Posts Tagged ‘Romania’
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Elie Wiesel in 2012
By Carolyn Yeager (edited on June 21st)
Elie Wiesel is making news again by repudiating a Hungarian Government award he received in 2004. By this gesture, he apparently hopes to intimidate independent nation-states to take into consideration Jewish Power – Holocaust-Power – in every decision they make. Wiesel also likes to gain public attention for what he alleges to be the crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators.
The award Wiesel is returning (or is he? I cannot confirm that) is the Republic of Hungary’s Order of Merit, Grand Cross presented to him by president Ferenc Madl in 2004. Let’s hope he never gets it back.
Wiesel said last week that he was “outraged” that Hungarian House Speaker Laszlo Kover participated, together with Hungarian Secretary of State for Culture Geza Szocs and far-right Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona, in a re-burial ceremony in Romania honoring author Jozsef Nyiro, who was a member of the Arrow Cross Parliament during the 1930′s.
“It’s just too close to home,” Wiesel told an Associated Press interviewer. In a letter to Kover, he wrote “It is with profound dismay and indignation that I learned of your participation” with Szocs and Vona in a ceremony honoring “a fascist ideologue of the Horthy and Szalasi regimes”.
Background on Nyiro
From The failed reburial of József Nyirő in Transylvania, May 30, 2012 in the Buda Post:
József Nyirő was a Catholic priest who became a writer after Transylvania was annexed to Romania in 1920. His works, according to the government’s new draft curricula, should in future be taught in Hungarian high schools. In 1941, after the re-annexation of Transylvania to Hungary, Nyirő became a Member of Parliament in Hungary and as such went into exile in 1945. He died in Spain in 1953, and his last wish was to be buried in his homeland. At the initiative of the Hungarian Civic Party (MPP), a small Hungarian ethnic party in Transylvania, the Office of the Hungarian Parliament initiated his reburial. The new Romanian government, however, regards Nyirő as a Hungarian irredentist writer. Nyirő’s reburial, which was scheduled for Sunday (28 May) was cancelled after the Romanian authorities withdrew permission, claiming that the document carried the wrong registration number. Romanian PM Victor Ponta called the reburial a provocation.
A commemoration event was held instead of the reburial. What Elie Wiesel objects to is that three Hungarian officials attended the commemoration. Wiesel wants all-out condemnation of anyone and everyone who is painted as a “far right National-Socialist, fascist or antisemite.”
Here is the letter that Wiesel wrote to the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly. Sorry it is such poor quality. He writes in paragraph two that in 2009 he urged members of the National Assembly “to do even more to denounce antisemitic elements and racist expressions in your political environment and in certain publications … I believe they bring shame to your nation.”
He writes that since that time it has become worse, that Hungarian authorities are “whitewashing” Hungary’s criminal past.
Finally, “I do not wish to be associated in any way with such activities. Therefore, I hereby repudiate the Grand Cross Order of Merit … given to me on June 24, 2004 by the President of Hungary. He doesn’t say he is returning it, does he. But it is so reminiscent of his statements that he does not want to be in the same room with a “holocaust denier.” He clearly feels he’s being contaminated by those whose views are opposite to his.
And there is the famous Wiesel signature which doesn’t resemble at all the signature on the U.S. Military Questionaire signed by Lázár Wiesel in 1945. It was I who first thought to compare the signatures and brought it to light in September 2010.
Much ado about what?
Jewish insanity is behind the dis-allowance of a man’s cremated remains to be buried in the land in which he was born, and which he loved. Josef Nyiro was born in Hungarian-populated Transylvania, just as Elie Wiesel was. After it was given to Romania in 1920, it remained majority Hungarian. After 1945, Transylvania was handed back over to Romania, but is still populated by mostly Hungarians. Josef Nyiro was of Hungarian ethnicity; Elie Wiesel is of Jewish ethnicity … neither Hungarian nor Romanian. Yet Elie Wiesel would surely have been in favor of not allowing Josef Nyiro’s remains to be buried in his own (and only) homeland (where Elie Wiesel does not want to be buried — he may want to be buried in Israel), while he definitely wants to prevent Hungarian nationals from honoring this man.
Does Elie Wiesel, the Jew whose own spiritual homeland is Israel, want to determine for Hungarians and Romanians what they can and cannot do in their homelands? Yes. Does this make any sense? Only to someone like Elie Wiesel.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Elie Wiesel, Josef Nyiro, Laszlo Kover, Republic of Hungary Order of Merit, Romania,
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Sunday, April 10th, 2011
by Carolyn Yeager
But you’d never know it from reading the newspapers.
Five months after the original discovery, the Romanian mass grave case seems to have reached closure. In my Nov. 17 blog, I promised you I would keep my eye on this story. Just as I had begun to think it was a dead issue, the news broke.
Rabbis from England and the U.S. supervise the boxes and bags containing the remains of 35 to 40 persons removed from a mass grave in Iasi, Romania in Nov. 2010. [photo credit: Daniel Mihailescu]
Jewish rabbis buried the remains of 35 unidentified persons in a single grave in the Jewish cemetery in Iasi, a town in northeastern Romania. The Romanian authorities found 35 sculls in a mass grave, but the spokespersons for the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, which claims to have discovered the grave last year, says they can make the number at least 40 because “other remains were found.” Most news reports, however, including Haaretz, Reuters and Vos Iz Neias (an Orthodox Jewish website), reporting from Jewish sources, changed the number to 60, and even implied via confusing language that there were 100 bodies. One hundred was the estimate used by the Wiesel Institute before the grave was fully emptied.
Voice of America writes: “It is not clear how many people are represented by the remains. Estimates range from 40 to 100.
The Reuters article stated: “We gathered here to bury remains of 60 Jews murdered 70 years ago … This moment marks a duty of ours,” Aurel Vainer, head of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania told Reuters.
Vos Iz Neias said: “The memorial, dedicated to about 60 victims unearthed in a forest area near the village of Popricani …” and “Quoting witnesses, the Elie Wiesel institute said more than 100 Jews—men and women, including elderly people, and children—were buried there.”
Haaretz: “The remains of dozens of Jews killed by Romanian troops during World War II have been buried …” and “In November, a Holocaust-era mass grave containing the bodies of an estimated 100 Jews was discovered in a forest …”
I guess these statements could be true if many of the victims were headless. The most accurate coverage we’ve seen comes from The Times of Malta.
Still not confirmed to be Jews
At the time of the discovery, Jewish religious authorities showed up at the site and demanded that Jewish halachic law be followed by not disturbing the bones since they believed they were Jewish bones. However, as I reported previously, the chief prosecutor in Iasi, Cornelia Prisacaru, stated plainly: “We can’t confirm that they are Jews.” And that confirmation has not come. Prisacaru also said at that time: “They could be Russian or German soldiers.” Live WWII munitions were found there in addition to human remains.
The first thing the Romanian authorities did was to close off the area, then unearth all the remains and bring them to laboratories for “forensic testing.” No results have been announced; perhaps something will be forthcoming, or perhaps nothing more can be determined. If the remains had been declared by the prosecutor’s office to be Jewish bones, the Jews would surely have announced that as loudly as possible. Since they have not, we can assume for the time being that it was not determined.
However, the Jews were convinced from the moment of discovery that they are Jewish remains, based on local witness testimony of one or two individuals, and the fact that they say some bodies were clothed in “identifiable Jewish garments.”
There is no word whatsoever from the Romanian prosecutor’s office, except that the boxes and bags of remains were turned over to the official committee of rabbis from England, United States and Romania.
Jewish rabbis preparing the grave to be covered with soil on April 4, 2011. This photo angle gives a good idea of the size of the grave.
