Champion for Human Rights: The Life & Work of Elie Wiesel


This exhibition features material from political activist, human rights advocate, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel (1928 - 2016). The exhibition highlights Professor Wiesel's life and work, from his early life growing up in Sighet, Romania, through surviving the Holocaust, and his work promoting remembrance and advocating for human rights across the globe.

The exhibition begins with material relating to Wiesel's early life, including his childhood in Sighet, Romania; documents and Wiesel's writings reflecting on his time in Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald during the Holocaust; photographs of life in an OSE orphanage after the war; and his newspaper articles from his first job at the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The exhibition also focuses on two organizations that Wiesel has become synonymous with: the 92nd Street Y and Boston University. Shown are posters, excerpts and notes from his legendary talks at the 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association in New York City, which he has been giving since 1966. Also on display are class syllabi, exams, photographs, speeches, and letters from his tenure as a professor at Boston University, which started in 1976.

The exhibition also highlights his prolific writing, including his most celebrated work Night. On display are early reviews for Night, the unpublished "Chapitre Zero," advertising and promotional pieces, study guides, and special editions of the book. Also featured are original drafts of his numerous non-fiction works, hand-corrected speeches, memoir excerpts, and photographs from the plays he has written. His many novels are featured, including notes and drafts from One Generation After, Le Jour, Le Mendiant de Jerusalem, and L'Aube. It also features his correspondence with major literary figures, such as playwrights Samuel Beckett & Arthur Miller, critic Harold Bloom, and author Cynthia Ozick.

Extensive material on Holocaust remembrance are featured, including letters from Holocaust survivors and their children, Wiesel's testimony for the Klaus Barbie war crimes trial, and material relating to the outcry of Ronald Reagan visiting Bitburg Cemetery, where German S.S. officers are buried. His pieces on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and the United States are also on display. Material on Wiesel's work with the US Holocaust Memorial Council and United States Holocaust Museum is highlighted as well.

The exhibition also showcases Wiesel's battles for human rights across the globe, including his work in South Africa, Rwanda, Bosnia, the USSR and South Asia. Materials shown include articles against apartheid, correspondence with Vice President Dan Quayle, Jerome J. Shestack, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and remarks by Elie Wiesel at the Eighth Annual Human Rights Campaign Fund Dinner. It also features material regarding the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, whose mission is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality. Also on display is Wiesel's 1986 Nobel Peace Prize Award, along with a copy of his acceptance speech, entitled "Hope, Despair and Memory."

This exhibition is no longer on view.

Elie Wiesel