elie Wiesel in Buchenwald, based on Wiesel’s book Night, is not true.1
Elie Wiesel was not incarcerated at Buchenwald.
He was not liberated from Buchenwald.
He was not a victim of the “Nazis” there.
How do we know that?
Well, how do we know that Elie Wiesel was at Buchenwald?
1. We have a numerical file (registration) card for Lazar Wiesel from Sighet, born 1913.
2. We have a questionaire (Fragebogen) made out for and signed by a Lázár Wiesel, a 16-year old Jew from Sighet.
3. We have a transport list from Buchenwald to France with the name Lazar Wiesel, born Oct. 4, 1928.
4. We see a picture of him in the famous photograph taken in Barracks #56 on April 16, 1945.
5. We have a death report for Abraham Viezel on 2-2-1945, in Block 57.
6. We have a transport list from Auschwitz to Buchenwald with the names Lazar Wiesel, #123565, born 4 September 1913 and Abram Viezel, #123488, born 10 October 1900.
7. We have a photo of the “rescued children” marching out of the Buchenwald main gate on April 27, 1945.
8. We have the book Night, in which he says he was.
* * *
The above list is ordered according to its perceived importance in proving Wiesel was at Buchenwald, so I’ll start from the bottom (least important) in showing that they don’t prove any such thing.
8. The persuasiveness of the book Night has been dealt with in several other places, for example here and here, and is not considered evidence.
7. Photo of Buchenwald Boys (scroll down a bit). The boy that Ken Waltzer has identified as Elie Wiesel (who was identified to him as such by Jack Werber of Great Neck, NY, a “holocaust survivor” activist) is clearly not Wiesel and has not been identified as Wiesel by anyone other than Ken Waltzer. Waltzer had this image/blurb at right on his MSU website for years [the site was removed sometime in 2012], making him look foolish. Will Waltzer admit that he was wrong all this time, or try to sweep it under the proverbial rug?
6. The Transport List to Buchenwald only proves that Lazar Wiesel, age 31 (a locksmith by trade) and Abram Viesel, age 44, arrived at Buchenwald on January 26, 1945 from Auschwitz. See here and here. Lazar had been given the Buchenwald number 123565, while Abram had 123488. There is no honest way to turn these two into Eliezer Wiesel and his father. The birth dates and the names are wrong. It only proves that Elie Wiesel claimed for himself the Auschwitz prisoner number (A7713) of another man. Where is the tattoo on Elie’s arm that reads A7713?
5. The Death Report for Abraham Viezel, Buchenwald prisoner number 123488, same as on the transport list. His death is recorded as taking place in Block 57 on February 2, 1945, not Jan. 29, 1945 as is clearly stated in Night for Eliezer’s father.2
4. The Famous Liberation Photo taken at Buchenwald on April 16, 1945 is said to show Elie Wiesel among the men in the bunks. Beside the fact that the face pointed out as Elie’s doesn’t look like him (for reasons which have been made clear here and here) and that he did not identify himself in it until 1983 when the campaign to get him a Nobel Prize began, there is also his hospitalization which began on April 14th.3 He could not have been near death in a hospital and in the picture at the same time! Ken Waltzer took the liberty of changing the date of the photo-taking to April 12 or 13th to get around that inconvenient fact.4
3. The Transport List to France. When did Elie Wiesel’s birthday change to Oct. 4th from Sept. 30th? A majority of boys on this list share the birth year of 1928. The person listed as Lazar Wiesel is the same Lazar Wiesel that the Questionaire refers to, but we have determined that this person could not have been Elie Wiesel. It is true that Elie Wiesel went to France, but how he got there, and when, is not clear.
2. The Questionaire (right – click on image to enlarge) was apparently prepared for and signed by every prisoner prior to their release. It is dated April 22, 1945; the prisoner number is 123165, different by one digit from our previous Lazar Wiesel #123565, and is the number belonging to a recently deceased inmate, Pavel Kun,5 whose death is recorded as March 8, 1945. It would seem from this that Lázár Wiesel is a newcomer who had been given a number that had just been released.
The name Lázár is spelled with distinct, heavy accent marks; the birth date given is Oct. 4, 1928 (Elie’s is Sept. 30); date of arrest is April 16, 1944 (Elie’s family’s deportation was at the end of May/early June – see here); the signature on the back does not match Elie Wiesel’s known signature or handwriting. The signature is also written with accents over the a’s in Lázár, implying that the accenting originated with Lázár and not with the official person who filled out the form.6 For the back side, see here and scroll down.
But, beyond all this, on April 22 Elie Wiesel was in a hospital in or near Buchenwald camp “hanging between life and death” after coming down with severe food poisoning. He was taken to the hospital on April 14 and not released until April 28, according to his own words in his “autobiographical” Night and his 1995 memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea. Therefore, he could not have been interviewed or signed the document. (See Endnote 3)
1. The Numerical File Card (below), made out at registration, is for Lazar Wiesel from Maromarossziget, born Sept. 4, 1913, making him at the time 31 years old. His Buchenwald prisoner number 123565 is written on the upper right. The card indicates his father, Szalamo Wiesel, was also at Buchenwald, while his mother, Serena Wiesel, nee Feig was currently interned at KL Auschwitz (at the time of Jan. 26, 1945).
This registration card is the only item that casts some doubt7 over Nikolaus Grüner’s account of Lazar and Abram. But it does not prove that this Lazar Wiesel is Elie Wiesel. It does not make any sense that all the birth dates for the same person would be different! It makes more sense that there were several persons with similar names.
Note that this card identifies Lazar Wiesel as a locksmith (Schlosserfehrling), something the 15-year-old Elie Wiesel never would have identified himself as. In Night he identified himself upon entry to Auschwitz as “a farmer” (p. 32, MW translation) and continued not to boast of any skill (of which he had none anyway) so as not to be sent out for work.
* * *
So we end up realizing there is no evidence that Elie Wiesel ever set foot in Buchenwald in 1945. What’s more, he and others (including Ken Waltzer) have actively and knowingly lied about photographs, dates, times, names, etc. This has gone on with the blessing and support of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel; the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC; the New York Times Company, Associated Press, and other establishment media; and the multitude of Jewish/Holocaust-promoting organizations across the globe. It is a giant criminal conspiracy when one really takes a look at it. The ramifications are immense.
Someone, preferably Elie Wiesel, needs to explain all the discrepancies in his tale. He has never offered to and never been asked to. If Wiesel won’t attempt an explanation, then Ken Waltzer the Historian with the PhD from Harvard University must do so. In his scholarly studies, Waltzer includes Elie Wiesel as one of the “Rescued Children of Buchenwald. ” One duty of a scholar is to answer serious and justified questions about their work. Elie Wiesel Cons The World is asking such questions and so we await an answer.
Update 6-15 Great idea from a reader: Write to Prof. Ken Waltzer at email@example.com and ask him politely to answer the questions raised in this article.
More to come …
1. Prof. Kenneth Waltzer has removed this article from the Internet, along with his entire website which the article had been a part of for several years, and says he has written a new separate article on Elie Wiesel in Buchenwald.
The book is on track, and I have also completed a separate essay to be published on Elie Wiesel and Buchenwald. -Ken Waltzer to me, Carolyn Yeager, in an email, March 2013
He obviously doesn’t want comparisons made between his old and new article and is waiting as long as possible to make it public. Or is he still reworking it?
2. “Then I had to go to sleep. I climbed into my bunk, above my father, who was still alive. The date was January 28, 1945. I woke up at dawn on January 29. On my father’s cot there lay another sick person. They must have taken him away before daybreak and taken him to the crematorium.” -Night, 2006 Marion Wiesel translation, p. 112
The Yiddish original, Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, says Father’s death occurs on the 18-19 of Shevat:
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. (p 238)
Readers might be surprised to learn that the Hebrew calendar date of 18-19 Shevat, 5705 corresponds to February 1-2, 1945. This gives credence to the idea that Abram Viezel’s death is the model for the story And The World Remained Silent. The date in the original story for Father’s death and the date of Buchenwald records for Abram’s death concur. This leads me to question Elie Wiesel’s personal knowledge of events at Buchenwald because why would he change the date to Jan. 28-29 if he knew the significance of Feb. 1-2?
Also, the death took place in Block 57, the report said, which would seem to be be next door to Block 56 where the famous Buchenwald liberation photo is said to have been taken.
3. “Three days after the liberation of Buchenwald, I became very ill: some form of food poisoning. I was transferred to a hospital and spent two weeks between life and death.” -Night, 2006 Marion Wiesel translation, p. 118
Also in Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (the original Yiddish story from which Night was taken), 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.”
Another question that occurs is: Of all the photos taken in Buchenwald after liberation, why don’t we find even a single one with Elie Wiesel in it? Knowing he wasn’t there at all may be why he liked the food poisoning/hospitalization story – it can explain why he doesn’t show up in any pictures. But it totally contradicts the “evidence” of the Questionaire and of his being in the famous barracks #56 photo.
4. Waltzer wrote in his article:
“He [Elie] was too weak at liberation on April 11 to leave his barracks (hence he was photographed in a famous picture in the barracks on April 12 or 13), and he came to understand he was free only days later.”
Waltzer trapped himself again. The officially declared date of the photo is April 16, which is well established. Waltzer is simply trying to evade with lies the serious problem of Wiesel going into the hospital 2 days before the photo was taken. This is NOT how a respectable, responsible historian does things.
In addition, Waltzer is saying that the photograph was taken in the children’s barracks #66, which is utterly wrong. The official description says it was barracks #56, for men, or possibly a sick barracks. If Abram Viezel was in a sick barracks when he died (#57), then #56 might also be an “infirmary” barracks.
5. Pavel Kun is on the transport list of Jan. 26, 1945 from Auschwitz to Buchenwald. He appears under the section Politische Slowakan Juden; his birth date is July 6, 1926, making him 18 when he died.
6. Revisionist Carlo Mattogno concluded, after studying these documents, that Lazar Wiesel, Lázár Wiesel and Elie Wiesel are not the same person.
In conclusion, we can say that Elie Wiesel can be neither Lazar Wiesel, nor Lázár Wiesel, nor Lazar Vizel and that the ID number A-7713 was not assigned to him but to Lazar Wiesel, while ID A-7712 was not assigned to his father but to Abram (or Abraham) Viesel (or Wiesel).
The charge of identity theft raised against Elie Wiesel by Miklos Grüner does not concern Lazar Wiesel only, but Lázár Wiesel as well: from the former, he took the Auschwitz ID number (A-7713), from the latter the stay at Buchenwald and the later transfer to Paris. -http://revblog.codoh.com/2010/03/elie-wiesel-new-documents/#more-837
7. Szalamo seems likely a Hungarian spelling for Shlomo. Serena Feig is close but not Elie’s mother’s name, which was Sarah Feig. According to this card, Lazar had a father in the camp, something that was not mentioned by Nikolaus Grüner. Ken Waltzer will say this proves that Lazar Wiesel is Elie Wiesel, but what about the very wrong birthdate? Why don’t we have a card for Szalamo too? These cards are kept at Bad Arolson, not at the Buchenwald Memorial Museum Archive; only people with special permission (like Waltzer) have access to them.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Abramham Viezel, Buchenwald Boys, Buchenwald liberation, Elie Wiesel. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Kenneth Waltzer, Lazar Wiesel, Night, Rescued Children of Buchenwald,
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Monday, April 1st, 2013
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2013 Carolyn Yeager
Updated April 7th
Kenneth Waltzer is a professor of history at Michigan State University since the early 1970′s. He helped to create the Jewish Studies program which opened in 1992, and which he heads. In the photo at right, he is looking at a Buchenwald registration card at The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Waltzer has been researching into evidence of a special ‘boy’s protection program’ run by prisoners at Buchenwald for going on 10 years now. As an “approved” researcher, he is allowed to peruse all the files there, something that is made much more difficult, if not impossible, for revisionists.
Waltzer is considered one of the top scholars in the U.S. of the ill-named holocaust but his work has been sloppy, and his attempts to cover up the sloppiness amount to fraud. This, along with his continual promotion and defense of Elie Wiesel as a Buchenwald survivor, is what has drawn me to study him ever more closely.
Because of the seriousness of the charge I am making against him, I will list right up front my reasons for thinking it is time for such a call. They are:
- Waltzer habitually tells fibs in the form of false information which is intended to mislead. When called out for it, he tells more fibs to cover for the first ones.
- He has been in the service of the “Holocaust Industry,” not academic rigor and fair-mindedness, from the very start of his career.
- He knowingly defrauds his students, his university and the public (you and I) with his dishonest “holocaust scholarship.”
- While he is drawing high pay as a tenured American professor of history at MSU, he is working to advance the State of Israel.
I am going to show that these charges have a strong basis in fact. Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. In the U.S. legal system, fraud is a specific offense with certain features. (see here)
Legally, fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact, (2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.
I am not intending to bring legal charges of fraud against Prof. Waltzer, but to try him in the court of public opinion. Therefore, it will be up to Waltzer to defend himself against my charges.
* * *
Two years ago, I asked the question on this web site: “What happened to Ken Waltzer’s book about the boys of Buchenwald?” It was claimed to be, at that time, in it’s final stages. Eight years after he publicly announced he was researching for a book about the so-called children’s barracks at Buchenwald (Barracks #66 ), it still has not materialized. Five years after his book was described as “upcoming,” it still has not materialized. During this time, he has not produced another book, or any major work that would have taken precedence over this book. So what is the delay?
It’s pretty plain that the book’s thesis has shifted considerably since 2005, when his MSU website featured Elie Wiesel as the most recognizable and famous child survivor from Buchenwald. That website was taken down between one and two years ago and is completely wiped clean from the Internet. The banner on all the six to eight pages that were included showed a photograph very similar to the one below of the “boys” being marched out of the main Buchenwald camp to temporary quarters at the former SS barracks.
The USHMM (national holocaust museum in D.C) website dates this picture as being taken on April 17, 1945, six days after liberation.1 At this time, Elie Wiesel, by his own account in two books, was laying in a hospital sick almost unto death from food poisoning. Details like this don’t deter Prof. Waltzer from backing up in every instance the standard holocaust narrative. “Elie Wiesel in Buchenwald” is the standard narrative, so evidence must be found for it.
Ken Waltzer claimed for years that one of these boys was Elie Wiesel. But Wiesel is not in this picture!
From at least 2005 (eight years now), Waltzer has identified the boy third or fourth from the front (hard to tell) in the left-side column (dressed in a black suit and in front of the tall boy wearing a beret) as Elie Wiesel, based on nothing but his own fraudulent intention that there was enough resemblance that people would believe it if he said so. In this article , I exposed this lie. Waltzer has never admitted that he was mistaken or was perpetrating a falsehood that he intended to put into his book. Instead, what he did when his fabrication was sufficiently exposed was to take the entire site down and not mention it again.
Left is a close-up of the boy Waltzer has maintained for several years is Elie Wiesel. Anyone can tell it is not and that’s why no one else ever publicly agreed with him.
I have some of what was on that site copied into articles here at EWCTW and also in my files. At left is the cropped section of the photo that Waltzer used on the banner of his MSU-Newsroom/Holocaust website that was very much dedicated to Elie Wiesel. (Another reader, Chris, informed me that he had found pages from the site using the Way Back Machine. Many thanks to him.) This shows that Waltzer definitely identified the boy in the black suit as Elie Wiesel. In addition, Jack Werber, a known dishonest survivor, was the supposed supplier of the picture.
