Authors — W

Quotations by Elie Wiesel

Because I remember, I despair.; because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.

How do you describe the sorting out on arriving at Auschwitz, the separation of children who see a father or mother going away, never to be seen again? How do you express the dumb grief of a little girl and the endless lines of women, children and rabbis being driven across the Polish or Ukrainian landscapes to their deaths? No, I can’t do it. And because I’m a writer and teacher, I don’t understand how Europe’s most cultured nation could have done that. For these men who killed with submachine-guns in the Ukraine were university graduates. Afterwards they would go home and read a poem by Heine. So what happened?

I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it. That is why the children of survivors are so tragic. I see them in school. They don’t know how.

I don’t believe in accidents; there are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.

I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.

Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.

No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.

Nobody is stronger, nobody is weaker than someone who came back. There is nothing you can do to such a person because whatever you could do is less than what has already been done to him. We have already paid the price.

Oh, I love Proust. We all learned from him how to go back in time. The difference is that Proust stayed in his room, and he observed himself. He was Proust lying in his bed looking at Proust at the window who was looking at Proust in bed. In our generation’s case, we are always in the middle. We are never on the outside. Whatever happens, happens to us.

Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.