Posts Tagged ‘Sighet’

Holocaust Industry continues to prepare for the death and sainthood of Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

By Carolyn Yeager

Childhood home of biggest con-man in holocaust history becomes “education center” for hoax-a-cost lies

Museum to open May 18 in the Romanian town of Sighet

Above: Wiesel "childhood home" in Sighet, Romania in 2007 after remodeling. Note identifying plaque attached at right corner.

Same building as it appeared in 1965 before Wiesel's great fame. "Night" was published in 1960 but didn't start to sell until the 1990's when the US media establishment began to promote it and schools bought it.

The “learning center” will be dedicated to the alleged 13,000 local holocaust victims who will have been receiving monthly checks from the Federal Republic of Germany for the past 65 years (either they or their relatives).

This rip-off “education center” is sponsored by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Romanian Jewish Federation* and Limmud FSU, plus the Government of Romania and the City of Sighet (it’s good for tourism). Interesting that the Conference on JMClaims can spend the money it gets from Germany on projects like this, but it can … on the basis that it somehow helps survivors. Indeed, it helps them to keep up their fiction. *I can’t find an organization of this name. 

Everything is being done to establish physical memorials to Elie Wiesel in as many locations around the world as can be conjured up, in consideration of his advanced age (85) and inevitablility that his death could come at any time. As usual, though, the Jewish interests behind the “Elie Wiesel Legend” seek to use as much Goyim money as possible to cover the costs. Wiesel himself has been doing that exact thing during his entire career as a professional victim and survivor.

Elie Wiesel and the Mossad, Part IV

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2011 carolyn yeager

Déjà vu. Elie Wiesel becomes an American but his ties to Israel and manner of life don’t change.

Arriving in New York in 1956, Wiesel is greeted and assisted by “Israeli colleagues” who accompanied him and “served as real-estate advisors.”14  Everywhere Wiesel goes there are Israelis on hand to help; he is never alone or “on his own” and we must conclude that he never has been. Some of his named associates at the time are David Gedailovitch, a.k.a. David Guy, a perfume merchant and restaurateur; Jacob Baal-Teshuva, an Israeli Film weekly rep; Richard Yaffe, correspondent for an Israeli daily who had been subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Wiesel hangs out with Jews, of which there were no lack in New York, and seems only comfortable with members of his own Tribe—even more so if they are fellow Zionists, which most seem to be. The French Catholic François Mauriac appears as the sole exception, but that relationship existed purely for career advancement. 

Wiesel says he loved covering the United Nations, where he spoke most often with Abba Eban, Israel’s “young ambassador.” [Rivers, p 290]  But, as he always does, he tells us that he wasn’t paid a living wage and had to “alleviate [his] financial problems” with free-lance work. Also, as so often happens, an unnamed benefactor shows up–an “editor” who told him he had no money for news reports, but did have a budget for a novel. Wiesel replied, “I may have something stuck in a drawer somewhere.”

Wiesel writes his first novel

 I sat at the typewriter that very night, and in a week or two I churned out (under the pseudonym Elisha Carmeli) a romantic spy novel of which I remember only the premise: A man and a woman, both Israeli intelligence agents, are desperately in love, and one or the other is sent on a mission to Egypt. I can’t recall if the operation was a success, but I do know that all my characters died at the end, since I wasn’t sure what else to do with them. [p. 291]

Déjà vu, indeed. Under pressure, Wiesel churns out in “a week or two”—just as he did on the ocean liner to Brazil less than two years previous15—a spy novel? In this instance, we have to assume he was still working at his regular job, so the fact that it was a shorter book should not be held against him. But, here are my questions: How does he explain that as a religious, idealistic young man, he knew how to weave together a believable story about Israeli spies? Why did he even choose the subject of spies, rather than a simple romance between displaced persons, or immigrants to Israel—something he had seen close up, and even experienced? I know enough about writing to know that when one has to write something in a hurry, one will always choose the most familiar theme. Otherwise too much research is required; without it, mistakes will certainly occur.

Though this is a small detail tucked into Wiesel’s memoir, I think it speaks volumes about that with which Wiesel was actually familiar.