Below right, a screen shot of one of the pages as it existed then, sent by a friend of EWCTW. It shows more of the emphasis on Elie Wiesel.
When I pointed out much of this in a podcast of March 25th, Waltzer sent me an email on March 28th stating,
My websites at UM FLint are down because I was appointed there one year and am now back at Michigan State.
Of course I never mentioned UM Flint and never even saw his website there. I was speaking about his MSU website, which was titled something like Ken Waltzer’s “MSU Newsroom Special Report.” It was full of information about his projects and especially what he calls “the rescue operation of children at Buchenwald.” It was up on the Net since at least 2008 2, then suddenly disappeared, with not even cache pages to be found. Did Waltzer tell me a fib, or did he just read the podcast program description and misinterpret what it said about “taking down web pages?” By now, he will know what I mean and may answer.
I think it is very possible that he timed the take-down of his MSU “Newsroom” site with his one-year visiting professorship at UM Flint — putting up a temporary website there which he could take down when he left. This is a way of confusing the picture in order to distract as much as possible from his more recent decision to put more distance between himself and his prior (false) assertions about Elie Wiesel.
His intention was and is clearly to deceive. The harm is caused to ordinary people who believe and trust that they are getting knowledgeable answers from a professor of history and a holocaust scholar. In this particular case, all five of the elements necessary to prove fraud are there.
First, he sets up a University-sponsored website maintaining falsely that Elie Wiesel is the boy in the photograph of youthful “survivors” marching out of the camp (1). He knows it is false because he has no evidence or proof, only his own “wishful thinking.” The USHMM never identified Wiesel in that group of boys, nor did anyone else (including Wiesel himself), unless they did so from following Waltzer’s example (2). Waltzer’s intent was to make the public believe something that was not true – that he had proof of Elie Wiesel being one of the “rescued children” (3). Because Waltzer is a Professor of History and “holocaust expert” at a major university, and is at all times written up very favorably in the media, the public (you and I ) and his students will rely on his statements (4). These same students and public are injured when photographs are mislabled in order to foist on them a certain belief about an influential historical event that affects their entire world view (5).
* * *
This is just one instance of the untruths that Ken Waltzer has told over the years. Another tactic he uses is to promise an upcoming answer to your doubts which he cannot or does not produce now. As we have seen, we continue to wait as he continues to promise. Still another tactic is to accuse others of lying when it is he who is doing so. But only people who are knowledgeable enough about these complex and purposely obscured issues can see who is doing the lying. In this same email, he wrote:
The book is on track, and I have also completed a separate essay to be published on Elie Wiesel and Buchenwald.
Completed, he says. And separate. Why separate? I wrote back to him asking where I could find his essay because I wanted to read it. No reply – which is typical because factual information is not his forte, emotional rhetoric is. I feel it’s quite possible he wrote a separate essay on Elie Wiesel so as not to tarnish his book with the false “facts” about Wiesel in Buchenwald. He can always get rid of an essay, if necessary, later – but not his entire book. What might there be in this essay? Will it be the same or quite different from what he wrote in a March 6, 2010 comment at Scrapbookpages Blog, when he said [my underlining-cy]:
For the skeptics [I was using the name skeptic then -cy] and know-nothings who have written in suggesting Eli Wiesel was not in the camps, that Night is purely fiction, you are all dead wrong. The Red Cross International Tracing Service Archives documents for Lazar Wiesel and his father prove beyond any doubt that Lazar and his father arrived from Buna to Buchenwald January 26, 1945, that his father soon died a few days later, and that Lazar Wiesel was then moved to block 66, the children’s block in the little camp in Buchenwald. THese documents are backed up by military interviews with others from Sighet who were also in block 66, and by the list of Buchenwald boys sent thereafter to France. All of this is public domain.
Wishful thinking by Holocaust deniers will not make their fantasies true. While Wiesel took liberties in writing Night as a literary masterpiece, Night is rooted in the foundation of Wiesel’s experience in the camps. The Buchenwald experience, particularly, runs closely to what is related in Night.
Comment by kenwaltzer — November 14, 2010 @ 6:57 am
How much untruth is contained in this, in order to defraud us all in his devoted service to the “Holocaust Industry” and the state of Israel? Plenty. As proof that Elie Wiesel was in Buchenwald, he points to documents for Lazar Wiesel and “his father.” It is even more absurd because Lazar Wiesel’s relative was only 13 years older than Lazar – it was in fact his brother Abram! Waltzer is passing off Lazar for Elie simply on the basis that Lazar also came from Sighet, Elie’s hometown and carries the same name. Sighet was a city of 50,000 or so with a very large Jewish population, and Wiesel was a common name. But the “scholar” who has taken years to research this and still isn’t finished, wants us to believe there can be only one Lazar Wiesel, who is Elie. He attributes the difference in their birthdates to bureaucratic error.
Previously I may have called this stupidity, but now I’m calling it fraud, based on the above-given definition. Of course Waltzer can see the discrepancies here, but he hopes he can convince you not to see them. The Military Interview mentioned with Lazar Wiesel’s name on it also does not have the right birthdate for Elie Wiesel, nor does the signature match Elie’s handwriting.
Will Waltzer repeat this nonsense in his latest “completed” essay? Notice that Waltzer never fails in the name-calling department, here calling his critics names such as “know-nothings” and “Holocaust deniers.” Several months later, he wrote a similar comment at EWCTW to the blockbuster article: “Signatures Prove Lázár Wiesel is not Elie Wiesel”
On November 14, 2010 at 10:34 am
Contrary to Carolyn Yeager’s wishful thinking, Eli Wiesel was indeed the Lazar Wiesel who was admitted to Buchenwald on January 26, 1945, who was subsequently shifted to block 66, and who was interviewed by military authorities before being permitted to leave Buchenwald to go with other Buchenwald orphans to France. Furthermore, there is not a shadow of a doubt about this, although the Buchenwald records do erroneously contain — on some pieces — the birth date of 1913 rather than 1928. A forthcoming paper resolves the “riddle of Lazar” and indicates that Miklos Gruner’s Stolen Identity is a set of false charges and attack on Wiesel without any foundation.
The promise of a forthcoming paper turned out to be a fib. From Nov. 2010 to now, there has not been any paper. Maybe it the the essay he mentioned in his March 28th email. “Forthcoming” to Waltzer means up to two and a half years, it seems. That in itself is the sign of an unreliable person.
There can be only one reason Ken Waltzer allows himself to look like a buffoon and a shyster. He doesn’t need to do it to keep his position at Michigan State University. He does it because it is his larger job to keep the Buchenwald atrocity stories and Liberation lies, including the Elie Wiesel myth, alive and well in the mind of the public. He works for purely Jewish interests – I will be writing a future article on the priority, meaning and funding of Jewish Studies programs in American universities. For now, I can add that Waltzer is more of a public relations (PR) worker for the Holocaust Industry, the State of Israel and maybe AIPAC, than he is an honest-to-god academic. Another organization connected to Israel that he serves is Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has written four attack-dog articles for them since 2009, functioning in a sort of Abe Foxman-pitbull style.
In Nov. 2009, he attacked Alison Wier as another “know-nothing” because she speaks up for Palestinian rights on college campuses, where she is popular.
In May 2010, he went after John Mearsheimer for calling Israel “an apartheid state” and also took out after Noam Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, and “the crackpot Phil Weiss.”
Also in May 2010, another target was Judith Butler, who campaigned at the Berkeley campus for the university “to divest from companies making military weapons which Israel employs to commit war crimes.”
In August 2011, he wrote on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, arguing for Israel’s interests to be well and strongly presented on college campuses.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Walzer’s pro-Israel activities. I will be writing further articles that present the evidence for Ken Waltzer being guilty of fraud in his public writings and during his entire career. Much of it revolves around Elie Wiesel and the Industry’s need to place him at Buchenwald. My position, if you have somehow missed it, is that Elie Wiesel was never at Buchenwald. I am also saying that Waltzer is backing down or “stepping back” from his blatant, dishonest claims about Wiesel, but he can’t back down altogether. This article will become Part One.
1. I have also seen it dated April 27 at the USHMM and have used that date in other articles here. Now I have only found this one picture which is very officially dated the 17th. There may have been an attempt to move the date to the 27th so that Wiesel could be in the picture (though he supposedly would not have been released from the hospital until the 28th). It is really too bad the USHMM cannot be relied upon; nor can Yad Vashem. When the museum “researchers” are involved in lying or in complacency, one really has nowhere to turn.
2. http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2008/mapping-the-holocaust-archive-msu-prof-explores-records-of-nazi-atrocities At bottom of article, it reads “For more information, and to follow Waltzer’s research and read his journal as he participates in the workshop, visit the special report at: http://special.newsroom.msu.edu/holocaust.” This is a link to the website that no longer exists, as you will see if you click it. Now he seems to be pretending it was never there.
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Sunday, August 5th, 2012
(First published at Scrapbookpages Blog on August 2, 2012)
Yesterday the online Chicago Tribune had an article which reported that “In recognition of [Elie] Wiesel’s vast contributions to the art of the printed word, which includes more than 50 works of fiction and nonfiction, he has been named winner of the 2012 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize.”
[Photo of Wiesel at left is from December 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. ]
After reading this article, I immediately checked out Carolyn Yeager’s website Elie Wiesel Cons the World to see what she has to say about this new honor for Elie Wiesel. I found a video which explains the whole story of Elie Wiesel in great detail. The video starts out with the sound of an old fashioned typewriter as the keys hit the paper, typing out the URL of the website. I love it!
The sound of the typewriter keys brought back a flood of memories; I was alive during World War II and I saw the news reels of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and read about the liberation of Dachau. Yet I didn’t get interested in the Holocaust until many years later. My lack of interest in the Holocaust was nothing unusual, as the video on Yeager’s website points out.
The article in the Chicago Tribune also points out that there was very little interest in the Holocaust as late as 1960 when Elie Wiesel’s book Night was first published in English.
This quote is from the Chicago Tribune:
After the war, [Elie Wiesel] worked as a journalist in France for Yiddish and French publications. The noted French writer and Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac urged Wiesel to write his Holocaust memoir, and Mauriac “went from one publisher to another,” said Wiesel, to persuade them to take on Wiesel’s book.
At first, “Night” generated little interest, and the English-language publication in 1960 “sold 5,000 copies in three years,” Wiesel said. “And the same thing, by the way, in France — everywhere.”
Why was the world slow to recognize the book’s value?
“Maybe it needed — the world itself needed maybe a whole generation for readers to realize that they must know something more” about the Holocaust, Wiesel said.
As a person who was alive and well between 1945 and 1960, I can tell you why no one was interested in the Holocaust during that period. The years after World War II were the best of times. During the 1950s, everyone was extremely happy to be living during peace time; no one wanted to re-live the war. I was writing and selling magazine articles during the 1950s, but not stories about the Nazi concentration camps, which would not have been of interest to very many people at that time. There were thousands of Holocaust survivors in American during those years, but they were keeping their mouths shut and hiding their tattoos.
I lived in Germany for two years after World War II, but I didn’t bother to go to see the former Dachau camp. When I went back to Germany for the first time in 1995, I didn’t go to see the Dachau Memorial Site. The Holocaust did not become as popular as it is now until many years later. If only I had anticipated the Holocaust mania, I could have written a novel about Auschwitz and Buchenwald and become a millionaire. Many people have urged me to write a fake Holocaust memoir, but I think it is too late for me; there are too many fake memoirs on the market.
I was one of the first to put the information on the Internet that Elie Wiesel could not have been in the famous photo taken in Barrack 56 in Buchenwald on April 16, 1945 because, by his own account as written in his book Night, he was in the camp hospital on that date. You can read that page on my website, which I updated 3 years ago, here.
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Thursday, May 10th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 carolyn yeager
The official Holocaust narrative versus Elie Wiesel on what is Auschwitz Liberation Day
The official Holocaust narrative has it that the Red Army did not arrive at the Auschwitz labor camps until January 27th, 1945—where they found some of the barracks burning, and also blown-up crematorium buildings which had housed “gas chambers.” This is the date that is commemorated all over the world as the Liberation of Auschwitz.
However, on page 87 of the novel Night it is stated that the Russians “liberated” the inmates who were left behind at Monowitz (Auschwitz III) on January 20th, two days after the bulk of the prisoners left on the one-day forced march to Gleiwitz, from where they were put on a train to Buchenwald.
The photograph at right is a still photo from a Soviet propaganda film about the Auschwitz liberation. The clothing warehouses, known as “Canada,” are burning. But who set them on fire? _______________________________________________
I included this detail in Night #1 and Night #2, Part Two under the heading “A record of fact it isn’t.” For the first time I’ve seen anywhere, I pointed out this sentence from Elie Wiesel’s book Night:
A strange detail … 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.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the Jan. 20th liberation originally appeared in Un di velt hot geshvign, the Yiddish book published in 1955 from which La Nuit was born in 1958 (with the English version Night following in 1960). Whether or not Elie Wiesel is the author of the Yiddish book, there is no doubt that he wrote La Nuit directly from it. So he either wrote that sentence in Un di velt or he copied it from Un di velt for La Nuit. In any event, he has never rejected that sentence as a mistake, nor was it changed in Marion Wiesel’s 2006 translation … perhaps because it appears in the Yiddish Un di velt.
What is the official narrative and what is its source?
There is no easily determined source for the narrative. It consists of the story that the Germans returned to Birkenau on Jan. 20th to blow up Crematorium II and III in order to destroy the evidence of the “gas chambers.”
According to web-based Holocaust Research Project:
On 20 January 1945 an SS division under SS–Corporal Perschel destroys Crematorium II and III and abandons the camp. On 26 January an SS squad blows up Crematorium V, the last of the crematoriums in Birkenau.
An entire division was required to explode two measly crematorium buildings?! I guess what they’re trying to say is that an SS team returned to Birkenau, after the bulk of the prisoners had been evacuated and before the Russians first arrived, to destroy the “evidence.” In other words, they didn’t plan well enough to do it ahead of time so had to sneak back after they had already abandoned the camp. But wouldn’t the ex-prisoners who remained in the hospital buildings that were very close to Crema II and III have heard and seen the explosions? Yes, of course they would, although we don’t have any statements of hospital patients about a demolition in the camp on January 20th.
On Nizkor we find this timetable (source unknown):
“January 20  … The SS division under Corporal Perschel blows up the already partly demolished Crematoriums II and III and abandons the camp.”
“January 23  … An SS division arrives in the prisoner’s infirmary camp in B-IIf in the afternoon…they set 30 storeroom barracks [the “warehouses”-cy] in the personal effects camp on fire…. These barracks burn for several days. After the liberation, 1,185,345 pieces of women’s and men’s outerwear, 43,255 pairs of shoes, 13,694 carpets, and a large number of toothbrushes, shaving brushes, and other items such as protheses, glasses, etc., among other things are found in the six remaining partially burned barracks.” [Note: The warehouse barracks were right behind the hospital barracks, where most of the remaining prisoners were staying.]
“January 26  … At 1:00 A.M. the SS squad with the task of eliminating the traces of SS crimes blows up Crematorium V, the last of the crematoriums in Birkenau.”