Did the Jews win or lose?
The rabbis and Jewish media are putting the best face on it, but they were denied their demand that the bones remain where they were found so that they can build a memorial at the site. They insist these were Holocaust-related deaths which can be blamed on the Romanian Army, allied with the Nazi Party in Germany. The Jews have never failed in the past to persuade national governments to hand over the land where they believe Jews are buried, on which they then build an on-site Holocaust memorial, assuring that the area can never be explored further. This time, however, the Romanians said no, probably because there was:
- No assurance they were Jews
- No assurance they were Holocaust-related
On November 23 last year, The Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe issued a statement in London that “this was the first time ever that a national government is openly declaring its intention to proceed in the disturbance of the graves of Holocaust victims.” All I can say is, it’s about time. Congratulations to the Romanian government.
Thus, the rabbis were forced to bury the remains in a Jewish cemetery nearby. A single large grave was dug to hold all the boxes. Since goyim don’t visit Jewish cemeteries, the propaganda value of the “murdered Jews” is destroyed. But the rabbis did hold a ceremony and made solemn pronouncements with all the dignity of which they are capable.
What if they are not Jews?
The question remains: Since the Jews insisted these were Jewish victims of a pogram, leaving them with no option but to bury them in the Jewish cemetery … what if they’re not Jewish? They may be putting non-Jewish, or what they call Goyim, bones into their Jewish ground and blessing them … a terrible desecration according to their law. I believe they had no choice because image and propaganda is more important to them than their law. Their propaganda insists on Jewish victims, and their image does not allow that they might be wrong.
Rabbis take a pause from their labors of filling in the grave after placing the physical remains inside. Do you think they really did it all themselves or is this what is called a “photo opportunity.”
Will this be the last of the Romanian mass grave story? I hope so. But if we hear more about it, we will let you know. The black-eye should go to the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania for making exaggerated claims in the beginning, which they knew were unfounded. But you just watch—the media, and the local history (based on the Wiesel Institute), will be describing the original grave as holding 60 to 100 bodies, and anyone protesting that number will not be heard. But you can count on always getting the real story here on Elie Wiesel Cons the World website.
See original blog: Wiesel Institute in Romania says it found mass grave of Jews.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Cornelia Prisacaru, Elie Wiesel Natl. Inst. for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, forensic testing, Jewish rabbis, mass grave, Romania,
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Sunday, December 5th, 2010
By Carolyn Yeager
More reasons why I don’t believe Elie Wiesel is the author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign
A dear reader has brought to my attention something that I covered in “The Shadowy Origins of Night, I, II and III”, but which deserves revisiting in order to shine a brighter light on some perhaps small, but meaningful, details that impact on the question of whether Elie Wiesel is the author of the Yiddish-language Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (And the World Remained Silent).
If we start with the map provided in “Shadowy Origins of Night, Part II,” we notice that Sighet is not in Transylvania, but in Maramures [sometimes called Marmaros], a district distinct from Transylvania. We see that Sighet is the only city shown in this half of Maramures and is exactly at the border with Czechoslovakia.
The writer of Un di Velt describes his hometown of Sighet on the first page of the book as
the most important city [shtot] and the one with the largest Jewish population in the province of Marmarosh. Until the First World War, Sighet belonged to Austro-Hungary. Then it became part of Romania. In 1940, Hungary acquired it again.” 1
It is totally reasonable for a man born in 1913, as was Lazar Wiesel, to write such a description since, at the time of his birth, Sighet was indeed part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WWI  it became part of Romania when the borders of Central and Eastern Europe were “rearranged” by the victorious powers [France, Britain, United States]. Then, in 1940, at his age of 27, it again changed rulers and borders, and became German-allied Hungary.
Lazar Wiesel lived through all these changes. He was old enough to understand them. As a man in his thirties at the end of the war, and his early forties when the book was published in 1955, Lazar Wiesel could be expected to write a comprehensive account of his experience, not only a good deal of historical/political material on his hometown and its townspeople, but covering his personal political/religious beliefs also. And this is indeed what we know was contained in the published book, Un di Velt. 2 Taking eight to nine years to complete the entire 862 pages of it, if that’s what it was, is quite reasonable, and even to be expected.
This makes a great deal more sense than Elie Wiesel’s incredible description of frantically typing 862 pages of “memory” during an ocean voyage to Brazil, without pre-planning, reference materials or access to other persons—and then getting rid of close to three-fourth’s of it before it is published in only a few months time! Is this not a lot to swallow?
Returning to the location of Sighet, Wiesel, in the French and English versions La Nuit and Night, changed, on the first page, what had been described as the “most important city with the largest Jewish population in the Maramures province” to:
that little town in Transylvania where I spent my childhood.
Nothing more. Why does Elie Wiesel say that Sighet was in Transylvania? Could it be because the average person might recognize that name in association with Hungary and/or Romania, while they would not recognize Maramures or Marmarosh? And why would the author’s hometown go from the largest city in the entire province to a little town, presumably of no significance?
While it is true that more recently Maramureş, Romanian Crişana and the Romanian Banat are sometimes considered part of Transylvania, it is not precisely so. An inhabitant who identified with his region would probably not put it that way, but someone for whom the geography held no special place in his mind, heart or memory, this kind of generalization might be preferred. For example, if I don’t want a person[s] to know much about me or ask me questions, I will say I was born in the American mid-west and hope to leave it at that. If I don’t mind more being known, I’ll say exactly where, and give some detail. I know, because I do both and it’s very clear to me why.
Whatever the reasons Elie Wiesel had to cloud the picture of his hometown, it is clear that he and his publisher wanted to emphasize some things, de-emphasize, or delete, others, and shorten, shorten, shorten. This fictionalizes the account.
For me, the crux of whether to accept Elie Wiesel as the author of Un di Velt comes down to that odd paragraph in his 1995 memoir 3 describing the burst of unbelievable energy that came over him while on a ship traveling between France and Brazil, when he typed 862 pages of 9 year-old memories on a portable Yiddish typewriter within no more than a two week time period.. Think back nine years in your own life and discover just how clearly you can remember everything that took place. Yes, his was an exceptionally traumatic time, but that doesn’t necessarily make one’s memories any clearer, just that certain parts stand out from the rest. Also, for me as a writer, just that high amount of sustained, concentrated typing would be an impossible task.
Another difficulty is that Wiesel didn’t describe the writing of his original manuscript until it appeared in his memoir, where, as I continue to remind, he gave it only one short paragraph! Or, if you will, a few sentences. I said above that it is a lot to swallow. I want to make it plain right now that I cannot, and thus do not, swallow it. I am convinced Elie Wiesel did not write Un di Velt Hot Gesvign [And the World Remained Silent]. I think it remains for him to prove that he did so, since his attempts at that so far only make us doubt it the more. He can begin by answering some of the many questions put to him on this website, as they are not frivolous or unfair.
In the remainder of this article, I will point to further items of interest and fact that, while not individually conclusive, bolster my position “not to believe.”
Night is a work of fiction
We must remember that Night was classified as fiction when it was first published. Today, there is a good deal of embarrassed uncertainty as to how to categorize it. The original English-language Hill and Wang publication in 1960 listed the book as Judaica/Literature. The new translation from the same publisher issued in 2006 says it is Autobiography/Jewish Interest. On the Wikipedia page for Night,4 it is called “Autobiography, memoir, novel”—all three. Words lose their meaning when dealing with Elie Wiesel, and we’re familiar with his professed difficulty with “the limitations of language.”
