Posted on May 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

Elie Wiesel adds a new twist to his Buchenwald liberation tale

by Carolyn Yeager

To cry or not to cry, that is the question.

Elie Wiesel, as usual, cannot make up his mind.

On May 6, he gave a major speech (for big bucks) at Xavier University in Cincinnati, brought there by the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education.  A reporter who covered the speech wrote that Wiesel said this:

Wiesel recounted his rescue from the concentration camp by the U.S. Army and said he remains grateful.

“We cried,” he recalled. “We discovered for the first time that we could cry.”

But in an interview that was published on the following day, May 7, on NBC New York, Wiesel said the opposite to reporter Gabe Pressman:

He told me about the day the American army came to liberate the prisoners,

How the prisoners “wanted to cry but they didn’t know how to cry… if you cry, you will never stop so they didn’t even do that.”

So which is it? Did they cry or didn’t they? It seems you get to choose which version you like best.

I pointed out in this article on the Xavier speech that this was the first time I had ever heard or read Elie Wiesel say that he or his barracks-mates cried. Since this Blog takes the position that Wiesel was not even there (in Buchenwald),  it’s kind of a mute point–except for the fact that it’s one more reason not to believe he was there. He can’t keep his “story” about it straight.

Wiesel embellished his Buchenwald liberation tale when he was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, too.  As I recounted in this article, he told Oprah in Nov. 2000 that the first thing the religious boys in his barracks did was to “reassemble” and offer prayers for the dead–yet in his books he made a point to say the only thing anyone did was go after the food provisions. He wrote that they had no thought of their families nor of friends, only of food.

The flexibility of memory

Considering all this, we arrive at a crucial question about the Holocaust. The fate of nations may hang on it! What does it mean if Memory, that sacred human ability on which the entire holocaust narrative rests, cannot be depended upon?

Elie Wiesel’s memory is clearly not reliable. Yet he himself has made everything depend on memory. He wrote:  “I shall never forget that night, the first night in camp […] never shall I forget those moments … ” and so on. But he must have forgotten some things since his story doesn’t remain consistent.

Memory itself–the act of remembrance–is just not what Elie Wiesel makes it out to be. For Weisel, it’s more like these words he is famous for saying: Some things are true though they didn’t happen, while others are not, even if they did. That is how we tend to remember!

In his case, Elie Wiesel was liberated from Buchenwald, even if he wasn’t … and it’s not true that the prisoners were only interested in food, even if they were. Memory–it’s such a flexible thing.


17 Comments to Elie Wiesel adds a new twist to his Buchenwald liberation tale

  1. by Jett Rucker

    On May 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Wiesel has made a (spectacular) career out of remembering whatever is good for Israel or Elie Wiesel. Not necessarily in that order.


  2. by Ministry of Truth

    On May 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    In the 2009 documentary, Elie Wiesel, Messager de la Memoire, he stated yet a third option:

    Inside me, I was crying, mourning.

    I did not have tears…

    The truth is for us survivors,

    the question was not

    to be able to read at some time,

    but to be able to cry at some time.


  3. by Sue

    On May 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I think he’s so used to saying whatever he wants without fear of questions, he doesn’t expect anyone to pay attention or write it down from day to day. If you do then your an anti-weasel. The other thing is the guy is 84 years old, his whole life is based on lies. I doubt his brain is working as well as it should at that age and from reading “Night” doesn’t suggest the author was brilliant to begin with.


  4. by Carolyn

    On May 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    To Sue: What?! You’re questioning the brilliance of Elie Wiesel — and his book Night that is taught to high school and university students as a classic of literature, one of the great novels (uh, autobiographical novel, uh fictionalized memoir, uh autobiography, uh …) of all time? What gives you the right to be critical of this great man who is the pal of kings and presidents, and is compared to the prophets of the Bible whom age did not affect?! You sound like that horrible antisemite Carolyn Yeager.


  5. by brucewhain

    On May 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Seems everyone’s having difficulty keeping their “memories” straight – Weber, Duke and Irving included. Who’s next: Ahmadinejad?

    Now Duke was at that conference in Iran in 2006 so I think you give him way too much leeway. As for irving, I intend to be at his presentation in NY next month and (provided I survive: Have notified the authorities with threats of a federal case if anything goes wrong, in light of’s recent criminal actions.) will report on his (expected to be) moderated position. The topic is Life and Death of Heinrich Himmler, in which the conclusions of his sometime-soon-expected book about Himmler including his purported difinitive position on the “Holocaust” are to be discussed.

    Like I say it was the Lipstatt trial(s) available on Irving’s website in 2005 that made me a Holocaust Denier, and believe both judges just lied.


  6. by Jerzy Ulicki-Rek.

    On May 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    In Polish language we have a proverb:
    “Lie has a short legs”

    In this case poor Elie must be already a legless cripple.

    Jerzy Ulicki-Rek


  7. by Patriot

    On May 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    All Wiesel the Weasel has to do is show an authentic camp tattoo and this all ends. Simple as that.