The “editor” published the book under the title, Silent Heroes.16. Wiesel says he never read the book, but Simon Weber, news editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, noticed it and, based on it, offered Wiesel a job with his newspaper. Wiesel describes the Forward as “the world’s biggest, richest, and most widely read Yiddish daily.” [p. 291] It must have been some book! Weber didn’t hire Wiesel because of his great journalism, but because of a silly spy novel, quickly thrown together. This makes no sense except as another typical Wieselism. Wiesel obviously had connections and assistance at high levels, but he wants us to believe in the holocaust victims’ luck and miracles. Or maybe it’s that he is himself so immersed in lies that he’s incapable of telling the truth about anything. In that regard, we now come to the Big One.

Wiesel gets hit by a taxi and flies through the air to land a full block away

On a summer evening in 1956, Wiesel was crossing Seventh Avenue at Forty-fifth Street with a woman from his office when he was hit by a taxi.

The impact hurled me through the air like a figure in a Chagall painting, all the way to Forty-fourth Street, where I lay for twenty minutes until an ambulance came to take me to the hospital. […]  My entire left side had been shattered. A ten-hour operation was required to reconstruct it, leaving me in a cast from neck to foot. […] One morning I was visited by a lawyer who said he represented an insurance company. He had a proposition for me: If I signed a certain document, a simple piece of paper, he would hand me a quarter of a million dollars on the spot. […] I was ready to sign that document and any others in his bulging briefcase. But my journalist friend Alexander Zauber screamed, “Are you crazy? Don’t sign anything!” […] You really want to let this crook ruin us? Tell him to get the hell out of here! I’ll get you a lawyer who defends victims instead of swindling them. You’re going to be a millionaire, I guarantee it!” [p.293-95]

Zauber showed the insurance emissary to the door. But Wiesel was worried about paying his current bills, mostly because he was about to be moved into a double room, for him “a terrifying prospect. Ever since the war the idea of sleeping in the same room with a stranger had panicked me.” With the immediate insurance money, he could remain in a private room. Therefore, he decided to call the insurance agent back that night, after Zauber had gone. [p.296]. But again, help arrived from the Irgun

I had forgotten to allow for the possibility of a miracle. Among my visitors that day was Hillel Kook, who asked Aviva and other friends to leave us alone. He was an unusual man, the archetypal Central European intellectual in demeanor and looks; nearsighted, thin, tense, and curious. I had interviewed him several weeks earlier. He had just founded a political organization to combat Soviet interference in the Middle East. I knew him by reputation only. A member of the Irgun high command under the alias Peter Bergson, he and the writer Ben Hecht had directed the Committee of Hebrew National Liberation during the war. Their main objective was to save European Jews. In fact, no one had done more than Bergson to alert the American public to the tragedy of the Jews under the Nazis. Consequently, he was thoroughly disliked by the American Jewish establishment, which consistently fought and slandered him.  During the Altalena affair he was even imprisoned by Ben-Gurion. “I heard what happened to you,” he said, coming straight to the point. “As you’ve probably discovered by now, being sick in New York costs money. You don’t have any, but I do. So I brought you a few blank checks. Fill them out as the need arises, and let me know when you need more.” Hillel’s manner was matter-of-fact, as though he made gestures like this every day. [p.296]


Right: Hillel Kook, a.k.a. “Peter Bergson,” member of the Irgun High Command was another of Wiesel’s Angels of Mercy. He worked in America as an undercover agent, then  made a   considerable fortune on Wall Street in the 1950s and 60s.  17














I was so overcome by his generosity that I was unable to utter a word. I gaped at him as though he were a tzaddik or an emissary of the Prophet Elijah, most unpredictable of prophets. Finally I managed to ask him how I would ever repay him. “Don’t worry,” he replied, as nonchalant as a banker addressing a colleague. “I have plenty to live on. You can pay me back when the insurance company pays you off.”

 When Aviva and the others came back in, I told them of the miracle. Zauber cried, “It’s a sign from God. He wants you to listen to me. Don’t be a fool. Now you can stay in your own room and you can hire my lawyer.” “You’re going to be a millionaire,” he said. “My friend the millionaire. I warn you, if you sabotage my plans, I’ll kill you. And my lawyer will defend me.”