On that same Wikipedia page, we read:
[I]t remains unclear how much of Wiesel’s story is memoir. He has reacted angrily to the idea that any of it is fiction, calling it his deposition, but scholars have nevertheless had difficulty approaching it as an unvarnished account.
Most who write about Wiesel are not scholars or, if they claim to be, they don’t live up to the title. Ruth Franklin, though an avid apologist for Wiesel, admits that the original Yiddish author blames the Jewish concept of “chosenness” as the source of the Jews’ troubles, and she accepts that Wiesel is the author.5 Yet this is an idea that Wiesel would never entertain for an instant. Franklin writes:
The Yiddish version was an historical work, political and angry, blaming the Jewish concept of chosenness as the source of the Jews’ troubles. Wiesel wrote in the 1956 Yiddish version: “In the beginning was belief, foolish belief, and faith, empty faith, and illusion, the terrible illusion. … We believed in God, had faith in man, and lived with the illusion that in each one of us is a sacred spark from the fire of the shekinah, that each one carried in his eyes and in his soul the sign of God. This was the source—if not the cause—of all our misfortune.
Naomi Seidman, professor of Jewish culture at the Graduate Theological Union, whose article 6 I have referred to above and quoted in “Shadowy Origins,” documented the transition from a historical account of events to an autobiographical novel, concluding that Night transforms the Holocaust into a religious event, the abdication of God, with the witness [Eliezer] both priest and prophet. Wiesel himself has said that Auschwitz is as important as Mount Sinai—where in the Bible the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God.7
On the Internet, we find various sites that still call Night a novel. At the website About.com: Secondary Education, Night is called “A novel by Elie Wiesel.”
At the website Yahoo!Answers, the question is asked: Discuss the significance of “night” in the novel Night by Elie Wiesel?
In 2006, Alexander Cockburn wrote 8:
Amazon.com [...] had been categorizing the new edition of Night under “fiction and literature” but, under the categorical imperative of Kakutani’s “memory as a sacred act”9 or a phone call from Wiesel’s publisher, hastily switched it to “biography and memoir”. Within hours it had reached number 3 on Amazon’s bestseller list. That same evening, January 17, Night topped both the “biography” and “fiction” bestseller lists on BarnesandNoble.com.
In the same article, Cockburn tells of an interview with Eli Pfefferkorn of Toronto, who related this story:
“In 1981, Wiesel invited me to give a talk to his seminar students at Boston University. In the course of my talk, I discussed the relationship between memory and imagination in a number of literary works. I then pointed out the literary devices he used in Night, devices, I stressed, that make the memoir a compelling read. Wiesel’s reaction to my comments was swift as lightning. I had never seen him as angry before or since. In the presence of John Silber, the then President of Boston University, and my own Brown University students whom I invited, he lost his composure, lashing out at me for daring to question the literalness of the memoir. In Wiesel’s eyes, as in the eyes of his disciples, Night assumed a level of sacrosanctity, next in importance to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. In terms of veracity, it is a factually recorded work, virtually meeting Leopold von Ranke’s benchmark of historical accounts: Wie es eigentlich gewessen, how it really was.
Examples of fiction in Night
Beyond all the well-known fictions in Night, there are some that may have gone largely unnoticed. For example, another dear reader pointed out that on page 68 of the 1960 edition,10 a hanging is described as taking place at Buna [Monowitz].
The head of the camp began to read his verdict, hammering out each phrase:
“In the name of Himmler … prisoner Number … stole
prisoner Number …is condemned to death.”
The reader commented, “The person who wrote that could never have been around any SS officers. Heinrich Himmler was only referred to as Reichsfüher.” He further points to the fact that in the new 2006 translation of the book, the passage was changed [on page 62] to:
In the name of Reichsführer Himmler …
Someone obviously pointed out the error to Wiesel or his editors. But this doesn’t fix it either, because not even a lowly camp inmate would be sentenced to death in the name of the second in command. The order would have to read: In the name of the Führer …
Says my reader: This is enough in itself to prove that Wiesel had never been around any SS personnel.
There is another similar incident in Night that is widely considered to be fiction, in full or in part. This is the 3-person hanging scene, also known as the “Crucifixion” scene. It appears on page 70 in the 1960 edition:
One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all round us, machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel.
The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him.
This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.
The three victims mounted together onto the chairs.
The three necks were placed at the same moment with the nooses.
“Long live liberty!” cried the two adults.
But the child was silent.
“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked.
At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over.
Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.
“Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.
“Cover your heads!”
Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive …
For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows …”
Except that there was no child. And probably no crucifixion-style hanging at all.
Alexander Cockburn writes in the article referenced above that after hearing several Jews express doubt about the story, he called Raul Hilberg, author of a standard work on the Holocaust, who was at that time 80, at Hilberg’s home in Vermont. [I have added the underlining]
“From a purely academic viewpoint”, Hilberg began, “it would be interesting to have a scholarly edition, comparing the Yiddish version with subsequent translations and editions, with appropriate footnotes, Wiesel’s comments etc. He was addressing two entirely different audiences, the first being the Yiddish-speaking Jews, members of the world of his youth whom he addressed in nineteenth-century terms. There’s more detail, more comment. I made that suggestion to Wiesel and he didn’t react favorably.”
Hilberg turned to the crucial scene: “I have a version of the hanging from an old survivor with the names of all three adults.” That survivor had said that there was no boy among the three. Hilberg mentioned this in a review of Night, in which, he told me, “I made no secret of our differences. But whereas it [the age of the central figure in the hanging] may seem somewhat small, it makes a very big difference to Christians, particularly Catholics, because it’s very clear that mystics are intensely interested in the scene because it seems to replicate the crucifixion. It made a considerable impact. So the fact that this figure may not have been a boy at all is disturbing.”
“It would appear”, Hilberg went on, “from the record I have, that some witnesses have questioned whether this scene took place at all. I have a long statement by an older man, a man whom I judge to be quite trustworthy, though one must always remember that things are sometimes observed or heard about later. I talked recently to a survivor of that section of the camp who said it [the hanging of the three] didn’t take place, but maybe it took place earlier. I don’t know. Dating these things is hard for survivors. Some have doubted this would have taken place. Buna was a work camp, so this other survivor, a PhD in history and a very intelligent man, didn’t believe it. I said to him, ‘How do you know this didn’t happen?’ I consider it not only a possibility but plausible. But age is a big issue to some people. That’s something [Wiesel] did not discuss in the new edition of the book.” 11
Arthur Butz reminds us12 that Bruno Dössekker, who never came near a German concentration camp in wartime, published an acclaimed purported memoir of the ordeals of a certain Jew, Binjamin Wilkomirski, at Majdanek, Auschwitz, and other camps. When he was exposed as a fraud, many important supporters remained loyal to him, on the grounds, roughly speaking, that his account sounded powerful.
Continuing on with the issue of age and the part it plays in Elie Wiesel’s credibility as a holocaust survivior—so very related to his credibility as the author of Un di Velt—we go to page 39 in the original 1960 edition of Night. Eliezer and his father have just arrived at Birkenau and been separated from the women and children into the men-only group. A prisoner speaks to him.
“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.”
“But I’m not,” I said. “Fifteen.”
“Fool, Listen to what I say.”
Then he questioned my father, who replied:
The other grew more furious than ever.
“No, not fifty. Forty. Do you understand? Eighteen and forty.”
He disappeared into the night shadows.
In May 1944, Elie Wiesel, born Sept. 30, 1928, was 15 years old; his 16th birthday was still four months away. So what does it mean for the star “witness” of the story, Eliezer, to say he is 14, going on 15? If this is Wiesel’s “deposition”, why would he make himself months younger than he really was? Does he want to emphasize his tenderness and vulnerability? Or was he simply careless, forgetting what his age would have been and what season of the year it was?
