Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner dubbed the "messenger to mankind" for his dignified writings about the horrors of the Holocaust, died Saturday. He was 87.
“In the darkness of the Holocaust, in which our sisters and brothers were killed — 6 million — Elie Wiesel served as a ray of light and example of humanity who believed in the goodness in people,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Born in Romania, Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel emerged from nearly a year in concentration camps in Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald to write 57 books -- mostly in French and English.
The most prized was "Night," which tells of the time Wiesel spent with his father, who was sent to a crematorium to die just weeks before American forces liberated Adolf Hitler's prisoners.
“Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever (from "Night," 1982). ”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Wiesel's "own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps" while delivering a message "of peace, atonement and human dignity."
Wiesel was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor.
He was the Advisory Board chairman of the newspaper Algemeiner Journal and an Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.
Wiesel's Orthodox family was among the Jews relocated to two ghettos after Hungry annexed his hometown of Sighet.
They were loaded into a cattle car and deported in 1944 to Auschwitz where his mother and younger sister were killed in the gas chambers.
His father died the following year after a death march of prisoners from Buna to Buchenwald.
Wiesel was among 400 Jewish orphans sent to France after the liberation -- after which was reunited with two of his sisters.
Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashim , reported Wiesel's death on Twitter.
CLICK HERE to read Yad Vashem's excerpt from "Night."
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