“January 27  …The first Red Army reconnaissance troops arrive in Birkenau and Auschwitz at around 3:00 P.M. and are joyfully greeted by the liberated prisoners….
[Note: If the clothing warehouses were set on fire on Jan. 23, would they still be burning on Jan. 28, 29, 30... however long it took the Soviet movie makers to get there?-cy]
Above: Underneath the roof of the dynamited Crema II in 2005. Below: Ruins of Crema III taken at the same time (Photos courtesy of Scrapbookpages.com)
In Danuta Czech’s Calendarium [Auschwitz Chronicle 1939-1945, Henry Holt, 1990, 855 pp], probably the source of the above, Czech has the final destruction of Cremas II and III taking place on January 20, 1945. Her basis for that are two “eyewitnesses”—female prisoners Anna Kowalczyk and Maria Matlak—who had remained behind and who said that they “saw” the SS in the camp on that day, and from them came the name of SS-Unterscharführer Perschel, who had been “capo of the Work Service in the women’s camp”, so they knew him. These two women said that after ordering 200 women outside the camp gates to be shot (!), Perschel selects a group of male prisoners from the infirmary (!) to carry boxes of dynamite to Cremas II and III. This is the entire basis for Czech’s claim that the SS returned on Jan. 20th and blew up the Cremas! This is what the Holocaust Industry passes off as proof.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum uses Czech’s timeline, but leaves out the Jan. 20-26 demolition dates.
USHMM’s Chronology of the Holocaust
JANUARY 17, 1945
As Soviet troops approached, SS units evacuated prisoners in the Auschwitz camp complex, marching them on foot toward the interior of the German Reich. The forced evacuations came to be called “death marches.”
JANUARY 27, 1945
Soviet troops liberated about 8,000 prisoners left behind at the Auschwitz camp complex.
I did not find anything on the Auschwitz-Birkenau website either. So one thing is clear: these dates about the SS divisions returning to blow up and burn down “evidence” are not sourced in documents. No order has been produced, and there would have to be an order. The SS troops couldn’t just do whatever they decided on their own. The witness statements are of dubious value, to say the least. Thus, there is no reason to believe the “Germans-blew-up-the-Cremas-to-hide-evidence-of-crimes” story, except that it became part of the official narrative that was constructed at Nuremberg. It is held .. it is believed … it is thought … but it is not proved.
What does a January 20th liberation mean?
A January 20th liberation by the Soviets means the Germans could not have returned to blow up the crematorium buildings, nor could they have burned down the clothing warehouses. It means that only the Soviets could have done it—because only the Soviets had the opportunity to do it.
Would they do such a thing if they really held “evidence of German crimes” in their hands … in the form of real gas chambers? Certainly not. It was because there was no evidence of German crimes in those buildings. It was to cover up the lack of German crimes that they would destroy the buildings. They reasoned (in their sly, dishonest minds) that the best course would be to invent German crimes, which they had already been doing since 1941 (and the Polish Resistance had been spreading gassing rumors since 1942), and to simply add the destruction of the buildings by the SS to their list of “German crimes.”
I came across an exchange between two revisionists that took place in 2005. It went like this:
1st revisionist: For me, it seems more plausible that the Soviets (or some other party) destroyed the crematoriums after the war to support their alleged story of genocide. Then they were able to spread this story: “Why would the SS have destroyed the cremas, if not to cover for mass homicide.”
2nd revisionist: I agree with you totally. I also believe the Russians blew them up to destroy the solid evidence that would contradict the lies they were cooking up and about to release on the world.
From the time the Red Army arrived, Soviet Intelligence was in total control. None of the other Allies were allowed to enter this region. In 1947, the Soviets rebuilt the crematorium in Auschwitz I to make it appear that it was used as a gas chamber. Even so, it is not a convincing job. In Birkenau, it was easier to destroy the crematoriums and tamper with them (such as breaking holes into the collapsed roof to match the absurd story of Zyklon B thrown into the chamber through the holes in the roof.) About these chiseled-out holes, court-certified expert engineer Walter Luftl, as quoted by Germar Rudolf in his book Lectures on the Holocaust (Theses and Dissertations Press, 2005), p 246, said:
In the cellars of Crematories II and III, the entire force of explosion was forced upward, causing heavy damage to the roofs. The hole under consideration is characterized by the fact that all the cracks and breaks of the slab are found around it, but do not go through it! According to the rules of construction technology this fact alone proves with scientific certainty that it was made after the roof had been destroyed.
Photo documentation and literature of what the Russians found is scarce.
Why is it that the earliest photo that exists of the destroyed Crema II is this one from February 1945? Why is there no photograph from the time the Russians arrived in January, since such a picture would have much greater propaganda value? To properly document such an important discovery—that the Germans had blown up evidence of crimes as they retreated—many photographs would need to be taken. What happened? Did they run out of film?
As Tom Moran noted on the Nizkor page linked to above: “It is written the Soviets installed an “Extraordinary Commission” the very day of liberation of the camp and yet no photos are presented on the Holocaust promotional circuit of these buildings, or what was left, lest of course the one and only photograph of Crema II which is nothing more than a collapsed slab of concrete.”
In Photographing the Holocaust: Interpretations of the Evidence (Tauris & Company, London, in association with The European Jewish Publication Society, 2004) on page 143, author Janina Struk writes:
On 28 January, 1945, the day after the camp was liberated by the Red Army, Adolf Forbert was one of the first Polish soldiers to arrive. He described his first impression of Auschwitz as being as “macabre” as Majdanek but on a larger scale.
Forbert stayed to film everything he could, but with only 300 meters of film, a camera of the Bell and Howell type manufactured by the Russians, and one Leica, the possibilities were limited.
He said there were 500 sick women in the women’s hospital in Birkenau. The fate of Forbert’s film and photographs of Auschwitz is not known.
The film “Chronicles of the Liberation of Auschwitz,” made in 1945, is attributed to four Soviet army filmmakers. The majority of the now well-known stills of the liberation are taken from this film.
Soon after liberation, other photographers began to arrive to take photos for the special investigative commissions established to collect evidence of Nazi crimes.
(Barbie) Zelizer [author of books on the Holocaust and Media -cy] states there was an inconsistency in the way the Soviets reported the liberation of the camps in Eastern Europe generally. Not only did they not publicize the liberation of Auschwitz until after the liberation of the western camps, but they didn’t issue press releases about the extermination camps at Belzec, Sorbibor and Treblinka.
Although their [Red Army] advances through Silesia were reported in detail, there were only two brief mentions about the liberation of the camp. On 29 January in the Guardian, one sentence. On 3 February, the Daily Express had one column on page 4 about the liberation.
In Poland itself, few images were published of the liberation of Majdanek or Auschwitz-Birkenau.
It would be decades before images of Auschwitz would become familiar in the West.
There is almost nothing in Holocaust literature on the arrival of the Soviets to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The only documentation was put together afterward. All the photographs that are exhibited in the various memorial museums (USHMM, Yad Vashem, A-B Memorial & Museum, etc.) and in books, are “stills” from a propaganda film(s) made many weeks or months later … or they are retouched photos, photo-montages and mis-labeled photos that actually show other places and even other national-ethnic groups.
The narrative of a January 27th liberation comes unraveled when scrutinized
Why all the deception? Why all the trickery? The arrival of the Soviets on Jan. 20 instead of Jan. 27 explains it. The person who runs Scrapbookpages Blog and calls himself “furtherglory” once wrote this to a commenter on his blog:
I have read in several books that the Soviets arrived in the area on January 17, 1945 and were in the area for 10 days before they “liberated” the prisoners on January 27, 1945. I have read at least one Holocaust survivor book which said that the warehouses were still there after the Germans left on January 18, 1945. I believe that the Soviets burned down the warehouses. With all the evidence gone, no one could dispute the Soviet testimony at the Nuremberg IMT that 4 million people had been killed at Auschwitz.
The Central Sauna building at Birkenau was kept off limits to tourists for 60 years. Why? The Sauna building was where the clothes were disinfected. Why weren’t tourists allowed to know that the Germans were trying to prevent typhus epidemics?
Also, keep in mind that the last group of Sonderkommandos were marched out of the Birkenau camp and I think a couple of them are still living. Why did the Germans allow these witnesses to live?
Cremas IV and V were also shower houses with hygiene facilities for disinfection. They were close to The Central Sauna and served the same purpose although on a smaller scale. Consider that if the only shower facility in the entire camp was the rather modestly-sized one in The Sauna building, it would not have been at all adequate. But with “Cremas IV and V” also serving that function, they got by. Crema IV was heavily damaged in an uprising on Oct. 7, 1944. Both were ultimately totally destroyed, but the question remains—by whom?
The answer has to be by the Russians themselves. And it is Elie Wiesel who has told us. Just as with his failure to mention “gas chambers” in his book Night, Wiesel falls out of step with the official storyline at times and lets the truth slip out. Was he just saying what most people knew at the time, in spite of what was dreamed up at Nuremberg? I think so. He wrote this in 1954. Not even Elie Wiesel should confuse 9 days with 2 days when it comes to a matter of life or death. Which brings up another question: Is it reasonable that the prisoners left behind in an unguarded facility would just hang around for nine days waiting for the feared “Red Army” to arrive? Would they not take off once they got the chance? Elie says he was one of the hospital patients, his father being allowed to stay with him, yet they both were capable of going on the evacuation march and keeping up with the pace. Thus, many others lying around in the hospital surely could do the same. That is, unless the Soviet representatives surprised them by showing up already on the 20th, before they could prepare themselves to leave.
The story of the Auschwitz liberation is as cloudy as it gets. It has been told in emotion-wrenching photographs that were all staged by Soviet photographers and film makers in the following month of February and even March–every one of them–and by revengeful witnesses who were coached in what to say. As portions of the book by Janina Struk point out, time would pass before a final solution of what happened at Auschwitz could be cobbled together for public consumption by Soviet propagandists.
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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 Carolyn Yeager
Elie Wiesel questioned under oath in a California courtroom in 2008:
Q. And is this book Night that you wrote a true account of your experience during World War II?
A. It is a true account. Every word in it is true.
In Part One, I established that the decision to rebrand Night into an autobiography was the reason for a new translation, in which necessary changes could be made to better ‘fit’ the story both to the real Elie Wiesel and the known facts of the Hungarian deportation.
When the 2006 translation came out, with its new classification to “autobiography,” questions arose from some circles. Responding to these questions, Edward Wyatt wrote an article in the NewYork Times on Jan. 19, 2006, in which he quoted Jeff Seroy, senior vice president at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, parent company of Night publisher Hill & Wang, as strongly denying that changes were made to bring the book more in line with the facts. “Nonsense,” said Seroy. “Some minor mistakes crept into the original translation that were expunged in the new translation. But the book stands as a record of fact.”
Left: Elie Wiesel manning his table at a Jewish book fair in Austin, TX in 2006. The new translation of Night by his wife Marion had come out in January of that year. It was also chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s book club at that time. Below: Publisher Jeff Seroy, center, with writer Brad Gooch to his left, Doug Stumps on his right .
Blaming the Translator
“Mistakes in the original translation” can only mean mistakes by Stella Rodway, the original translator! But we have already shown that Stella Rodway faithfully reproduced the French La Nuit, which was Wiesel’s own work. The author and publisher are casting these changes as translation errors to divert attention away from Elie Wiesel’s own errors—part of their campaign to pass Night off from now on as “a record of fact.”
A record of fact it isn’t
When I ended Part One, Eliezer and Father were still in the train car on their way to Buchenwald. You will recall that the Yiddish, the French and thus the original English version of Night specified the trip took 10 days and 10 nights from Gleiwitz (on the former German/Polish border) to Buchenwald. Since we know from standard historical sources1 that the prisoners were evacuated from Monowitz on Jan. 18 and arrived in Gleiwitz the next day, Jan. 19; and since according to the description in Night itself, they spend three days in Gleiwitz (Jan. 20-22), this would make their day of arrival February 1, 1945. But in Night, Father’s death takes place the night of Jan. 28-29, three days before they arrived! This is why Marion Wiesel removed the number 10 in her new translation, leaving the number of days and nights undetermined.
A strange detail that actually belongs in Part One is on page 87 of the original Night. Eliezer remarks, after his and his Father’s deliberations and final decision to go on the march: “I learned after the war the fate of those who had stayed behind in the hospital. They were quite simply liberated by the Russians two days after the evacuation.” The evacuation, as we all know, was on the 18th. We also know the Russians did not arrive on the 20th of January! The actual liberation day is January 27. What possessed Wiesel to write this? Well, because it was in Un di velt: “Two days after we had left Buna, the Red Army occupied the camp. All the sick had stayed alive.”
From the point in the story of Eliezer and Father’s arrival at Buchenwald there are no significant changes made by Marion Wiesel to the original French and English versions. But there is much in all the versions that differs strikingly from the “official holocaust history” as written by acknowledged official chroniclers such as Danuta Czech. So I will continue with comparisons between Night and “official history,” along with some very significant changes made from Un di velt hot geshvign to Wiesel’s edited French La Nuit.
Arrival at Buchenwald: 26 Jan. or 1 Feb.?
Danuta Czech, in her Auschwitz Chronicle1, records that on January 26,
A transport with 3,987 prisoners from Auschwitz auxiliary camps reaches Buchenwald. There are 52 dead prisoners in the transport. 115 prisoners die on the day of arrival. Their corpses are delivered to the autopsy room. (P 801)
This is the transport that carried Lazar and Abraham Wiesel/Viezel, Miklos (Nikolaus) Grüner and all of the inmates of Monowitz whose names are on the transport list.2 According to Czech, the Monowitz prisoners began their march on the evening of January 18, 1945, with “divisions of nurses placed between the columns” of 1000 each (P 786), arriving at Gleiwitz Camp the following evening. On Jan. 21 “they are loaded in open freight cars with other prisoners from Auschwitz who have arrived in Gleiwitz.” (P 788) From Jan. 21 to Jan. 26 is five days of travel … not ten, as Wiesel wrote in Night.
The narrative in Night gives us a date of Jan. 22 for the boarding of the train, one day later than Czech. And while Night gives the number of days on the train (10), it does not name the date of arrival.
Hilda Wiesel says her father died on arrival
Totally contradicting what is written in Night, Hilda Wiesel Kudler, Elie’s oldest sister, in her testimony for the Shoah Foundation in 1995, said she learned from her brother that their father died as he stepped off the train.
And I said, where is father? And he replied, he’s gone back to Sighet; he[Elie] didn’t want to tell me [that he was dead]. And I repeated, but where is he? And he insisted he was at Sighet. And I said, look, I want you to tell me the truth. Because he knew the date of my father’s death. You know, they did a long march3 from Auschwitz, then they put them on the train to go to Buchenwald; he died gasping for air; when he stepped off the train, he died gasping for air; at Buchenwald. But he[Elie] knew the date.
Right: Hilda Wiesel Kudler, in France, giving her videotaped testimony to the Shoah Foundation
From this, we can better understand something about Elie Wiesel—that he has never had a problem with making up stories that “sound better” than the truth. But, if Hilda is correct in her recall, and if their father really was one of the 115 inmates who Danuta Czech reports died on the day of arrival, then Wiesel’s long, melodramatic story of watching his father sicken and die over a ten-day period in Night is fiction. All of it—including his father being whacked on the head by a cruel “officer” in the barracks.