Every week, Hillel called to find out if I needed more checks. In the meantime, the lawyer filed the suit that he and Zauber assured me would change my life for good. I made statements, signed documents and depositions. A month, a year went by. I returned to my hotel. Zauber returned to Israel, Bea to Montreal. From time to time I asked the lawyer how things were going. He was a patient man, and he advised me to follow his example. Eighteen months after the accident he accompanied me to court. This was not yet the trial, but a simple procedural matter. Two years after the accident, there was still nothing. One day Hillel called me, and we had coffee together. He asked me about the trial. Wall Street, it seems, had not been kind to him, and he was short of cash. But not to worry, he would work it out. He would wait. That day I instructed my lawyer to settle the matter within the week. He tried to talk me out of it.  […] The next day he informed me of the result of his negotiations: He would receive 30 percent of my payment and from the rest Hillel would be paid back.

 That’s how I failed to become a millionaire. [p. 297]

The prodigal visits his hometown Sighet

In 1960, Wiesel’s book Night was published in English, but was slow to catch hold. In 1961 the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem was the object of his attention and journalism, which he covered for the Forward. In 1964, at the age of 35, he [or his handlers] decided the time was right for a trip to Sighet, his alleged hometown, via Budapest, Bucharest and Baia-Maire. [p. 357]

In Budapest I visited the Jewish quarter, seeing traces of its past. […] When I finally did return to Sighet, the cemetery was the first place I wanted to visit, to meditate at my grandfather’s grave. As is customary, I would have to light candles. I found a store and bought two candles. So it was that I had the feeling I was following a scenario written by someone who existed only in my imagination. Michael 18 was my precursor, my scout. I followed his every step. I saw through his eyes, felt what he felt as I wandered the streets among passersby who didn’t recognize me or even glance at me, and as I entered my home, a stranger in my own house. [p. 357-8]


Above left: Photo of the house where Elie Wiesel allegedly grew up in Sighet, Rumania. Above right: The same house in 2007 after remodeling. Is the blue and white paint in honor of Israel? His parents are said to have run a grocery store on the premises, but we can see no evidence of that in the pictures.

We should not be surprised that Wiesel again experiences his early life as if he were a character in his own fictional writing. In Night, supposedly the “true” account of his time at Auschwitz and Buchenwald [“every word is true”], he was Eliezer, the 13-year-old boy [not 15 as he was in real life] who saw flames shooting from the crematory chimney as he disembarked from the train at midnight, followed by a burning pit of fire in which babies were being thrown. Now, he becomes “Michael,” from another of his novels,  as he “wanders” through Sighet. Was it so unfamiliar because he had never really lived there, just as he was never really in Auschwitz or Buchenwald?

Further, we can ask: How did he “enter his home?” Was it empty? Did he ask the current residents for permission? Those answers not being given, it remains left to our imagination.

Though it hadn’t changed, I found it hard to orient myself in the little town. It seemed not to have endured a war. The streets were teeming with people. The park was as it had been, the trees and benches still in place. Everything was there. As before. Everything except the Jews. I looked all over for them, looked for the children  


I roamed the streets, stopped at the movie house, went to the hospital. No one paid attention to the prodigal returning home from afar. It was not only as though I didn’t exist, but as though I had never existed. Had there really been a time when Jews lived here? 19 [p.358] 


I continued my rediscovery of Sighet. Walking down the Street of Jews—almost every town in Eastern Europe had one—I saw nothing but sealed shutters and doors nailed closed. All […] now stood empty. It struck me how poor they had been, those Jews of Sighet so dear to me. That was true of all of us, though as a child I had been unaware of the poverty that prevailed in the Jewish neighborhoods. 20


I set out to see the synagogues again. Most were closed. In one I found hundreds of holy books covered with dust. The authorities had taken them from abandoned homes and stored them here. In a frenzy, I began to look through them. I was rewarded when I discovered a few that had belonged to me. I even found some yellowed, withered sheets of paper in a book of Bible 21 commentaries: a commentary on the commentaries I had written at the age of thirteen or fourteen. The handwriting was clumsy, the thoughts confused. [p.359-60]

Which “authorities” is he referring to: Jewish or Hungarian? Would the Hungarian police have bothered to take books out of the homes and store them? And what are the odds that he could look through “hundreds of books” in the time he had and find some of his own in the piles?  Or that his would be stored at one of the few still-open synagogues in Sighet and his commentaries were still in them? He falls back on his previously used artifice that it was possible because he did it “in a frenzy.” As he typed 862 pages of a difficult manuscript in two weeks max in 1954—in a frenzy, so now he does another impossible task in a frenzy. Further, has anyone ever seen these handwritten commentaries? Would he have left them there? They would offer proof that he actually lived in that town.

