Posted on October 1, 2011 at 6:25 am

Another photo of young Elie Wiesel that is not Elie Wiesel

by Carolyn Yeager


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

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

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

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

Below is an enlargement of the chess-playing boy. (click twice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Comments to Another photo of young Elie Wiesel that is not Elie Wiesel

  1. by Robert Schmidt

    On October 11, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Elie wiesel should be charged with fraud , does anyone know if elie wiesel claimed war reparations; if so where ?
    If this “hero” of the holocaust survival does not even feel inclined to provide the WORLD with proof of his tattoo , he should be charged FORTHWITH! ET AL .


  2. by Nate Ryan

    On October 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    How can you try to slander a Holocaust survivor like you are trying to do? Elie Wiesel is a holocaust survivor, and you are trying to paint him as a complete fraud just because you haven’t seen a tattoo on his arm? You disgust me. What next? are you going to deny the Holocaust ever happened?? Holy crap you must be mentally retarded or a Nazi sympathizer. Douchebag.


  3. by Jordan

    On November 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    He’s a holocaust survivor. All of you are just people who live on thoughts of consperiacy. Watch the oprah interview of Elie wisel. You can see it plain as day across his wrist. He has written books that correspond with what has actually happened in history. You must realize how ignorant you guys are acting. He’s an amazing writer with vivid imagery in his books. Elie will forever be remembered in my heart.


  4. by Carolyn

    On November 8, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Dear Jordan,
    Please post a picture from the “oprah interview” so we can see what you see on Elie’s wrist. By the way, concentration camp numbers were not tattooed on wrists.


  5. by Cynic

    On November 23, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I buy that this could be a young Wiesel just from certain anatomical characteristics in the face that distinguish age. He’s sitting on a low bench. Look at the height of the other guy’s knee, much higher, and the bench is calf-high on him; he’s taller. The Wiesel-looking character has the carriage of a boy entering puberty, with none of the bearing of someone who has gone through a horror.

    What I don’t buy is that this is Paris, or anywhere in France. Look at the background. Ever been to France? Their fields are pristine. There’s a haystack in the background. It looks hand-culled, thrown together, dumped. And the field looks like it’s lying fallow, but disorganized and messy. The French don’t do that. There’s a row of what looks like Lombardy poplars in the background, which is not a popular sight except in the extreme south of France on fancy estates. Also the construction of the bench. Even when things are old in France, and allowed to weather, there’s a certain style to them, a certain élan that has nothing to do with money, just style. This is not France.

    As for the cap, it’s a local farmer’s cap. I’ll bet this was taken when he was 13 or 14 years old, somewhere near the water in the south of Rumania, near Bucharest, where it’s hotter and more Mediterranean. I saw Lombardy poplars in Bucharest. On holiday, maybe? Maybe it was published in the local paper, and Hilda kept a copy.

    And if this was him post-war, where’s the tattoo? It would have been dark and fresh.


  6. by BlackMage

    On December 15, 2011 at 3:53 am

    elie wiesel is a great guy. however i dont see why people get mad at the fact that this may not be elie. take a closer look at his chin. it is much more rounder than in the picture on the top, as well as the tip of the nose. who really carse if its him or not anyways? this does not change the way i see elie at all, and it shouldnt to any of you.


  7. by Carolyn

    On December 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    BlackMage: Your are certainly missing the point … perhaps on purpose? It was Elie Wiesel’s sister Hilda who claims to have seen her brother in a newspaper photograph taken at the orphanage, and says that this was the photograph! She said this last on camera in 1995, when she had had plenty of time to figure out that that picture was not of her brother. (Wiesel also had plenty of time to tell her it wasn’t him.) That means she doesn’t care what she says, and neither does he! That’s why we care … and you should too.



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