Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel The Jewish young boy that came a voice for the perished, a catalyst for change...

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel was born on September 20, 1928 in Sighetu, Romania to his parents, Shlomo Wiesel and Sarah Wiesel-Feig.

Sighetu, Romania

Sighetu, Romania

Pictured on the left is Elie Wiesel's mother, Sarah Feig-Wiesel and pictured on the left is Wiesel's father, Shlomo Wiesel.

Sarah and Shlomo Wiesel

Elie Wiesel's Family

Shlomo Wiesel (Father), Sarah Feig (Mother), Hilda Wiesel (Older Sister), Beatrice Wiesel (Older Sister), Tzipora Wiesel (Little Sister)

The Wiesel Family just like any family all loved each other. They had their family time which consisted of going to Synagogue, Mr. Wiesel was always working at the grocery store, they all ate meals together especially dinner and simply spending time together as a family. Although suddenly, everything changed.

Jewish Synagogue

Grocery store in 1944, although not an actual image of Mr. Wiesel working at a grocery store.

Within this image there is a family eating dinner together. Although this is not an image of the Wiesel family eating dinner together.

Everything changed in 1944. No more Synagogue, no more working at the grocery store, no more meals together, no more family time. Everything about the Wiesel family changed forever. The family didn't have an opportunity for one last "I love you" from one another.

This six minute video that has been cut into two separate two minute clips that will introduce one of humanity's greatest crisis. The clip "Jewish Women arrive at Auschwitz" from the 1993 film "Schindler's List" directed by Steven Spielberg depicts the horrors encountered upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Start video at 1:00 until 2:34 for part 1. Then go to 2:49 until 4:21 for part 2. If you wish to watch the whole thing you may, although the full video is six minutes long.

This video contains graphic content which consists of fully naked women of all ages. Also the video is not in English but the main point of the video is to see the fear that can be seen in those arriving at Auschwitz despite the language.

What happened to the Wiesel family? How did everything change in 1944?

A Jewish young boy, lost his little sister and his mother to Zyklon B gas in May 1944 upon arrival to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He didn't have a chance to say good-bye or I love you for the last time. Often times we take for granted the opportunity to tell our parents, our siblings, our boyfriends or girlfriends, our uncles, our aunts and other loved ones "I Love You". We don't realize how short life can be. Elie Wiesel never got to opportunity to see his mother Sarah Feig-Wiesel or little sister Tzipora Wiesel after they were separated but he did smell their burning flesh being cremated while being at Aushwitz-Bikenau. A quote from the book "Night" explains the moment in which Elie Wiesel saw his mother and his sister Tzipora for one last time.

"Men to the left! Women to the right!"

Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother. There was no time to think, and I already I felt my father's hand press against mine: we were alone. In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right. Tzipora was holding Mother's hand. I saw them walking farther and farther away; Mother was stroking my sister's blond hair, as if to protect her. And I walked on with my father, with the men. I didn’t know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.

My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think of was not to lose him. Not to remain alone.

[…] It was imperative to stay together. (Night, Chapter 3: pages 4-10)

Zyklon B gas was used at Aushwitz-Birkenau and other death camps during the Holocaust such as:

  • Majanek
  • Chelmno
  • Belzec
  • Sobibor
  • Treblinka

All of these death camps were located in Poland. Each day upon arrival approximately 6,000 people were murdered by Zyklon B gas each day.

Within Elie Wiesel's book Night he states an event upon arrival to Auschwitz-Birkenau which describes his initial knowledge of burning bodies at the death camp.

"Shut up, you moron, or I’ll tear you to pieces! You should have hanged yourselves rather than come here. Didn’t you know what was in store for you here in Auschwitz? You didn’t know? In 1944?"

True. We didn’t know. Nobody had told us. He couldn’t believe his ears. His tone became even harsher:

"Over there. Do you see the chimney over there? Do you see it? And the flames, do you see them?" (Yes, we saw the flames.) "Over there, that’s where they will take you. Over there will be your grave. You still don’t understand? You sons of bitches. Don’t you understand anything? You will be burned! Burned into a cinder! Turned to ashes!" (Night, Chapter 3: pages 25-27).

Within a gas chamber where millions of mothers, fathers, big and little brothers and sisters. There were uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, foes, neighbors. Professionals such as teachers, doctors, business men and women were not excluded. Husbands, wives, homosexuals, gypsies, people of the Jewish faith, people of the Jehovah Witness faith and people of the Roman Catholic faith all perished. Everyone that was Pole, Romani, some Russians and Ukrainians, Non-European and those with disabilities all suffered a inhumane death. They died being told they are not special, not worthy, useless and the problem within the world.

Dead bodies piled up like logs, invaluable to this Earth. Bodies that contained a life that had a purpose needed to be fulfilled.

A young boy, that had dreams and goals for his future experienced the lost of it all in May 1944 simply because of who he was. He believed that God exists. He believed that God was one and only, worthy of glory and praise because God is eternal. Wiesel trusted that the words of the prophets were true and that Moses was one of the greatest prophets that has received God's word for the people. He also believed that the dead would be resurrected. His dreams and goals for his future perished because he was Jewish.