Once again, the error was corrected in the 2006 new translation—there he answers that he’s fifteen, not “going on fifteen.” The prisoner tells him to say he’s eighteen.
On page 41:
We continued our march toward the square. In the middle stood the notorious Dr. Mengele […]
I was already in front of him:
“How old are you? He asked, in an attempt at a paternal tone of voice.
“Eighteen.” My voice was shaking.
“Are you in good health?”
“What is your occupation?”
Should I say that I was a student?
“Farmer,” I heard myself say.
Apparently, this means that Eliezer and his father are accepted to be 18 and 40 years of age. Eliezer is adding three years to his stated age of 15. This forces us to ask once again those never-satisfactorily answered questions: Were the Germans so easily fooled or were they not? Did they or did they not keep careful records? Did they follow their policies to the letter or were they sloppy at times? It seems to depend on what’s most convenient for the camp survivor’s story—on one occasion they lie about their age and get away with it; on another, the SS keep impeccable records and know everything.
According to holocaust historiography, if, upon arrival at Birkenau, you were too young or too old to work [or were a woman with young children], you were sent immediately to the gas chamber. [Although in Night no such name is used; it is always called the crematoria.] Thus, we are to believe that Eliezer and his father were saved from that fate by lying about their ages.
The problem with this explanation comes later at Buchenwald, when Eliezer’s father dies shortly after arrival, on January 29, 1945. On page 114, Elie Wiesel writes:
I had to stay at Buchenwald until April eleventh. I have nothing to say of my life during this period. It no longer mattered. After my father’s death, nothing could touch me any more.
I was transferred to the children’s block, where there were six hundred of us.
If Wiesel had been entered into Birkenau as an 18-year-old, he would now be listed as 19—not a child. Why would he have been assigned to the children’s block after the death of his father? It’s true it was later called the orphan’s block by some, but that term may have come about later when the underage inmates who could not be reunited with a family member were sent to an orphanage in France.
We have no records for the death of Shlomo Wiesel at Buchenwald nor a registration [entry] number for either Shlomo or Eliezer Wiesel. But whatever the facts are finally determined to be, according to Elie Wiesel’s later writing he was there and was once again sixteen years old. And, in fact, the birth date on the transport list to France for the person of the mysterious Lázár Wiesel was 1928.
Wiesel describes his own book
Wiesel has said of Night:
…my first narrative was an autobiographical story, a kind of testimony of one witness speaking of his own life, his own death. All kinds of options were available: suicide, madness, killing, political action, hate, friendship. I note all of these options: faith, rejection of faith, blasphemy, atheism, denial, rejection of man, despair and in each book I explore one aspect. In Dawn I explore the political action; in The Accident, suicide; in The Town Beyond the Wall, madness; in The Gates of the Forest, faith and friendship; in A Beggar in Jerusalem, history, the return. All the stories are one story except that I build them in concentric circles. The center is the same and is in Night.13
“Night was the foundation; all the rest is commentary. In each book, I take one character out of Night and give him a refuge, a book, a tale, a name, a destiny of his own. 14
First, he calls his book an autobiographical story, a kind of testimony. These are modifiers indicating it is not a true autobiography, or a true testimony. Then, he saw options in it for further exploitation. From this story—Un di Velt Hot Gesvign as the original treasure-trove?—he can get a whole career-ful of books. Wiesel has authored nearly 40 books, all given credence and believability because of this one Yiddish original.
He also calls it “one witness speaking of his own life, his own death.” Of course, Eliezer didn‘t die, but Wiesel is referring to his spiritual death after undergoing the horrors of the holocaust, as he describes it. However, and this is very important, the author of Un di Velt was not a “corpse” looking back at himself in the mirror at the end of the book, but a revitalized man [not a child] looking forward to his regained health, his freedom, and the opportunity to give his account of it in his own way.
This is a huge point that all pro-Wiesel “scholars” downplay or completely ignore. Only Naomi Siedman addresses the questions it raises, but then she also lets it lay. Another opportunity for scholars that is not taken advantage of is Wiesel’s insistence that the “Holocaust” is the private domain of the “survivors.” Typical of his statements is this one:
The Holocaust cannot be described, it cannot be communicated, it is unexplainable. To me it is a mystical event. I have the feeling almost of sin when I speak about it.15
This rings false coming from someone who has made a 50-year career and gotten rich out of writing and speaking about “The Holocaust.” If it “cannot be described,” this releases him from accurate description and covers for the sense we all get that he is not speaking from first-hand experience. If it is “unexplainable,” that can explain his contradictory and foolish statements. Elie Wiesel hides dishonesty in mysticism, which is what Alfred Kazin meant when he criticized Wiesel publicly by calling him “a mystifier.”16
And isn’t it a strange choice of words for Wiesel to confess to a “feeling of sin” when he speaks about the holocaust. It’s a psychological truism that we’ve learned watching TV crime shows, if nowhere else, that the criminal has an urge to confess and therefore will often admit the truth without admitting it. [Larry Silverstein of 9/11 fame confessing to the “pulling” of Bldg. 7 comes to mind.]
To another writer,17 Wiesel said:
I knew the role of the survivor was to testify. Only I did not know how. I lacked experience, I lacked a framework. I mistrusted the tools, the procedures. Should one say it all or hold it all back? Should one shout or whisper? Place the emphasis on those who were gone or on their heirs? How does one describe the indescribable? How does one use restraint in re-creating the fall of mankind and the eclipse of the gods? And then, how can one be sure that the words, once uttered, will not betray, distort the message they bear? [my added underlining]
This passage now reverberates very strongly to me that Wiesel is confessing his uncertainty as to how to construct a holocaust survivor story that will be convincing. He lacks experience—not in writing, but as a camp inmate. He lacks a framework—that would be the personal experience that he doesn’t have. He doesn’t know how to tell it, not because he lacks writing expertise, but because he lacks first-hand knowledge.
He doesn’t want to do it wrong and be found out to be someone who wasn’t there … a fraud! Later, he decided to describe it as indescribable. Not having suffered all that much, he decided to project overwhelming suffering for every inmate. The very fact that he calls it “the fall of mankind and the eclipse of the gods” tells us—screams at us—if only we will listen, that what he describes doesn’t exist in our real world. Wiesel continues with this:
So heavy was my anguish that I made a vow: not to speak, not to touch upon the essential for at least ten years. Long enough to see clearly. Long enough to learn to listen to the voices crying inside my own. Long enough to regain possession of my memory. Long enough to unite the language of man with the silence of the dead 18
This, of course, doesn’t make sense; it’s nonsense talk. Wiesel decided to wait until he could learn more about it, read what others wrote, talk to survivors. Then, lo and behold, he found a manuscript that he could claim to be his very own, and his real career was launched.
- Un di Velt Hot Geshvign, Eliezer Wiesel, page 7, translated by Naomi Siedman in “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage.”
- “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage,” Naomi Siedman, Jewish Social Studies, Dec. 1996.
- Elie Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Knopf, New York, 1995.
- “A Thousand Darknesses”, Ruth Franklin, The New Republic, March 23, 2006.
- Siedman, ibid.
- “Truth and Fiction in Elie Wiesel’s Night: Is Frey or Wiesel the Bigger Moral Poseur,” Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch.com, April, 2006. Found online at http://www.rense.com/general70/elie.htm
- In the New York Times for January 17 , Michiko Kakutani wrote in her usual plodding prose, with her usual aversion to any unconventional thought, that “Mr. Frey’s embellishments of the truth, his cavalier assertion that the ‘writer of a memoir is retailing a subjective story,’ his casual attitude about how people remember the past — all stand in shocking contrast to the apprehension of memory as a sacred act that is embodied in Oprah Winfrey’s new selection for her book club, announced yesterday: Night, Elie Wiesel’s devastating 1960 account of his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.” From Cockburn, see footnote 8.
