Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE (English pronunciation: /ˈɛli vɨˈzɛl/; born September 30, 1928) is a Romanian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.
When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind", stating that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps", as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace", Wiesel had delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity.
Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania, (now Sighetu Marmaţiei), Maramureş, Kingdom of Romania, in the Carpathian Mountains. His mother, Sarah Feig, was the daughter of Dodye Feig, a celebrated Vizhnitz Hasid and farmer from a nearby village. He was active and trusted within the community, and in the early years of his life had spent a few months in jail for having helped Polish Jews who escaped and were hungry. It was his father, Shlomo, who instilled a strong sense of humanism in his son, encouraging him to learn Hebrew and to read literature, whereas his mother encouraged him to study the Torah. Wiesel has said his father represented reason, and his mother Sarah promoted faith (Fine 1982:4). In his home, his family spoke Yiddish most of the time, but also German, Hungarian and Romanian. Wiesel had three sisters – older sisters Hilda and Beatrice, and younger sister Tzipora. Beatrice and Hilda survived the war and were reunited with Wiesel at a French orphanage. They eventually emigrated to North America, with Beatrice moving to Montréal, Canada. Tzipora, Shlomo and Sarah did not survive the war.