People were discriminated based on who they were. Some were outcasts due to their skin tone, eye color, political beliefs and faith in God.

A Jewish young boy that lost his mother, little sister then within two years lost his father. He lost his goals, he lost his dreams, he lost his life. Although he didn't know why he survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, later in life he realized he had a big bright purpose to fulfill.

After the Holocaust, data of deaths was uncovered many years later.

Data on deaths within other world crisis and within the Holocaust

The data collected after years of research about the Holocaust uncovers the magnitude of deaths that occurred. The data image entitled "Worst Atrocities on Record" compares the deaths of World War II which includes the Holocaust with events such as World War I, The 30 Years War and the Chinese Civil War. World War II had the most deaths at approximately 70 million people perished. The data circle entitled "Holocaust Deaths" reveals deeper statistics specifically for the people that were exterminated. It is evident through this data that Jews were not the only ones that suffered Nazi Germany's death camps.

What happened to Elie Wiesel after the Holocaust?

After the Holocaust Elie Wiesel decided to go to France where he became a writer and discovered about himself that his Holocaust experience has become a part of him and his daily life. As a form of therapy Wiesel would write about how he felt and what he saw at Auschwitz. He wrote until he had an idea to publish what he wrote in order to educate others about what has happened. At first no one believe Wiesel and he received criticism from Holocaust deniers.

How Elie Wiesel became a catalyst for change due to his experience within the Holocaust...
Elie Wiesel before the Holocaust and Elie Wiesel after the Holocaust
Elie Wiesel's Leadership Characteristics.

Elie Wiesel lost a lot during the Holocaust. He lost his family which is one of life's most important aspects. Although Elie Wiesel decided to rise up and make a difference, he decided to be a leader and not be another victim of the Holocaust. He gained his wisdom in which he shared, within his books due his experiences. As a result he demonstrates his leadership characteristics through his writing and actions while he strives to create awareness about the Holocaust. This is significant and demonstrates his ability as a catalyst for change because Elie Wiesel used his leadership characteristics to touch the lives of millions of people with the motive to prevent another Holocaust from happening again.

Leadership Characteristics:

  • Focus
  • Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Passion

Elie Wiesel demonstrates the four leadership characteristics focus, confidence, persistence and passion through his work as a catalyst for change. Elie Wiesel is a leader because he inciated the voice of Holocaust survivors to begin to speak up about what truly happened. Elie Wiesel motivated a large variety of Holocaust survivors including his two older sisters Hilda and Beatrice Wiesel to speak for those that perished at the death camps and cannot speak anymore. Wiesel also exhibits confidence despite the horrors he faced because he has accepted the past. However, Wiesel did not choose to live in the past he chose to rise up and accept that he is a Holocaust survivor. His motives that made him confident to become a catalyst got change is he wanted to create awareness of genocide, how genocide begins and it's consequences. However, it wasn't easy for Wiesel to be a catalyst for change but he was always persistent despite Holocaust deniers that criticized and questioned Wiesel's writing and political activism involvement. Lastly, Wiesel proves that he is passionate about why he chose to rise up and be a catalyst for change. Until Wiesel's death in July 2016, he demonstrated his passion for standing up for all people not just certain groups of people. He was a big believer in equality. In conclusion Elie Wiesel had four main leadership characteristics that shaped him as a leader.

Elie Wiesel was also a leader because he had the heart to forgive. Within this interview at Auschwitz with Oprah, Wiesel explains why he can forgive the Nazis despite everything that he had to encounter and loose.

There are many other Holocausts that have occurred around the world during different time settings that not many people are educated about. For instance...

The Cambodian Genocide

January-August 1973

Rwandan Genocide

April 7 - July, 1994

The Armenian Genocide

April 24, 1915 - April 24, 1917



Some of the genocides listed above took place before the Holocaust and some took place after the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel became a catalyst for change by being open about his Holocaust experience which motivated other Holocaust survivors to be open about what they went through in order to create awareness about the horrors that are encountered during genocide. Although, not all Holocaust survivors open up to share about their experiences because of the emotional, physical and mental scars that haunt their lives. A rare amount of survivors that survived from death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau have committed suicide due to their pain.

Elie Wiesel's death

Elie Wiesel died on the morning of July 2, 2016 at Upper East Side, New York City, New York. He was 87 years old and died of natural causes due to health issues he has faced for several years. He leaves behind his legacy of being a catalyst for change through his books and speeches. He also leaves behind his wife Marion Wiesel and his son Shlomo Elisha Wiesel. Elie Wiesel will always be remembered for the influential writer, political activist, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor that he was. He shaped the world forever with his leadership and passion, because of him the memory of those that perished within the gas chambers lives on forever.


Created with images by Markus Grossalber - "Christmas candles" • Gabi Agu - "muzeul satului - sighetu marmatiei" • lraul06 - "Máramarossziget / Sighetu Marmației, Romania"

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