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Tributes paid to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel wrote tens of books and was a professor and Nobel Prize winner.

Obit Elie Wiesel AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid across the world to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who has died at the age of 87.

The Nobel Laureate was responsible for writing about his experiences in the Holocaust and the unspeakable horrors he witnessed as a young boy.

Wiesel, who settled in New York, wrote about his experiences in his Nobel Prize-winning memoir Night. In total, the professor and scholar wrote 57 books. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

Elie Wiesel was born in Sighetu, Transylvania, and in 1944 Germany’s occupation of Hungary extended the Holocaust into the town where Wiesel was raised. Two ghettos were set up in Sighetu and Jews were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“We thought that when the deportation will come, it will mean simply that we will be taken inside Hungary,” remembered Wiesel in an interview with Oprah in 1993. “No one in the world has told us, has warned us that there is a place called Auschwitz. When we arrived in Auschwitz, May 1944, three weeks before D-Day, we didn’t know what it meant.

“If I’m angry at times, profoundly angry, it is because we could have been saved. The largest community still alive in Europe, the Hungarian Jewish community could have been saved, if not in its totality in its great part, because the Russians were 20 kms away from us.”

Wiesel’s mother and sister were killed at Auschwitz, but Wiesel and his father were sent on to another concentration camp at Buchenwald. His father died there. The camp was liberated in 1944, and Wiesel was said to have been captured in this photograph of Buchenwald.

It took around a decade for Wiesel to begin discussing what happened to him during WWII, but in 1955 Night was printed, going on to sell 10 million copies in the United States alone.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity was founded by Wiesel and his wife Marion Erster Rose in the mid-1980s.

Wiesel died at his home in Manhattan yesterday.

Today, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the memory of the late Wiesel will be “enshrined in our hearts and in the heart of humanity forever.”

He opened his weekly Cabinet meeting with an appreciation of Wiesel as one of the “giants of the Jewish people”.

Though he never lived in Israel, news of Wiesel’s death sparked an outpouring of grief among Israelis who consider him one of their own.

- Additional reporting AP

Read: Former SS guard, 95, jailed for five years over Auschwitz mass murders>

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