- Elie Wiesel, Night, Hill and Wang, New York, 1960.
- Cockburn, ibid.
- “Historical Past vs. Political Present,” Journal of Historical Review, vol 19, Nov/Dec 2000. Online at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v19/v19n6p12_Butz.html
- Harry James Cargas, In Conversation with Elie Wiesel, Paulist Press: New York, 1976, p. 86
- Cargas, ibid, p. 3
- ”Elie Wiesel: Out of the Night,” Morton A. Reichek, Present Tense. Spring 1976, p, 42
- Cockburn, ibid.
- Wiesel, “An Interview Unlike Any Other,” in A Jew Today, trans. Marion Wiesel (New York, 1979), p.15.
- ”Interview,” ibid.
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Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
A Time magazine blog reveals that the Romanian chief prosecutor in Iasi, Cornelia Prisacaru, said, “At this moment we don’t know if these are civilian or military bodies. Or could they be Russian or German soldiers? The front line was in that area during World War II. We can’t confirm that they are Jews.”
This is disturbing to the Judaics who have already claimed the site as their own and called in rabbis to bless it, this being standard practice at all sites that they “discover.” Will the Romanian officials be able to stand up to the Elie Wiesel Institute and the rabbis to proceed along scientific lines in determining the origin of the bones? Or will they be bribed and bullied into allowing Wiesel and his fellow amateurs to take over the site and make it into what they want the world to believe? Stay tuned; we will not take our eyes off this developing story. ~CY
From Time blogger Rupert Wolfe Murray, Friday Nov. 12, 2010: One day in 1941, Vasile Enache was tending his cows in the forest of Vulturi, near the city of Iasi, 260 miles (420 km) northeast of Bucharest, when he heard people sobbing. He went to investigate and saw hundreds of civilians being marched through the forest by Romanian army soldiers.
After persuading Enache to show him the exact location of the Vulturi grave, local historian Adrian Cioflinca organized a team of people from Romania’s Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust to start excavating the site last month. They uncovered the remains of 16 bodies — including the skeletons of children, a lady’s shoe and Romanian-army bullets from 1939 — but have since called a halt to the dig while they wait for rabbis to bless the site.
Now 86, Enache is a bit wobbly on his legs, but his eyes are still clear blue, and his memory of what happened that day in 1941 is fresh. He describes how he was grabbed by a couple of Romanian soldiers who said, “You are a Jew! Come with us.” They arrived at a series of deep graves where the civilians were made to sit down, 10 at a time, and then shot. Others were ordered into the grave to arrange the bodies so more victims could be thrown in. The killings continued all day, but Enache managed to convince his captors that he was a local, an Orthodox Christian, and when this was confirmed by the local forester, he was released.
The Vulturi forester who saved Enache died in 1945, but his daughter still lives nearby. Sitting in her kitchen, Lucia Baltaru describes what she remembers from 1941, when she was 6 years old. “We used to go and play at the grave,” she says. “There was a thin layer of soil over the grave, and when we played, the bodies would move around. I think there are thousands of bodies buried there.”
The site is currently sealed off by the Romanian police, who are guarding the bones and artifacts still on the site, and both journalists and the public are forbidden access.
Elie Wiesel [...] has described Romania’s approach to the Holocaust as “ambivalent.”
This ambivalence is reflected in the Romanian media coverage of the latest mass-grave discovery. The country’s main private TV channels are skeptical, basing their reports on a statement by the chief prosecutor in Iasi, Cornelia Prisacaru, who said, “At this moment we don’t know if these are civilian or military bodies. Or could they be Russian or German soldiers? The front line was in that area during World War II. We can’t confirm that they are Jews.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2031066,00.html#ixzz15YJK9vhl
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Saturday, November 6th, 2010
FYI: This is an example of an all-propaganda, no-forensic information “news article” that has been copied by AFP from a “News Release” sent out by the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. Photograph and all. They publish it “as is” without checking facts. Notice there is no author for this story; no journalist wrote it. The article below appeared in the Montreal Gazette on Nov. 5. The Montreal Gazette seems to be a news outlet specially partial to Israel and Jewish propaganda. I have added my comments ~CY.
MASS GRAVE OF VICTIMS UNEARTHED IN ROMANIA
AFP November 5, 2010
Human remains are seen after archaeologists uncovered a mass grave of Jews killed by Romanian troops during World War Two in a forest area near the village of Popricani, close to the city of Iasi, in northeast Romania.
Photograph by: Anthony Cioflanca, Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.
[Comment: Notice that Cioflanca is employed by the EW Nat. Inst. in Romania. He is the only “archaeologist” mentioned and does not seem to be a real archaeologist. If he were, his credentials would be given. Therefore, who are these archaeologists that uncovered the grave?]
BUCHAREST - A mass grave containing the bodies of Jews killed by the Romanian army during World War II has been discovered in a forest in northeastern Romania, the Elie Wiesel National Institute said on Friday.
[Comment: It’s not been forensically determined that they are Jews; they are being called Jews based on “talking to locals.”]
“So far we exhumed 16 bodies but this is just the beginning because the mass grave is very deep and we only dug up superficially”, Adrian Cioflanca, the researcher at the origin of the find, told reporters during a press conference.
[Comment: They say they have 16 “bodies,” but they claim 100 before they ever find them.]
The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania and Cioflanca both said they believe up to 100 bodies could be buried in the mass grave.
The find, in the Vulturi forest in Propricani, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) northeast of Bucharest, is “further evidence of the crimes committed against Jewish civilians in Romania”, Elie Wiesel institute head Alexandru Florian said.
“It is another testimony of a shameful period in Romania’s history”, Aurel Vainer, representative for the Jewish community at the lower house of parliament said.
[Comment: Two quotes solely of propaganda value from two political, activist Jews pointing the finger at Gentiles before the evidence can be studied. This is the formula that we have seen used over and over.]
According to an international commission of historians led by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel, himself a Romanian-born Jew, some 270,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed in territories run by the pro-Nazi Romanian regime during 1940-1944.
[Comment: Now we come to the blanket statement of distorted historical “truth.” When did Elie Wiesel become a historian? He is not. Where does the figure of 270,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews come from? What “international commission” is being referred to?]
This is the first time a Holocaust-era mass grave has been discovered since 1945, when 311 corpses were exhumed from three locations in Stanca Roznovanu, close from Iasi, according to the Wiesel Institute.
[Comment: No wonder they are trying to make a big deal of it. They need to come up with something after 65 years of nothing but “witness testimony.”]
“For a long period of time, no research was done because the subject was taboo under the communist regime (1945-1989) and also for some years after the return of democracy in 1989″, Cioflanca told AFP.
[Comment: Just think how tough the communist regime of ‘45-’89 made it to get any truth for Germans. The taboo in place by the Holocaust enforcers up till this very minute makes it very difficult to disseminate any truth for German losses, and who the true perpetrators were. Democracy is of no avail in their case.]
[NOTE: From an updated AP report in the Kansas City Star, we read: “Romania's role in the Holocaust remains a sensitive and highly charged topic. During communist times, the country largely ignored the involvement of Romania's leaders in wartime crimes.” If this is the case, it's very likely the Communists did the killing, not Romanian “Nazis.” But it is in the interest of the Elie Wiesel Institute on the Holocaust in Romania to blame the “Nazis” and “fascists” in order to bolster “Holocaust” claims, if at all possible. Naturally, the current Romanian regime will go along with that. The Jews will cause them endless trouble if they don’t; Germans and Romanians will not say a word. To get to the bottom of the events that are behind the discovery of these bones would take an honest, careful investigation by neutral scientists -- which is not what we're seeing here.]