The day of arrival for this transport is Jan. 26, but according to the timeline in Night, it arrives on Feb. 1. Either way, it doesn’t correspond to the date of Jan. 28 that Wiesel, for reasons unknown, selected as the date his fictional Father died.
You might also be interested to know that Hilda is named Deborah in Un di velt; the name Hilda is never used. It was Wiesel who changed it to Hilda in La Nuit.
Un di Velt says Father dies a week after arrival in Buchenwald, Night says 8-10 days … yet it is January 28 … or is it the 18th Day of Shevat?
Regular readers of this blog will know this already, but it bears repeating yet again: there is no Shlomo Wiesel in the official history or in the records who fits the profile of “Father” as described by Elie Wiesel in Night. There is an Abraham (sometimes shortened to Abram) Viezel who is recorded in several places—on a medical report at Auschwitz, on the transport to Buchenwald, and on a death certificate dated Feb. 2, 1945, seven (7) days after arrival. This Abraham was born Oct. 10, 1900, making him 44 years old when he died. Recall that Night gives Father’s age as 50 in 1944 (SR, P 40).
Wiesel’s description has the transport to Buchenwald arriving on Feb.1st. But that’s just the beginning. After arriving, this is the timeline given in both the original Night and Marion Wiesel’s 2006 translation:
It was daytime when I awoke. I went to look for my father. (Feb. 2nd)
On the third day after our arrival at Buchenwald, everyone had to go to the showers [his father went too-cy]. Even the sick who had to go through last. (Feb 4th) […] Struck down by dysentery, my father lay in his bunk, five other invalids with him. I sat by his side watching him … A week went by like this. (Feb. 11th or Feb. 8th depending on how you read it)
[ . . . ]
When I got down after roll call, I could see his lips trembling as he murmured something. […] Then I had to go to bed. I climbed into my bunk, above my father, who was still alive. It was January 28, 1945. (still Feb. 8 or 11) I awoke on January 29 at dawn. In my father’s place lay another invalid. They must have taken him away before dawn and carried him to the crematory.” (Feb 12th or 9th) [Stella Rodway translation, pp 107-112]
The timeline in Un di velt is not in doubt:
On the seventh or eighth day of our being in Buchenwald, the bunk-elder [should be block-elder -cy) who used to deal out bread for the whole bunk [sic], came to me. . . .
[ . . . ]
On the same day, in the evening, disaster struck. The end. During roll call. The healthy had to go out of the block in order to be counted by the S.S. men. The sick stayed in their bunks. My father and I thus stayed inside. He — because of his dysentery and I — because of my bandaged foot. Father was lying in the lowest bunk and I — in the uppermost.
[ . . . ]
After roll call, I immediately jumped down from the uppermost bunk and ran to him. He was still breathing. But — he was silent.
[ . . . ]
For a couple of hours I stayed by him and looked at his face long and well […] Then they forced me to go lie down to sleep. I climbed up to the uppermost bunk and I did not know that in the morning, on awakening, I would find my father no more.
It was the eighteenth of Shevat, 5705.
* * *
Nineteenth of Shevat. Early in the morning.
I got up and ran to my father. Another sick man was lying in his place.
I had a father no more. (pp 233-238)
Readers might be surprised to learn that the Hebrew calendar date of 18-19 Shevat, 5705 corresponds to February 1-2, 1945! How neat is that? So, in Un di velt Father dies seven days after arrival, on the very same day as Abraham Viezel died, who was officially recorded at Buchenwald with the registration number of 123488 and the Auschwitz registration number of A-7712. (However, Un di velt also says that the trip from Gleiwitz to Buchenwald took ten days, which means they could not have arrived until sometime in February. Seven days from that time would not be Feb. 2nd.)
So can we conclude from this that Abraham is Shlomo? Not necessarily. The Yiddish author reports Father’s death as occurring during the night of 18-19 Shevat (Feb. 1-2), but Elie Wiesel, author of La Nuit, says the date is Jan. 28th! Why? Who can answer that but Elie Wiesel? He certainly knows what the month of Shevat and the year 5705 means … or he could have easily found out.
Or can we conclude that Un di velt was written by Lazar Wiesel, as Nikolaus Grüner claims … that he wrote his story as a father-son relationship … and that he was perhaps not the brother of Abraham as Grüner says he was? (It’s noted on Lazar’s Buchenwald file card that his father was also in Buchenwald; his mother in Auschwitz.) Well, again, not necessarily. There are other possibilities. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The facts are, there are problems with all of these theories; none is a perfect fit. We can ask: If Elie Wiesel is the author of Un di velt hot geshvign, why did he change so many of the underpinning facts of the story when he rewrote it in French as La Nuit? This is a real head-scratcher. We can also ask: Why did Naomi Seidman, the Jewish professor who discussed in detail some of the differences between the Yiddish book and Night, not mention the 18th of Shevat? Is it because she couldn’t find an explanation for it? Siedman, Ruth Franklin and other Jewish reviewers have never brought up some of these Yiddish to French discrepancies. They are too embarrassing a problem for them.
What we can safely say is that no matter who the author of Un di velt was … he was totally unfamiliar with the real facts of when the Monowitz prisoners arrived at Buchenwald. Was it because he was not one of them? Was it because he was not concerned about accuracy since his story was directed at a non-critical audience—a Yiddish-speaking Jewish audience? As we continue, we’ll find more mystifications, but also a few certainties.
What happens to Eliezer after Father’s death?
Wiesel writes in Night (essentially the same in all translations):
I had to stay at Buchenwald until April eleventh. I have nothing to say of my life during this period. […] I was transferred to the children’s block, where there were six hundred of us. […] I spent my days in a state of total idleness. And I had one desire—to eat. I no longer thought of my father or of my mother. (SR, P 114)
He continues that on April 10, a general evacuation of the remainder of the camp—20,000 prisoners in all, including “several hundred children”—was begun but was soon interrupted. It resumed on the 11th but was again interrupted around ten a.m. when the camp inmate “resistance movement” rose up, firing guns. And then at 6 p.m. on that same day the first American tank arrived. This corresponds pretty well with the official story, but then it goes astray.
In a November 2000 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Wiesel recalled:
… and we [children] were left until the end. But every day we marched to the gate anyway. I was near the gate more than five times before I was released, and each time, the gate closed just before I came to it.
Ah, we have heard this before, haven’t we? As exaggerated as it sounds, in Un di velt the author goes even further. He writes:
I didn’t even bother to try hiding myself. Let myself be born along with the stream. Tens of times I stood before the iron camp gate, on the threshold of death, and always something happened which brought us back to the block.
Un di velt continues: “If I was not killed then it is merely thanks to almighty chance. For — because of the hunger, I even wanted to go to the gate: outside the gate, they were distributing bread and marmalade.”
Above:Elie interviewed by Oprah in 2000. Right: The front gate at Buchenwald, from the inside looking out, that Wiesel says he marched right up to “tens of times” but was always turned back!
Liberation brings Freedom and Revenge
UdV, P 244: The first gesture of freedom: the starved men made an effort to get something to eat. They only thought about food. Not about revenge. Not about their parents. Only about bread. And even when they had satisfied their hunger—they still did not think about revenge.
SR, P 115: Our first act as free men was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. We thought only of that. Not of revenge, not of our families. Nothing but bread.
Oprah Winfrey interview: Oprah asks, “After you were liberated, what did you do?” Wiesel answers: “The first thing many of us did was reassemble to say a prayer for the dead.” (page 5)
* * * *
UdV, P 244: Early the next day Jewish boys ran off to Weimar to steal clothing and potatoes. And to rape German girls [un tsu fargvaldikn daytshe shikses]. The historical commandment of revenge was not fulfilled.
LN, P 178: Le lendemain, quelques jeunes gens coururent à Weimar ramasser des pommes de terre et des habits—et coucher avec des filles. Mais de vengeance, pas trace.
SR, P 116: On the following day, some of the young men went to Weimar to get some potatoes and clothes—and to sleep with girls. But of revenge, not a sign.
MW, P115: The next day a few of the young men ran into Weimar to bring back some potatoes and clothes—and to sleep with girls. But still no trace of revenge.
In this case, Wiesel made the change from ‘rape’ to ‘sleep with’ in La Nuit. The expression for “German girls” that we find in the Yiddish book was also removed. The term that was actually used is shikses, a word which originally meant “abomination” and which is used today as a term of contempt for all non-Jewish women. In other words, in saying daytshe shikses, the author was expressing, in rather vulgar terms, his contempt and hatred for German women. This apparently was not good for the eyes of the Goyim to see. It was changed by Wiesel in the French La Nuit, and thus it never reached our eyes until now.
Yet, the Yiddish author goes even further and decries the failure of the Jewish males to take a proper revenge, which is here envisioned as a much larger public act of retribution than the “too mild” raping of German women. (Public retribution, of course, did come later with the Nuremberg Military Tribunals.)
Eliezer is hospitalized for two weeks—April 14 to April 28
UdV P 244: Three days after liberation I became very ill; food-poisoning. They took me to the hospital and the doctors said that I was gone. For two weeks I lay in the hospital between life and death. My situation grew worse from day to day.
SR P 116: Three days after the liberation I became very ill with food poisoning. I was transferred to the hospital and spent two weeks between life and death.
MW P 115: Three days after the liberation of Buchenwald, I became very ill: some form of poisoning. I was transferred to a hospital and spent two weeks between life and death.
Three days after liberation on April 11th is April 14th. Thus, Eliezer is in the hospital from April 14 until April 28—extremely ill, close to death. In his 1995 memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Elie Wiesel claims that on that day (the 14th) he was thrown a can of lard, which he apparently ate although he doesn’t remember doing so. He lost consciousness and awoke in a hospital. But the addition of this story, which is in the original Un di velt, presents serious problems for Elie Wiesel. Perhaps the hospital story had slipped his mind when he decided to claim he was one of the survivors lying on a bunk in the “famous Buchenwald liberation photograph.” Because he was in the hospital …
He cannot be in the famous Buchenwald liberation photo taken on April 16 …
I have already demolished the false claim that Wiesel is in that photograph here. But on top of that, our translator found an interview of Leo Eitinger, a Jewish Czech-born psychiatrist, by Harry James Cargas, a friend and biographer of Elie Wiesel, which contained this gem:
HJC: The same thing happened with Livia Rothkirchen at Yad Vashem as happened with you. I was there doing research on atrocity photography for my book A Christian Response to the Holocaust and saw a photo that covers a large wall, of seventeen men lying in their bunks at liberation time. I think you’ve probably seen this picture. Wiesel and Dr. Rothkirchen passed it by many times, over a several-year period, before he told her he was in that photograph. I asked Elie if I could write something about it and he said, “No.” I wrote something and showed it to him and he gave me permission to publish it.
LE: I didn’t know Elie is in the photo.4
Cargas’ book was published in 1993, ten years after it was publicly announced that Elie Wiesel was in that photograph. Apart from the revelation that Cargas has to ask permission from Wiesel before he publishes anything about him, can you imagine that after walking by that famous photo for several years, Wiesel would finally think to say, “Oh hey, that’s me laying there, back in the shadows.”
Right: The photo at Yad Vashem in Israel with Elie Wiesel posing in front of it in 1986 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
He cannot have been present to agree to and sign the Military Questionaire on April 22 …
Much has been made by holocaust historians like Kenneth Waltzer and others I won’t name that this Fragebogen made out for Lázár Wiesel proves that Elie Wiesel was in Buchenwald. The birth date is not Elie’s; the date of arrest is not Elie’s; the signature is not Elie’s; the registration number belongs to another prisoner (Pavel Kun) who died only a month earlier; and on top of all that … Elie himself tells us in Night that he was lingering between life and death in the hospital on April 22. He was still six days away from having recovered enough to leave the hospital.
He cannot be in the photograph of the “Boys of Buchenwald” taken on April 27.
Kenneth Waltzer also claims on his Michigan State University website that Elie Wiesel is “seen to the left” (fourth from the front in left row wearing dark suit in front of the taller boy wearing a beret) in this photograph of the youths being transferred from the barracks inside Buchenwald to the former SS barracks on the outside. Why is Waltzer not paying attention to what is written in Night – that Eliezer was put in the hospital on the 14th of April, at death’s door, and remained for two weeks? One really has to wonder at the stupidity of holocaust historians. Or more likely — how stupid they think the rest of us are! See The Many Faces of Elie Wiesel.
The book’s ending: What does the long passage in Un di velt hot geshvign tell us?
UdV P 245: One fine day I got up—with the last of my energy—and went over to the mirror that was hanging on the wall. I wanted to see myself. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the mirror a skeleton gazed out.
Skin and bones.
I saw the image of myself after my death. It was at that instant that the will to live was awakened.
Without knowing why, I raised a balled-up fist and smashed the mirror, breaking the image that lived within it.
And then—I fainted.
From that moment on my health began to improve.
I stayed in bed for a few more days, in the course of which I wrote the outline of the book you are holding in your hand, dear reader.
Now, ten years after Buchenwald, I see that the world is forgetting. Germany is a sovereign state, the German army has been reborn. The bestial sadist of Buchenwald, Ilsa Koch, is happily raising her children. War criminals stroll in the streets of Hamburg and Munich. The past has been erased. Forgotten.
Germans and antisemites persuade the world that the story of the six million Jewish martyrs is a fantasy, and the naive world will probably believe them, if not today, then tomorrow or the next day.
So I thought it would be a good idea to publish a book based on the notes I wrote in Buchenwald.
I am not so naive to believe that this book will change history or shake people’s beliefs. Books no longer have the power they once had. Those who were silent yesterday will also be silent tomorrow. I often ask myself, now, ten years after Buchenwald:
Was it worth breaking that mirror? Was it worth it?
SR P 116: One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me.
The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.
MW P 115: One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.
The look in his eyes as he as he gazed at me has never left me.
The difference in length between the Yiddish and the English passage is the first thing that strikes us. The Yiddish writer had a lot to say in these final thoughts. He regained his “will to live” right there in the hospital. Twice he speaks of writing an outline and notes for Un di velt hot geshvign while still in his hospital bed. But there is no record by Elie Wiesel anywhere that says he did any writing in preparation for writing his “testimony” while in the camp (in fact, just the opposite), or at any time in advance of 1954.
The tragic true story of Ilse Koch is that she gave birth to one child while a prisoner of the Americans but she certainly was not allowed to raise him. She was hounded, vilified and persecuted after the war, retried by a German court in 1951 after being acquitted at the IMT, and ultimately given a life sentence—solely, it can be argued, to satisfy Jewish vengence. She committed suicide in prison in 1967.
Left: Ilse Koch on the witness stand in 1947. She was seven months pregnant and the only woman brought before the American Military Tribunals held at Dachau.
The Yiddish author also mentions the “six million Jewish martyrs” … in 1954. This number emerged from the Nuremberg Tribunals, but we know that claims of “six million Jewish victims” goes all the way back to the 1890’s.
