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Jewish-American author and activist (1928- )

To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.


In any society, fanatics who hate don't hate only me—they hate you too. They hate everybody. Someone who hates one group will end up hating everyone—and, ultimately, hating himself or herself.... They need hate in order to feel superior.

ELIE WIESEL, O: The Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2000

I have not yet exhausted my childhood. Words grow, age, die, and I am still interested in that metamorphosis. And the words that I use are still those that relate to my childhood.

ELIE WIESEL, The Paris Review, spring 1984

We still are looking for someone who knows the secret of immortality. Only God is immortal; we are not.

ELIE WIESEL, Moment Magazine, May-June 2013

As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel acceptance speech, Dec. 10, 1986

I had anger but never hate. Before the war, I was too busy studying to hate. After the war, I thought, What's the use? To hate would be to reduce myself.

ELIE WIESEL, O: The Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2000

I rarely speak about God. To God yes. I protest against Him. I shout at Him. But open discourse about the qualities of God, about the problems that God imposes, theodicy, no. And yet He is there, in silence, in filigree.

ELIE WIESEL, The Paris Review, spring 1984

Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn't know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.


I think he is condemned by himself to loneliness. God is One: he was, he is, he will be always One. One is so lonely. Maybe that is why he created human beings--to feel less lonely. But as human beings betray his creation, he may become even lonelier.

ELIE WIESEL, Random House interview

The language I think in depends on the topic and the period. If it’s about my childhood, I think in Yiddish, because that was my language. If it’s about America, I think in English, but if it’s about literature or philosophy, it goes back to French.

ELIE WIESEL, Moment Magazine, May-June 2013

I don't believe in collective guilt. The children of killers are not killers, but children.

ELIE WIESEL, O: The Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2000

Waking among the dead, one wondered if one was still alive. And yet real despair only seized us later. Afterwards. As we emerged from the nightmare and began to search for meaning.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 11, 1986

If you ask me what I want to achieve, it's to create an awareness, which is already the beginning of teaching.

ELIE WIESEL, The Paris Review, spring 1984

A holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 1986

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

ELIE WIESEL, U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 27, 1986

The duty of the survivor is to bear testimony to what happened . . . You have to warn people that these things can happen, that evil can be unleashed. Race hatred, violence, idolatries—they still flourish.

ELIE WIESEL, "Will Hatred Ever End?", The Watchtower, Jun. 15, 1995

I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.


No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel acceptance speech, Dec. 10, 1986

No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.

ELIE WIESEL, "Have You Learned the Most Important Lesson of All?", Parade Magazine, May 24, 1992

Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.

ELIE WIESEL, attributed, The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

I write very slowly: I write in a sort of anguished pleasure. Or a pleasurable anguish? There is much of both in my writing, and even in the process of writing. But this one was difficult. My first manuscript for Night was 864 pages, and it was reduced in Yiddish to one hundred pages, and even that has been reduced. It was impossible to write, but impossible not to write.

ELIE WIESEL, Random House interview

Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.

ELIE WIESEL, attributed, The Closest of Strangers (Judge, 2000)

Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures, it is our gift to each other.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 11, 1986

Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other.


Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

ELIE WIESEL, From the Kingdom of Memory: Reminiscences

Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 11, 1986

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

ELIE WIESEL, From the Kingdom of Memory

Terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations — not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 11, 1986

Whenever an angel says "Be not afraid!" you'd better start worrying. A big assignment is on the way.

ELIE WIESEL, attributed, Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy (Brown, 1988)

From time immemorial, people have talked about peace without achieving it. Do we simply lack enough experience? Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. . . . War may be too much a part of history to be eliminated—ever.

ELIE WIESEL, "Is World Peace on the Horizon?", The Watchtower, Apr. 15, 1991

What do all my books have in common? A commitment to memory.

ELIE WIESEL, "Building a Moral Society," Chamberlin Lecture at Lewis & Clark College, 1995

Philosophy is a slow process of logic and logical discourse: A bringing B bringing C and so forth. In mysticism you can jump from A to Z. But the ultimate objective is the same. It's knowledge. It's truth.

ELIE WIESEL, The Paris Review, spring 1984

Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.


What is abnormal is that I am normal. That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life -- that is what is abnormal.

ELIE WIESEL, interview, O: The Oprah Magazine, November 2000

Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

ELIE WIESEL, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, reported in New York Times, Dec. 11, 1986


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