Things improved after the Wiesel-led commission’s report in 2004 and in 2006 president Traian Basescu called on his fellow countrymen to face up to the role played by the pro-Nazi regime of wartime Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu.
The mass grave in Propricani was discovered after Cioflanca, a historian, gathered testimonies of local inhabitants who saw the killings of Jews. One of the witnesses escaped after convincing the Romanian troops that he was an Orthodox Christian, Cioflanca said.
[Comment: Now Cioflanca is called an historian; previously he is called a “researcher” and also an “archaeologist.” But his actual credentials are never given. What are they? Because he “gathered testimonies of local inhabitants" – this qualifies him as an historian?]
The victims could be Jews from the northeastern city of Iasi, where Romanian officials and military units, assisted at times by German soldiers, killed at least 8,000 during a pogrom in 1941, according to figures by the U.S. Holocaust memorial museum.
[Comment: This is another blanket statement. The USHMM is not a credible, unbiased institution, but the product of Holocaust survivors, the Holocaust Industry, Jewish organizations, and Jewish influence in and on the US Govt. Their “figures” are meaningless without independent research and scrutiny.]
Many of them are buried in official common graves.
The researchers will now try to identify the bodies excavated.
“We will not be able to use DNA tests because we do not have any contact with potential relatives still alive and, to use DNA, you need to compare samples,” Cioflanca said.
[Comment: No relatives? What about the witnesses who saw what took place - they don't know who any of them were? What about the one who escaped? Do they not want to use DNA because it could show these are not Jewish bones at all, but Romanian or some other. Notice how they don't even consider that they might not be Jews. They want them to be Jews. The more dead Jews it can find, the happier the Elie Wiesel Institute is!]
The exhumations are expected to go on after consultations with the authorities.
[Comment: “Consultations” means pressure, bribery, threats of a political and financial nature. In other words, “we’ll destroy your careers if you don’t go along with us, and we'll do all in our power to blacken Romania’s reputation and standing in the European Union.”]
The military prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation.
[Comment: [Will this be a real investigation or one run by the Jewish "archeologists" and "historians"? A necessary question.]
After the find, the Elie Wiesel Institute deplored the fact that some Romanian cities, like Sibiu, Pitesti and Timisoara, “still continue to celebrate the memory of Romanian officials who were war criminals and who took part in the persecution against Jews by giving their names to streets.”
[Comment: Ah, Elie. His heart still full of revenge for those “war criminals” who dared to lay a hand on a Jew. That a Romanian official should have his name on a street!! Make them all Jewish names as a proper memorial to their unique suffering; then Elie Wiesel might be satisfied.]
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
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Friday, August 20th, 2010
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2010 Carolyn Yeager
Part Two: Can the books Night and And the World Remained Silent have been written by the same author? What one critic reveals.
We know a lot about the man who calls himself Elie Wiesel from his own mouth and pen, but we know of the Lazar Wiesel born on Sept. 4, 1913 only through Miklos Grüner’s testimony, and of the author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign (And the World Remained Silent) through the work itself. So let’s consider what we know of these two men before we look at their books.
The city of Sighet can be seen in the purple-colored Maramures district on this map of Greater Romania in the 1930′s.
Who is Elie Wiesel?
Elie Wiesel says in Night that he grew up in a “little town in Translyvania,” and his father was a well-known, respected figure within the Hasidic Orthodox Jewish community. However, Sanford Sternlicht tells us that Maramurossziget, Romania had a population of ninety thousand people, of whom over one-third were Jewish.15 Some say it was almost half. Sternlicht also writes that in April 1944, fifteen thousand Jews from Sighet and eighteen thousand more from outlying villages were deported. How many with the name of Wiesel might have been among that large group? I counted 19 Eliezer or Lazar Wiesel’s or Visel’s from the Maramures District of Romania listed as Shoah Victims on the Yad Vashem Central Database. Just think—according to their friends and relatives, nineteen men of the same name from this district perished in the camps in that one year. It causes one to wonder how many Lazar and Eliezer Wiesels didn’t perish, but became survivors and went on to write books, perhaps.
Lazare, Lazar, and Eliezer are the same name. Another variation is Leizer (prounounced Loizer). A pet version of the name is Liczu; a shortened version is Elie.16 In spite of having a popular, oft-used name, Elie Wiesel describes a unique picture of his life. The common language of the Orthodox Hasidic Jews of Sighet was Yiddish. Wiesel has said he thinks in Yiddish, but speaks and writes in French.17
In his memoir, he admits that he was a difficult, complaining child—a weak child who didn’t eat enough and liked to stay in bed.18 He comes across as definitely spoiled, the only son among three daughters.
According to Gary Henry, as well as other of Wiesel’s biographers and Wiesel himself, young Elie Wiesel was exceptionally fervent about the Hasidic way of life. He studied Torah, Talmud and Kabbalah; prayed and fasted and longed to penetrate the secrets of Jewish mysticism to such an extreme that he had “little time for the usual joys of childhood and became chronically weak and sickly from his habitual fasting.”19 His parents had to insist he combine secular studies with his Talmudic and Kabbalistic devotion. Wiesel says in Night that he ran to the synagogue every evening to pray and “weep” and met with a local Kabbalist teacher daily (Moishe the Beadle), in spite of his father’s disapproved on the grounds Elie was too young for such knowledge.
Of his elementary school studies, Wiesel writes: “[My teachers] were kind enough to look the other way when I was absent, which was often, since I was less concerned with secular studies than with holy books.” 20 And “in high school I continued to learn, only to forget.”
But his plans to become a pious, learned Jew came to an end with the deportation of Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Wiesel has told this story both in his first book Night and in his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea, and in many talks and lectures.
After liberation, in France, Wiesel met a Jewish scholar and master of the Talmud who gave his name simply as Shushani or Chouchani.21,22 In his memoir, Wiesel wrote:
It was in 1947 that Shushani, the mysterious Talmudic scholar, reappeared in my life. For two or three years he taught me unforgettable lessons about the limits of language and reason, about the behavior of sages and madmen, about the obscure paths of thought as it wends its way across centuries and cultures.23
Wiesel describes this person as “dirty,” “hairy,” and “ugly,” a “vagabond” who accosted him in 1947 when he was 18, and then became his mentor and one of his most influential teachers. Reportedly, when Chouchani died in 1968, Wiesel paid for his gravestone located in Montevideo, Uruguay, on which he had inscribed: “The wise Rabbi Chouchani of blessed memory. His birth and his life are sealed in enigma.” According to Wikipedia, Chouchani taught in Paris between the years of 1947 and 1952. He disappeared for a while after that, evidently spent some time in the newly-formed state of Israel, returned to Paris briefly, and then left for South America where he lived until his death.24
This could be important because it links up with Wiesel’s visits to Israel and his trip to Brazil in 1954. While the common narrative of Elie Wiesel’s post-liberation years focuses on his being a student at the Sorbonne University, Paris and an aspiring journalist, these sources reveal that he was still deeply into Jewish mysticism and involved with the Israeli resistance movement in Palestine.