All this and more was cut out for the French La Nuit (which, remember, was written by Wiesel) and the English versions which were taken from the French. As has been noted by Jewish commentators themselves, the Yiddish writer is an angry, politically-minded religious Jew who expected, or wished, the world to have been transformed by the travail of the Jews during WWII. He is bitterly disappointed. There is more in this final chapter of the Yiddish book that doesn’t appear in the French or English versions. Here is just one passage:
Dreams of truth, of freedom are false dreams for men. Visions of justice and equality are false visions for men. Man is: the struggle for bread, for meat; man is: the struggle to satisfy one’s own instincts.
Man is instinct to the core. Flesh to the core. And not heart. And not spirit. And not morality.
I learned that in Buchenwald. And what one learns in such conditions is without a doubt the truth, the purest truth. For man can really know man only in extreme conditions, when he has thrown away from himself all masks, social and psychological, and appears before us naked, as he is in truth.
In Buchenwald I saw the true face of man. The face of a human animal, which is worse than a true animal. O God, woe is you, woe is man, how trifling and puny. Ought you to even exist, if the son of Adam was made in your image!
God . . . I had ceased to believe in his existence. But despite that, I continued to believe in his evil. (UdV, P 240-41)
Was this written by Elie Wiesel? If it was, he is a man who has put on his own mask to play the game of Jewish vengence against the goyim persecutors of his people. In other parts of Night, Wiesel writes of losing his faith in a caring God, of no longer following his religion—but later he denied that is true, even though he wrote it! But this passage in Un di velt is too passionate to dismiss as merely a passing sense of discouragement. That is, of course, unless it is just a literary construct and doesn’t reflect any truth of the author.
What does it all mean?
The title of this two-part article is “What Changes were made to Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Why.” I didn’t promise to solve the mystery of the author of Un di velt hot geshvign, but I did hope I might do so, or at least eliminate some contenders.
I confess I expected there to be more difference between the Yiddish and the French books than it turns out to be. It is now clear that La Nuit was taken directly from Un di velt, although that doesn’t mean they were written by the same person. However, that is the greater likelihood unless it can be proven otherwise. Similarly, if Elie Wiesel is the author of Un di velt, it doesn’t mean he was in the camps. The fact that the books are filled with errors argues against it.
Night is a novel
It’s difficult to come to any certainties when the material we have to work with is so internally inconsistent and when there are several versions of it—similar in some ways to the many versions of the Anne Frank Diary. But we can conclude for certain that Night only works as a novel, not as an autobiography—no matter how much the Jewish spin doctors say that a memoir, to be a work of “great literature,” must include some fictional flights of fantasy. Nowhere does Night fit the facts. Even with wife Marion’s changes in 2006, it couldn’t be pulled together enough to make a convincing true-life testimony. And we know how many of these “survivor novels” there are around. It’s not like many other hopefuls didn’t have the same idea!
The Lazar-Lázár Riddle
In spite of all the above, I would like to propose a hypothetical scenario, one that I am not endorsing, for obvious reasons, but that does have the value of answering one of the more ignored aspects of this riddle, namely the way the 31-year-old Lazar Wiesel disappeared at the same time the 16-year-old Lázár Wiesel appeared. This cannot be denied. Thirty-one-year-old Lazar arrived at Buchenwald in January; sixteen-year-old Lázár left there in July. The easiest explanation for this is that Lazar wanted to have the papers of a 16-year-old Buchenwald orphan so he could be sent to France. In the confusion of the last months of the war and the immediate post-war period, this kind of thing became more possible. Such an explanation may sound a little far-fetched, but is it any harder to swallow than Elie Wiesel not having the tattoo (Auschwitz ID number) that he says he has? Or Elie Wiesel not having his own Buchenwald identification number, but “borrowing” a dead man’s (Pavel Kun, 2 years older than Elie) right before, or after, liberation? These things don’t make sense. Nor does the fact that in La Nuit Elie Wiesel wrote that his father died on Jan. 28, 1945, while in the Yiddish book that he also claims to have written as his own “testimony” the date is Feb. 2nd? Or that he wrote that the Russian Army took over the Auschwitz complex two days after its evacuation, which everyone knows is false?
Elie Wiesel even wrote in Night that his foot was operated on right before the evacuation of Auschwitz, while in his later real memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea (pp 89-90), he flat-out recalled it as his knee, something that could not be mis-remembered. I could list many of these senseless “mistakes,” many of which I have written about in earlier articles.
There is something that doesn’t fit well into this Lazar-Lázár hypothesis, though—that is, that we have pictures of the real Elie Wiesel in France at the Jewish welfare orphanage, OSE. But how did he get through a year at Auschwitz and Buchenwald with no records of his being there … and a poor memory of what occurred and when? Did he somehow manage to attach himself to the Buchenwald transport with the stolen identity papers? But also, there are other ways he could have come to be at the Ecouis homes in France than in the children’s transport from Buchenwald. Just as there are other ways he could have come into possession of the Yiddish Un di velt without writing it himself.
Was Elie Wiesel in the camps?
My answer is still no. Wiesel could have been in some camps in some capacity under some auspices, but he is not telling the truth about what camp experience he did have. That means Hilda Wiesel Kudler is also not telling the truth but is standing by her brother. She says at the end of her bitter testimony to the Shoah Foundation, “I will not forget, and I will not forgive.” Have you ever wondered why Elie has not contributed a videotaped testimony to the Spielberg/USC Shoah Foundation library?
Wiesel’s other sister, who changed her name to Beatrice from Batia, never wrote or testified a word about it. She did go to work for Jewish organizations in Germany, however, immediately after the war, helping Jews to emigrate to wherever they wanted to go, including Palestine. The whole family were committed Zionists, as were most Eastern European/Russian Jews who were able to flood into the West because of the war. ‘Bea’ finally got her own papers to emigrate to Canada.
Left: Elie Wiesel with his older sisters Bea (left) and Hilda (right) in Paris after the war, exact date unknown.
A Jewish organization, Sharit Ha-Platah, gathered names of Jews who were liberated from Dachau and it’s many sub-camps and published them in 1946. This is the only record so far found with the names of Hilda and Beatrice Wiesel, and it is a self-identified list of Jews by Jews, not an official German record of forced laborers or prisoners. So the hard evidence for the Wiesel family is not there. It doesn’t mean they weren’t, however; it’s just that we’re left with believing what they say, because we want to or because we’re expected to.
The easiest option is to go along with Elie Wiesel’s story that he was in those camps, and question his credibility from other angles, such as the in-credible stories he tells. This is what revisionists had done before Nikolaus Grüner came along and released documents he had obtained from Buchenwald and the correspondence he had with the archivists there. These documents cannot be ignored, in spite of what other nonsense Grüner writes in his book Stolen Identity. These documents have caused a sea change in revisionism about Elie Wiesel, to the extent that it can be divided between pre-Grüner and post-Grüner research and writing.
Wiesel needs to expose himself to questions
Because of these documents, it is up to Elie Wiesel to come forth and answer questions about them. But being that he is completely unprepared to do so, this job has been given to his surrogates—Professor Waltzer for one. Kenneth Waltzer promised, with a lot of bombast, that he would produce proof that Elie is Lazar and that Shlomo is Abraham, but for a year now he has failed to produce it, or even say anything more about it. He has also failed to come out with his promised book, “The Rescue of Children and Youths at Buchenwald,” which was to include Elie Wiesel. In the opinion of this writer, Waltzer is as big a fraud as Wiesel, selling emotion and sentimentality instead of factual history. They are both supported with professorships at well-funded universities.
So, back to the main question: Was Elie Wiesel in Auschwitz and Buchenwald? As I said, my answer is still no … and no one should accept that he was without some further explanation from him, during which he subjects himself to questions. If he’s genuine, he can certainly withstand questions. That, however, is not going to happen because … fill in your own answer.
Elie Wiesel has kept the details of his life before 1955 vague. He has managed to prevent unwanted questions from being asked of him. He hides behind a stated aversion to “holocaust deniers” so that anyone who is not a 100% believer is not welcome in his company. He gets away with the ‘moral outrage’ he professes toward anyone who doubts, thus no interviewer, reporter, writer, academic, student or even President dares to doubt in his presence. It works like a charm.
1. Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle: 1939-1945. New York: Henry Holt, 1997
2. APMO, D-Bu 3/17, pp. 18-85, 87 (transport list as cited by Czech in Auschwitz Chronicle)
3. Hilda was obviously unaware that the march itself was only 24 hours, probably because she had heard so many false and exaggerated stories about “endless days of marching” that proliferate in survivor stories.
4. Harry James Cargas, ed. Voices from the Holocaust, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1993. pp. 116-22.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Hilda Wiesel, Holocaust fraud, Miklos Grüner, Night, Shlomo Wiesel, Un di velt holt geshvign,
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Friday, February 17th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 Carolyn Yeager
On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Amazon.com announced that it was changing the categorization of a new translation of Elie Wiesel’s Night from novel to memoir.
Amazon would also revise the editorial description of the original edition to make clear that they consider the book a memoir, not a novel. “We hope to make these changes as quickly as possible,” said Jani Strand, a spokeswoman for the online retailer. The day before, Oprah Winfrey had announced that Night was her latest book club choice, displacing her previous selection, James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces.
The sudden switch from fiction to non-fiction caused some discussion and questions, which Strand brushed away by saying, “Amazon.com’s data source for the Oprah Book Club edition of Night inaccurately classified the book as fiction.” She declined to offer details. The book, re-classified as “Autobiography” and blessed by Oprah, was already No.3 on Amazon.com as of that Tuesday afternoon! Wiesel, interviewed later with his literary agent Georges Borchardt, insisted they had never portrayed it as a novel.
But the publisher did.1 There has been confusion about the question for so long—even Wiesel’s defenders have to admit it. Ruth Franklin, in her 2011 book, A Thousand Darknesses, wrote: “Unfortunately, Night is an imperfect ambassador for the infallibility of the memoir, owing to the fact that it has been treated very often as a novel—by journalists, by scholars, and even by its publishers.”2 On Night’s Wikipedia page it has long been described as autobiography, memoir, novel—yes, all three. How long will that continue? As long as there are editions of Night that still sport those labels, one assumes.
Left: Oprah Winfrey and Elie Wiesel pose together at the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity Award Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on May 20, 2007. Winfrey was honored with the Humanitarian Award for “positively impacting people all over the world, especially children.” One year earlier, she had selected Wiesel’s “Night” for her popular book club “pick” which sent it immediately to the top of the national bestseller lists.
As for Wiesel and Borchardt, they answered questions about differences in the text of the new edition by saying they were not significant enough to justify raising questions. The next day, Wiesel’s wife Marion, the translator of the new edition of Night, said in an interview that among the changes was a reference to the age of the book’s narrator when he arrives in 1944 at Birkenau, the entry point for Auschwitz.
“At no point did this change the meaning and the fact of anything in the book,” Marion Wiesel said. She explained it this way: The narrator tells a fellow prisoner that he is “not quite 15.” But the scene takes place in Spring 1944. Mr. Wiesel, born on Sept. 30, 1928, would have already been 15, going on 16. So in the new edition, she changed it to “15.” Whaaaa? She changed the age as it was written in the Yiddish to fit Elie Wiesel, who was fifteen and a half at that time and would not have written “not quite 15.” What is written in the Yiddish original, Un di velt hot geshvign, we also find in the original Night. I will add that if your birthday is still four months away, you don’t say you are “not quite” your next age, especially when you are young. Marion tried to joke it away, telling reporters “I kidded Elie and told him, ‘I don’t think you can add.’”
But that particular change, rather than insignificant, was one of the major reasons that a new translation was undertaken. There are other quite significant changes in the new edition that will be enumerated in this article. When you learn what they are, you can decide for yourself if you think they are insignificant.
Right: Marion Wiesel is the translator of the 2006 edition of Night. Here, in 2010, she attends an after party at The Monkey Bar for Oliver Stone’s new “South of the Border” New York premiere at Cinema 21.
Wiesel wrote a Preface to the New Translation, something he didn’t have in the original La Nuit or Night.
In his preface, Wiesel begins: “Why did I write it? … so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness …”
He continues in this vein—typical Wiesel mystical-religious style. However, in his only description of the writing process of this book—the typing of the 862 pages which he titled Un di velt hot geshvign, according to his later memoir—it is hard to believe that he was in such a state of mind. He writes in All Rivers Run to the Sea that during this time in Paris he is busy with his newspaper job and contacts; also involved in a love affair with a woman named Hanna. He embarks on a major journalistic assignment in Brazil, sent by his editor, taking along a friend to keep him company on the ship’s crossing. They both get free tickets from a “resourceful Israeli friend”—these benefactors are usually unnamed. As the voyage begins, he says his mind is dwelling on Hanna and whether he should take the marriage step that she had asked for.
I can’t imagine an atmosphere less conducive to writing about what he describes as “the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history.” But he continues very matter-of-factly in All Rivers, “During the crossing I wrote my testimony …” and in one short paragraph tells us all he thought important to say about it. Moreover, he has never elaborated on it since!
In the new preface, Wiesel writes that in retrospect he doesn’t know what he wanted to achieve with his words, but then he comes up with something: “I knew that I must bear witness. I also knew that, while I had many things to say, I did not have the words to say them.” He needed to “invent a new language.” He is not speaking of an actual language, like German, French or English—but a language of survivors, or for survivors. Wiesel writes that common words like “hunger—thirst—fear—transport—selection—fire—chimney … all have intrinsic meaning, but in those times, they meant something else.” Really? He does not explain how that is so. But Wiesel has tried to create the idea of holocaust survivors as a special class, set apart, who know things others do not know, and can never understand—”Only those who experienced Auschwitz know what it was. Others will never know.”
Wiesel describes his writing as slow! “Writing in my mother tongue (Yiddish) … I would pause at every sentence, and start over and over again. I would conjure up other verbs, other images, other silent cries. It still was not right.” This contrasts totally with his description in his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea (p. 238-40) that he wrote the original Yiddish manuscript fast and feverishly without re-reading!
Why a new translation of Night after 45 years of success with the old one?
Here again, Wiesel hedges in the preface and doesn’t have a convincing answer. He says his wife Marion has translated other books for him, and “knows his voice better than anyone else.” He says he didn’t pay enough attention to the original English translation by Stella Rodway—after his first reading of Night from the publisher, he never read it again. As for Mrs. Wiesel: “Fluent in French, she had never read the English version,” she said. But good news! Elie Wiesel Cons The World has found a translator and now has large portions of the Yiddish book translated into English. We can compare the real 245-page original to both the 1960 English translation from the French by Stella Rodway and the 2006 English translation done by Marion Wiesel.
In doing so, we have made two important discoveries.
First, Stella Rodway’s 1960 English translation of Night is an accurate rendition of the French text of La Nuit, as originally published in 1958. That means that if there are any “errors” in the Night story, they weren’t put there by Stella Rodway.
Second, when we compare the three texts—the original version of Night, as translated by Rodway, the “corrected” 2006 translation by Marion Wiesel, and the 1955 Yiddish original of Un di velt hot geshvign—we find that the “errors” brought up by Marion Wiesel are for the greater part what was actually written in the original Yiddish book, though usually in more detail there.
In other words, the 1955 Yiddish version, the 1958 French version, and the 1960 English version generally agree—only the “corrected” 2006 translation is different. So, are these really errors of translation that Marion Wiesel is fixing for us? Or are they not simply problems for Elie Wiesel? Under close scrutiny, the Elie Wiesel narrative has huge holes which bring up embarrassing questions, and this is what Marion Wiesel’s new translation was meant to head off.
