In considering the death of Elie Wiesel, I want to recognize the contributions Wiesel made to the world. He won the Nobel Prize for Peace, wrote and taught for decades and constantly stood on the side of the oppressed.
His most enduring work is the book Night. It’s a fascinating and horrifying look into the realities of life in Nazi death camps. Part of the power of the book is that its author survived the Holocaust and was here to tell us about it.
Night is not a straight history textbook and although it is intimately connected to Wiesel’s experience, now that Wiesel is dead, that connection is certain to falter and diminish. Probably sooner rather than later.
I think the process will be this. Night has already moved from being labeled an autobiography and is now often categorized as a memoir. Eventually it will move into the realm of historical fiction. (Did everything happen exactly? Didn’t he use some quotes? How could they be accurate?) And as the living memory of the Holocaust fades altogether, Night will become considered fiction. At some time in the not distant future, it will be forgotten as factual.
I'm confident this process will happen because anti-Semitism is alive and well. The same lies, misinterpretations and stereotypes that allowed much of Europe to embrace the Shoah in the 1940s continue to exist and receive sanction by important people all over the world.
(Ask for info if you don't believe me.)
That's why it is imperative that people of good will all over the world use the occasion of Elie Wiesel's death to celebrate his life, his accomplishments, his work and his story. To celebrate the continuing existence of the people of the book. And to ALWAYS challenge those who would obscure the truth.
Elie Wiesel has dramatically improved the world with his life. Let us commit ourselves to continuing to improve the world on the occasion of his death. Make sure the ripples he sent forth are amplified.
© Gayle Force Press 2016