Wiesel received a $16-a week-stipend from the welfare agencies.25 In addition, he worked as a translator for the militant Yiddish weekly Zion in Kamf. In 1948, at the age of 19, he went to Israel as a war correspondent for the French-Jewish newspaper L’arche, where he eventually became a correspondent for the Tel Aviv newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.26 Shira Schoenberg at the Jewish Virtual Library puts it this way: “he became involved with the Irgun, a Jewish militant (terrorist) organization in Palestine, and translated materials from Hebrew to Yiddish for the Irgun’s newspaper […] in the 1950s he traveled around the world as a reporter.”27
The above paints a picture of a religiously-inclined personality, strongly drawn to, perhaps even obsessed with, the most mystical teachings and “secrets” of his Judaic tribe. By the age of 15, this trait was well-established. One year in detention of whatever kind (yet to be established for certain), hiding out, or other privations had no power to change these strong interests, which asserted themselves again immediately upon his “release.”
What kind of personality was Lazar Wiesel?
We only know of the Lazar Wiesel who was born on Sept. 4, 1913 through Miklos Grüner , and of the author of Un di Velt Hot Gesvign through the work itself. Note that I’m not claiming these two are one and the same.
Grüner writes in Stolen Identity28 that after the death of his father in Birkenau “after six months,” which must have been in October or early November 1944, he
went to see the friends of my father and brother, Abraham Wiesel and his brother Lazar Wiesel from Maramorossziget, [ …] Abraham was born in 1900 and his tattooed number was A-7712 and Lazar was born in 1913 and was tattooed as A-7713, whereas my father had A-11102, my brother A-11103, and I who stood after my brother finished up with the number A-11104. When they had heard the story of my father, they promised to take care of me and from then on, they became my protectors and brothers and an additional refuge …” (p. 24)
About three months had passed by, in my stage of hopelessness, I was informed by my “brothers” (Abraham and Lazar) that the Russians had managed to break through and they were on their way to liberate us from “BUNA,” Auschwitz III. (p. 25)
During the long march […] the walking became difficult and it was also hard to keep up with Abraham and Lazar. That was until I reached a place 30 km from Monowitz “Buna” called Mikolow, with a huge brickyard. Tired as I was after walking under the heavy winter conditions, I fell asleep on a pallet […] When night turned to dawn, I took my time and made my attempt to find Abraham and Lazar […] Later on I managed to find them and for the next 30 kilometres I had no problem in keeping up with them […] up to the next labor camp in Gliwice. After about three days stay in Gliwice, we were ordered to climb up onto an open railway carriage, without any given destination. […] Once again I lost Lazar and Abraham, but […] I found my old friend Karl … (p. 26)
The journey lasted about four days. On our arrival … I wobbled away to search for Abraham and Lazar. After a while, I found Lazar who told me that Abraham was having a hard time of it and he was not sure that Abraham would be able to pull through. He also mentioned that no matter what, he was going to stay with Abraham and was asking for God’s blessing. (p. 27)
When finally we were given our clothes (after showers, etc), we were registered and received new numbers that we had to memorize like children, and then we were assigned to Barrack 66. (Comment: “we” does not include Lazar and Abraham. Barrack 66 was the children’s barracks in the “small camp” at Buchenwald. Grüner was 16 yrs. old and his father had died.)
About a week later, I couldn’t believe my own eyes to see Lazar in our Block 66. He told me that Abraham had passed away four days after our arrival at Buchenwald. He made it clear that he had received special permission to join us children in Block 66, since he was so much older than us.
Five days before the liberation in April […] In our Block 66, attempts were made to get us to the main gate. The supervisor of our block, called Gustav with his red hair, indeed had managed to drive us out of the block and was determined to drive us to the gate. When we reached the middle of the yard, I pulled my trousers down (halfway), then ran off to the side and kept on running as fast as I could to the nearest block, which I believe was Block 57. I asked the man in the lower bunk if the place next to him was occupied, and I simultaneously took my position in the left hand corner of the bunk, where I remained until I was liberated.
If my memory serves me correctly, on the fourth day after my liberation, AMERICAN SOLDIERS came into the block and a picture was taken of us survivors of the Holocaust. […] This picture has become famous all over the world as a memory of the Holocaust.29 After a change of clothing and a medical examination, I went to look for Lazar, but unfortunately I could not find him anywhere. (p 28)
On page 30, Grüner writes: “When the liberating American soldiers came into our barrack, they discovered a block full of emaciated people lying in bunks. In the next minute a flashlight from a camera went off, and I without my knowing, was caught on the picture forever.”
Grüner never saw Lazar Wiesel again, since, according to him, Lazar was sent to France, and Grüner to a sanatorium in Switzerland. When Grüner was contacted in 1986 about meeting the Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, he thought he was going to be meeting his old friend Lazar Wiesel.
What does Un di Velt Hot Gesvign tell us about Eliezer Wiesel?
Naomi Siedman, Professor of Jewish Culture at Graduate Theological Union, is one of the few academics to delve into Wiesel’s early writings with a critical spirit. Her very controversial essay “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage,”30 written in 1996, one year after the publication of Wiesel’s memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea, examines several passages in Night and compares them to passages in the Yiddish original. Among the relevant issues she brings up is this one:
Let me be clear: the interpretation of the Holocaust as a religious theological event is not a tendentious imposition on Night but rather a careful reading of the work.
In other words, Night presents the Holocaust as a religious event, rather than historical. In contrast, Siedman found that the Yiddish version, Un di Velt, published two years prior to the publication of Night, was similar to all others in the “growing genre of Yiddish Holocaust memoirs” which were praised for their “comprehensiveness, the thoroughness of (their) documentation not only of the genocide but also, of its victims.” Un di Velt Hot Gesvign was published as volume 117 of Mark Turkov’s Dos poylishe yidntum (Polish Jewry) in Buenos Aires.
Siedman refers to a reviewer of the mostly Polish Yiddish series when she writes:
For the Yiddish reader, Eliezer (as he is called here) Wiesel’s memoir was one among many, valuable for its contributing an account of what was certainly an unusual circumstance among East European Jews: their ignorance, as late as the spring of 1944, of the scale and nature of the Germans’ genocidal intentions. The experiences of the Jews of Transylvania may have been illuminating, but certainly none among the readers of Turkov’s series on Polish Jewry would have taken it as representative. As the review makes clear, the value of survivor testimony was in its specificity and comprehensiveness; Turkov’s series was not alone in its preference. Yiddish Holocaust memoirs often modeled themselves on the local chronical (pinkes ) or memorial book (yizker-bukh ) in which catalogs of names, addresses, and occupations served as form and motivation. It is within this literary context, against this set of generic conventions, that Wiesel published the first of his Holocaust memoirs.
Siedman continues that “Un di velt has been variously referred to as the original Yiddish version of Night and described as more than four times as long; actually, it is 245 pages to the French 158 pages.” But the “four times as long” was referring to the original 862 pages that Turkov cut down to 245. Siedman reminds us that Wiesel had earlier described his writing of the Yiddish with no revisions, “frantically scribbled, without reading.” She says this, and Wiesel’s complaint that the original manuscript was never returned to him, are “confusing and possibly contradictory.” She then writes:
What distinguishes the Yiddish from the French is not so much length as attention to detail, an adherence to that principle of comprehensiveness so valued by the editors and reviewers of the Polish Jewry series. Thus, whereas the first page of Night succinctly and picturesquely describes Sighet as “that little town in Transylvania where I spent my childhood,” Un di velt introduces Sighet as “the most important city [shtot] and the one with the largest Jewish population in the province of Marmarosh.” 31 The Yiddish goes on to provide a historical account of the region: “Until, the First World War, Sighet belonged to Austro-Hungary. Then it became part of Romania. In 1940, Hungary acquired it again.”