  8. by David Speace

    On June 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    In the mid-1980’s I attended a presentation given by Elie Wiesel at a synagogue in Willingboro, NJ. I attended this presentation with my mother, Janka Festinger and my uncle, Sandy Festinger. I attended because my mother and uncle were born and raised in Sighet, Romania. And, I was interested in hearing what Elie Wiesel had to say… but what struck me the most is what happened after the presentation. My Mother and Uncle went up to Elie Wiesel after he spoke and introduced themselves as being from Sighet…and to their surprise he wasn’t interested in talking with them! He exchanged a pleasant greeting and then just brushed them off. This to me was a very strange reaction. A few years before my mother was in California and by accident ran into someone from Sighet and they talked for hours and hours! You would expect that to be a normal reaction when you run into somebody from your hometown 40 or 50 years later! I always wondered why Elie Wiesel was so brusque with my mother… when in fact my mother knew his family and was acquainted with the young Elie Wiesel from her childhood! This is what my mother told me after we left the synagogue that night. She was very disappointed… because she and her brother were also survivor’s of the Holocaust… she and her family were in the first transport that left Sighet for Auschwitz. After liberation she wrote a 60-page letter that details her account of what happened her and her family. While Elie Wiesel might have wrote in his mind what happened when he saw his face in the mirror… my mother, 5 months after liberation, actually wrote down what happened to her! You can read it in my book, “Janka Festinger’s Moments of Happiness.” The book is available at or


  9. by Carolyn

    On June 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    David – Many thanks for sharing this reminiscence of your encounter with Elie Wiesel. His behavior with your family is typical of him whenever he meets people who would really know about his past — he doesn’t want to talk to them! I may write an article about this and add some other examples to it.

    I haven’t read your mother’s story and now I see it is only available through purchasing your book. Well, your contribution here is really welcome. Do you happen to know of any others who have had a similar experience with Wiesel?
    (This comment was edited on 6-14-2012 at 11:11pm Central time)


  10. by transylvanian

    On June 17, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I never heart E. Wiesel saying he is born in Romania.
    He allways says that he is born in Transylvania, wich is of course a part of Romania, bat it is not a state.


  11. by Carolyn

    On June 19, 2012 at 8:28 am

    To transylvanian: Good point. I would offer that Elie Wiesel doesn’t consider himself Romanian, any more than he considers himself Hungarian. He is only Jewish, whose real nation is, and always has been, Israel … as a religious-spiritual entity when it was not yet a physical one. But he wants to influence the governments of Romania and Hungary as a “native son” because he once lived there. His latest effort to do this is brought out by Ministry of Truth’s link at another post.


  12. by Willie Lynch

    On November 27, 2012 at 3:25 am

    this idiot is crying all the way to the bank.


  13. by Tom Kiss

    On March 27, 2013 at 2:11 am

    I read with interest the comments on this blog. Of particular interest was the June 12, 2012, comment by David Speace about his mother Janka Festinger (and Uncle) who was born and raised in Sighet (or Sziget) who was brusquely ignored by Elie. It speaks volumes about this mysterious figurehead for the Holocaust. Apparently he is afraid to speak with any of his old friends, or acquaintences from Sighet, Buchenwald, or Auschwitz. I wonder if Ms. Janka Festinger spoke in Hungarian with Elie? I would be willing to bet that he quickly switched to English in his short pleasantries.

    After watching and hearing the video about Elie’s return to Sighet, one has to wonder if this man is really from there at all. He looked prepped, spoke in the shortest possible words, and appeared to ask rehearsed questions, to say nothing about his “magyar nyelv.” Gathering from the quotes above, it is apparent that Elie hates the Hungarians (yet he gladly accepted the Hungarian Order of Merit Grand Cross in 2004), dislikes Romanians (he states that he is from Sighet, Translyvannia (which is a traditional Hungarian territory, called Erdely) which is geographically incorrect and not a country, … As such he does not like anything that is non-Jewish. Vetting is needed to dispel inconsistencies and I would definitely backtrack with any remaining inhabitants of Sighet/Sziget born in the 1920s to 1947.


  14. by Carolyn

    On March 28, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Tom – I sure welcome you to look into any of these people you can find. You would be better at it than I would if you know the language. A good project would be to scan the comments and articles for those who have made these comments about Elie’s “discomfort” with Hungarians or citizens of Sighet/Sziget who would know or know of his family … and make a list of them and what they said. Everything about this man points to fraud.


  15. by David Speace

    On July 16, 2013 at 4:38 am


    I am following up on this thread… my book is also a Kindle book available on and can be downloaded for 99 cents! To be accurate my mother’s story is the story of what happened to the women of Sighet during the Holocaust. It should truly be a companion book to Night. Another website to check out is, which is a play about my mother, the letter she wrote, and her life in America!


  16. by Aaron Kracsun

    On November 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t see why there are non-believers about the holocaust. There had to of been other survivors with similar stories…and the body count does not lie. Elie is old, his mind is also withering. But hey, I’m just a ninth grader.


  17. by Carolyn

    On December 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Dear Aaron,
    Are you sure you are not “just a troll” rather than a ninth grader? What do you know about the “body count?” Survivors stories don’t mean anything — even you can have a story. Do you believe people’s “stories?” And we utilize Elie’s testimony from before he was “withering.” So what else have you got?


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