Previously I wrote about the question of Wiesel’s typing ability. He has written that he sometimes went as a youth to the synagogue ‘office’ where he used the only typewriter available in the community to type up his religious commentaries. But now he writes that those he found were handwritten. He has also made it clear that all his adult writing has been done in longhand, not typewritten. This is unusual for someone with a long career as a journalist.

A mission to bring Soviet Jews to Israel

In 1965, Wiesel made an “unexpected journey to the Soviet Union.” It may have been unexpected because the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that he go,  but he was carefully prepared for it.

Meir Rosenne and Ephraim Tari, two of the most effective and devoted young diplomats in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prepared me. Both spoke French, were interested in literature, and, as it turned out, belonged to a semiofficial government office reporting directly to the prime minister. Meir in New York and Ephraim in Paris oversaw clandestine activities on behalf of Soviet Jews. It was an arduous task, more dangerous than it appeared. Arduous because even the largest and most influential Jewish communities refused to become actively involved. They were delighted to aid Israel, but the desperate Jews behind the Iron Curtain were both distant and invisible. Nobody seemed to know what concrete action Soviet Jews really wanted Jews in the West to take for them. [p.365] 


How many were they? There was talk of millions, but that figure seemed implausibly high. “You ought to go and see,” both Israelis told me. “You have been a witness before, now you must go and find out the Soviet Jews’ true situation and testify for them.” […] I was briefed by experts. [p.366]

Why was Wiesel the choice of the Israelis who reported directly to the prime minister about clandestine activities regarding Jews in the Soviet Union? Was he famous in 1965? Was he the High Priest of the Holocaust at that time? No, that was still to come. But he was a Mossad agent, and on their payroll, at least as a retainer. Wiesel seems up to now to have been involved when immigration of Jews to Israel—legal or illegal—was concerned, and to bolster the feelings of Jewishness of those in the diaspora. This trip appears to follow in that vein. Communist Jews were perfectly acceptable, as dark-skinned Morrocan and Ethiopian Jews were earlier. The idea was to fill up Israel with Jews in order to keep claiming more of the physical territory of Palestine.

I left for Moscow in time for the High Holidays, then went on to Leningrad, Kiev, and Tbilisi. I returned transformed […] I immediately felt close to these forgotten, tenacious Jews.  … Having survived the massacres of the Nazi era and the Stalinist persecutions, they proclaimed their Jewishness even in the heart of the Gulag and the cellars of the NKVD and KGB. [p.366] 


We were determined to help the Jews left behind the Iron Curtain, even if we had to defy the Kremlin and all its police. We had been privileged to make the surprising discovery that with a number of notorious exceptions, even Communist Jews had remained Jewish. [p.369]

Notice the “we.” He was working with others on behalf of Zionism and its goals, not on his own. Wiesel can find good things to say about all Jews, no matter how much blood is on their hands—for example, Zinoviev and Ehrenburg.

Left: Grigory Zinoviev, a.k.a. Apfelbaum, born Radomysisky in Russia, died 1936, was a close associate of Lenin. Right: Ilya Ehrenburg, a leader of the hate campaign against Germans during WWII, author of the article “Kill” which appeared in 1942. His support for Stalin never wavered.







