Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel dead at 87

The Romanian-born Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel has died at the age of 87.

The news of his death was released by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where Wiesel was the Vice Chairman, Saturday.

According to Yad Vashem’s press release, Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania and was eleven years old at the outbreak of World War II. At the age of 15, in May 1944, he and his family were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father and him were then selected for forced labor at Auschwitz III-Monowitz, a work subcamp, and in April 1945 he was liberated at Buchenwald concentration camp by the Allied Forces. A year later he immigrated to the United States.

“Elie Wiesel was an accomplished writer and humanitarian,” Tad Vashem stated on its website. His “Night,” based on his memoir became a top-selling book as well as the material used for teaching youth around the world about the Holocaust.

According to Yad Vashem, Wiesel won numerous prizes and awards for his work, including the Nobel Peace Prize, and together with his wife Marion, he founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity whose mission is to “combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality.” He also worked closely with Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, on several projects relating to Holocaust education and remembrance.

“He was devoted to bearing testimony to the atrocities he witnessed, and did so through his exceptional talents both as a writer and as a gifted orator,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

After learning about Wiesel’s death, Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement on his website:

“Teresa and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Elie Wiesel — one of our most poignant and passionate voices for justice, for remembrance, and for applying the lessons of a dark past to shape and inform a brighter future.”

“Anyone who ever met Elie could only stand in awe of what he endured and overcame — and of his ability to respond to the ultimate act of hate with a commitment to love and a universal message of compassion. Indeed, when he spoke, the world was compelled to listen, because his words carried the weight of experience that could not and must not be forgotten — an experience we each are called upon to prevent in our own time.”

“Elie’s message resonated across faiths and families. He warned us of the perils of indifference and of intolerance. He emerged from one of the darkest chapters of human history consumed not by vengeance, but rather a desire to quell the fires of prejudice and bigotry by serving the cause of hope and leading the pursuit of justice and peace.”

“It was Elie Wiesel who said that “One person of integrity can make a difference.” He was more than qualified to know, for he embodied integrity; he made a difference; and he offered the most powerful response possible to the perpetrators of evil who tore apart the world of his youth — he led a long, full, and rich life of meaning and purpose.”

“May his memory be a blessing for all of us.”