Left: Original Night cover, 1960, features the title, while the author’s name is exceptionally small and insignificant. Francois Mauriac’s forward is featured. In 2006, the author becomes the “title,” i.e. the main selling point, and Mauriac is no longer mentioned, although his forward remains in the book.
A Comparison of the 1960 original with the 2006 new version.
Following are the most “significant” differences I have found between the Stella Rodway 1960 translation and the Marion Wiesel 2006 translation. To make as clear a case as possible, I begin with the Yiddish [UdV] and its French translation La Nuit [LN], followed by the Stella Rodway English translation [SR]. Finally, Marion Wiesel’s revised translation [MW]. The word or phrase being compared is in boldface. Number one has already been written about in When Did Elie Wiesel Arrive at Auschwitz?
1. The Saturday before Pentecost … or two weeks before?
UdV Page 22: Geshen iz dos Shbth far Shbw’wth. A friling-zun hot oysgegosn ir likht un varemkeyt iber der gorer velt un oykh iber geto … / It happened Saturday [Sabbath] before Shavuot. The springtime sun had spread its light and warmth over the whole world, and even over the ghetto. . . .
LN Page 29: Le samedi précédant la Pentecôte, sous un soleil printanier, les gens se promenaient insouciants à travers les rues grouillantes de monde / The Saturday preceding Pentecost …
SR Page 23: On the Saturday before Pentecost, in the Spring sunshine, people strolled carefree and unheeding, through the swarming streets.
MW Page 12: Some two weeks before Shavuot (Pentecost). A sunny spring day, people strolled seemingly carefree through the crowded streets.
The Yiddish, the French and the original English versions agree—it was the Saturday before the festival of Pentecost/Shavuot—but Marion Wiesel’s new edition sets that date back by two whole weeks. This is important because, as the story continues, it was later on the following day that the Jews of Sighet were forced to leave their homes in preparation for their eventual deportation: “The ghetto was to be liquidated entirely. We were to leave street by street, starting the following day.”
So Mrs.Wiesel was NOT correcting errors in the English translation, but changing the text to fit the reality of when the Hungarians from Sighet arrived at Birkenau. Pentecost was on Sunday, May 28, 1944. The “Saturday before Pentecost” is thus May 27. Some two weeks before is May 14.
Un di velt hot geshvign, La Nuit and the Rodway translation all have Eliezer’s family leaving on the final journey to Auschwitz around June 2nd, six days after Pentecost/Shavuot, which was a Friday. However, they also agree that “Saturday, the day of rest, was chosen for our expulsion.” So it’s necessary for us to add another day to the family’s stay in the small ghetto to make the chronology work. On Saturday, then, the Jews are marched to the synagogue and spend the night there; in the morning, Sunday June 4, they board the train: “The following morning [Sunday], we marched to the station, where a convoy of cattle wagons was waiting. [… ] We were on our way.” Four days and three nights on the train (according to the description in Night) makes their arrival date June 6, 1944, around midnight.
But this is not only long after the prisoner number A7713—which Elie Wiesel supposedly received at Auschwitz, and still (again, supposedly!) has tattooed on his left arm—had been given out, but also long after the last transport left from Sighet. Indeed, there were no transports from the town after May, according to official records.
Marion Wiesel did not mention this one to the reporters; nor did Elie speak of it in his preface to his wife’s translation. But it was discovered by our translator. Marion Wiesel’s arbitrary “correction” allows Eliezer’s family to leave on May 21 and to arrive by May 24 (just before midnight!) thus making it possible for Eliezer to receive the registration number A7713. This is a very significant change, probably the most significant in her entire new English translation.
An added note: This interesting passage is on page 27 of Un di velt, but is not included in the shorter French or English Night:
We had opportunities and possibilities to hide with regular goyim and with prominent personalities. Many non-Jews from the surrounding villages had begged us, that we would come to them. There were bunkers available for us in villages or in the mountains. But we had cast aside all proposals. Why? Quite simple: the calendar showed April 1944 and we, the Jews of Sighet, still knew nothing about Treblinka, Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Now we have April as the general time of deportation! So according to the timeline we find in Un di velt, Eliezer and his family left Sighet some time in June, while the calendar on their wall still said April . . . and in the meantime, we know from official Auschwitz records that the deportations actually occured in the last two weeks of May. The person who wrote this knew nothing about the real deportation dates for the Sighet Jews.
2. Copulating on the train … or just caressing?
UdV Page 47: Tsulib der engshaft hobn a sakh instinktn zikh dervekt in kerper. Erotishe instinktn, un untern forhang fun der nakht hobn yungeleyt un froyen zikh gelozn bahersht durkh di oyfgereytste chwshym zeyere.
Ot der ershter rezultat fun umglik: erotishe freyheyt. Di shpanung fun di letste teg hot itst gezukht a veg vi oystsulodn zikh un der leychtster iz geven – an erotisher.
Di erotishe stsenes hobn nisht dervekt keyn protestn mtsd di eltere Yidn. Zey hobn farmakht oyern un oygn, zikh gemakht nisht zen un nisht hern. In moment fun schnh faln avek di keytn fun der konventsioneler moral. Mentshn hobn zikh getrakht: ver veys vos der morgn iz “lwl tsu brengen? Zol yugnt oysnutsn dem heynt, oystsapn fun im dem letstn hn’h-tropn . . .
In English: Because of the crowding, a host of instincts awoke in [people’s] bodies. Erotic instincts – and beneath the curtain of night young men and women let themselves be ruled by their aroused senses.
And so the first result of misfortune: erotic freedom. The stress of the last days now sought a way to discharge itself, and the easiest was – an erotic one.
The erotic scenes did not arouse any protests from the older Jews. They closed their ears and eyes, and forced themselves not to see and hear. In the moment of danger, the chains of conventional morality fall away. People thought to themselves: who knows what the morning is likely to bring? Youth must seize the day, squeeze from it the last drops of pleasure . . .
LN Page 45: Libérés de toute censure sociale, les jeunes se laissaient aller ouvertement à leurs instincts et à la faveur de la nuit, s’accouplaient au milieu de nous, sans se préoccuper de qui que ce fût, seuls dans le monde. Les autres faisaient semblant de ne rien voir.
SR Page 34: “Free from all social constraint, the young people gave way openly to instinct, taking advantage of the darkness to copulate in our midst, without caring about anyone else, as though they were alone in the world. The rest pretended not to notice anything.”
MW Page 23: “Freed of normal constraints, some of the young let go of their inhibitions and, under cover of darkness, caressed one another, without any thought of others, alone in the world. The others pretended not to notice.”
Elie Wiesel did not mention this change in his preface to the new English translation by his wife, but he did give quite a lengthy explanation (humorous to us) in the preface he wrote for the new French edition. This is what he said there:
Thanks to her, it was possible for me to correct an incorrect expression or impression here and there. An example: I describe the first night-time voyage in the sealed cars, and I mention that certain persons had taken advantage of the darkness to commit sexual acts. That’s false. In the Yiddish text, I say that “young boys and girls allowed themselves to be mastered by their excited erotic instincts.” I have checked among many absolutely trustworthy sources. In the train, all the families were still together. A few weeks of the ghetto could not have degraded our behavior to the point of violating customs, mores and ancient laws. That there may have been some clumsy touching, that is possible. But that was all. Nothing went any further. But then, why did I say that in Yiddish, and allow it to be translated into French and English? The only possible explanation: it is myself I am speaking of. It is myself that I condemn. I imagine that the adolescent that I was then, in the throes of puberty even if profoundly pious, could not resist such erotic imaginings, enriched by the physical proximity between men and women.
The original French : Grâce à elle, il me fut permis de corriger çà et là une expression ou une impression erronées. Exemple : j’évoque le premier voyage nocturne dans les wagons plombés et je mentionne que certaines personnes avaient profité de l’obscurité pour commettre des actes sexuels. C’est faux. Dans le texte yiddish je dis que « des jeunes garçons et filles se sont laissés maîtriser par leurs instincts érotiques excités. » J’ai vérifié auprès de plusieurs sources absolument sûres. Dans le train toutes les familles étaient encore réunies. Quelques semaines de ghetto n’ont pas pu dégrader notre comportement au point de violer coutumes, moeurs et lois anciennes. Qu’il y ait eu des attouchements maladroits, c’est possible. Ce fut tout. Nul n’est allé plus loin. Mais alors, pourquoi l’ai-je dit en yiddish et permis de le traduire en français et en anglais? La seule explication possible: c’est de moi-même que je parle. C’est moi-même que je condamne. J’imagine que l’adolescent que j’étais, en pleine puberté bien que profondément pieux, ne pouvait résister à l’imaginaire érotique enrichi par la proximité physique entre hommes et femmes.
Is this convincing, dear readers? Consider that the narrator of Un di velt says exactly the opposite of what Wiesel tries to present in his new French preface: the first result of a few weeks in the ghetto was erotic freedom, which was acted out in front of everyone in the train. And the “erotic instincts” that the youths let themselves be “ruled by” clearly must have involved sexual intercourse—why else would everyone have needed to shut their eyes and ears so tightly?
The Elie Wiesel of 2006 (and perhaps the Hasidic rebbes had something to do with this?) wants us to believe in the inviolable sanctity of the Jews’ “customs, mores and ancient laws,” and also in their innate respect for their elders and one another, but he is directly contradicted by what are, we are told, his own words of fifty years ago : “In the moment of danger, the chains of conventional morality fall away.” Which Wiesel do we believe?
And Ruth Franklin (right), senior editor at The New Republic, has the temerity to insist (in her 2006 review article) that “his [Elie’s] original suggestion that couples “copulated” in the cattle cars on the way to Auschwitz . . . was always a gross mistranslation of the original Yiddish.” We’ve shown you here that it isn’t.
3. Not yet fifteen … or fifteen?
UdV Page 63 : Yingl, vi alt bistu? fregt mir a heftling. Zeyn pnym iz geven in der fintster, ober zeyn kol iz geven a mids, a varems. Nokh nisht keyn 15 yor, hob ikh geentfert.
“Kid, how old are you?” a prisoner asked me. His face was in darkness, but his voice was tired and warm. “Not yet 15 years,” I answered.
LN Page 54: Hé, le gosse, quel âge as-tu? C’était un détenu qui m’interrogeait. Je ne voyais pas son visage, mais sa voix était lasse et chaude. “Pas encore quinze ans.” / Not yet 15 years.
SR Page 39: “Here, kid, how old are you?” It was one of the prisoners who asked me this. I could not see his face, but his voice was tense and weary. “I’m not quite fifteen yet.”
MW Page 30: “Hey, kid, how old are you?” The man interrogating me was an inmate. I could not see his face, but his voice was weary and warm. “Fifteen”
This very important passage was discussed above. I think the reader would agree that “not yet 15″ can mean even farther from the age of 15 than “not quite fifteen.” It can mean 14 ½. However, it is a minor point that I will not emphasize. What we can clearly see is that Marion Wiesel has changed the author’s original words to fit them to her husband’s age in Spring 1944.
4. April … or May?
UdV Page 83: A sheyner April-tog iz es geven. A frilings-rich in der luft. In English: It was a beautiful April day. A scent of spring in the air.
LN Page 69: C’était une belle journee d’avril. Des parfums de printemps flottaient dans l’air. Le soleil baissait vers l’ouest.
SR Page 49: It was a beautiful April day. The fragrance of spring was in the air. The sun was setting in the west.
MW Page 40: It was a beautiful day in May. The fragrances of spring were in the air. The sun was setting.
(See again When Did Wiesel Arrive) Once more, the original Night as translated by Stella Rodway agrees with the Yiddish and the French; Marion Wiesel arbitrarily changed April to May, yet said her translation did not “change the meaning or the fact of anything in the book” … what she calls a “significant change.” Well, this is a significant change, and for the same reason as given in number 1 above.
5. Himmler … or “Reichsfuehrer Himmler?”
UdV Page 124-5: “In nomen fun Himler . . . der heftling num’ . . . hot gegnbet . . . bsh”thn luft-alarm . . . loytn gezets, paragraf . . . iz der heftling num’ . . . farurteylt tsum toyt! Zol dos zeyn a lere un a beyshpil far ale heftlingen . . .”
“In the name of Himmler . . . prisoner number . . . stole . . . during the air raid . . . according to the law, paragraph . . . prisoner number . . . is condemned to death. May this be a lesson and an example for all prisoners.”
LN Page 100: “Au nom de Himmler ... Le détenu No… a dérobé pendant l’alerte… ”
SR Page 68: “In the name of Himmler … prisoner Number … stole during the alert … According to the law … paragraph …prisoner Number … is condemned to death. May this be a warning and an example to all prisoners.”
MW Page 62: “In the name of Reichsfuehrer Himmler … prisoner number … stole during the air raid … according to the law … prisoner number … is condemned to death. Let this be a warning …..”
Again, the Yiddish and the original Night agree. However, no trained member of the SS, or even the Wehrmacht, would ever have shown such disrespect as to use Himmler’s name in such a formal context without his full title: Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler. Marion Wiesel tried to fix the error by adding “Reichsfuehrer,” but she still gets it wrong: you don’t drop the “SS.” On its own, this tells us that the speech was an imaginary one invented by the author (whoever that is), someone who was never present at such a scene. Indeed, lack of knowledge about how the SS functioned in the camps is evident throughout the book. For example, the SS did not normally go inside the barracks; everything inside was handled by the kapos.
Left: Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler
6. Ten days and ten nights … or just “days and nights”
UdV Page 207: Tsen teg un tsen nekht hot gedoyert di reyze. / Ten days and ten nights the trip lasted.
LN Page 155: Dix jours, dix nuits de voyage. Il nous arrivait de traverser des localités allemandes.
SR Page101: Ten days, ten nights of traveling. Sometimes we would pass through German townships.
MW Page 100: There followed days and nights of traveling. Occasionally we would pass through German towns.
In January of 1945, as the advancing Red Army approached Auschwitz, a decision was made to evacuate, sending the prisoners to other camps in Germany. Evacuation of the Monowitz (Auschwitz III) camp, to which Eliezer and Father had previously been transferred, began at 6 p.m. on January 18. The prisoners were given extra clothing and food—bread to carry with them. They also had whatever food they had saved up. After marching all night during a snowfall, they rested in the morning in an old brick factory. In late afternoon, they began again and reached Gleiwitz camp in a few hours [night, Jan. 19]; they then remained in Gleiwitz barracks for three days. On the 22nd they went to the train stop and waited until evening. They were brought bread for the journey. The convoy set out
From there, as we see above, the Yiddish, the 1958 French and 1960 English versions agree on the trip lasting ten days and nights. But Marion Wiesel removes the number ten because it makes Eliezer’s timeline for the death of his father on Jan. 28/29 completely impossible. Another very significant change. Ten days and nights from the night of Jan. 22nd is the night of Feb 1, 1945.
This shows that the author of Un di velt knew nothing about the transport that arrived at Buchenwald on January 26 with 3000 prisoners from Auschwitz. This is the transport that, according to existing official records, brought Lazar and Abraham Wiesel to Buchenwald, who were registered at the camp there on . . . January 26, 1945! (See Buchenwald Archivist Cannot ID Elie Wiesel, How True to Life is Wiesel’s description of Buchenwald, and Gigantic Fraud Carried Out.)