A journalist friend told me that Zinoviev—Lenin’s companion and ill-fated admirer/adversary of Stalin—faced execution with the Shma Yisrael on his lips. All his life he had clung to his atheism. For a Jew to be a Communist meant repudiating his or her Jewish faith, Jewish tradition, Jewish history.22 And so many became resigned to integration, assimilation, and mixed marriages—anything to ensure that their children would no longer be tied to the Jewish people or to Jewish destiny. And yet …

 Ilya Ehrenburg was an example. During the last years of the war, along with Vasily Grossman (author of the brilliant Life and Fate), he scoured cities and villages, gathering chronicles and testimony from survivors of the ghettos and the camps. Together they compiled an anthology of human cruelty and Jewish suffering reaching from Vilna to Minsk, Berdichev to Kiev, Kharkov to Odessa. This “black book” contained accounts one cannot read without feeling despair. It was not published because by 1945 Stalin had changed his policy toward both Germany and the Jews. The Kremlin’s spokesmen and propagandists received orders to no longer emphasize German atrocities or the calvary of their Jewish victims. […] It was he [Ehrenburg] who had entrusted a copy of the manuscript to a reliable friend who was to convey it to Jerusalem when the chance arose. Novelist, pamphleteer, propagandist, and Communist, if not Stalinist, Ehrenburg nevertheless had remained a Jew at heart. [p.369]

Ehrenburg, the murderer of millions of Russians and Germans, is hailed as a True Jew by Elie Wiesel! This is the true Wiesel, who will forgive any Jew as long as he professes himself a Jew and proves loyal to Jewry. He celebrates this recognized monster, releasing him of all his sins because he compiled a book of Soviet lies about “Nazi atrocities” and the sufferings of Jews. Stalin changed his policy in 1945 because Germany was no longer a threat to him, but the Jews were, just as they had been to Germany before, and before that to Czarist Russia. This is a low point in Wiesel’s memoir, but he is trapped in his own ideology and complete insensitivity to any but Jews.

A second trip to the USSR

Wiesel made a second trip to the USSR about a year later. Though it was more difficult to get in since he had published about his first trip, still he and a friend, Michel Salomon, managed to return. Once again his high-level connections made it possible. At the airport,

the Israeli  charge d’affaires, David Bartov, and his wife, Esther, had come to greet us. [ …] We sped through the city in David’s diplomatic vehicle. Two spacious rooms had been reserved for us at the National Hotel. That very evening the Bartovs took us to a performance by a traveling Yiddish troupe. [p.370]

Don’t they ever get away from Jews? No, they don’t appear to have any desire to. Also, note what priceless benefits statehood has brought to international Jews–they have diplomats with special privileges and immunity, and greatly improved international connections.

On this trip, Wiesel says he was followed by KGB agents, his hotel room was searched while he was out, and the copy he brought along of his newest book on the plight of Russian Jews, The Jews of Silence, was taken. Finally frightened by this, he was back at the airport for a return flight back to Paris, about to board, when …

The young woman motioned to me to board, but at the same instant the officer shouted something. Suddenly things moved quickly. Before I realized what was happening, the two Israelis were at my side. One of them took my ticket while the other snatched my passport out of the officer’s hand. I felt myself being lifted like a package. They ran, and so did I, amid whistles and shouted orders. I don’t know how we managed to jostle our way through all the gates and barriers, but we jumped into the embassy car and took off. Why the police didn’t stop us, I don’t know. I was too stunned to try to understand, too dazed to think about it. The Israeli behind the wheel drove as if he were back home in Tel Aviv. I would worry about that later. In a moment we were on embassy grounds. [p.374] 

Wiesel tells about this trip in great detail, taking five pages, which means it probably happened the way he says. Why can he do it in this instance, while other, more important events in his life are sloughed over in a single paragraph? I leave the reader to answer that. After spending three days at the Israel Embassy, things were “straightened out.”

Accompanied by my two Israeli bodyguards, I returned to the airport. Everything went smoothly. The Intourist and Aeroflot employees greeted me amiably. There was no problem […] The plane was half empty. I had the whole first-class section  to myself. 23


I arrived in Paris just in time for the annual conference of French Jewish intellectuals organized by Jean Halperin and Andre Neher under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress. Rather than speak on that year’s designated topic (God and …), I recounted my experiences and impressions while in Moscow. [p375-6]

Above: Elie Wiesel at a rally for Soviet Jews in New York after his two trips to the Soviet Union. Wearing dark glasses, he looks the role of the undercover agent.

A couple pages later, we gain some insight into Wiesel’s fanatical and totally Jew-centered world-view when he speaks about the Talmudist Saul Lieberman, with whom he was thrilled to be able to study.