The great length of the original was no doubt due to the extensive detail it contained about the events, places and people that were the subject of the narrative. Despite the fact that descriptive detail is not a characteristic in any of Wiesel’s known writing, he would never have been able to write all that detail in two weeks in a ship’s cabin, relying only on his memory. He even says he saw no one during that time and cut himself off from everything. In the writing style of Elie Wiesel that we’re familiar with, what could he possibly have said to fill up 862 pages? Impossible!
Another point made by Siedman: And while the French memoir is dedicated “in memory of my parents and of my little sister, Tsipora,” the Yiddish (book) names both victims and perpetrators: “This book is dedicated to the eternal memory of my mother Sarah, father Shlomo, and my little sister Tsipora — who were killed by the German murderers.” 32 The Yiddish dedication is an accusation from a very angry Jew who is assigning exact blame for who was responsible. In addition, this brings to mind the fact that Elie Wiesel’s youngest sister was named Judith at birth, not Tsipora (according to his sister Hilda’s testimony).
Siedman says the effect of this editing from the Yiddish to the French was:
…to position the memoir within a different literary genre. Even the title Un di velt hot geshvign signifies a kind of silence very distant from the mystical silence at the heart of Night. The Yiddish title (And the World Remained Silent) indicts the world that did nothing to stop the Holocaust and allows its perpetrators to carry on normal lives […] From the historical and political specificities of Yiddish documentary testimony, Wiesel and his French publishing house fashioned something closer to mythopoetic narrative.
Myth and poetry … from a very historical and political original testimony. Wiesel attempted to explain this in his memoir by describing his French publisher’s objections to his documentary approach: “Lindon was unhappy with my probably too abstract manner of introducing the subject. Nor was he enamored of two pages (only two pages?) which sought to describe the premises and early phases of the tragedy. Testimony from survivors tends to begin with these sorts of descriptions, evoking loved ones as well as one’s hometown before the annihilation, as if breathing life into them one last time.” 33 Just how convincing that is I leave up to the reader.
The most controversial part of Siedman’s essay is about the Jewish commandment for revenge against one’s enemies. The author of the Yiddish writes that right after the liberation at Buchenwald:
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.” 34
This reflects the same angry, stern Jew who demands the Jewish law of revenge upon one’s enemies be followed. He does not consider “raping German girls” to be sufficient revenge; thus he says the historical commandment was not fulfilled. In the French and English, it was softened to: “On the following morning, 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.”35 Siedman comments on this passage:
To describe the differences between these versions as a stylistic reworking is to miss the extent of what is suppressed in the French. Un di velt depicts a post-Holocaust landscape in which Jewish boys “run off” to steal provisions and rape German girls; Night extracts from this scene of lawless retribution a far more innocent picture of the aftermath of the war, with young men going off to the nearest city to look for clothes and sex. In the Yiddish, the survivors are explicitly described as Jews and their victims (or intended victims) as German; in the French, they are just young men and women. The narrator of both versions decries the Jewish failure to take revenge against the Germans, but this failure means something different when it is emblematized, as it is in Yiddish, with the rape of German women. The implication, in the Yiddish, is that rape is a frivolous dereliction of the obligation to fulfill the “historical commandment of revenge”; presumably fulfillment of this obligation would involve a concerted and public act of retribution with a clearly defined target. Un di velt does not spell out what form this retribution might take, only that it is sanctioned — even commanded — by Jewish history and tradition.
The final passage that Siedman compares is the famous ending of Night. The Yiddish version presents not only a longer narrative, but a radically different person who emerges from his camp experience at the time of liberation.
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.
One fine day I got up—with the last of my energy—and went over to the mirror that was hanging on the wall. I wanted to see myself. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the mirror a skeleton gazed out. Skin and bones. I saw the image of myself after my death. It was at that instant that the will to live was awakened. Without knowing why, I raised a balled-up fist and smashed the mirror, breaking the image that lived within it. And then — I fainted… From that moment on my health began to improve. I stayed in bed for a few more days, in the course of which I wrote the outline of the book you are holding in your hand, dear reader.
But—Now, ten years after Buchenwald, I see that the world is forgetting. Germany is a sovereign state, the German army has been reborn. The bestial sadist of Buchenwald, Ilsa Koch, is happily raising her children. War criminals stroll in the streets of Hamburg and Munich. The past has been erased. Forgotten. Germans and anti-Semites 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? 36
This entire passage sounds nothing like Elie Wiesel, or anything he has written. It is matter of fact, not indulging in self-pity but addressing the reality of the situation with a cynical eye. The author is concerned with the traditional problems of Jews, as he sees it, and their welfare. His “witness” as a survivor is not mystical or universalized, but is about assessing blame. His depiction of smashing the mirror that holds his dead-looking image, and how that expression of powerful anger and life-affirmation revived him, is convincing. Right away, he wants to write about his experience, and he begins. Anger and “putting it all down” is the way out of depression and listlessness.
Yet the author and editors of Night have removed almost all of this and end very differently:
One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging from 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.37
No anger. No recuperation or recovery possible for this character. No closure. Elie Wiesel leaves us in Night with the image of death, and for the rest of his life he will pour it out on the world through his writings. This is his legacy; the Holocaust never ends.
Siedman comments on these two endings:
There are two survivors, then, a Yiddish and a French—or perhaps we should say one survivor who speaks to a Jewish audience and one whose first reader is a French Catholic. The survivor who met with Mauriac labors under the self-imposed seal and burden of silence, the silence of his association with the dead. The Yiddish survivor is alive with a vengeance and eager to break the wall of indifference he feels surrounds him.
Naomi Siedman intends the “two survivors” to be taken symbolically, as she is a “respected” Jewish academic who does not question the Holocaust story, and does not question (publicly at least) the authenticity of Elie Wiesel as the author of the Yiddish 862-page And the World Remained Silent, no matter what difficulties are encountered. As she continues in this essay, she posits Francois Mauriac’s powerful influence on Elie Wiesel as the way of explaining the further shortening and redirection of the focus of the original text. This is not my position, so I don’t find it profitable to seek for the origins of Night in Mauriac’s Catholic/Christian views. I believe there are sufficient grounds to consider a different authorship for Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, and that neutral-minded, critical thinkers who have an interest in this subject would not object to studying it from this angle.
However the grounds for doing so have not been exhausted by these two essays, so I will continue with a summing up in Part Three.
15) Sanford Sternlicht, Student Companion to Elie Wiesel, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2003, p. 3.
17) First Person: Life & Work. http://www.pbs.org/eliewiesel/life/index.html
18) All Rivers Run to the Sea, p. 9
19) First Person: http://www.pbs.org/eliewiesel/life/henry.html
20) Rivers, p. 20
23) Rivers, p. 121
24) Wikipedia, Chouchani
25) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_(book) Miklos Grüner says his 32-year-old friend Lazar Wiesel was given an apartment and an income because he had travelled with the orphans to France, under special permission. (see Stolen Identity by Grüner, printed in Sweden, 2007)
27) Jewish virtual library, ibid.
29) Grüner is speaking of Block 56, where what was to become the “famous Buchenwald liberation photograph” was taken by an American military photographer on April 16, 1945, five days after liberation. See our analysis of this photo under “The Evidence” on the menu bar.
30) “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage,” Seidman, ibid.
31) Eliezer Vizel, Un di velt hot geshvign (Buenos Aires, 1956), p. 7
32) Un di velt, n.p.
33) Rivers, p. 319
34) Un di velt, 244.
35) Night, 120.
36) Un di velt, 244-45
37) Night, 120.
Category Featured | Tags: Tags: Hasidic Jews, Miklos Grüner, Naomi Siedman, Night, Romania, Shushani/Chouchani, Sighet, Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, Zion in Kamf,
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