Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel has worked on behalf of oppressed people for much of his adult life. His personal experience of the Holocaust has led him to use his talents to defend human rights and peace throughout the world.
A native of Sighet, Transylvania (Romania), Wiesel and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz when he was fifteen years old. His mother and younger sister perished there, his two older sisters survived. Wiesel and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died. After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist in that city, yet he remained silent about what he had endured as an inmate in the death camps. During an interview with the French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel was persuaded to end that silence. He subsequently wrote La Nuit (Night); the book has been translated into twenty-five languages, and millions of copies have been sold.
Wiesel's efforts have earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the Medal of Liberty Award, the rank of Grand Officer in the French Legion of Honor, and, in 1986, the Nobel Peace Prize. He has received more than ninety honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.
His more than forty books have won Wiesel numerous awards. Among these books are The Testament, The Fifth Son, All Rivers Run to the Sea and And the Sea is Never Full, published in 1999.
Marion and Elie Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Its mission is to advance the cause of human rights and peace throughout the world by creating a new forum for the discussion of urgent ethical issues confronting humanity.
Since 1976, Wiesel has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. An American citizen since 1963, he lives in New York with his wife and son.
NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum playbill for "A Nobel Evening" from March 20, 2003.
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