He made me aware that to be a Jew is to place the greatest store in knowledge and loyalty; that it is because he recognizes divine justice that he speaks out against human injustice. That it is because a Jew remains attached to his God that he is permitted to question Him. It is because the prophets loved the people of Israel that they admonished them and reprimanded their kings. Everything depends on where you stand, my master used to say. With God anything can be said. Without God nothing is heard. Without God what is said is not said. [p.380]

This explains to some extent to me why they can lie so easily. All Jews are with God, therefore anything can be said. Those without God—goyim, gentiles—are not heard. What they say is not said, means nothing.  This is a reasonable interpretation which we see acted out everywhere before our eyes. It makes clear why the Gentile world and the Jewish world cannot adjust to one another. All such talk by Jews that if the Gentiles would just make enough concessions it would be possible, is deceitful. At least it is when dealing with Jews like Elie Wiesel and Saul Lieberman.

The Mossad motto: By way of deception (deceit), thou shalt make war (defeat thine enemies). Elie Wiesel has been shown again and again to be deceitful. Thus, he is perfectly in tune with the Mossad.


14.  Elie Wiesel, Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea, Knopf, 1995, p. 286.

15.  Wiesel claims to have written Un di Velt Hot Gesvign, a Yiddish manuscript of 862 pages, while on a boat traveling to Brazil in Spring 1954. See

16.  Silent Heroes is not ever listed among the books Wiesel authored, nor could I find it at Amazon.


18.  Michael is the main character in his book The Town Beyond the Wall [1962], a fictional account of his life in Sighet.

19.  According to one visitor: In the spring of 1944, more Jews than Gentiles lived in Maramureş, a remote part of Romania then under Hungarian control. Most had come in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from Russia. (They are really Russians, not Hungarians or Romanians.) Some worked the farms, and some lived in villages and towns, working as traders and craftsmen. There were synagogues in most villages, and in the regional capital, Sighet, Jews worshiped at the elaborate synagogue on Nagykoz Street.

20.  Yet Wiesel, or his handlers, presents his family as prosperous, progressive, cultured and upstanding. We see pictures of them looking fairly middle-class. Sighet was the capital city of the province. What is the reality?

21.  By “Bible” he really means Talmud.

22.  This is simply not true, but is Wiesel’s attempt to separate Jews from the Communist taint.

23.  We learn from this that Wiesel travels first class. What else would we expect?

More Reasons Why I Don’t Believe

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 the eastern half of Maramures and is exactly on 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 [1919] 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 is 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.

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 memoir3 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 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: […] 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

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.

Age Confusion 

 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.”

“No. Eighteen.”

“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.


  1. Un di Velt Hot Geshvign, Eliezer Wiesel, page 7, translated by Naomi Siedman in “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage.”
  2. “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage,” Naomi Siedman, Jewish Social Studies, Dec. 1996.
  3. Elie Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Knopf, New York, 1995.
  5. “A Thousand Darknesses”, Ruth Franklin, The New Republic, March 23, 2006.
  6. Siedman, ibid.
  8. “Truth and Fiction in Elie Wiesel’s Night: Is Frey or Wiesel the Bigger Moral Poseur,” Alexander Cockburn,, April, 2006. Found online at
  9. In the New York Times for January 17 [2006], 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.
  10. Elie Wiesel, Night, Hill and Wang, New York, 1960.
  11. Cockburn, ibid.
  12. “Historical Past vs. Political Present,” Journal of Historical Review, vol 19, Nov/Dec 2000. Online at
  13. Harry James Cargas, In Conversation with Elie Wiesel, Paulist Press: New York, 1976, p. 86
  14. Cargas, ibid, p. 3
  15. ”Elie Wiesel: Out of the Night,” Morton A. Reichek, Present Tense. Spring 1976, p, 42
  16. Cockburn, ibid.
  17. Wiesel, “An Interview Unlike Any Other,” in A Jew Today, trans. Marion Wiesel (New York, 1979), p.15.
  18.  “Interview,” ibid.

The Shadowy Origins of “Night” II

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.

16)    Ibid.

17)    First Person: Life & Work.

18)    All Rivers Run to the Sea, p. 9

19)    First Person:

20)    Rivers, p. 20



23)    Rivers, p. 121

24)    Wikipedia, Chouchani

25)  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)

26)    Wiki/Night

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.

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