In Box

Epiphanies: Elie Wiesel

[THE BEST ADVICE I have ever received is] learn. Learn from books, learn from people, learn from dangers, learn from beggars. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CHINESE, REALLY. I said to Chinese officials that came to see me, ‘I don’t understand you.’ China is a huge empire — the largest nation in the world — and ...

[THE BEST ADVICE I have ever received is] learn. Learn from books, learn from people, learn from dangers, learn from beggars.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CHINESE, REALLY. I said to Chinese officials that came to see me, ‘I don’t understand you.’ China is a huge empire — the largest nation in the world — and Tibet is so small. Why should they care what’s happening there? It’s irrational.

WHEN THE WAR BEGAN in 1939, I remember it didn’t mean much to me — I was 10 or so. I knew there was going to be war in Poland, but it wasn’t my country. Only when people started crossing the borders to my town did the war begin to take on the faces of these poor, forlorn, wandering human beings.

WE WERE VICTIMS not only of the killers, but also of the indifference of the good people in the world who somehow didn’t pay attention to our plight.

POWER CAN BE BRUTAL; it can be delicate. Power can destroy; power can heal. It depends what you do with it. I believe in the power of poetry, and yet in those places of malediction, a simple soldier once had the power to kill a thousand poets with no one protesting.

MEMORY IS what makes life articulate. It is true that once the last [Holocaust] survivor is gone, there will be a change in history. But I believe that anyone who listens to a witness becomes a witness.

WHAT TROUBLES ME today is fanaticism. A fanatic is someone who doesn’t listen to [anything] except his own ideas. A fanatic never has any questions, only answers.

I’D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED as a teacher and a witness.

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