7. Fifteen … or sixteen?
UdV Page 213: I was fifteen years old then. Do you understand—fifteen? Is it any wonder that I, along with my generation, do not believe either in God or in man; in the feelings of a son, in the love of a father. Is it any Wonder that I cannot realize that I myself experienced this thing, that my childish eyes had witnessed it? (This passage from Moshe Spiegel’s stand-alone translation of Chapter Six of Un di velt hot geshvign, published as “The Death Train” in the 1968 volume Anthology of Holocaust Literature.)
LN Page 158: J’avais quinze ans. / I was fifteen.
SR Page 103: I was fifteen years old.
MW Page 102: I was sixteen.
In the original versions, Eliezer repeats that he is fifteen years old in January 1945. Elie Wiesel’s birth date is Sept. 30, 1928 so on that day in 1944 he became sixteen years old, making him 16 years and 4 months when this particular event on the train to Buchenwald occurred in late January 1945. Once again, Marion Wiesel simply changes the age as she did before – if Elie was actually sixteen at that time, then Eliezer, the character in the book, must be too!
In Part Two, I will construct the timeline of the events in Buchenwald following the arrival of Eliezer and his father, and other details about Buchenwald. What will we find out? Stay tuned.
1. On the back cover of the original hardcover Night, with the black & white striped jacket (as pictured here), it is printed “Literature” as the classification.
2. Ruth Franklin, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp 71-72.
Unfortunately, Night is an imperfect ambassador for the infallibility of the memoir, owing to the fact that it has been treated very often as a novel—by journalists, by scholars, and even by its publishers. Lawrence Langer, in his landmark study The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination, notes that Night “continues to be classified and critically acclaimed as a novel, and not without reason.” . . .
Nonetheless, in 1997 Publishers Weekly columnist Paul Nathan had to issue a correction apologizing for referring to the book as an “autobiographical novel”; he had been misled, he said, by the entry on Wiesel in The International Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Biography. In response, the correction itself was challenged by the director of Penguin Reference Books, publishers of the biography dictionary, who cited half a dozen sources to the effect that Night was in fact a novel. Together with most critics, Gary Weissman, who recounted the above history in his book Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust, seems to concur with Ernst Pawel’s remark in an early magazine survey of Holocaust fiction, that “the line between fact and fiction, tenuous at best, tends to vanish altogether in autobiographical novels such as Night.” The hybrid terms used to describe it include “novel/autobiography,” “non-fictional novel,” “semi-fictional memoir,” “fictional-autobiographical memoir,” “fictionalized autobiographical memoir,” and “memoir-novel.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2012 carolyn yeager
Fact is–it’s a deliberately confusing story with two distinct versions. Originally, he was too late to be assigned that number; in a newer rewrite, he was right on time. Which would you believe?
Above: Hungarian transport arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Notice the casual atmosphere, the inmate-workers in striped clothing (not wielding clubs), the non-threatening guards spotted here and there (without snarling dogs), and the crematorium chimney in the distance — which is not belching smoke and fire.
UPDATE: (Jan. 30) It’s worth taking a closer look at the female deportees in the background who are accepting the arrival process in quite a different manner than what we always hear in the official stories of the Hungarian Jews. And from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I might add, which is a big pusher of the Hungarian Jewish “extermination.” These women don’t look too much the worse for wear from their trip. Three of them are smiling, two are also waving to someone they know, perhaps the person in the lower left questioning the officer. How can they be so cheerful, you might ask? A good question.
At the very end of my recent article The Truth About Night, I wrote:
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 VeltHot 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.
Though I had no real hope of that, I was most happily surprised when a gifted linguist using the name “Kladderadatsch” appeared on the Codoh Forum with a professional translation of a section from the Yiddish book. You can go to that thread (begin on page 4 of “Is This the End of Elie Wiesel?”) to see all the translations he has posted there so far. I have copied his last post/translation/analysis as the main element of this article, but first I want to give a short introductory comment.
When retranslating Night for its 2006 publication, Marion Wiesel (working with Elie and whoever else) made numerous changes in the wording of the original translation. An important, but hard-to-notice change was her rearrangement of the wording for the deportation dates of the Wiesel family. She connived to move their arrival date at Auschwtiz back two whole weeks. By doing so, she made it possible for young Eliezer to be given the registration number A-7713 on May 24, 1944, the day it was given out according to the transport records published by Randolph Braham1 and available at the Memorial Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau. (More on Braham further down)
In the original LaNuit/Night published in 1958/60, and in Un di velt hot geshvign, published in 1956, the Wiesel family arrived at Auschwitz 3 days after their departure on June 3, 1944, making it approximately June 6th, well after the registration numbers A-7712 and 7713 had already been assigned. Therefore, as the story was originally written, the going-on-15-year-old Eliezer Wiesel could not have been registered with that number.
The analysis by ‘Kladderadatsch’ posted on Friday, Jan. 13:
According to Mattogno, citing microfilm records from the Auschwitz museum (“Liste der Judentransporte, Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, microfilm no. 727/27,” Mattogno’s footnote 15), the Auschwitz registration number A-7713 was assigned on May 24, 1944. In his article, Mattogno makes the case that this means Elie Wiesel could not have been assigned A-7713 because he would have arrived at Auschwitz after that date:
Elie Wiesel does not specify the date of his deportation to Auschwitz. His narrative starts, though, with reference to a specific date: “On the Saturday before Pentecost [“Shavuòth” in the Italian edition], in the spring sunshine, people strolled, carefree and unheeding, through the swarming streets.” (p.22-23). In 1944, this festival fell on 28 May 1944 , a Sunday. The day in question was thus 27 May. The first transport of Jews left Sighet on the following day, hence, on 28 May. “Then, at last, at one o’clock in the afternoon, came the signal to leave” (p.27). Elie Wiesel then speaks of “Monday” (p. 29), the dawn (p.29), the day after tomorrow (p. 29) saying, at the end, “Saturday, the day of rest, was chosen for our expulsion” (p. 33) He then speaks about the traditional Friday evening meal and goes on to say: «The following morning, we marched to the station […]» (p. 33, which means that the trip to Auschwitz began on Saturday, 3 June 1944.
The duration of the trip is not given, but transports from Hungary usually took three or four days to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau. Elie Wiesel spent the night at Birkenau and was moved to Auschwitz the following day where he was given the number A-7713, which was tattooed on his arm (p. 54). Yet, according to him, “it was a beautiful April day” (p. 51).
This schedule is pure invention. If he did leave Sighet on 3 June 1944 he could not have arrived at Auschwitz in April. Moreover, the ID number A-7713 was given out on 24 May, the day on which 2,000 Hungarian Jews were assigned the numbers A-5729 through A-7728 . According to Randolph L. Braham, a Jewish transport left Máramarossziget on 20 May 1944. Allowing four days for the journey, this was the transport of Lázár Wiesel who was assigned the ID number A-7713 precisely on 24 May 1944. But apparently, Elie Wiesel was unaware of all these things.
 Liste der Judentransporte, Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, microfilm no. 727/27.
 R.L. Braham, A Magyar Holocaust. Gondolat Budapest-Blackburn International Inc.,Wilmington, 1988, p. 514.
That seems pretty conclusive.
On the other hand, however, Carolyn Yeager’s article about the various Wiesel signatures makes the case that Wiesel must have been deported from Sighet on May 20, 1944:
In the “revised and updated” new translation of 2006, Wiesel gives his family’s date of deportation to the “small ghetto” as May 17, 1944. I arrive at this date because Wiesel writes that it was “some two weeks before Shavuot” (Shavuot fell on May 28 in 1944) that the deportation order was announced to his family and neighbors. [Remember, Sighet had 90,000 residents, at least one-third of them Jews, while Wiesel makes it sound like he lived in a little village.] Departures were to take place “street by street” starting the next day. That would be May 15. But the Wiesel family was scheduled to leave in the 3rd group, which left two days later, on May 17. After being marched to the “small ghetto,” they stayed there “a few days.” On a “Saturday,” they boarded trains.5 The 20th of May, 1944 was a Saturday.
If Mattogno is correct that “transports from Hungary usually took three or four days to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau,” which seems probable, and if Wiesel’s transport departed on May 20, then it’s entirely possible for him to have arrived on May 23, spent the night at Birkenau, and then been marched over to Auschwitz on May 24 to get his prisoner number, A-7713 . . . exactly like Wiesel has always said.2
Now I’m pretty sure Carolyn wasn’t looking to prove that Wiesel’s claim to number A-7713 is legitimate (her focus in the article is actually on discrepancies in various arrest dates in the later Buchenwald paperwork), but if her reconstruction of the deportation’s timing is correct, that’s what she’s done.
So who’s right, Mattogno or Yeager?
Both, probably. The problem, of course, is that Wiesel is a moving target. Mattogno is using the original edition of “Night,” as translated by Stella Rodway. And sure enough, in that version it says “On the Saturday before Pentecost . . . ” But the “revised and updated” 2006 translation, which Carolyn quotes in her article, says “Some two weeks before Shavuot.” Since Pentecost and Shavuot are the same thing (Rodway just uses the more familiar term for non-Jewish readers, “Pentecost” being the name of a Christian holiday as well), that means that we have two possibilities:
1) Saturday before Pentecost/Shavuot,
2) an unspecified date “some two weeks before.”
As Mattogno and Yeager both note, Shavuot was on May 28 in 1944 (it’s easy to check), a Sunday. So counting backwards, “the Saturday before Pentecost” (May 28) gives May 27, and “two weeks before” gives May 14. In one case, the dates make it impossible for Elie Wiesel to have been assigned A-7713, in the other, they line up perfectly.
Above Left: Original Night, 1960, paperback. Right: Marion Wiesel’s 2006 new translation, recommended by Oprah Winfrey.
So here’s a situation where determining what the original text really says is important. Someone reading Mattogno’s article and then checking the most recent “revised and updated” edition of “Night” might just conclude that he’s dishonest–the text there doesn’t say “the Saturday before,” it says “some two weeks before.” Sheesh. And someone reading Carolyn’s article, with Mattogno’s in mind, might conclude that while she may start from the “correct” premises (again, according to the “revised and updated” version!), she really just shoots herself in the foot by proving that Wiesel left Sighet on May 20, exactly the right date for him to be on the transport recorded by Randolph Braham and to arrive in Auschwitz on May 24 to receive prisoner number A-7713. Is Mattogno lying? Can Carolyn not shoot straight?
Or could it just be that Wiesel is covering his tracks, sowing confusion among revisionists along the way?
“Un di Velt hot Geshwign,” p. 22:
Un azoy zenen teg farlofn, teg velkhe hobn aruntergerisn bleter fun kalendar un undz dernentert tsu yenem shwartsn shbth. Vos vet oyf eybik farbleybn in meyn zkhrwn, afilu ven ikh vel zeyn farmshpt tsu lebn bizn letstn tog fun ale teg, oyf der doziker tsby”wthdiker velt.
Geshen iz dos Shbth far Shbw”wth.
A friling-zun hot oysgegosn ir likht un varemkeyt iber der gorer velt un oykh iber geto. . . .
And so the days raced by, days which ripped away pages from the calendar and brought us nearer to that black Saturday [lit, black Sabbath]. Which will remain forever in my memory, even if I were condemned to live to the very last day of days on this deceiving world.
It happened Saturday [Sabbath] before Shavuot.
The springtime sun had spread its light and warmth over the whole world, and even over the ghetto. . . .
(Notice how he says he’ll never forget “that black Saturday” even if he was “condemned to live to the very last day of days.” I guess he might still mix the date up, though, right?)
Anyway, case closed? Well, there’s one last possibility. Jewish holidays are counted from the evening of the day before, and so maybe the Yiddish text is including Saturday, May 27 as part of Shavuot, thus making “Saturday before Shavuot” one week earlier, or May 20. But of course that still doesn’t fix the problem, since that date is just the starting point for the deportation process for the Jewish community: the Wiesel family isn’t relocated to the small ghetto until three days later, and not actually shipped out from Sighet until after several more. Which would mean, of course, that Elie Wiesel could not have been on the transport that left Sighet on May 20, and could not have arrived at Auschwitz by May 24 to receive prisoner number A-7713.
And somebody must have pointed that out to our friend Elie. So the whole thing gets wound backwards by two whole weeks. The text is quietly changed . . . and no one is supposed to notice.
Oh, and by the way, the original really does say “it was a beautiful April day”:
A sheyner April-tog iz es geven. A frilings-rich in der luft.
It was a beautiful April day. A scent of spring in the air.
“Un di Velt,” p. 83
Quietly changed, in 2006, to “It was a beautiful day in May.”
Do you suppose Elie reads Carlo Mattogno?
–end of post
Who is Randolph Braham and how credible is he?
Mattogno writes: “Moreover, the ID number A-7713 was given out on 24 May, the day on which 2,000 Hungarian Jews were assigned the numbers A-5729 through A-7728 . According to Randolph L. Braham, a Jewish transport left Máramarossziget on 20 May 1944. Allowing four days (or three-cy) for the journey, this was the transport of Lázár Wiesel who was assigned the ID number A-7713 precisely on 24 May 1944. But apparently, Elie Wiesel was unaware of all these things.”
 Liste der Judentransporte, Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, microfilm no. 727/27.
 R.L. Braham, A Magyar Holocaust. Gondolat Budapest-Blackburn International Inc., Wilmington, 1988, p. 514.
Braham is a Jewish Hungarian historian whose magnum opus, according to Arthur Butz, is his two-volume work The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary. Braham has written more on this subject than anyone else. The official story is that the entire Hungarian deportation program was carried out between May 15 and July 9, 1944. It started in Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine, annexed from Slovakia) and northern Transylvania (annexed from Romania). The second location is where Sighet is found. A hundred thousand Jews remained in the hands of the Hungarians to be employed in labor battalions (in other words, were not deported).
The USHMM says this about him: Randolph L. Braham is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Director, Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Member, Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Publication of his two-volume work The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry: A Documentary Account (1963) distinguished Dr. Braham as a pioneer scholar in Holocaust Studies. He is coeditor (with Scott Miller) of The Nazis’ Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary (Wayne State University Press, published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1998) as well as author and editor of more than three dozen other works on the Holocaust in central and eastern Europe.
If Elie Wiesel is not prisoner #A-7713, then who is he and where was he between the spring of 1944 and the spring of 1945?
According to all available evidence, Elie Wiesel has falsely placed himself in the concentration camps Auschwitz I, II, III and Buchenwald by assuming the identity documents of Lazar Wiesel, born Sept. 4, 1913, as his own. This cannot be glossed over as a bureaucratic error because there are too many documents involved. Kenneth Waltzer, a professor of German history and Judaic Studies who has written about Elie Wiesel, has put forth this very explanation on this website and at Scrapbookpages Blog (although not on his own websites), but we haven’t heard a word from him in many months. He becomes quieter all the time.
It has been long remarked that Elie Wiesel’s book Night is fiction and does not accurately portray the camps wherein he claims to have been detained. This fictional story is based on a 245-page Yiddish book Un di velt hot geshvign (And the world remained silent), published in 1956 by a Yiddish publishing house in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Night, just 100 pages long, is a condensation of that book. The origins of Un di velt are not known at this time, but Elie Wiesel Cons The World will begin writing comparisons of the original and 2006 versions of Night – comparing them also with as much of the true original Un di velt as we can get hold of. It’s still a very interesting journey we’re on, but the end cannot be far away.
1. Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, two vols. (Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 1993 [revised edition]).
2. In the original Night, it is actually the 2nd day after arrival that Wiesel writes he was tattooed. I will go into that in an upcoming article.
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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.
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:
During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, Elie is persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Elie Wiesel, Grandmother Nisel Wiesel, Hilda Wiesel, Holocaust fraud, Mendel Wiesel, Night, Shlomo Wiesel, Tzipora Wiesel, Un di Velt Hot Gesvign,
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Sunday, October 16th, 2011
By Carolyn Yeager
Elie Wiesel’s father Shlomo in 1942, according to Hilda Wiesel.
Is he 39 or 48 years old?
A report in the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims database by Yaakov Fishkovitz contradicts Elie Wiesel’s story about his father’s death.
Yaakov (Jacob) Fishkowitz filled out a death form in 1957 for his cousin Shlomo Wiesel, shortly after Yad Vashem first began its “Central Database of Shoah Victims Names.”1 He also filled out a form for Shlomo’s mother Nisel Basch Wiesel, his aunt. The cousins shared a maternal grandfather, Moshe Basch.
Yaakov was the son of Mentza Basch, daughter of Moshe, and Fishel Fishkovitz. Yaakov recorded Shlomo’s date of birth as 1903, which is much later than has been assumed, making Elie Wiesel’s father only 40 years old when he died! However, since Wiesel himself was 14 or 15 years old in 1943 this makes a lot more sense for an Orthodox Hasidic father-son. I will examine this further on in this article.
As seen in the two Yad Vashem Shoah Victim reports below—one by Fishkovitz and the other by Elie Wiesel—Yaakov spells the last name as both Wiesel (German) and Vizel (Roumanian). The German ‘W’ is pronounced as the English ‘V;’ similarly with s and z. He also gives both the formal name Salomon and its casual form Shlomo. Elie, on the other hand, spells his father’s name as Vizel and his own name as Eli Vizel, dropping the ‘e’ in his first name that he adopted for his post-war identity.
Shlomo’s children have never or seldom used the formal ‘Salomon’ for their father, but they do agree that Eleizer (or Leizer) and Nisel were his parents and that he was born in Sighet; that he was married and operated a store. Yaakov uses the word “merchant” while Elie uses “shop owner.” Elie adds his mother’s name, Sara Feig, but leaves his father’s date of birth blank, while also giving an incorrect date for his death according to his own book, Night.
The details from the forms (the form itself is shown in upper left corner), are translated into English from the Yiddish that was used by Elie and partially by Yaakov to fill out the forms. However, the dates can be read. The first one is by cousin Fishkovitz in 1957; the second one by son Elie in 2004, almost 50 years later.
(Click on forms to see a larger, full image.) Notice that each submitter fills in what he knows or believes to be important. Yaakov knew the year of his cousin’s birth; it may have been close to his own. Elie did not know, or doesn’t want us to know. He has never written it or given that information to an interviewer. This is important, but even more important is that Yaakov says Shlomo died in 1943 in Sighet*, the year before the deportation of the Jews of Sighet! This changes the entire narrative. [*Correction was made in a later article: it actually says Shlomo lived in Sighet during the war; he died in a labor camp in 1943.]
What evidence do we have for Shlomo’s age?
In Elie Wiesel’s Night (“a true story, every word is true”) Eliezer’s father answers “fifty” when asked his age by a friendly Jew when they first arrive at Auschwitz in May 1944. Eliezer answers that he is fifteen years old. The Jew tells them to lower and raise their ages respectively, which they do. (Even so, they’re put in a line that takes them right up to the edge of a pit of fire before they are turned away.) Because of this, Shlomo Wiesel has generally been assumed to have been born in 1894, although that has never been verified. For example, Wikipedia does not give a date.
In Hilda Wiesel’s Shoah Foundation testimony, she shows the photo of her father that is at the top of this article, and says it was taken in 1942. Does he look like he is 39 in this photo (born in 1903) or does he look to be 48 (because he was 50 in 1944)? It’s impossible to tell for sure, but he looks like a youngish man to me.
As we know, there are no records at Auschwitz-Birkenau or Buchenwald for a Shlomo Wiesel that fits his profile. Nor are there any for Elie Wiesel and his profile. The records that are used by the “Wiesel-in-Buchenwald” supporters are those for Abraham Viezel (also spelled Vizel or Wiesel), born Oct. 10, 1900 in Sighet, who died at Buchenwald on Feb 2, 1945. He died in Block 57; the death report was made out on Feb. 3, the following day. Yet Elie Wiesel claims in Night and elsewhere his father died on Jan. 28 and was carted off to the cremation ovens immediately, fully 5 days before Abraham’s death took place.
Death record for Abraham Viesel at Buchenwald, brother of Lazar Wiesel whose Auschwitz # was A7713
This Abraham Viesel is the same Abram Wiesel who was the older brother of Lazar Wiesel, according to Myklos Gruener, who says the two brothers had become his comrades at Auschwitz-Birkenau after the death of his father. (Auschwitz records exist for Myklos, his father and two brothers, as well as for Lazar and Abram Wiesel, including each of their numbers.) Abram’s Auschwitz tattoo number A7712 is written by hand on this death record, as well as his Buchenwald number, 123488.
If Shlomo died in 1943, this would explain why there is no death record for him at Buchenwald. Are there any other convincing reasons to go along with the 1943 date? Yes. In Night and in All Rivers Run to the Sea, we’re told of Shlomo’s resistance work helping Jews with legal problems and those who needed to flee from one place to another. He had been jailed for it, something mentioned by both Elie and Hilda. Elie characterized his father’s tireless efforts as “out of a loving, helpful heart.” But was his father, and his family, more radical than we’ve been led to believe? Was Shlomo’s life a dangerous one? Were there disputes about money—money collected to buy weapons, or for passage to safe places? Or perhaps there was anger within the Jewish community over who was being helped and who wasn’t?
In All Rivers, on page 4, Wiesel writes that as a child and adolescent he “saw his father rarely […] The Sabbath was the only day I spent with him.” “Often preoccupied,” his father spent the week in his little grocery store and at the “community offices where he worked to assist prisoners and refugees threatened with expulsion.” Expulsion from where? By whom? What were the community offices? Wiesel names Sighet as a “sanctuary for Jews fleeing …since 1640.”
What knowledge can we piece together about Shlomo?
Shlomo was a preoccupied man. He ran a store. He took in deliveries. He may have been involved in smuggling – guns, people, documents. Smuggling was a way of life among the Zionists. Jews began going to Palestine long before Elie Wiesel was born. There were different factions of Jews—the Haganah was formed in 1920 to guard Jewish settlers in Palestine. In 1931 the Irgun splintered off and there was sometimes bitter enmity between the two organizations all the way up to 1948. The Irgun policy was that every Jew had a right to enter Palestine and it became the major smuggling arm for the Zionists. The Irgun worked in Poland, for example, in the 30’s to bring Jews into Palestine with the cooperation of secret agencies of the Polish government. (See “The Role of the Irgun in Central and Eastern Europe” at http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/elie-wiesel-and-the-mossad-part-ii)
It is fully possible that as things heated up in 1943, Shlomo got caught in some crossfire — perhaps was killed by the Hungarian police. If this were the case, Elie, as only son, may have been sent to France for safety before the deportations of Spring 1944. Further, if this were the case (a story as good as any other), Elie was an Irgun-supporting Zionist from an early age, which fits everything we know about him.
On page 8 of Night, Wiesel wrote:
In those days [Spring 1944] it was still possible to buy emigration certificates to Palestine. I had asked my father to sell everything, to liquidate everthing, and to leave. ‘I am too old, my son,’ he answered. ‘Too old to start a new life. Too old to start from scratch in some distant land …’
If he were only 40, that is not credible. Even at 50 he was not too old, unless he really didn’t believe the worst would happen and that things would right themselves. His children were certainly not too old and he would have them to look after him in his old age. Something doesn’t add up here. This “good man” doesn’t protect his family because he feels too tired at age 40-50 to go somewhere new? He allows them all to be taken prisoner because he can’t see what’s coming, even though he’s spent his adult life helping Jewish prisoners and refugees? Wiesel often fails to give convincing explanations for why events happen as they do in his writings. I have noticed it again and again, and commented on it. It seems to me to be a combination of laziness and lack of true inventiveness. He has admitted that he was rather spoiled and lazy in his childhood and youth; one doesn’t see any evidence of change.
The age of the typical Hasidic bride and groom
Back to the question of the appropriateness of Sholmo Wiesel being age 40 in 1943-44. The Hasidic sect sees the ideal age of marriage for a male as 18-21. They encourage the bride and groom to be close in age. Taken from the New York Times article on an important Hasidic wedding:
What they saw was a marital merger of two leading international Hasidic dynasties, the Bobovers of the BoroughParkneighborhood in Brooklynand the Satmars of Williamsburg. The 19-year-old groom is a grandson of the Bobover Grand Rabbi, Shlomo Halberstam. The 18-year-old bride is a granddaughter of the Satmar Grand Rabbi, Moses Teitelbaum. The two grand rabbis are the descendants of the first Hasidic leaders in Europe. They are also first cousins and close friends.2
Another Hasidic wedding is announced, this one in Israel.
Even longtime Hassidim are raising their eyebrows: A 16-year-old young man is engaged to his 15-year-old second cousin, both great grandchildren from “Hassidei Vizhnitz.” Thousands of members of the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect, one of the largest and wealthiest in the world, are expected to attend the festive wedding ceremony, which will take place in approximately another year.3
If Shlomo were born in 1903, as Yaakov Fishkowitz has it, he would have been 25 years old in September 1928 when his third child and first son Eliezer was born. His first child Hilda was born in August 1922, when he would have been 19 years old. Perfect for a Hasidic man!
On the other hand, if he were born in 1894, he was already 34 when Elie was born, and 28 when he had his first child. That is too old and is not in the tradition of his community! That may be why Wiesel avoids mentioning his father’s date of birth; it does not fit the story of Night, which he adopted as his own. Here’s a thought: Is there an Hasidic law or tradition that forbids lying about one’s parents and other ancestors? Probably, which can be the reason he says so little about his father, mother and grandparents as far as checkable data goes.
Is it not strange for the ‘High Priest of Memory’ to be so negligent in recording the history of his family? He only filled out the Yad Vashem form (with a camera aimed at him) at the behest of that institution, as an encouragement to others to do the same. That was admitted in the TV publicity given it. Plus it is the only Shoah victim form he filled out. His mother and sister are not in the Yad Vashem Shoah Victim database! He says it’s because he’s written about them in books, so the bare facts on a form are not necessary. But in his books, he doesn’t give dates or checkable details. Why has no family member recognized the death at Auschwitz of Sara Feig Wiesel and her daughter Tzipora by filling out a form?
Is Elie Wiesel’s story about his family and their fate entirely or just partially false?
We know Wiesel’s story about his family and youth to be full of falsehoods. His book Night has been lampooned as much as it has been praised because of the contradictions and inappropriate descriptions of people and events it contains. He has long been described as a fabricator, an exaggerator, a false witness. However, here at Elie Wiesel Cons the World our mission is to expose every lie, not just the most obvious of them. So we dig deeper.
Elie Wiesel has every reason to want his father with him at Buchenwald since the story in Night, which started out as fiction, is about a son and his father. The story also says his mother and younger sister perished on their first night in Birkenau. But if Shlomo died in 1943 and never went to Auschwitz, did any of his immediate family go? Remember, there are no records for any of them there.
Could Elie Wiesel have known in 1955 how huge the Holocaust Industry would become? No, no one did. Would Elie Wiesel in 1958 have anticipated the intense scrutiny of this book Night, or his own star status in which he himself would come under intense scrutiny? No, again. Elie Wiesel didn’t prepare for the kind of future he turned out to have, so he’s been “playing it by ear” ever since—and using his untouchable Jewish holocaust survivor status with which to protect himself. His sisters and other family members and friends were silenced to keep the ‘wrong’ information from slipping out. Journalists were obviously ordered to stay away from them!
But, perhaps unbeknownst to their inner circle, there lay two victim reports with vital information relating to Elie Wiesel in the Yad Vashem databank filled out in 1957 by Yaakov Fishkovitz, one of which is displayed in this article. The other is for his aunt—Shlomo’s mother—Nisel Basch Wiesel, stating she was born in 1881 and died in 1944 at Auschwitz (in her 63rd year). Another form for Nisel was filled out in 1999 by her grandson, Eliezer Shlomovitz, living in Los Angeles CA. He gives her date of birth as 1880 with a question mark. I will write about Nisel Wiesel in a separate article, but for now I want to establish that if Nisel were born in 1880-81 she would have been only 13 years old when she gave birth to her son Shlomo, if he were born in 1894. Since Shlomo was not her first child, but perhaps even her fifth or sixth (undetermined as of now), this is clearly impossible. If Shlomo were born in 1903, it is doable.
Thus, we have every reason to doubt everything about Elie Wiesel’s story of his family history and their concentration camp credentials. I will continue with this fascinating and very important examination of the Wiesel extended family in an upcoming article. Stay tuned.
1. Yad Vashem was established in 1953 as the official “remembrance authority” (for the Jewish Shoah) by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. At that time, Jews were told that all Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis or their accomplices during the years of Nazi power, i.e. 1933-1945 could be considered Shoah victims. This includes Jewish soldiers serving in the Soviet and Polish armies, who were taken prisoner and died in Nazi POW camps. Jews who survived until the liberation but died within six months of liberation are also considered Shoah victims.
Another category is ‘Shoah survivor’ All those living in Nazi-occupied territories from 1933 onward could be considered victims of the Nazis, including French, Bulgarian and Romanian Jews, and even those who went deep into the Soviet Union. Also included are “Jews who forcefully left (?) Germany in the 1930s.” Even those who went to Israel, obviously No other group has so generously allocated ‘victim-opportunities’ to its people. This is called Chutzpah in Yiddish. (Information taken from http://www.yadvashem.org/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_S5?New_WCM_Context=http://namescm.yadvashem.org/wps/wcm/connect/Yad+Vashem/Hall+Of+Names/Left+Links/en/3HON_FAQs)
2. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/04/nyregion/a-royal-wedding-a-family-affair-two-hasidic-dynasties-unite-in-brooklyn-gala.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm Further of interest: The Satmars originated in Hungary and the Bobovers came from Poland. […] Because Hasidic families often have 10 or more children, the two groups now have tens of thousands of followers in Brooklyn and more around the world.
3. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/133130 “We have a tradition of marrying at a young age, but we usually mean 19-22, although there have been occasions of marriages before the age of 18,” one Vizhnitz member told the Hebrew-language daily Yisrael HaYom. “However, marrying at the age of 15 is definitely exceptional.”
Please read this article next: New Information – Shlomo Wiesel dies in labor camp in 1943?
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Abraham Viesel, Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Hasidic marriage, Hilda Wiesel, Night, Shlomo Wiesel, Yaakov Fishkovitz, Yad Vashem Shoah Victims Database,
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